Din to ponder the fire, while they waited.
“Savior Thoma?” It caught him almost by surprise at the sudden question quelling the silence. He turned in his seat to address the man who had asked.
“Yes Din?” Thoma smiled, the fire cast long shadows upon his face. The man was quite ugly, and had been among those who had been making bows earlier. He was a homeless man Thoma thought, he couldn’t be sure, but the rotted shoes, and torn green trousers beneath his tunic hinted at a man with no home but the one Thoma had given him.
The man looked around at his companions as he spoke, leading Thoma to believe they may have already discussed his coming question. “We have given…” He cleared his throat, and nervously tugged at his tunics collar. “We have given up our lives to serve Solin,” A few around him nodded slowly. “Will we get any compensation from him? After all we are the soldiers of his return. His servants.” His eyes darted about wildly, he became more nervous as he went. “We all just hope we have not made a grave mistake, not that we question your abilities Savior Thoma, or your prophecy, but we worry, some of us had jobs, and have families.” Thoma grimaced, although he tried to keep it from his face, this was not the time for these questions. He needed all of his Din to be absolutely devoted to their faith. He also knew that these questions would arise, he just hoped that when Aramis came, he would not sense any mutiny among his followers.
“I can not answer for Solin, Din…” He waved his hand at the man, asking for his name with his gesture.
“My name is Trerard.” He swallowed still a bit jumpy, Thoma couldn’t blame him.
“Well, Din Trerard, as I said, I cannot speak for Solin, but I assume he will reward you all magnificently.” Thoma couldn’t guess what Solin would reward any of them, if he gave anything. All that was promised upon his return was promised to Thoma, thankfully he had left that part out of the revised book as well so anybody who might have read it would not know. “You will probably be given riches beyond your wildest dreams.” Better a lie than the truth. Who knows what they would do if he told them the truth.
The only woman in the group, a dainty thing, of middle age spoke up then. “I’m sure he will give us a great bounty Trerard.” Her face spread in a smile, even though she was not overly pretty, her smile seemed to warm his heart.
“I know Zara, and I’m convinced Savior Thoma will help us. He is a great man, and so is our Solin great. We will have help if we are in need.” He sounded doubtful still, but his nervousness faded, and he seemed more resolved. The other Din also looked as if their fears had been doused.
Thoma slowly turned back to the fire. “Have no fears Din, you are in the care of the great Solin, and he will not be blind to your service.” They sat then in a silence, but it seemed much more comfortable then before, as if all of them were of one mind now. Awaiting the presence of the smith.
At least an hour passed, and then another with only the fire to comfort them. He began thinking that Aramis might not show, but he had to put faith in the smiths word, for that was all he had. It was close to midnight when the young boy he had sent out to watch the night came in, his face red from the cold. “Horses are coming down the road Savior Thoma.” His eyes caught the light of the fire and he looked at it hungry for warmth.
Thoma felt a burst of excitement, thanking Solin that the smith had come. “How many?”
The boy still standing in the doorway, with his hands tucked behind him moved a little closer to the fire. “At least three.” He pulled his hands up and warmed them near the flames.
Thoma had the urge to smile at him, but he passed it up. “Come and sit down young man.” He flipped the boy a mira for doing his job well. “Sit by the fire.” He thought he heard a murmur from a Din behind him, but he ignored it.
He caught the coin and a wide smile graced his mouth. “Thank you Savior.” He gratefully came to sit down beside the fire, flipping his coin a minute in his hands, before stuffing it in his trouser pocket.
It was only minutes later, when they heard hooves thumping outside the walls of the burned church. A slight breeze pushed the small fire, first one way, then the other, casting dancing shadows all over the wall, and the small group waited for something to fill the frame of the doorway. They did not wait long.
The tall hulking smith soon appeared in the doorway, he had to duck to enter, the smith had on a fancy red coat, with two silver hammers gilded on each side of the chest. As soon as he stood two smaller men came in to flank him on either side. They each wore thin green cloaks, one man had short cropped brown hair, his toothy smile didn’t touch his eyes, and he fingered the long dagger he wore under his belt almost as soon as he entered the door. The other man had curly black hair, and his smile was much the same not touching his eyes. He was missing a tooth, but his long nose made it nearly impossible to look at anything else. He had a short sword in his belt yet he kept his hands behind his back.
Aramis stepped forward, he nodded to the din, and sat down on a bench that creaked with his weight across the fire. The other two continued to stand by the doorway, and they looked ready for any sudden action.
Aramis looked tired, but his eyes still held intent. “Greetings priest.”
“Greetings Aramis.” Thoma replied.
“Well, lets get to it, I don’t want to spend all night out here in the cold when I could be sleeping in my warm house, or inside an inn drinking ale, and talking to women.” His deep voice had a brisk tone with it again, and Thoma resisted the urge to frown.
“I have brought you out here tonight to talk of important events Aramis, important events that will take place tomorrow. I hope you have been thinking about your compromise with the Lord of Nobles, because I am offering you a chance to get back at him.” That was all Thoma said, wanting to judge the smiths reaction to it.
“Yes, I have been thinking about it. After all it is my business.” The man with the long nose smiled, but it quickly faded. “What is it you propose Thoma, I do not like this Daryn Lord of Nobles, but I do not wish to throw away my life on a foolish venture.” Aramis put his hands on his knees and leaned forward intently to hear his answer.
“A week from now, at noon, me and my Solin Din will be holding a clinic in the town square.” He leaned back in his bench seat, the creaking wood punctuating his words. Aramis raised an eyebrow, a question posed on the tip of his tounge, but Thoma overrode him. “And no doubt the Lord of Nobles will come down from his marble palace, to put an end to it.” Aramis nodded , agreeing with him. “That is why we need you, I have a plan to defeat the Lord but I need your help smith,” He looked to the two men standing behind him, the one still fingering his dagger. “and theirs.”
Aramis looked confused, “How do you expect us to over power him priest? Have you gone mad? We thieves are no match for the Order of Orlead, and you’d be but a fly on their nose!” The man fingering his dagger laughed, a cold hard laugh, that, like his smile, didn’t reach his eyes.
When Thoma smiled, he quieted though. “The Order left two days ago north of here. Hopefully they won’t be back for a couple of days.”
Aramis threw up his hands. “Yes but the militia…”
Thoma cut him off. “His militia doesn’t number over three hundred, and you know how poorly trained they are. Now we would have a hard time defeating them, but it is possible. Without the Order we have a good chance of taking the city.” Thoma’s eyes flicked across their faces before finally settling on Aramis who now had his head in his hands, looking at the fire.
Aramis sighed softly, he seemed torn between two answers and he didn’t look ready to decide, and after another few moments of silence, it appeared he had made up his mind. “Alright priest, I will take up your offer, but I want my mira now **** you.” He raised his head, and he looked like he was going to thump him if he refused. Thoma had counted on the smith wanting his coins now, and he wasn’t foolish enough to bring all the bags of gold to a meeting with thieves, yet he had only brought forty planning on giving him half now, half later. He reached behind him where he had stashed the bag of forty, and tossed it to Aramis. “There is forty there,” The smiths mouth dropped open in a second, obviously planning to object, but Thoma jumped in before he could. “and I will give you another forty, when we have taken the city. After all what is to stop you from just taking the gold, and running to the Council Palace to tell Daryn. I hope you wouldn‘t do that though, or else I‘d have to tell him of your…other business. ” He had a feeling that the smith might jump to violence when Thoma had mentioned that, but he just sat there, weighing his options. He could tell the smith didn’t like it, but he pocketed the gold and nodded his head.
He slowly stood, looking down upon Thoma. “If we fail priest, and you and I remain alive, trust that you won’t live for long.” He motioned to his two thieves and they retreated out the door, and seconds later, the group heard hooves galloping away from the church, down the road, and then vanishing.
“Well…that went well?” Trerard asked, looking for an answer amongst the others. Thoma didn’t turn around to look at him but said, “Yes, it went well Din Trerard.”
Thoma rose from his seat, and turned to the others, they hadn’t moved for around two hours. Obedient Din. “Lets get out of here. Din Zara, put that fire out, then come outside. We must head down the road and get Din Barim and the others. Then we will head back to town, and get some sleep for tomorrow.” At the word sleep they all agreed by bobbing their heads. Thoma turned to the doorway and stepped out into the night. It is done.
The moon cast it’s smoky light upon a large marble building in the center of town, a large dome topped it, with a giant spire at the precipice of the dome. The terrace which Daryn Lesabre stood looked out over the town, it’s flickering lights filled the night with an unearthly glow, a dog barked off in the distance, and a few midnight revelers sang a drinking song, no doubt heading home for the night. Tamirra was situated on very flat ground, almost no hills in the entire city. The ten foot high stone wall which surrounded it lurched up like a wave in the distance. A large percent of the houses were made of wood, although some wealthier citizens had businesses and houses made of stone. He stood with his hands upon the railing, his long dark brown hair was tied in a knot letting the rest of his hair flow down just below his neckline, his blue eyes continued to scan the darkness over his town. He was dressed in a dark green sleeveless tunic which had two golden stars on his right collarbone, a light wool shirt was under his tunic and his light tan linen pants were held up by a belt held in place by a gold clasp in the shape of an eagle.
Managing Tamirra as Lord of Nobles was an easy task in these days. despite a few famines his rule had been just, and with no war, peace was an old friend to him. Although last years crop had harvested very poorly, and it affected the citizens in strange ways. A majority of the militia had left to go back and help on their family farms, and some people had even began distrusting the gods. Though most of his problems had been small and seasonal. He was the youngest Lord of Nobles in Tamirra’s history, just twenty seven years on him, and he had already made a name for himself. The fact that he had only been in charge for three years made little difference, the people here appreciated him, and he was glad to rule over such a industrious town.
He had started off as a servant in the kitchen, the previous Lord had never known his name, that is until he began becoming more known around the council palace. First he became renown by sparring with the soldiers in the practice yard, soon there was not a man in town who did not know his skill with a sword. All the attention soon attracted the nobles in the town council, he had never liked them much before that, and the rich never did have a liking for him, though he eventually realized the advantage of being in good with them. They soon promoted him to master of the guard, a title of prestige, in which he managed the towns soldiers, and kept them fit, and ready to fight. He couldn’t have thought he would progress any further since his parents had died years ago from a mysterious disease which plagued the area around Timirra for years. He had no royal blood in his veins, and so he bided his time around the council palace, doing what he could to make Timirra proliferate.
One day though that all ended, when the previous Lord of Nobles Siam Saulderin, called him to his quarters. He had been placed on his death boat, so that he could navigate the river of faith once he had passed and make it to Darina, a heaven which only people the gods had favored have a chance to see. He had called him over to his boat with a frail hand, the boat was quite ornate, covered in gold and silver, with carvings all along it’s surface. It was shaped like a small fishing boat, he barely fit inside, and both upturned ends of the boat, like the shoes some common folk wore, gleamed in the light of the setting sun, the few hairs on his head were illuminated by the same sun.
“You are a good man Daryn, I have been watching you since you came to the palace, you have shown great fortitude for doing what is right when it is needed. I will die soon,” His eyes slowly closed as he coughed weakly, “and I need someone to be my successor, as it is every lords duty to pass on his seat to a man worthy of such a position.” His eyelids opened, exposing his bloodshot brown eyes, and he looked directly to Daryn, his hands clasped together almost as if in prayer. “I do not have any sons, or daughters, and so I have been forced to choose someone not of my own blood. Most of the wealthy in this town have lost their way, their greed is their god. I knew in time I would have to choose someone of less reputable descent. This would have been a problem if not for you…I want you to be my successor and do good for the people, Daryn, never stray from your path and you will do me good, have faith, son I never had, for I’m going to Darina, to break bread with the gods…..” His breath whispered out of him, as the last ounces of life fluttered away from his grasp, and he slowly, peacefully slipped into death.
Daryn remembered how he had felt after that, he was sad of course that the lord had passed, but he knew that a new life had been set out for him. He had begun by reviving Timirra’s dying fur trade, which had once been one of the richest trading routes in the nation. He sent messengers to Del Varin the Lord of Nobles in Desson, since Siam once had a very rocky relationship with the old man. He proposed a new relationship, and Del agreed and trade once more flowed between the two settlements. He had done much for this town, he had done as much as he could, he hoped Siam was drinking ale with the gods, and watching his progress.
There had been naught a disturbance in Timirra since he took seat, but a week from today, a common woman from town had come to him during his weekly council hearings, which he and the council would hear proposals from townspeople. Mara Dur Vanala, had been her name, and she owned a bridal shop of sorts in town. She had told the council, about a symbol that had been painted on the back of her shop in red paint, something about a moon with a blood lark across it, flanked by two stars. He had no idea what it meant, but he had also heard stirrings around town about a priest named Thoma Crista, who had been spreading his lunatic faith around Tamirra. He had a hunch that somehow they were tied together. He had yet to see this priest, but he knew he might have to do something about this upstart religion. The last thing he wanted was some raving madman to tarnish his perfect record here. No doubt the Roussar of Irican, something much like a king in other nations, would be most displeased about such a blasphemous religion spreading in his cities. Obviously the guild of the gods would have something to say as well, and he could do very well without them poking their noses into his town. He loved his religion, but he had no love for the guild. He thought they just wanted the gold that came along with being the dominate religion, and they’d probably do almost anything to keep it that way. He was sure that the guild hadn’t heard anything as of yet, it was a long travel from here to Adonnis in Darava where the guilds headquarters was situated. He still had time to deal with this Thoma, but he knew nothing about him. He would have to start a recognizance around town to watch for this rebel. Gain any information he could about the man, before dismantling him from whatever leadership he might have already gleaned from the townspeople. And that wasn’t the end to the new troubles that seemed to be blossoming everywhere. A week ago it seemed someone had robbed a local bank. There was little doubt to the culprit, a man who worked at the bank had disappeared at the same time as the gold. The town watch had his description, and had raided his house but found him gone. There was little chance they would catch the man if he had already left town, but Daryn had his hopes.
Daryn turned and headed back through the white curtains, which billowed softly in the wind, into his bedchamber, a fire glowed in the pit across the wide circular room, paintings of various landscapes were all about the room, and in the middle was a massive four posted bed. Each post was ornately carved with bears and deer, ducks, and birds of various kinds. There were also many creatures Daryn had never seen before that looked like they had come straight out of a fairytale, like one that a had an extremely long neck, long legs and the body of a horse, a long wispy tail hung down it’s backside.
Daryn walked over to the fireplace and stared into it’s flames. It was a rather warm night, but that would change as the darkness outside deepened into midnight. He slipped off his knee high cuffed brown boots, and slipped off his tunic, his belt followed by his linen tan pants hit the floor soon after and he stretched his arms out with a yawn.
By the gods I’m tired, he though with amusement. At least I’m still young and not an old man even though I feel like I am. He chuckled to himself, climbing into his bed under the blue and white covers, the colors of Irican. He stared up at the shining marble ceiling, his thoughts drifting back to the mysterious priest Thoma. I will have to start tomorrow with this man. I can’t let him get any farther than I’ve let him get already. Slay my soul, but I may be slipping a bit with governing this town. If it wasn’t for that woman at the hearing I probably would have never known the man existed. He would have been free to waltz around Tamirra spouting vile lies from his mouth, and I’d have been none the wiser. Well, he best sleep good tonight, because it’s the last good sleep he’ll get if I have anything to do with it.
His thoughts went to more peaceful things, as he slowly fell to sleep, his eyes closed, and his breathing deepened.
Daryn awoke with a start, and put a hand over his eyes as a streak of light came through the still white curtains. He rolled to the side of the bed, threw back the covers and sat up, his feet touching the soft white fur rug on the floor. He yawned heavily, throwing a hand over his mouth, as he tried blinking away the sleep in his eyes.
He got up and stumbled over to the white curtain that hid the little niche in the marble that was his closet. Twitching aside the curtain he pulled out a grey tunic, and some black trousers. Black trousers were hard to come by, he remembered having the palace merchant look for weeks before finding these. He got dressed, and threw on a plain brown coat before heading out the door. He came into a hallway, well lit with window light that came from tall wide windows at either end of the hallway. He walked a few paces down the hallway, turned abruptly and headed down the wide staircase, the ornate railing had carvings all over it, which made it’s use quite bumpy and rough. He passed the second floor and continued down. He could see the lobby from here, a red rug ran down the middle of the circular room to the door, and wall hangings and plants in decorated pots were abundant.
Once down in the lobby, he glanced to the council clerks desk, and found Bavin sitting behind it. His face scrunched in thought over some parchment. He was a small little balding man, he wore a gray tunic, and he kept pushing his glasses up on his nose.
Walking slowly towards him Daryn straightened his coat. “Hello Bavin, what news have you today?”
Bavin looked up from his work, a smile painted his lips. “Oh hello Lord Daryn, nothing much to report from the townsfolk Lord. Seems the people have other things on their mind these days. Probably for the better since the crops were so bad last year, maybe the farmers are trying harder instead of coming to council. Which reminds me, the council had wanted to meet with you, Lord Noble Asimir is waiting for you now in the council chambers. No word from the other Noble Lords, but I‘m sure they will arrive shortly Lord Daryn.” Bavin motioned towards the council doors and then put his head back down to the parchment.
A frown twisted Daryn’s face, he didn’t know what the council could possibly want, but he made his way for the council chambers anyway. The door was at the end of a long hallway that sat under the staircase he had just come down. Long marble pillars lined each side of the hallway that were for show, not for structural integrity. He put a hand to the golden doorknob shaped like a table with six men sitting around it. He opened the door and strode through.
The room of the council chambers was shaped in a giant marble circle, the ceiling was domed, and it was maybe thirty feet across. The edges of the circle had pillars all along it at regular intervals, and the edge was higher than the rest of the room, circular stairs led down to the middle of the room which contained a grand round table, at which was seated Lord Noble Asimir.
Daryn walked down the marble stairs, his cuffed brown boots clicking on the stone. “Good day, Lord Noble Asimir.” Daryn said, pulling back a chair, and sitting down across from him. “What need have you for a meeting Lord Noble?” Daryn set his arms on the table, ready for the Noble’s response.
Asimir, a tall skinny older man with reddish brown receding hair, and a fierceness in his blue green eyes, began speaking as if Daryn was not there, looking in another direction. “It is said that there is some, priest” He said priest with clear contempt. “that is spewing evil from his mouth about some god of his.”
Daryn almost winced, he knew this would become a problem. “I know Asimir, I was going to deal with him today. I have yet to send for someone to seek him out, and tell me of his whereabouts.” Daryn stroked his jaw with a hand, about to tell Asimir not to worry but he spoke first.
“Well don’t even bother,” His hands came down to the table gripping the edge, anger obvious in his voice. “I already sent somebody out today, he should be reporting back soon if he’s found him. Slay my soul Daryn, but how did you let this happen!” His eyes went wide as if to emphasize the question. He stopped gripping the table but was no less angry.
“I just heard about it Asimir, you were there.” Out of all of the Lord Nobles, Asimir was the one Daryn knew best, he had known Asimir since he was a spitboy in the kitchens. Although they had always been friends Asimir never let him forget his duties, and quite often let him know what he thought. That was alright with Daryn though, since he valued Asimir’s council. “Well I hope your man comes back with good news soon then eh? Then we can both deal with him.” Daryn stopped and looked around. “Where are the others?”
Asimir shrugged his shoulders. “Well, Darvein was dealing with some farmers dispute in his lands. Carbathe said he had matters to take care of first, wouldn’t tell me what, but I don’t think it was much.” He paused for a moment, reaching for a bowl of Urucan nuts. “Teral and Sierod said they would be here in a bit.” He shrugged again as if to say he wasn’t responsible for the standards of others.
Daryn bit back a smile. “I take it you were the one who called the meeting then?”
Asimir chewed around a mouth full of nuts, “Yes I was the one, and someone should have, even if it wasn’t me.” He reached for another handful, sucking the salt of his fingers.
“Well I suppose your right.” Daryn eyed Asimir, and leaned back into his chair.
They waited around for an hour, filling their time with idle chat, and Daryn remembered it had been a while since he had talked with Asimir, too long. Another hour passed and the doorway to the Council chambers soon produced bald little Teral dressed in a black cloak and brown trousers and tunic. He was followed shortly by Darvein, who was almost as young as Daryn, his brown cloak billowed behind him as he rushed into the room, and Daryn noticed a fancy new sword scabbard hanging from his waist. Soon thereafter came Carbathe, his grim older features masked an air of authority. His black boots in much the same style as Daryn’s clicked across the floor as he made his entry, his red cloak, sliding across the floor behind him. Daryn could never guess why the grumpy old man always had to wear such long cloaks, Daryn found them to be annoying, always catching up your feet when you least expected it.. It was apparently just his style. Last was Sierod, he had a tall stature, and his face looked too small underneath a curly mass of brown hair. He came to sit amongst the others tucking his green cloak behind him.
Daryn smiled at the rest of them. “We are all here, to discuss a matter we all heard a week ago at the hearing.” Darvein and Teral both nodded, while Carbathe merely grunted.
Carbathe spoke first however. “It is about this **** priest and his blasphemy, is it not? The peasants in my lands aren‘t doing a bit of work, and this just gives them something else to talk about. This man must be brought before the gods.” He helped himself to a handful of nuts as well.
“Yes it is, Thoma Crista was his name.” Daryn scanned there faces for any hint of recognition.
Darvein spoke, his reedy voice matching his skinny face. “Yes, I have heard from some villagers on my land as well that he is raising question of our gods.” That got murmured rumbles of discontent around the table.
“I knew he was spreading his own brand of religion, but I had no idea that he meant ours harm!” said Teral, his tiny bald head, shined with the light that came from the windows in each quarter of the dome. “Something must be done today!”
Sierod, who’d been silent till now spoke. “Yes, we must find this heretic and string him up. I’ll not have his religious mutiny spreading. Could you only imagine what would happen if we let this go on?” His hair bobbed as he shook his head. “No, we must deal with him as soon as we find him.”
“Well, I already have a man searching the town for him. He will come back as soon as he has any word.” Asimir spoke with a nobleness about him. As if he had planned it all out before they had gotten there and had everything in hand. Daryn frowned at that. Asimir would have been the other likely choice when Siam had died, but he had picked Daryn, a young man with no royal blood or no family. He thought Asimir sometimes regretted that, but he had no proof. And even if Asimir did, could he blame him?
Daryn smiled at Asimir, “Yes, our Lord Noble Asimir did a good bit of planning.” Asimir jumped a little, surprised by the sudden praise. “We should know of this priest by sundown. Thank you Asimir. While we wait, what troubles are in your lands Darvein?”
Darvein shrugged and slumped back in his seat, his short nose looked dwarfed by the wide smile he gave. “Oh nothing Lord Daryn, two farmers got in an argument over a sheep,” That brought a few warming chuckles to the cold marble room. “but it soon turned into a fight when neither farmer could tell who’s sheep it was, since neither one marks their sheep.” Darvein gave a grimace for that. “Foolish practice that is, not marking your sheep, why it’s just bound to lead to something like this.”
Teral, who always enjoyed some humor asked, “Well what happened, tell us the rest.” Carbathe looked towards Darvein with feigned interest. While Asimir, Daryn, and Sierod’s interest appeared genuine.
Darvein leaned forward in his chair, his young face taking on a look of enthusiasm. “ Well, from the story I was told, it went like this…” He resituated himself in his chair. Then went on, “It began when the farmers couldn’t tell whose sheep it was. They had went to the old village dreamer, who was supposed to have infinite wisdom with situations like these. The dreamer had told them that in order to see whose sheep it was, they would have to stick their heads in a bucket of water.” That shared a chuckle even from grumpy old Carbathe. “And once they had done so for a minute, the dreamer would know whose sheep it was. So she got the buckets, filled them with water, and on the count of three, both the men had stuck their head in the water. In a minute they raised their heads, dripping wet, out of the water. But when their gaze alighted on the dreamer she had a sly grin upon her face. They both asked simultaneously whose sheep it was. The dreamer responded by saying, The sheep is mine, it had wandered away from my pen last night. Now both of you fools get out of here. And with that they both left and the problem was finished.” The room filled with uproarious laughter, Asimir was pounding the table, and Teral almost fell out of his chair.
“Now that was a good tale.” Carbathe had to admit, his old face creased in a smile.
“Yes, I’m glad I stuck around to hear it resolved.” Darvein said around spurts of laughter.
After the laughter had died, Daryn asked, “Is there any other news today?” Everyone slowly shook their heads. “Well I guess we could discuss Sierods marriage proposal to Lady Bredolyn then?” Every man had a smile upon his face, as they gave an ear to Sierod. “Yes, I knew you’d ask.” His voice was deep and he shifted in his chair. “We are getting married three weeks from now.”
“Well cheers, but why so long if I may ask, you‘ve been courting her for months now. Carbathe asked, his brows furrowing as if they were asking the questions.
Sierod grimaced like he was not happy about what he was going to say. “Her parents have to come all the way down from Desson to help us plan our marriage. Her mother won’t let her daughter get married without being here to plan it out and all.” He frowned and tapped the table.
Asimir gave a low chuckle. “She’s really that bad huh? Well good luck marrying that one boy, she’ll be just like her mother.” Teral and Carbathe laughed along with him. Daryn frowned at the lot.
“Don’t worry the man, I’ve met Lady Brendolyn and she appears to be a wonderful woman, worthy of marrying our friend Sierod.” He frowned at Asimir, who only chuckled in response.
Darvein smiled at Sierod. “Yes I’m sure she’ll make a fine…”
Whatever he’d been about to say, died in his throat as the door opened and a short dark eyed man in a blue coat, and cloak walked in. He bowed to the assembled council before speaking. “Lord Asimir I’ve located the priest you wanted…” He paused for a minute.
Asimir rose to his feet. “Out with it man, where is that heretic?”
“He is in the town square, preaching about his god.” The man, fingered the edge of his cloak. “He has amassed a sizeable contingent of followers my Lord, all preaching the word of some…Solin…I think it was.” The man bowed again, letting them know he was out of information.
“By god, that insufferable little man.” Carbathe was on his feet, already walking to the door.
Daryn grimaced at his back but said, “Let’s get on our horses, and ride down there.” The Lords rose from their seats, and followed Carbathe out the door, followed by Arimir’s spy. They proceeded down the long hallway, and into the main room where Bavin was still bent over his parchment.
Daryn walked over to his desk and had to tap the little man on the shoulder before his eyes rose to him.
“My apologies Lord Daryn, I just can not figure this out…” He looked down at the parchment frowning.
“Never mind that Bavin, assemble the militia.” Daryn strode to the door .
“But why Lord Daryn? Is something amiss?” Bavin came out from behind his desk, and walked behind him.
“Just do as I say Bavin, I will inform you of this later.”
“Yes Lord Daryn.” He ran out the door ahead of him, heading to the barracks which housed the militia.
In short order they were all assembled outside the gates, Daryn on his brown warhorse Bordon, Davein on his brown with grey splotched gelding. Carbathe had his black mare, Asimir was on his white bay, and Sierod had brought his white gelding to town. The three hundred militia spread out in ranks before them. The hodgepodge of men with leather caps, and simple blue and white checked surcoats. They all had spears, and not a one had a shield. Daryn frowned, he wished he wouldn’t have sent out the Order to check on reports of brigands on the road to Desson. He would have to make due with these men.
Turning to the Lord Nobles he waved a hand out at the town. “Shall we?” With nods of agreement from the others, he shouted his orders. “Militia! Quick march to the town square, once we are there wait for further orders.” The column of men began marching down the street, at the end of which lay the town square. Townsfolk, poked their heads out of windows, shop doors, and stopped in the streets to stare wonderingly at the column, as they likely hadn’t seen the militia ever called out, come to think of it, neither could Daryn.
“Hail Lord Daryn and the Lord Nobles!” Somebody shouted, and it raised a small cheer.
Daryn waved a hand at the townspeople, but kept riding along after the small column of spear militia, wanting to keep pace, and get this over with.
Soon the column, had marched down the street, and had come to the crossroad before the last stretch to the square. The last stretch had tall houses to either side, and he noticed a young boy with blonde hair, who wore a blue tunic with some emblem on the front, sitting in an alleyway. He got up and ran towards the square when he saw them. Daryn wondered what he was doing, but didn’t think much of it. He looked to his left at Asimir, who sat on his horse calmly flicking the white bays reigns back and forth. Carbathe rode beside him, he watched the rode in front of them with a cold eye. His hand poised on his sword hilt.
Daryn had managed to grab his sword before they left, but he wished he would have brought along his cloak instead, it was rather cold today. He idly fingered his sword hilt, wondering what this little priest would look like, and more importantly what he would say. No matter what came out his mouth he was going to jail, and then probably to the gallows.
As the column was three houses down from the square, which Daryn noticed was absent of people, a man in a brown robe stepped into the space, his short gray hair and beard and small stature made him look older than he probably was. “Halt!” Daryn called to the militia, who jerked to a slow stop. “Be you Thoma?” Daryn, almost knew it was him, who else would be standing there as if he could stop his men all by himself.
The man shifted slightly, one hand idly coming up to rub his gray beard. “I am Thoma Crista, master of the return, priest of Solin.” He took a step forward. He waved a hand towards Daryn and the nobles. “And you I presume must be Lord of Nobles?” It was more of a statement than a question and before he could say anything Carbathe spoke.
“We suggest you disband your followers Thoma, and come with us. How dare you mock our gods!” Carbathe’s horse danced about, sensing his riders anger. “How dare you insult us. Your religion has no place in Tamirra, nor has it any place in Arsinos. You should have taken the road out of Irican long ago.”
Daryn thought Thoma smiled, hard to tell from this distance, but why would he be smiling now? The man appeared to be jovial even though he faced three hundred men, and all of the council. A cold smile touched his lips, but his eyes bored into all the nobles.
“Why don’t you come and get me, oh great Lords, why didn’t you bring puny Triarii to do the job for you?” He snickered, the cruel sound of it echoing down the street to them. “Is it because he’s not there? Is it because he is not listening to you?” Thoma laughed then, clearly trying to provoke them.
Daryn was concerned. There is something wrong here. Why would a lone man taunt us like this, he is either mad…or…he has a plan. Daryn couldn’t imagine what his plan was, but there was no sign of his followers. He was about to consult Asimir on this fact, turning to his friend. “Something isn’t right here…”
That was all he got out before Carbathe yelled at Thoma, “How dare you heretic! I will slit your throat myself, and put your head in Triarii’s temple, as an offering. Militia! Charge!” With that, the militia charged forward at the lone man Carbathe, Darvein, Teral, and Sierod close on their heals. That left Daryn and Asimir staring at each other with wide open mouths of disbelief. “That fool!” Daryn said with contempt. But he kicked his horse into a gallop after them.
Just then, Thoma raised his arms and shouted something Daryn couldn’t hear over the cries of the milita. Seemingly out of nowhere, two lines of fifteen men in the blue tunics, with that symbol on their chest stepped into the gap of the street. In their hands each held a long spear, they quickly lined up, forming two lines, the second line of spears, coming through the gaps in the first. Daryn couldn’t believe that this man would try and fight them. And with that tiny amount of men.
The Irican spearmen went charging into the long spears with a cry of “Triarii!“ and “blessed be Triarii!” before the front wall of the militia slammed into the wall of spears, many falling upon them, but the line held somehow. Thoma was behind them shouting something incoherent, raising his hands every once in a while to emphasize whatever fanatical order he was giving. Carbathe reached the middle of the milita, shouting something himself, his horse tried to press through the mass of bodies. Just then, an arrow from someplace took Carbathe in the throat, he clutched at it, trying to stop his blood from pouring down his chest but it was impossible. He swayed silently in his saddle, before toppling to the ground, the militia looked around wildly, crying out for lord Carbathe. Their cries were cut short however, when more arrows hit the mass of men dropping at least forty. Daryn couldn’t see the archers, until he looked up on the rooftops, the first three roofs on each side had close to ten archers each. They were roughshod men who didn’t wear the tunic that the men at the head of the alley did.
Asimir shouted at him above the din of battle. “Daryn, we have to get out of here! Those men won’t last!” He pointed to the spear militia massed against the long spears and even as he spoke, another forty or fifty dropped from another volley by the archers. Cries of the dying began to disturbed the charge of the militia, and they looked around fearfully, to find the location where the arrows came from. Then the men with spears began pushing forward, Thoma walking behind them laughing like a madman.
“Your right.” Daryn shouted back, but before he could give the order to retreat, the militia was pushing back upon the other Lord Nobles, running back towards Daryn and Asimir. Another volley of arrows punctuated their retreat, and Daryn watched Teral fall from his saddle with an arrow in his back, his body trampled by the retreating militia.
Daryn wheeled his horse around, and his jaw dropped, at the other end of the street, were another two lines of men with those long spears. “We’ll have to fight our way out Asimir!” The older man only nodded. The spear militia, which was totally out of control, seemed to realize that the other end was their best way out. They raced past Daryn and Asimir, and they rode with them. Out of the corner of his eye Daryn saw Darvein whipping his horse, his sword flailing above his head. Sierod was not far behind doing the same with his sword.
Daryn unsheathed his sword and held it above his head. He kicked his horse into a full blown gallop as did Asimir. The militia slammed into the second wall of spears, and Daryn threaded his way up to the line with Asimir in tow. As he came up a spear stabbed a militia man through the chest, not stopping, it’s thin faced owner, ripped it out with a blood thirsty howl of “Solin shall return!”, and plunged it into another mans thigh, blood squirted into the air and the man dropped. Daryn plunged forth on his warhorse, he took one swing and buried his sword deep in the mans head, he heard a sickening crack, and the man stood for a moment, a look of disbelief etched on his face as he fell to the ground. His sword wanted to stay buried but he pulled it out as the man fell. Knocking aside another spear he felled another man, he heard a horse whiney, he looked to the source and found Asimir lying on the ground, his horse had been stabbed through the heart with a spear, but Asimir rose to his feet, and kept fighting, his sword bloody. Daryn noticed that there was almost no militia left, the archers were hopping down the roofs to the closest ones so they could avoid killing their own men.
He was frantic, he knew they had to escape soon, or face death. He pushed his horse into a gap in their line, and it split open, he pushed through hacking to either side of him, killing two more. One man caught in the neck, fell to the ground with a heart scarring scream. On the other side of the broken line he looked back, and Darvein followed through his wake, Asimir on the back of his horse. Sierod followed quickly out as well, but a man with a long spear reacted quickly, swinging his spear like a giant club he swung hitting Sierod in the temple, knocking him from the saddle, as his horse kept running. The man then bent down, and with a horrific sneer, took a knife out of his belt, and slit Sierod’s throat, blood gushed from the wound in a red fountain. Sierod’s hands were raised as if he almost was begging the man not to, but dropped to his sides, as his life quickly came to an end. A few militia attempted to run out of the same break, but were quickly cut down, the men with the long spears rejoicing at killing their enemies.
Daryn looked to Darvein, who had a look of rage upon his face. His hands gripped the reigns like he planned to go back and kill them all. Suddenly an arrow whipped between them, a black streak that made a humming noise in the air, it buried itself in a gap between the cobbled stones. Daryn didn’t waste any time he kicked his horse down the road, he rode hard as arrows buzzed around them, some sticking into houses, others bouncing of the stone street. He was glad no townspeople had remained out. He didn’t look back until he came to the end of the street near the palace. Darvein reigned up beside him, Asimir looking just as enraged as he felt. In the distance he saw a group of people running up the street, yelling and screaming.
“Kill the Lord of Nobles.” One scream echoed up the street to him.
“We have to leave.” Daryn said, looking to his companions.
“Leave! But what about Tamirra we…” Darvein shouted at him, a deep furrow creased his forehead.
“We have no choice Darvein.” Behind him Asimir nodded. “We have nothing left, and those men will be up here in a matter of minutes.”
Not wanting to give up, Darvein dug in his heels. “We could wait for the Order! We could wait until they get here, then they wouldn’t have a chance.” Darvein wheeled his horse to look down the street. The mob was maybe half a mile away and getting closer.
“Darvein, it’s over, by the time the order gets back they’ll have three times what they do now, and the city walls. We must ride to Iri Kadai, and seek the Roussan’s council. I don’t like it either Darvein, but it’s the only choice we have.” Daryn was thinking quickly, but time was rapidly running out. Thoma’s mob would be here in minutes. “Meet me on the road south of town. I have to go warn everyone in the palace to flee.” He turned to ride through the gate and into the palace.
“Wait Daryn, I need a new horse, I will come with you.” Asimir jumped off the back of Darvein’s horse and plopped to the ground. He sheathed his sword, which reminded them all they had them out, prompting Daryn, and Darvein to do the same.
Darvein swallowed hard before speaking. “Just hurry up, and don’t try anything heroic, I’ll have to come back if you don’t return.” With that he turned his gelding around and prodded it into a gallop, taking his first left and disappearing from sight.
“Go to the stables and then wait for me outside, if anybody comes just ride.” Daryn, galloped through the gates and around the corner, jumping off his mount in front of the council chambers entrance. He ran through the door and thankfully found Bavin, still standing at his post. “Bavin!”
The little balding clerk looked up through his reading glasses, still reading a piece of parchment. “Yes, Lord Daryn…” His eyes grew wide for a minute as they took in all of Daryn. “Why my Lord, you have blood on your tunic. What has happened!” His face was disbelief and worry at the same time.
“Get everybody out Bavin, get everybody out of the palace and flee. The town has been taken over.” Daryn watched as the little man just stood their shaking his head.
“Who Lord Davyn? I don’t understand…”
“Just flee Bavin, get out as fast as you can, warn everyone and then leave! And remember to send somebody on the road north to Desson, have them inform the Order of Orlead, tell them to head to Desson and take their orders from Del until I send word.” Bavin continued to stand there, and shake his head in utter confusion. “Now Bavin! They are coming to the palace!” Daryn turned and strode to the door, but he heard Bavin running behind him, and he had started yelling as Daryn reached the door. Hopefully he would get everyone out.
As he entered back into the midday sun, Asimir had Daryn’s horse and another grey bay by the reigns, lazily humming as if nothing was going on. A few cries could be heard, and they sounded as if they were getting closer. “Well Asimir, looks like we have been unseated. Hopefully the Roussan won’t decide to take our heads. Now lets get out of here.” He hopped on his horse, and waited for Asimir to do the same.
“Oh…I don’t think he’ll go that far. I hope anyway.”
They both rode out through the palace gate, and through the first left. He could see Thoma’s small band was a few streets down. He wasn’t too worried about being caught since not a one of them had a horse. They managed to get out of the town without seeing many people. The few they did see in the streets, farther from the town square, they shouted at them to run, that the town had been taken. He didn’t know if anybody had listened to them, but that was all he could do. He couldn’t help take back his town if he was dead after all. They rode through the Iri Kadai gate, and as they passed the ten foot high stone wall, Daryn was already thinking of how to scale it when he returned to take it back. They left Tamirra in the dust at a gallop.
They had traveled down the rode near on two miles, when a man on a horse broke from a bank of tree’s to their left, riding up to them. Daryn almost drew his sword before he realized it was Darvein.
“What is the plan?” He rode up, brushing some leaves from his shoulder.
“We will ride to Iri Kadai, and inform the Roussan of what transpired here.” Asimir said, lowering a hand against the rapidly setting sun. “We don’t really have much of a choice.”
Daryn only nodded. He couldn’t believe that it had just happened. His town taken from him in mere minutes. It had been so easy for that madman. If only the Order had been there. If only he had been more vigilant about recruiting militia, and surveillance of the town. So many if’s. He couldn’t help but feel depressed. He wouldn’t be surprised if the Roussan stripped him of his title. Not that it would really matter, until Tamirra was regained, he had no titles.
“Well, lets get on with it. I suppose we won’t reach the village before dark.” Asimir said, he kicked his gray bay into a canter heading slowly into the setting sun. “Are you two just going to stand around and let Thoma find you there?” A laugh followed the statement, a sound that seemed foreign after all that had just happened.
Daryn and Darvein followed behind Asimir, a flock of birds, indistinguishable from this distance burst from the tree’s to the right at a bend in the road.
“What do you think the Roussan will tell us?” Darvein questioned them, his head drooping a little, like he already knew the answer.
Asimir turned on his horse to look at him. “I’m not sure Darvein. It’s possible we could all be dead. It’s possible the Roussan will not think anything of it. He may give us a fine. He may throw us in jail for a sentence. It’s all up to him…” Asimir turned back around, and scratched the back of his neck. “I would doubt he would do anything too harsh. Roussan Tevouine…I’ve heard the man is lenient sometimes.” Asimir’s voice slipped into a darker state. “Of course, a king always needs to keep a strong hand on his people. I really can’t say Darvein, I’m afraid our situation is quite precarious.”
“Then why don’t we just ride…ride to the eastern horizon.” Darvein sounded defeated, like a man whose hopes had been drowned. “Why can’t we just ride as far as we can go? I don’t want to be beheaded, or condemned. I’ve already lost everything I’ve had today, my lands, my people, my dignity.” Suddenly he rounded on Daryn, pointing a stiff finger right at his face. “This is all your fault Daryn, if you hadn’t let that priest do what he wanted with the town, none of this would have ever happened.” Spittle flew from his lips as he spoke, and his face was beet red. “Your incompetence has killed us all!”
Suddenly Asimir’s horse was coming back around, his face was like a stone, no emotion poking through. “Don’t blame him Darvein! You could have done something just as he could have. We are all to blame, we were all at the hearing when it was brought up.” Asimir turned his horse back around once Darvein seemed to be quieted. “If you want to leave Darvein, and ride to the eastern horizon, do it. I won’t stop you, Daryn won’t stop you, but we are going to Iri Kadai. The Roussan will do what he will, and I for one, think I deserve whatever he hands me.” Asimir’s voice once again dropped to a steely low. “Too many years of being fat and lazy, peace makes men forget how quickly war can happen. We all forgot our duties as Lord Noble‘s.”
After that they all rode in silence, not a sound was heard but the wind through the tree’s. It soon came to a twilight as the sun finally went to bed. The night was warm though, and Daryn laid his cloak over the back of his horse to feel the night breeze on his skin. Even though he had lost all he had today, it felt good to be free. He was almost ashamed to admit it, but he was just a normal man now. He had no duties, he had nothing to do at all, except ride of course. He was used to serving his people, even though according to Asimir they all had done a poor job on it. He didn’t like it, but he figured they had at least a week or two of riding ahead of them. Even though it probably wasn’t right, he decided he would try to make the best out of this.
Soon they came across a small village where the road forked. Since it was night there were not many people in the streets, and the few who were there didn’t notice them, or decided not to notice them as they road through. Darvein looked longingly at the only inn in town, but Asimir shook his head and they rode on. After about a two miles after the town, near midnight Asimir stopped.
“I suppose we will camp in the woods here, I do not think I can keep in the saddle much longer without some sleep.” With that Asimir led his horse into the forest, and they soon came upon a tiny clearing, big enough to fit the three of them. “One of you can start a fire if you want, but I’m going to sleep.” Nobody did.
Everybody hobbled their horses, and laid down on the ground. Daryn couldn’t sleep, and it wasn’t Asimir’s thunderous snoring that kept his eyes from closing. He never thought he would ever have to fight a battle for his town. He never thought he would ever have to kill somebody. Yet he had killed people today. A picture passed through his mind of the man whose skull he had crushed. Seirod. He wondered how Lady Brendolyn would take the news. Carbathe. He didn’t know if the grumpy man had any family, his wife had died long ago. Daryn knew Teral had a wife. Daryn wiped a tear from his eye. He couldn’t help but weep for those men. Surely they had been surprised as he, but there was nothing he could do now. It was over. He only hoped that the fanatical priest had left everybody else in the town alone. His eyes slowly closed and he drifted to sleep.
Walking along the western road to Tamirra Grevail kicked a rock in front of him, the slowly setting sun was just above the horizon, and next to him walked Taurana. After studying in the forest all day he was ready to get home and get dinner. He and Taurana often went to the forest to study, it was much quieter and much easier than finding somewhere in town. They had even built a small house of sorts, and sometimes they stayed in it for days. They would go home, grab some food, and camp out for days at a time. Just the two of them.
“Do you want to be an accountant Grevail?” The abruptness of the question caught him of guard. He looked over at her, her dark eyes stared back at him, her red hair glowing around her head in a ball. She was a very pretty girl, that red hair, pale lightly freckled skin. Grevail especially like her small pointed nose, and rosebud lips. He cared for her deeply, but didn’t know if she felt the same way about him. They were just friends, and for the moment, that was good enough for him.
“Well yes, I suppose I do.” He wasn’t really that sure, but he told her that anyway. “Don’t you? I mean…why waste the time..?” He stopped letting the rest die as she spoke.
“I don’t really, I just did it to please my father…” Her face twisted about, showing how she felt about that. “ But I want something more out of life…I don’t want to spend forever crunching numbers.” She sighed… raising a hand to brush a strand of hair from her face. “Of course I don’t have much of a choice now do I?”
He had to laugh, Taurana never did seem to think anything was enough. She had always wanted more in everything he could remember. He had known Taurana since they were young. In class she always wanted to learn new things, and in life she always wanted to explore around the next corner, in the next copse of trees. But he liked the way she is. She was always having fun, and she was always there for him to talk to. “I know you do. Maybe when you go off to be an accountant you’ll find something else out there.” He offered her a smile, as encouragement but she could accomplish anything without encouragement. “You can do whatever you want Taurana, and I’m sure you’ll find it.”
She smiled back. “Thank you Grevail. I’m sure you’ll make your employer a lot of money, if you’re handling it.” She giggled lightly in her throat, a funny sound. Suddenly she stopped in her tracks.
He stopped also, looking back at her. “Whats wrong Tau…”
“There is smoke coming from the town.” She sounded worried, and he could see the smoke now too.
“Somebody probably toppled a lantern in a shed or something. Come on Tau, lets go see who the unlucky person is.” He turned back around and started towards the town.
“I don’t know Grevail, that’s a lot of smoke to be a shed, or maybe even just one house.” She ran a little to catch up, slowing down beside him. “I hope everyone’s alright.”
He laughed, shooting her a reassuring smile. “I’m sure everybody’s fine Tau, don’t worry. Lets hurry up and get over there.”
He broke into a slow jog, running ahead of Taurana and laughing, throwing his arms up at the sky. He ran for a little way. “Come on Tau, lighten up.” He couldn’t stand to see her worried, especially about something as silly as this. He stopped when she didn’t answer looking towards the town. That was when he noticed that there was a lot of smoke, and it didn’t seem to be coming from the same place, but three or four different places.
“I told you…there is something wrong.” Taurana came skidding to a stop behind him. The worry in her voice much more evident.
“I think your right.” With that he broke into a full run for town, maybe half a mile away. The flowers and grass on the side of the road sped by in a blur. His mind was on his family now. When he came up to the gates he was astonished to see the streets abandoned, article’s of clothing, and furniture were lying in the street, and farther down he thought he could see bodies. People are dying? How could this happen? It was impossible, there had been peace everywhere in Arsinos for as long as anybody could remember.
Taurana came to a halt beside him, putting her hands on her knees. “I’m going to check on my family Grevail.” She looked distraught, and she was breathing heavily, her cheeks were red, made even more so by her hair, and her dark eyes searched the buildings and streets quickly. “I don’t know what has happened but I think we should be careful around here.”
He sighed. “I’ll go with you and then…”
She cut him off. “No, you go check on your father and brother. I am sure me and my family will be heading to Alla Dras, I have family there. Maybe you could catch up to us on the road to Desson” Her face was anguish painted over with fear. She really didn’t like having to split up, but she was right, he admitted.
“I will see you again, just hurry and try not to be seen by anyone, not even a neighbor, who knows who did this.” He winced, thinking of his own neighbors and his own neighborhood. “Go Taurana, We will meet again.”
She gave him one last reluctant glance before trotting off down the street taking a left to head to the northwest part of town. She should be safe, not having to travel on any main roads. He was in a much different boat however. He lived all the way across town, almost a straight shot from here. He hoped his father and brother were alright. Braiden was as slippery as an eel when he wanted to be, and his father was getting old, but he was sure he could take care of himself. Better get moving before somebody comes around the corner. He knew he couldn’t trust anybody now, it could be a civil revolt, he doubted it was a foreign army. The Urucan were the only other nation he could think of that would possibly do anything like this. And even so, peace had existed so long between the two nations, he couldn’t imagine that it had crumbled so easily.
He broke into a trot along the road strewn with random articles of daily life, pots and pans, chairs, doors were left open and creaking in the slow wind, shutters were open and curtains fluttering. The town in which he grew up was not there, all that was left, appeared to be a broken shell. He kept jogging along close to the right hand side of the street, down one street he swore he could see a few more motionless bodies in the street. He crossed the main road through town, looking both ways for about ten minutes before he crossed, he thought he could hear a crowd of people farther down, but he didn’t wait to see. Down one street he saw a large group of townspeople maybe three hundred all told sitting on the ground in a crossroads. They were surrounded by men wearing the blue tunics with the symbol, and they were all armed. There were not as many heretics as townspeople. But Grevail couldn’t blame them for not fighting back, not with their women and children in the midst of those men. It was hard to tell from here, but he was sure the townsfolk were frightened. Like sheep to slaughter. He backtracked the way he had come, until he was sure he would pass out of site of the group. He saw a few more like it, but to far down for anybody to notice one boy slinking from alley to alley. He ran.
He kept running until he skidded into the alley behind his house, it was empty and it looked as if people may have loaded up wagons with their goods from the shops. There were chandler supplies in the alley, so hopefully Dien Cedar and his family had made it out. He ran into the back yard and up onto the small porch, where he noticed the back door was partly off its hinges. It creaked loudly as he pushed it aside and he winced, and shot a glance back at the alley. He slowly eased inside and his breath caught in his throat.
“Oh…my boy…I’m glad you came here.” His father lay in his brothers arms, a dark pool of blood spreading out on his chest and onto the floor.
“Father…what happened…Braiden..?” He managed to choke out those words as tears welled up in his eyes, and his throat tightened.
“They came about two hours ago…must have been going door to door…I walked out back and saw Dien, loading up a wagon with Marina, they managed to get out right before they came into the alley…” He coughed and Braiden tightened his grip, his eyes shone with tears. “When they saw me…I tried…to go back inside…tried to block the door but they broke it down…said they had to kill the faithless.” He laughed then, an odd sound at that moment. “Never thought I would go this way…”
Grevail kneeled down beside them, trying to avoid the pool of blood as he did so. “Don’t be silly father, you’ll be ok…we just need to get you to a healer, hopefully Grialla is still in the city…”
His father laid a hand on his arm to quiet him. “Everybody who could leave is gone…I won’t live long enough anyway boy…”
“No…father…we can get you out of town…we can get you help.” He looked to his brother, who didn’t look up from his father. “We can get you out!” he broke into tears, putting his face into his hands, wishing that when he took them away this would all be gone.
“No Grevail, this is my time…I want you two boys to leave…just remember that I love you, and I’ll always be with you. I have a bag of money upstairs on my desk…take it and run boys. Take it and go to Desson, your brother said he will…be putting…in there. Go there and wait for him…I love you both…but it’s time for me to go…” His voice trailed off and a different light entered his eyes. “I’m coming Birgit…I’m coming.” And with that he was gone.
Braiden and Grevail each sat motionless, staring down at their father.
“What…What…are we going to do Braiden.” He didn’t want to admit it, but he felt lost, he didn’t even notice the tears streaming down his face.
Braiden slowly wiggled out from behind Jalen, and even more slowly laid him on the ground, he wiped his tears away. “I guess we’ll do what he said Grevail. We’ll take the money, and then go to Desson, and wait for Adellus. We don’t have any other choice.” He sighed and leaned down to kiss Jalens forehead. “We don’t have any other choice.” Braiden stood abruptly, wiping new tears from his eyes. “I’ll go upstairs…and get…and get the money. Just stay here.” Braiden tore his eyes off him and walked back to the stairs, and minutes later he could hear his brothers footsteps going up.
“Which building should we…”
Immediately he was on the ground, crouching and looking back out the door to the alley. He didn’t think he could breath if he wanted to, but he tried to keep absolutely quiet. It seemed his heart was bounding around in his head.
The voices seemed to come closer. “…god for this Solin mess. I mean this is a thief’s dream Bandor…a whole city for the taking.”
Another voice that was deeper and rougher, sounded as if it belonged to a bigger man. “Shutup Norum, if those religious freaks catch us they’ll slit our throats as happily as anyone else’s.” He coughed and spit. “We are just here to steal…now lets start hitting these houses, take only silver and gold mind, we don’t have much time before other people get the same idea.”
“Whatever you say boss.” A hoarse chuckle followed the sarcastic remark.
“Just shutup and do what I say.”
He could hear footsteps padding up to the door, and before he could react, a man with a long nose, and a couple teeth missing stuck his balding head through the broken door. He locked eyes with the man.
“Well what do we have here?” He cackled, this was obviously the smaller man, but he looked no less dangerous. “A scared little lamb. Give me your gold boy! Or I’ll run you through.” He pushed open the door calling back out into th