Chapter Five: Fire Burning

Chapter Five: Fire Burning

A Chapter by jmfconklin

Leogun tries to continue with his daily life, but things begin to push him away from his goals and dreams.

The rooms of a brother of the High One's Order were neither spacious nor luxurious. Of course, a brother of the High One's Order needed neither space nor luxury. They were men of the North, and men of the North learned early that luxury was something that few could afford, and little space meant more warmth during the cold winter. Leogun's consisted of a bed, a table, and a very small bookshelf. The shelf held the entire Book of Ivarord, as well as several histories and novels. The novels were a sort of guilty pleasure for the young man. He was not supposed to have time for them, especially now, but he delighted in the moments he allowed himself to read of the journeys and battles of the heroes of old.
He rose from his bed as quickly as he could, donning his black, high collared shirt and pulling his blue robe over top. He rubbed the gold hem carefully. The robe was well made, but even the best clothing could come unravelled. By the time he made his way outside, the suns were already rising. He had to wake up earlier than most of the monks to go down the mountain to help Kaj. Making his way across the courtyard from the brothers' quarters to the main hall, he marvelled at the glistening white snow. Years of living in winters as cold as this one or colder hadn't diminished the effect the pure white had on the man.
The main hall was tall, with an arched ceiling and painted blue all along. Ivar's banner- that the Iron Arms fought under during times of war, and times of war came far too often for Leogun's liking- hung from the bannisters, adorned with a pair of iron blades and a fire of white burning behind them. The young man pushed open the doors as little as he could, finding himself in the colossal courtyard of the Monastery itself. Several of the Iron Arms were awake already, mostly the younger members of the Caste, eager to prove to their elders they were worthy of the name. Their blades and axes swung and swung, hacking at dummies and at each other. Asmund himself stood watch over the practice bouts. He almost never wore his sword, strangely enough for an Arm, and today was no exception, Leogun noticed. Instead, he had his well-muscled arms crossed across his chest, and his stern grey eyes stared down at the young men in the pit. Leogun joined him at his side for a moment, nodding his respect to his elder. Of course, for him, Asmund was more than an elder; Leogun was Asmundvard. The Iron Arm had taken him in when he'd been found all alone, however much he complained about it whenever he got drunk.
“Brother.” Leogun murmured. Asmund smirked, his eyes never leaving the sweating and clashing men below. They seemed to dance back and forth, blocking and trading blows with their unsharpened swords.
“Boy.” He grunted. Always 'boy.' Never 'Leogun,' the name he himself had given the young man. And certainly not 'Brother.' Always 'boy.' “Get to your work, Kaj won't want to be kept waiting.” He said. Finally, one of the men scored a clean hit on the other, and Asmund raised his hand, signalling the end of the bout as Leogun drew away.

Leogun carried the sled behind him, his hands holding the rope. It skidding down the slope behind him, but stayed upright. The ale and food was strapped down, of course, but a barrel of ale and a few day's worth of food made for a pain in the arse to right once it had fallen, especially on a hillside. Thankfully, the winds were not so bad that day. Unlike then. The words popped into his head. Definitely his words, but not ones he'd like to hear. He didn't like to be reminded of what happened... oh, nearly a week before now. Maybe more. He was too busy to keep track. Tow the food and ale by the light of the rising sun, work with Kaj all day, read all night. No time for thinking, and certainly no time for remembering. He hoped.
The events terrified him still. A quiet terror, more like the feeling that he'd forgotten some task he'd promised someone to do than the sharp fear of falling on ice. The eyes in the dark haunted his dreams, and occasionally he still heard voices chattering in the silence of solitude. In truth, the faint buzz at the back of his mind had grown since then. More like the buzz of the Monastery's library than that of an insect, for certain. It was getting more and more irritating, and it never went away. Still, the long trip down Mount Aghi provided valuable time to himself, even if himself wasn't who he wanted to be left alone with as of late. He started humming a song to himself as he walked. He was an atrocious singer, he knew; he'd gotten drunk a few times, and he'd learned the hard way that just because a monk swore to be a beacon of light didn't mean that they would hold back their japes about “Leogun Silvertongue's” voice. It wasn't anything that bothered him, in truth. Perhaps it was a sign that the monks were beginning to accept him into their fold. Certainly, his connection to Asmund and Kaj- both well respected members of the Order- made it easier for him, and he'd spent most of his life running errands for the men.
Finally, he the sled up to the base of the mountain itself, where the small cluster of homes had been built. There were no more than twenty actual homes, as well as a tavern that doubled as a town hall. By now, the suns were high enough to wake the people in their houses, and they milled about, some carrying firewood and others the carcasses of slain animals. At the center of the village, in the middle of the small town square, there burned a fire, day and night. Someone always made sure to keep watch during the night, usually one of the men, and every hour or so someone would throw a few logs onto the fire during the day. It was a sign of good things. In the night, people told tales of trolls and ogres and dragons, children's tales and nothing more, but it still frightened even the gruffest of men with winds buffeting at the walls of the tavern and snowfalls smashing against the roof. In such times, of course, the fire did go out. No-one, not even a life-long Northerner wanted to be out during a blizzard. But they still re-lit the fire as soon as they could, because they knew that so long as they remembered the High One, he would be with them, and you could not hurt a man sure in his own place in the High One's Hall.
“Brother!” Leogun looked up to see the potbellied old monk waddle towards him. He was not nearly as large as Edvin, but still he found it hard to walk long distances without growing red in the face. Sometimes it was difficult to walk short distances without growing red in the face. It was a part of growing old, Asmund claimed. Asmund also, however, claimed that when he was in training, his master had been seven feet tall with a sword as wide, and they'd sparred even during a blizzard. Leogun had met Goran, and there was no way the ancient monk could have ever been seven feet tall, much less wielding a blade of iron that long. Asmund tended to exaggerate, sometimes.
Leogun smiled as Kaj approached. Kaj was famous for his hugs. When he'd been a child, Leogun had called them the Bear's Embrace, but the title had grown much less fitting once he'd broken six feet himself. Kaj stood barely five foot seven, and Leogun dwarfed him. The old monk extended his arms, and Leogun wrapped his own around him.
“Now, get those inside.” Kaj said. Leogun nodded and pulled the barrel off the sled, bringing it inside.

The next day, Leogun awoke to Asmund standing over his bed shaking his shoulder.
“Get up, boy.” The Iron Arm growled. Groaning, he did, rising from his bed and getting to his feet. He rubbed his eyes and swung his legs over the side of the bed. “Kaj doesn't need you today, so you're training with me today.” The older monk said. Leogun shot him a dark look, running a hand through his dark brown hair. In the morning, it was always knotted beyond belief. Asmund grabbed him by the wrist and hauled him up out of bed, shoving him towards the door.
The pit, where most of the Iron Arms did their fighting, was dug deep into the earth of Mount Aghi. Tall wooden logs formed its walls, standing side by side and kept in place by bars of strong iron. Most of the sparring was done shirtless and with no more than fists, with special exception, but the two stood facing each other in customary stance down below the howling crowd of young trainees and Iron Arms. About half cried for their teacher, perhaps in some hope it would earn them a higher place in Asmund's books- it wouldn't- and the other half for Leogun, hoping to see their high-expecting teacher knocked off his feet. The oldest, a man named Shurd, slammed the drumstick against the bronze gong, and the bong sounded through the morning air. Asmund struck first, lunging with a quick one-two combo of strikes, but Leogun dodged to the side deftly.
“You know, I don't have to do this.” Leogun said with a grin. “If you're getting too old for it, we can always stop now.” Asmund, too, smirked, his barrel chest quaking with quiet laughter. Getting back to his feet, he grabbed his student's oncoming fist with his left hand and dragged the young man over his shoulder, using the momentum Leogun had gained in the attack.
“I'd like to see you say that once we're done, boy.” He chuckled. Leogun laughed as he got to his feet, and they got to it again. Both seemed to be feeling cautious that day, carefully exchanging flurries and cautious strikes. They began to grow tired as the suns climbed higher and higher into the air, beating down more and more on their backs. Sweat began to run down their skin, and they were bruising already where hits had connected.
Asmund slammed his fist into Leogun's gut, sending him to his knees. For an instant, the crowd erupted. The twenty or so students above all began to shout and scream at the same time, cries for and against Leogun mingling in the incomprehensible din. Asmund struck again, his fist rushing towards Leogun's face.
No. Leogun threw up his arms desperately, and a woosh split the air. Golden flames, one from each hand, scorched the air, and Asmund howled as he fell back. Getting to his feet, Leogun gaped at his fallen mentor. The man was already beginning to sit up, but angry red burns formed an X across his chest.
“High One, no.” Leogun gasped. He rushed over to the man.
“Get off of me, you b*****d.” Asmund growled. Trying to pull himself to his feet by clutching to Leogun's shoulder, he collapsed to the ground again, one hand hovering over his wound. “What in the Deep was that?” Leogun shook his head, looking left and right and up for something to help. Some of the Arms above had run off to find one of the brothers stronger in healing arts, and two were climbing down the ladder to the pit.
“I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.” Leogun babbled. He was muttering incessantly by the time the two got to him, and they tried, and failed, to strap the older man to their backs. The straps ran across the chest exactly where the burns were already forming. It was bad, from what Leogun could tell. He had never been terribly good at healing, but it was a necessary part of a monk's training if they were to enter the Order, even if their reception of the Gift didn't extend to healing abilities. Asmund was coughing, most likely more from the dirt and dust in the pit from anything else. Finally, a blue-robed man climbed down the ladder.
“What happened, Brother?” He asked one of the Iron Arms.
“It was an accident.” One assured the man. His friend nodded agreement, and they told the brief story while the man got to work. His hands hovered over the still-hot burn, and his eyes probed the edges of it.
“It seems you're a bit of a Flameweaver, Brother Asmundvard.” The monk said quietly. Leogun wished that were true. Not that he had wanted to be a Flameweaver. They were almost all Iron Arm; the abilities the Gift imparted, if any beyond the customary ability to ignore the cold, were based on temperament. No, Leogun knew that the fires had come from somewhere else.
What are you? He thought. The buzz heightened for a moment, but he couldn't hear anything distinct. It only hurt his head, but as the sound got louder, he thought he heard traces of voices. Many voices.

© 2012 jmfconklin

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Added on July 21, 2012
Last Updated on July 21, 2012
Tags: Leogun, monk, Vessel, Asmund, Kaj, monastery, healer, fire, pit, Iron, Arm



Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Hi, I'm a young aspiring writer going by JMF Conklin. I read and write fantasy, and my current project's working title is "The Legion of Souls." It's about a man named Leogun Asmundvard, a monk of the.. more..