The White Twins

The White Twins

A Story by ImSJ
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A chapter or segment of a longer wip titled Crillon's Tale.

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CRILLON’S TALE: The White Twins


  Rauph was sitting quietly in the corner, his back propped up against the wall, fully into his cups, muttering softly and singing to himself as he often did.  Crillon and the local blacksmith sat at a table near the hearth discussing the ploys and intricacies of draughts as they played. The uncertain Spring weather had turned chill once more and began to rain withal, the rain soon turning towards sleet.  It was not a night to be lying under the stars.


  The door opened to a blast of cold air and admitted two travellers, cloaks and boots muddied from the weather.  Not above middle height and they had deep hoods pulled up but Crillon, glancing up from his game, was able to see a the gleam of stark white or silver hair beneath the hood of one.  They possessed themselves of one of the corner tables in the shadows where the landlord approached and spoke with them briefly. Their cloaks were of fine stuff, a matching dark blue hue and their tall riding boots, soft leather of some dark color and stitched with elaborate designs.  Long swords they had, also matching, bound with silver on the hilt and scabbards set with blue and white gems. Gauntlets, apparently similar to their boots in design and material were doffed and piled upon the table. Crillon could see the stark pallor of their hands and the winking of white stones on fingers.  A curious pair, these two lordlings, he thought as he watched them from across the room.


  Pipes were brought out; a small pouch of leaf was produced also and shared as they settled in.  They sat stretching their legs before them and their cloaks close wrapped about. After a bit the landlord returned with a plate of cheese and bread.  He set before them also two mugs hot, spiced wine the steaming fragrance of which filled the small room.


  Now Crillon’s attention was drawn to Rauph.  His muttering suddenly became louder. It seemed to follow on from something he had been saying for a while. Not his usual rough and bawdy verses but some sort of a chant or recitation.  Though his eyes were closed he stood up and extended his left arm and hand as if reaching out for something that only he could see. In the dim firelight of the room he seemed taller, commanding, and the glow of the fire shone brighter somehow in his face.  In a deep voice, not at all like his own and in a tongue Crillon could not identify yet understood in his heart implicitly, Rauph chanted:


                                 “Whose is the voice upon the wind

                                    Blowing from the Hill of Towers?”

  A great wind blew against the door banging it open, rushing in cold and fierce, extinguishing all the candles and leaving only the light from the hearth to illuminate the room before dying down.  He continued, his voice growing louder:


                                 “Whose is the cry echoing down the vale

                                     In triumph and gladness?”


  A peal of thunder or thunderous music, it was difficult to tell, rang out painfully,  pummeling and throwing everyone to the ground, causing crockery to clatter down off the shelves and overturning benches, chairs and tables and shaking the walls.   Old dirt and dust from the ceiling sifted down in a brown fog.  Yet Rauph stood as if rooted, arms outstretched reaching upwards.  Harsher and louder, almost bellowing, he chanted on, his voice now a chorus of dozens; a chorus of hundreds; so loud loud now that it almost hurt to listen:


                                   “He is known by the ravens circling;

                                     By the Great Stag belling in the vale…”


  One of the strangers sprang up and leapt at Rauph slapping him hard across the face dropping him silently and suddenly  in a heap upon the floor. The chanting ceased. The music ceased. The thunder dwindled, running away swiftly to the west.  The tavern was quiet except for the coughing and heavy breathing of its patrons and landlord. After a moment they all began to pick themselves up from the floor, looking at each other in wonder.


  “ Ere he a bloody wizard?” whispered the blacksmith in a shaking voice, “ Don’t look to me like such.”


  Crillon arose and strode swiftly to his unconscious cousin as the stranger who had struck him lifted the big man  with seeming ease and placed him back on his bench in the corner.


  “Rauph!  Rauph! What have you done to him?” growled Crillon, hand on dagger and staring mistrustfully at the other.  He leaned over Rauph and set his ear close to his cousin’s mouth to ensure he still breathed. “What did you do?”  he demand once more.


  His hood now having fallen aside, Crillon could now see the man’s features.  His countenance, as white as his hair, features sharp and fine, was now creased in a deep frown.   His narrowed eyes, grey as a winter sky, stared back at Crillon. In a voice low and urgent he spoke.   


  “Those verses.  How came your friend to know those verses?  I think they are not for the incautious drunkard, singing them in a tavern.”


  Crillon shook his cousin softly trying to awaken him, “I don’t know!  I don’t know! I have never heard him sing like that before this. Curse you, Rauph, wake up you bloody fool!  Wake up!”


  The other traveller approached now. He lifted Rauph’s eyelid and bending to his chest listened to his heart for a moment before saying,  “He will sleep for a bit and awaken none the worse more than likely. While he rests we will talk, yes?”


  Crillon turned and looked up at him seeing for the first time that the two were twins.  In every detail they were identical. So strange this seemed that Crillon was taken aback for a moment and experienced a weird sense of seeing someone once known but long parted and forgotten.


  The twins looked at each other and something seemed to pass between them.  Then one of them, the first one, spoke.


  “Passing strange this is and must needs be thought on.  My name is Imcyth. My brother is Imcar. It is our belief that there is another’s will at work this night.  Yes, now I have seen this, I am sure of it.”

  


© 2019 ImSJ


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Added on February 11, 2019
Last Updated on February 12, 2019

Author

ImSJ
ImSJ

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I'm bendable with a thick skin and head so I invite any criticism good or bad. Pull no punches. How else shall I see my writing as others see it? Let 'er rip! more..