Twenty-eight

Twenty-eight

A Chapter by Isemay

“But Brother Somi was a father to you? He raised you and loved you…” Syr couldn't keep the envy out of her voice.


“Yes. He was stern but loving. Are you certain he and the divinity…” Cyran walked next to her holding the reins of the tired horse.


“He’s used that ruse before. Without having met the man I can’t be entirely certain but…”


“No, I-there were moments I felt that I was with Brother Somi when I was in the divinity’s presence. I thought it was because he had died.” Cyran looked mournfully at the ground as they walked and she reached out and put a hand on his shoulder.


“I know how you feel. For a time, Master Odos was like a father to me. He…” She stopped and cleared her throat. “He taught me and even though he could be terrible, I loved him. And then he died and I did everything I could to give him the kind of funeral he wanted, even buried him with a cask of his favorite mead.”


Cyran stopped and looked at her curiously before pulling her into an embrace. “The memory of his death still hurts you?”


“The memory of being alone does. He abandoned me. Twice. I hate that I love the old man.” She wrapped her arms around his waist and took a deep breath. Even after riding all day he still managed to smell mostly like soap, a feat that should have been impossible. “Why do you smell like soap?”


He laughed and stepped back, “I asked to take some with me, I think they gave me every bit of soap they had. They didn’t want you to come back angry at any lack of hospitality.” 


Opening his jacket he showed her the thin soap bars tucked into places that should have held discreet tool pouches, money, or other small items.


She broke into laughter as well.


Smiling shyly, he closed his jacket and fastened it again. “How far do you think they went?”


“If we don’t catch up to them we can stop and make our own camp. It shouldn’t rain tonight, and I can show you how to make dragon’s fire if you want some light.”


“The food is on the cart, Syreilla, and it isn’t appropriate for a man and a woman to sleep together alone.”


She dissolved into laughter and it took some time to compose herself, every time she looked at his serious face she started to laugh again. Finally, shielding her eyes so she couldn’t see him she waved her free hand, “Cousin! I’d say I’m not elf enough for that but I did choose to be with Vezar. You don’t have to worry though, I’m as loyal as a hound. I won’t ravish you!” Her laughter spilled out again almost before she’d finished speaking.


When she glanced at him he was trying to scowl and failing. “I wasn’t worried about that, I was concerned about your reputation. A woman has to think about such things, as does a priest.”


“Ah.” Syr grinned at him, “My reputation is that I’ll put my foot on any man’s throat who gives me the glad eye. If you never prove yourself you never get a reputation, cousin. You don’t prove yourself by avoiding situations.”


They walked in silence for a time and then he asked curiously, “We’re related to Vezar Edra, the King Undying?”


“We’re related to Vezar Edra, the Undying, yes. Here.” She stopped and drew an interconnected group of circles with the toe of her shoe. “Our grandfather is here, and our grandmother. This is our uncle, Grandfather’s brother. See, Grandmother gave Grandfather two sons, that I know of, I was never religious. And then she gave Uncle two, that’s what Vezar explained to me. All four of them are brothers, they have the same mother. Vezar is our cousin.”


Cyran nodded slowly. “Why would she do such a thing?”


“Love, cousin. I’ve never met our grandfather but Uncle is handsome, a little dour, but he looks after his family. He’s good to Vezar-”


He held up his hand, “Neither should have been looking at the other. He was wrong for pursuing his brother’s wife and she was wrong for giving in.”


“Right or wrong it happened. I’ve felt my heart pulled in two directions before and I can understand.”


He looked dubious and she rubbed the horse’s face, “Cyran, when even vengeance has to make allowances for love, should justice do less?”


His brow furrowed and she could tell he was thinking again. Syr pulled one of the perfectly sized though not perfectly spiced sausages she’d bought out of her pocket and offered it to him. Eating as they walked, evening rolled in and they could see a fire ahead near a small copse of trees by the road.


“That’s probably them.”


“And if it isn’t?” Cyran was frowning at the fire.


“Then they can share their fire and food or they can run screaming into the night.” She gave him a wide smile, “I like to give people a choice.”


“How is that just or right, Syreilla?” He turned his frown on her, “And it looks as if there are at least four of them.”


“They may make the right choice, cousin! Don’t worry so much!” 


As they got closer it was clear that there were several men at the campsite, but the cart was one Syr recognized. Her steps became more purposeful. She could feel eyes on her already and hear at least two men trying to be stealthy. Those at the fire well ahead were talking and laughing amongst themselves. 


“Wait.” Cyran’s voice was quiet, “We shouldn't approach.”


“Of course you should, good master!” A voice from behind them called out and one from the side started to laugh. “We haven’t had a pretty girl in camp for awhile.”


Syr put on her widest, maddest grin. “What happened to the dwarf who was driving that wagon? And the men with him?”


“Your friend here is going to join them,” an unkempt looking man with a knife made a gesture across his throat as he came from the side, “but if you’re a good girl-”


The ward she cast at his feet had his skin sloughing off as he screamed. “Put this on and go around, cousin. See if they went ahead.” She tossed him the circlet and he pulled it on as she wrapped the gem’s chain around her hand and tugged on her glove.


“I see my path laid before me.” Cyran inclined his head and swung himself up onto his horse. 


The man behind them was advancing with a crossbow drawn as his companions from the fire did the same with their own weapons.


“What are you, a witch?”


“I’m the Golden Rook.” She laughed as he fired the bow and barely missed her, the quarrel grazing her cheek as she moved.


Under her breath she cast a holding ward and turned to deal with the group coming for her. One had been shot by his friend, the rest hesitated as she murmured and gestured to the ground in front of them.


“Even mages run out of power after a nasty spell like that one and she doesn’t look like a mage.” One with a short sword tried to rally his companions.


“I’m no mage and I hate having to repeat myself. But perhaps you didn’t hear me the first time. I’m the Golden Rook. Where is the dwarf who was driving that cart and the men with him. They’re all mine and if you cross me-”


She stopped as they nodded at one another and charged, sinking as a group into the pair of miring wards she’d laid, screaming and struggling to get out. Once the ground hardened, she knelt, ignoring them as she mixed her powders and the little bit of liquid needed in a small ceramic dish. They fell silent as she lifted it with care.


“Last chance to speak.”


“F**k you, witch! When I get out-”


Blowing across it and waking it, in a smooth motion she cast it across the group, the one on the very end got only a tiny bit but dragon’s fire was ravenous and soon all of them were engulfed. Syr stood watching for the moment, waiting for the moment she would need to tamp down the fire to prevent it from running wild across the grasses. Ash billowed in the breeze as she turned a wide mad smile on the last one alive.


“You can either answer my questions or you can die in agony. I always try to give people the choice.”


She dispelled the ward and he collapsed onto the grass, beginning to whimper and tremble.


“I’m not in a patient mood.”


“Rook!” Master Odos’ voice rang out. “Leave him.”


“I want to know what happened, old man.” She shouted back as a path lit toward the trees. Grabbing the whimpering lump by his collar she dragged him along. 


The closer she got she could smell the blood and something else. Syr dropped the limp man and moved forward at a trot. Grimgrip had his hand pressed firmly into Magpie’s bloody belly. What looked like a guard had been cut down not far away.


Cyran was trying to pray with his hand on the prone half-elf’s head but looked anguished, “I can’t-the divinity won’t allow me to heal him.”


“‘The divinity’ can burn.” She gave Odos a sour look but he was pale and looked as if he’d actually wept. 


Crouching, next to Magpie she put her hands over Grimgrip’s. “Don’t move until I tell you.” Closing her eyes she murmured the siphoning spell and drew from the stone, the healing spell would have been utterly inadequate without so much power behind it. She gave the dwarf a curt nod and he pulled back as she pressed down, a shudder passed through the half-elf but when she was finished and had wiped away the gore, the area only looked bruised.


“Where are they?” Odos sounded oddly cold and she looked up knowing he was furious.


“I killed all of them except the one with the crossbow. I wanted-” 


He spun on his heel and stalked off.


“It was the crossbowman who shot Kwes.” Grimgrip looked tired. “I did what I could and kept him alive but that was a mortal wound.”


“It’s a good thing the Magpie isn’t entirely mortal.” She flashed the dwarf a smile. “Thank you.”


“Do you have enough left to heal that?” He gestured to her face.


“I would like to try.” Cyran came to kneel beside her looking pained, “I want to be able to heal even if the divinity withdraws from me.”


“I would let you but I need a source to replenish from. It took a lot to help Magpie.” Syreilla started to reach over to squeeze his hand and reassure him but stopped realizing both her hands were bloody. “I’ll make sure you can practice before we part ways, cousin.”


“I’ll find a basin and water.” He lurched to his feet and hurried toward the camp. 


“What happened?” Syr studied the dwarf as he sat back and exhaled.


“They shot Kwes with the crossbow as they approached. Odos said he can’t heal his own children and I couldn’t fight while I was trying to keep the boy alive. He spun them a tale about visiting his rich daughter and they let us live and try to keep…” He nearly wiped his brow.


“I shouldn’t have fallen back with Cyran. I’m sorry for leaving you vulnerable. It won’t happen again.”


“They won’t be bothering anyone else, Rook,” the exhausted dwarf smiled faintly, “if the screams were any indication.”


“They called me a witch, it put me in a bad mood.” She grinned as he chuckled.


“I-I have a basin…” Cyran looked pale as he returned with the large dry bowl. “Master Odos is…” 


“I don’t hear any screams.” Syr looked curiously in the direction he’d come from.


“He’s speaking to the man. The things he’s saying…” Cyran shuddered.


“Ah. He does have a way with words. I think there was twice I thought for sure I’d have blisters on my ears when he was finished with a scolding.”


Juddri heaved himself to his feet, “Well earned?”


“Of course!”


He snorted a laugh and beckoned to Cyran, “I’ll go with you to find water.”


She stayed next to Magpie and took a good look at the sleeping man while they were alone. He was pale but his breathing was slow and even. His clothes were blood soaked and torn around the belly and the bruising looked deeply unpleasant. Hefting the stone in a bloodied hand she tried to judge how much was left that she could work with.


“He’ll heal, my little rook.” Odos came back with a grim smile. “You should heal that scratch on your face.”


“Cyran wanted to, I’d rather wait and save what’s left in case it’s needed. That bruising looks terrible. Are you sure-”


“He’ll heal, you did well.” He laid his hand on her head. 


“After I wash my hands I’ll go find that-”


“Let him run, Rook. He’ll be having nightmares about you for the rest of his long and miserable life.”


“I don’t like it when people who hurt the ones I love live a long time, old man.” Syr looked up at him sourly as his face broke into a genuine smile.


“Sometimes a long life is a better punishment than death. Every possible thing in his life will go wrong, my little rook, illness, ill luck, injury, poverty, there will be no bottom to the hole he finds himself in. By the time, many, many years from now, when he goes to Uncle, any punishment he can offer will feel like a relief.”


“You shouldn’t have told him that, you should have said I’ll be keeping an eye out for him after he dies.” She couldn’t help but mirror his vicious grin.


“I hope to have you back with me by then.”


“There’s no spring or well.” Juddri came back looking put upon, “We may have to find a farmhouse.”


“Master Odos, will you help him go through whatever those men considerately left behind and see if they brought any water?” 


“Cyran.” Odos pointed down at her, “Heal her face. She’s being stubborn. There’s enough power left in the stone to do it.”


As the old man left with the dwarf to look for water she had to smile at Cyran’s relief. “Does my face look so bad?”


“I feel useless. Being able to help in any small way…”


“I’ll let you help me keep watch tonight, too, if you want. They all need a night’s rest at least. If you remember how to draw from the stone, the healing spell isn’t any more difficult than what I taught you earlier.”



© 2021 Isemay


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Added on January 30, 2021
Last Updated on January 30, 2021
Tags: thief, dwarf, elf, dragon, gods

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Isemay
Isemay

Germany



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Spent some time away from here but I've come back to peek in and post again! Review my writing and I will gladly return the favor! I love reading other people's stories, and I try to review hone.. more..

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One One

A Chapter by Isemay


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A Chapter by Isemay


Three Three

A Chapter by Isemay