A Vision of Ash (pt. 1)

The Beginning
The Beginning of Part Two
The Beginning of Part Three
The Beginning of this Part

“I won’t hear another word on it.”

Telfor’s shoulder’s slumped at the forcefulness of the words. He knew better than anyone when Jasha’s mind was made up there was no changing it. He stood by the fire, arms crossed as her shaking hands splashed water into her cup and the table surrounding.
Her flesh was pale and tinged with the unwholesome grey of burn out. It wouldn’t kill her. Not by itself. And she would recover in time with rest, but without a healer complications were possible.

Through his concern for his wife, Telfor felt Laurin’s hand on his shoulder its presence comforted him. He touched Laurin’s hand with his own. He appreciated the tenderness, with everything they had faced in the past month he felt tired.
Looking around the bar he saw soldiers of The Reborn had started to arrive for the muster. The date was for only a couple days and he still didn’t know the fallout for bringing the prisoner to Arnhilde, if that was even still what he planned to do.
Before he could give that thought too much attention, Telfor noticed Vahkragg in conversation with one of the soldiers. The giant responded with what would be unnoticable to most but to Telfor who had known the plainsman for years it was clear whatever news he had received was bad.

“Captain. Pike’s Reach.”

Telfor’s vision grew long, somehow he already knew.

His mind retreated and he physically turned away, not hearing if Vahkragg finished explaining that his home had fallen. Laurin hurried to keep up, his words buzzed in Telfor’s ears, their meaning drowned out by the rushing of blood.
The front door of the Inn slammed open before him. He felt a pressure holding him back and spun around to dislodge it saw Laurin there, and Jasha struggling after them aided by Vahkragg. The concern in their eyes brought him back to reality for the moment. The four companions stood together in the cool evening air, the night felt so peacefully ambivalent to all the suffering beneath it.

“Pike’s Reach. The undead we saw on the road. It’s gone.”

The words left Telfor in a disconected monotone. Neither Jasha nor Laurin had words in the face of the news. An arctic whisper from behind Telfor however managed to respond.

“Pike’s Reach is gone?”

Telfor turned, Pan and Zsófia stood having just arrived from around the corner. The revenant’s eyes reflected the moonlight barely containing the startling rage his kind bore.

Telfor answered him with his eyes, he couldn’t find the words to fit the feelings in his chest.

“I met a family at the gate, they had come from there.” Zsófia said quietly.

Pan slowly rounded on her, the glow in his eyes and the mist on his breath steadily increasing “You knew? You knew and you didn’t tell me?”

Zsófia took half a step back involuntarily, clearly not understanding his rage.

“I didn’t think… I didn’t know it mattered.”

“You didn’t know it mattered that my home was destroyed?”

Before things could move any further Jasha positioned herself between the two of them and embraces Pan. The unexpected tenderness distracted the revenant from his anger.

“She didn’t know Pan, she couldn’t have known.” Jasha whispered, a mixture of soothing and stern, “Don’t be angry at her.”

“That’s right.” Jasha’s words brought Telfor’s anger back to clarity, “This is the Reeve’s fault. We warned Arnhilde of the undead, they should have sent soldiers to intercept them before anyone had been harmed.”

There was a pause as everyone considered that. It was true, Pike’s Reach was not far, if word was only just starting to arrive of the village’s destruction then there would have been more than enough time to stop this tragedy between when Arnhilde had received their warning and the attack. It made no sense.

“Pan, start the muster early. Round up every soldier already in Capital and make sure they’re battle ready as soon as possible. I’m going to the courthouse now to get answers from Arnhilde.”

Laurin and Jasha exchanged looks, Telfor knew what those looks meant, they were worried he was about to do something impulsive. He supposed they were probably right.

“At least take the Priest with you.” Laurin said, “If you don’t like their answers you’ll at least need their gold.”

Jasha nodded, supporting her weight against Vahkragg as subtly as she could. Her colour was looking even worse, almost enough to turn Telfor away from his anger. But he knew her better than to try and coddle her.

In a flurry of activity, Pan left to organise the muster while Vahkragg retrieved the priest. Telfor quietly helped Jasha back to her seat and left Laurin to keep an eye on her, letting himsef momentarily let go of his anger to feel grateful for having them both.
As Telfor waited for Vahkragg to return with the prisoner, Zsófia approached him nervously. The old soldier realised the girl must be quite confused and frightened.

“Telfor, what’s going on?”

“That’s what I’m hoping to find out. Pike’s Reach is where Pan and I grew up, where many of our family’s still live.” He winced at the words, praying they did still live, “There should have been no chance of even so small a village being overrun with forewarning though. University scholar’s could have scried the undead and soldiers destroyed them without issue. Someone fucked up, and I intend to know who.”

“And then what?”

“Then…” It wasn’t that he didn’t know what then, it was that saying it out loud was a step further than he was willing to commit to just yet, “We will come to that when we come to that.”

Vahkragg emerged from the Inn, the prisoner being led firmly by his side. Zsófia’s expression seemed no less fearful than before she had asked, least of all with the further questions the presence of the priest in the garb she could not recognise as bearing the symbol of the church of Atyx, but she didn’t ask, and Telfor didn’t volunteer any further explanations. She simply made her way inside, seeking the familiarity of healing duties in aiding Jasha as Telfor and Vahkragg marched with purpose into the night in the direction of the courthouse.

Only two months this time. Gonna see if I can’t find it in my to make another one next week. We’re in the final stretch of this story, I’ll be aiming to wrap it up and start on another new unrelated story. Maybe I’ll take this story and edit it all together after, not sure yet.

Thanks everyone who’s read anything I’ve written. I appreciate it, didn’t think I’d actually manage to get down as much as I did when I started writing. Maybe by the end of they year I’ll have a second full story done. I’d feel pretty proud of that.

– Zairron

Concord of the Reborn (pt. 11)

The Beginning
The Beginning of Part Two
The Beginning of this Part

The chill of morning bore the deeper cutting edge of winter come early on the soft wind. Zsófia walked a step or two behind Rubin and Pan, yawning as often as breathing. She’d fallen out of the habit of early mornings while staying at The Valiant Retreat and on top of that Pan set a punishing pace.

Turning her focus inside Zsófia examined the sensation of where once The Horned God had infested her. The chilling silence that seemed to radiate from the wards Edda had bound the shard was numbing and unsettling. Checking on it brought her comfort despite the unwholesomeness of it.
Returning her focus to the world outside herself, Zsófia looked over at Pan and Rubin. Ever since the visit to the cathedral their already tense relationship had grown downright icy. It made her nervous. As much as she wanted to trust Pan, she saw him as a friend and thought he felt the same to her, his temper was frightening.
The group continued in silence as the sun rose and settled high into the sky bringing welcomed warmth and an even more welcomed sight ahead.

“Capital,” Rubin declared, “The Heart of the Empire. Seat of the Throne. Home of diplomacy and commerce.”

Zsófia’s eyes widened in awe as with every step closer the city on the horizon seemed to grow in size and imperiousness. After Verwich she thought she had known what a city could be, but for all it’s winding and sprawling streets and character it held not a candle to Capital in terms of majesty.

“It’s made of stone,” she said.

“That’s right, magically and alchemically reinforced stone at that.” Rubin lectured, “It is said that an enemy army employing standard seige weapons could not even tanish the stone if they spent a year and a day battering on it.”

Zsófia blinked at him. In her home the act of collecting enough wood to build a single house was a dangerous and slow task. The rituals to placate the forest, hunters to ward off any beast, monsters, or fae, all on top of the people needed to chop down and transport the wood. How much work must enough stone to build a city require?

Eventually they arrived at the gates. A great stone arch which can be sealed with steel and thick wood looms above casting a shadow over the crowds of people waiting outside. Almost as impressive to Zsófia as the city itself are the number of people making their ways in and out of the gates.

“A lot of soldiers at the gates,” Rubin stated quietly.

Pan’s gaze remained fixed on the crowd ahead.

“A lot of people coming through as well,” Rubin continued, “There’s no occasion to attract people, has something happened I wonder?”

The question hangs heavy. Looking around with Rubin’s hint Zsófia recognises the haggard and weary looks on a great number of the people who don’t seem to be trying to enter the city.
Zsófia’s felt torn with wanting to help them and not knowing how to. It seemed to her like they were being ignored, left to linger outside the walls waiting for something that may not be coming. Stepping away from the line and her companions, Zsófia approaches a girl around her own age who seemed to be listlessly waiting.

“Excuse me,” she asked, “Are you alright?”

The girl looked back suspiciously, glanced back over her shoulder before she nodded guardedly.

“I’m sorry, I just noticed there seemed to be a lot of people waiting here. You seem like something had happened.”

A look covered the girls face, a powerful sadness, “We’re from Pike’s Reach. We were attacked. The whole town. Destroyed by undead.”

The knowledge struck Zsófia like a blow. The undead force must have been the same that Telfor and his band had encountered on their way to her village. Did Telfor and Vahkragg not make it in time to warn, or was the warning not taken seriously enough?
She wanted to help the girl, but there was nothing she could do. Edda had warned her only to use her magic as sparingly as possible lest it weaken the wards on her. Beyond that she had no money, nothing else she could give her.

“I am so sorry,” she whispers.

The girl nods acknowledgement of the platitude blinking back tears. Rather than linger unhelpfully Zsófia returned to join Pan and Rubin in line.
Before long the group are searched and permitted entrance to the city. Once inside Pan turned and addressed them.

“I’m going to find Telfor and deliver the High Priestesses letter. Zsófia I’d recommend you stay with Rubin, Capital is not always safe for the unitiated.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of her.”

“Make lodging arrangements for Zsófia. You know the muster date and schedule for The Reborn, make sure you’re there.”

“Of course, sir. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.” Rubin answers, his voice thick with annoyed sarcasm.

Without reaction to the scholar’s tone, Pan departs with just a moment spared for a friendly smile and nod in Zsófia’s direction.
The moment he was out of sight, Rubin let out a long tired sigh.

“At last!” he said with a smile to Zsófia, “I am very sorry you had to be subject to one of his moods. Try not to think too poorly of us as your hosts, Pan has a lot on his shoulders right now and I do unfortunately have to take credit for much of that. Hopefully his mood will be improved by the time we re-unite with him. Until then, let us find some lodgings for you. Would you rather join me in church lodgings, or perhaps you’ve spent enough time with the clergy and would prefer an inn?”

An involuntary grimace crosses Zsófia’s face before she could answer, the recollection of Edda and her ambush still fresh. As much as she came to appreciate the old woman, Zsófia still felt the betrayal.

“An Inn it is,’ Rubin interjected, “I’ll take you to the Pikeman’s Rest. It’s where most of The Reborn with no-where else end up. Don’t worry we’ll find you an actual room too, not just flop lodgement, I think we owe you that much at least!”

And with that Rubin led her through the paved streets of Capital, prattling on with the historical relevance of whatever caught his interest. Zsófia however only half listened, her mind was on the girl outside the gate and thinking back on her own journey wondering if there was anything she could have done differently that may have gotten Telfor and his warning to Capital in time to save that girl’s home.

In my defense, it was a much shorter wait between story entries than last time. Only three months this time. Maybe next time it’ll only be one month, or even less! Imagine the possibilities!

– Zairron

Concord of the Reborn (pt. 10)

The Beginning
The Beginning of Part Two
The Beginning of this Part

The alley swims in Telfor’s vision. His head throbs where he’d been struck. If the Anir find them again he won’t be much help.
Jasha’s unnatural ashen pallor also worries him. She’d burned herself out with magic to protect him. The tremor in her hands a bad sign.
That left Vahkragg and Laurin. Capable soldiers, but the Anir were dangerous. The best bet will be avoiding them.

“Give me Diatter,” He says, “Jasha, can you run?”

“I’ll manage.”

Telfor clenches his jaw, but takes her at her word, “We’re in bad shape for a fight in the open so plan is we’re taking the prisoner straight to the courthouse as quick and quiet as we can manage. Either those killers are still after us and nearby, or they’ll be back soon with reinforcements. Either way we don’t want to be here any longer.”

Giving the captive priest a shove, Telfor leads the group deeper into the labyrinthine back streets of Capital.
Laurin moves to the front of the group. Keeping an eye ahead and checking corners for dangers while Vahkragg keeps to the rear. Laurin’s knowledge of the city is as good as Telfor’s own and he takes them through an unlit path avoiding main thoroughfares expertly.
The priests neighbourhood is far behind them when Laurin starts increasing the pace. They’re almost running when Telfor notices Jasha’s breath growing more ragged and gasping. Glancing back at her he’s immediately startled by her stark paleness.

“Laurin, we have to-“

Shut!” Jasha hisses as sharply as she can while staying quiet.

Telfor looks back at her again. She signs that they’re being tracked by two hidden enemies. Looking around, Telfor doesn’t notice any sign of it, but knows enough to trust Laurin and Jasha here.
Suddenly Laurin ducks into a dark shallow dead-end alley and draws his shield and sword as the others fall in behind him. Jasha all but collapses on the dirt the moment she stops running, tremor spread from her hands all through her body now.

Telfor drops his grip on the prisoner to catch her and Diatter immediately tries to make a run for it only to be caught by Vahkragg within just a couple of steps and dragged into the dark alley.

“Make a sound and your ancestors will regret it.”

The sounds of Jasha struggling to supress a cough and draw a breath seems so loud so loud in the silence of the night.
As slowly and quietly as he can Telfor draws his own blade. Still feeling far from stable he expects it won’t matter much, but it felt better to be armed.

“Be not afraid.”

The tone carried the authority of absolute confidence as it rung in their ears. A strangely resonante voice that seemed to come from all directions at once. Casting their gaze around in search of the source they found no sign amongst the shadows of the alley.

“Your sins need not be mortal. Turn over the sinner and your will be permitted reprieve.”

The offer made sense. The stories of Anir’s killers made them sound inhuman. Unstoppable and emotionless. If Diatter was their target, whether they sought to rescue or kill him, they had no reason to risk an unecessary fight and from where Telfor stood the offer was tempting.
The Anir were stronger and faster than natural people, likely enhanced by ether stones beneath concealed within their attire. On their side only Vahkragg and Laurin were in any shape to fight and even if they were a match for the Anir ordinarily their magically enhanced abilities were a significant handicap.
He didn’t like the idea of bringing a second failed contract report to Arnhilde in a row almost as much as he didn’t like the idea of having their corpses found by the guard in the morning, but only marginally.

“I have no desire to stand at odds with the Pantheon, but I assure you my detainment of this man is lawful.”

There was a pause.

“Whose authority do you serve?”

Telfor clenched his jaw. Drawing their more powerful foe into a dialogue had been a win, but the whole reason they were on this contract was to keep the Pantheon in the dark.

Fucking politics.

“I have a writ signed by the Reeve empowered by the authority of the Crown to detain this Priest.”

And now he’d done it. Whatever kind of incident Arnhilde had been trying to avoid was now in motion. He prayed that he’d gambled on the right horse.

“I will approach to inspect the writ. Come to the alley entrance.”

You’ll go way of a lone tax payer that’s what Laurin had said would happen. Glancing over Telfor could see Laurin hadn’t changed his mind on how he expected this to go.
With a heavy sigh Telfor fished the writ from his pocket and before anything else he felt Jasha pull him into her arms as she kissed him deeply.

“Leave Sara without a father and I will never forgive you.”

Pressing his forehead against hers in silent answer, Telfor pulled away and stepped out into the alley mouth ready to be devoured.
As if materialising from the shadows themselves, the Anir was there before it registered to Telfor that he could see them. The figure was just as indistinguishable here as they had been in the fight. They were tall and strong. But clothed and masked as they were neither gender nor enthnicity were recognisable.
The writ was exchanged and examined before being wordlessly returned. The figure examined Telfor wordlessly.

“Why did you not simply request this man from The Church? That is the usual manner for such matters.”

“I’m just a mercenary, these were my instructions.”

“Why was the arrest of a low ranking priest within Capitol assigned to mercenaries? Surely the Guard would have been cheaper and more efficient.”

Telfor resisted the urge to roll his eyes. It seemed the stories of the Anir were just exaggerated, as deadly fighters as they had been they were quite transparent with their fishing for information.

“I’m sure you know better than I. Is there anything I could tell you that would change what happens here?”


“Then let’s stop wasting time. I don’t intend to throw away mine and my companions’ lives for a contract, you can have him if you’re willing to risk forcing the Crown’s hand by interfering in their carrying out of justice. Or you can let us go, and we can have a conversation about keeping your involvement out of our report.”

“Your assessment of the situation is audacious, but not at odds with ours.” The mask concealing the Anir’s expression made the exchange even more offputting than the threat to their lives already was, “We request that you leave our presence secret, both officially and unoffocially. Is this acceptable to you?”

Telfor felt a sickly wave of relief flood him, tainted by suspicion born from the immediate and uncomplicated acceptance from the Anir, “It is.”

“Then may Anir walk with you this Night”

And almost before the words were out of their mouth, the Anir was gone as if dispersed by the shadows. They were probably still nearby, Telfor supposed, likely intending to follow them the rest of the way. Anir was the God of secrets and knowledge after all. By the end of the night if the Anir didn’t know everything about the four of them and their families, that would be the greatest miracle he could imagine.

Telfor raised his voice to the others within the alley, “Come on, we’re free to go. Let’s not give them the time to change their minds.”

Been a long time since I’ve done one of these. Hopefully it’ll be a lot less long before the next one. But no promises. I like writing, but starting things is hard even when I like doing them.

I considered abandoning this story and starting something else. For one thing it’s been so long I’ve forgotten a lot of detail. For another there’s some huge continuity errors and other problems that giving up and starting over could potentially avoid.

But I’ve been learning recently that doing something badly is better than giving up cause it’s not perfect.

It’s a hard lesson, but not one that’s got much to argue so I’m gonna try and find a bit of an ending for this mess before I make a new mess. And besides, I think some of the prose in this story hasn’t been half bad.

– Zairron

Concord of the Reborn (pt. 9)

The Beginning
The Beginning of Part Two
The Beginning of this Part

“We’re out of time, let’s get out of here,” Telfor announces as the echoing knock fades.

“No, I’ve nearly got this!” Laurin answers, still intently focused on the desk lock.

The same moment this quick exchange takes place, Diatter screams unintelligibly. The cry is quickly cut off as Jasha buries her knee into his guts and shoves a bunched up cloth into his mouth. The damage may have been done already, the polite knocking is replaced by a pounding, and muffled voices.

“Blood of all! Jasha, get Diatter to Vahkragg and get ready to escape out the back.”

Jasha gets moving, and Telfor turns to Laurin again, “Diatter’s co-conspirator’s are due, that’ll be them at the door. We need to leave. Now. Sooner.”

“Then go, I’ll catch up,” Laurin hisses back, his face a mask of absolute focus, “If there’s a chance Frey’s location’s in here I’m not going to miss it.”

Sara’s face intrudes in Telfor’s mind. In the same position he wouldn’t do any different. Upstairs the pounding and shouting has stopped, likely they were going to get the guard. That gives them maybe a couple of minutes.
This thought is interrupted by the sound of a heavy impact on wood. They must have their own temple soldiers with them, or are confident enough in their own ability. Looking back at Laurin, Telfor considers his options and liking none of them rushes up the stairs towards the door.
Now there he finds Vahkragg barring the door, the thick wood splintering under the opposing forces visited upon it.

“Where’s Laurin?” Jasha’s voice from behind him.

“He’s nearly done, we’re going to buy him the time to find his niece.”

Without a word, Jasha drops Diatter and draws her shield and short sword. Following her lead, Telfor does the same and falls in beside her so their shields cover the whole corridor.
Another thunderous blow strikes the door, and Vahkragg’s enormous form slides back and a long crack opens across the wood.

“Fall back, Vahkragg.”

Releasing the door, the plainsman steps back down the hall. They make room for him to pass behind then reform just when the door explodes open, shards flying off and bouncing off their shields.
Two figures rush through the exploding door. Their speed enhanced by magic, somehow without having been drawn from the ether. Jasha and Telfor are taken off guard, the collision as the figures ram into them drive them back sliding several feet. The driving force relents as Vahkragg’s pole-axe thrusts over the shields forcing the figures to dash backwards.
In the moment’s reprieve Jasha draws magic from the air and weaving it into her muscles. Telfor studies their opponents. Two figures robed in black with shaved bald heads and masked faces. They certainly fit the part of acolytes of Anir, but beyond that he doesn’t know anything more about who they could be.

“Laurin!” Telfor shouts.

He should have had more than enough time to do that. But in the barest fragment of a moment his focus is split between his foes and Laurin, the figures leap forward again with deadly alacrity.
Jasha has the focus to thrust with her blade, forcing one of the two to halt their charge to avoid being skewed. The other, however, levels and thunderous kick into Telfor’s shield. Like the door before it, Telfor’s shield buckles, only the give in his arm stopping it from shattering into pieces. Numbing pain runs up his arm and join with Jasha’s shield separates somewhat.

“Damn it! Focus!” Jasha shouts.

Vahkragg’s weapon thrusts again. The figure attacking Telfor sidesteps to evade the strike, giving him the moment to recover before he could be overrun.
Whoever these figures are, they’re well trained. Without their formation and numbers they wouldn’t stand a chance against the assailants. Even if Laurin made it here, they wouldn’t have an opening to escape until their attackers were dead.
Thanking the Corpse God for the terrain, Telfor joins Jasha’s tempo in thrusting his blade in a fashion to ward off the tireless onslaught. The skirmish stretches out, lasting almost a minute though to Telfor’s exhausted and sore shield arm it feels far longer.
Footsteps from the cellar announce Laurin’s return.

“Get Diatter,” Telfor orders, “We’re leaving through the back”

The formation starts slowly backing up, continuing to hold the line. Sweat runs down Telfor’s face, his breathing heavy. Their assailants growing more recklessly determined with his command, redouble their assault.
Then it happens. The first figure overextends, seeing his chance Telfor lunges and his blade barely fails to impale it’s target delivering a deep gouge along their chest, instantly reddening the black cloth.
His weariness is deeper than he realises and he realises too late his shield arm has fallen. A crushing blow connects with the side of his head above the shield and he loses his awareness space and crumples.
Through the fog in his head, Telfor hears the sound of shouting and fighting. Clawing his way back to his sense, he comes to in the alley behind the house being supported by Vahkragg who has Diatter under the other arm. Laurin has Jasha on his shoulder, she seems aware but pale and weak looking. Running still, they are being led by Laurin in the direction of the slums.
Feeling capable again, Telfor releases himself from Vahkragg’s hold.

“What happened?”

Jasha croaks, her voice dry like in the depths of a fever, “You fell for their bluff. They must have been desperate because that one let you cut them so the other could knock you out. Fool underestimated me, I got you back. Burned myself out though, and they escaped rather than fight these two while bleeding out.”

Holding up their flight for the moment, Telfor taking over from Laurin lifts his wife off the ground.

“Where are we?”

“Slum route,” Laurin answers as they return to running, “Can’t risk the central districts covered in blood with a priest in chains.”

They pass through the small unmanned opening in the city walls that separates the slums from the city proper. The omnipresent lights of the city left behind them. Before them, the massive sprawling expanse of the slums where the innumerable unfortunate souls of Capital accumulate, hungrily takes them.

More fighting and magic! It’s been a while since we’ve had any of those. Our heroes held their own this time even coming out slightly ahead, though they did have the advantage of numbers and terrain. Now all they need to do is make it back to safety through the slums of Capital, dangerous at night even without shadowy assassins hunting you.
I’m sure they’ll be fine.

Featured artwork belongs to Josh Corpuz a badass concept artist and illustrator. Check ’em out!

– Zairron

Concord of the Reborn (pt. 8)

The Beginning
The Beginning of Part Two
The Beginning of this Part

“What should we do?” Jasha whispers to Telfor, her tone softer than usual.

Telfor pauses to consider. Staring through the bars at the cursed thing glaring back at him, he asks himself the same question. What does the presence of this monster change? He can’t think of anything, their job is only to bring the priest.
Slowly stepping up to the metal door, Telfor grips the bar and rattles it. Locked, as expected. He peers through looking around the room. Inside is a plain, but solid looking writing desk in the corner just around the corner out of easy sight from any further back. As well, closer now he notices the chain binding the creature to the wall.

“There’s a writing desk in there, and the monster’s restrained. We should find the key and see if there’s anything of use in that desk.”

“The priest would know,” Jasha says.

Laurin nods, fishing through his pockets and retrieving a folded cloth he kneels by the door. Opening the cloth, he pulls a couple of thin metallic tools and inserts them into the keyhole.

“Our little secret, right?” He says to the others, “But look for a key anyway, I’m just a hobbyist”

Telfor nods, shaking his head at the thieving mercenary. Together he and Jasha move back out of the cellar.

“Tel, do you think the crown knew about this? Is that thing why Arnhilde pushed you so hard to take the job?”

“I don’t know,” he answers, “It’s not like knowing would have stopped me. I think there’s something else going on.”

Arriving where Vahkragg waits sitting on a table with Diatter sprawls in pain on the ground at his feet. Telfor gives the giant a questioning glance as they approach.

“Thought he could conjure a spell and I wouldn’t notice.”

Telfor nods and shoves the priest with his foot, rolling him onto his back and handing the lamp to Jasha kneels down to take Diatter’s gaze.

“Good evening father. My companions and I found your little secret in the cellar and if you would be kind enough to give us the key without us having to turn your house upside down, we will inform the magistrate that you co-operated.”

Diatter coughs weakly, wheezing as he breaths indicating how hard Vahkragg must have struck him. His voice is hoarse and broken as it comes.

“I don’t have it. I swear. They bring it when they come, and take it when they leave. I have never even seen what it was you found down there. Please, listen to me, if you take me to them they will kill me and kill you too. Take me to the church and we will keep you safe.”

“Who are ‘they'” Telfor asks, ignoring the customary threats and bargains so common among captives.

“My superiors. But that doesn’t matter. What they have down there is a secret, but it’s not just our secret. It belonged to the Crown! We stole it from them as proof of their treachery!”

Telfor stares intently at Diatter, trying to untangle the truth from the lies and with a frustrated growl stands and turns back to Jasha.

“Search the place, see if you can find the key. Vahkragg, you go with her, I’ll see if I can’t convince Diatter to remember a spare key.”

Jasha nods professionally. Lighting a second unlit lantern, she leaves the first with Telfor and with a silent gesture leads Vahkragg out into the rest of the house to search. Diatter continues wheezing, his breathing less pained but clearly fearful. He could use that.

“I’m not in the mood to sit here and listen to you continue to lie to me all night. Say anything but what I ask you and you’ll get to learn if I can hit as hard as my friend, understood?”

Diatter nods silently, tears building in his eyes. Too much fear, this early, Telfor notes.

“Is there any way for us to get into the locked room in the cellar?”

“Not any ways I know.”

“What are your superiors names?”

“I don’t know, but they operated with the authority of High Priest Berter. I answer directly to him.”

“When do they come?”

“Once a month. I never know when.”

“Have they come this month.”

“Not yet.”

“How long has this been going on?”

“This will be the fourth month.”

Telfor pauses to contemplate everything he’d just been told. The complete and immediate co-operation of the priest threw him off balance, they were never this forthcoming unless they were lying.

“You’re not trying too hard to keep your order’s secrets.”

Diatter’s voice carried an almost frantic tone, “I’m just a priest. I don’t want you to hurt me.”

God’s rot he’s pathetic, Telfor thinks to himself, forcing down intruding feelings of guilt and shame.

“Door’s open, get down here!” Laurin’s voice echoes up from below.

A grin opens up on Telfor’s face, “Good news, Diatter. You won’t have to die not knowing the secret you’ve been hiding.”

Soft pathetic sobs from the priest wrack his small, fat body. He doesn’t resist as Telfor drags him to his feet and leads him down into the cellar. Passing Vahkragg on the way in, the hidden staircase too small for his large frame, Jasha and Laurin are waiting within the cell.
Laurin working on the lock of the writing desk, is guarded by Jasha sword drawn, warily watching the undead thing as it strains ravenously against the chain that binds it. The moment they come into sight of the monster, Diatter lets out a sharp involuntary shriek and friezes in space trying to resist being brought any closer.

“What’s the matter, Priest? This is your guest, isn’t it?”

Diatter is inconsolable, weeping and pleading for mercy seemingly without recognising the words being said to him or their meaning. With disgust, Telfor drops him outside the cell and steps inside.

“Do you think you can get this one, Laurin?”

“It’s simpler than the door, shouldn’t take me more than another five minutes if we’re lucky.”

Upstairs, a loud knock on the door echoes through and down into the cellar.

That’s probably just late night/early morning door to door salesmen. If they ignore it, I’m sure they’ll go away.

Tonight’s featured art is called Lockpicking by erenarik, a cool artist with a really broad spread of art you should check out.

– Zairron

Concord of the Reborn (pt. 7)

The Beginning
The Beginning of Part Two
The Beginning of this Part

Telfor stares long at the pleading priest at his feet, anger rising in response to the offer. He hopes his anger is righteous indignation, but he knows it’s frustration struggling against the temptation over the amount being offered.
Trying to ignore the thoughts, Telfor shifts his focus to listening for Laurin. He wanted to shout for the others but if the prisoner had accomplices they could be alerted, besides which he doubted his voice would even make it through the heavy stone of the building.

“Hey, Cap,” Laurin’s voice rings up through the house seemingly from a lower level, a basement perhaps, “Get the others, I think you’ll want to see this.”

Cursing, Telfor fumbles in the unfamiliar darkness of this strange house for a lamp. Eventually finding one, he lights it finally revealing inside of the house. Grey and barren, it’s eerie. No decorations to be found anywhere. Returning to the entrance, he grips the prisoner beneath his arm and drags him to his feet, his pleas and bargains silent since Laurin’s call. Half leading, half dragging, he takes the priest through to the back door which he unlatches and opens to reveal Jasha and Vahkragg still waiting patiently for the possibility of an escape.

“Come in, Laurin’s found something he wants us to see in the basement.”

The pair enter, Jasha eyeing the prisoner almost disappointedly and Telfor closes the door behind them.

“What did he find?” Jasha asked.

“He didn’t elaborate, just shouted to get you two, that we’d want to see. He’s been down there since.”

Jasha grunts her annoyance. Vahkragg at the same time is forced to stoop at the height of the doorways, almost reaching the roof itself while standing casually.

“I’ll wait here. Watch the prisoner.” He says.

Telfor nods. Probably easier than trying to drag him around and down the stairs. Without any further discussion needed, with Jasha following shortly behind, Telfor lifts the lantern as they search for the source of Laurin’s voice in the grey, dark house.
From the back room, Telfor leads them in the vague direction of the voice. Sticking his head first into a large master bedroom, empty of both Laurin and any sense of life. An office, similarly devoid. And last, the kitchen off the entrance-way. From this cursory pass through there had no sign of Laurin or basement entrance.

“Where are you hiding, Laurin?”

“Kitchen pantry, there’s a cellar entrance.”

Sure enough there was. Telfor took a moment to look before entering, there was no handle on the outside, and he imagined when closed it would fit almost seamlessly with the rest of the floor, especially in the dark. How Laurin could have noticed this, even with his eyes, was a mystery.
Stepping carefully onto the thin, well worn stone steps of the descent he stopped as Jasha’s hand met his shoulder.

“I don’t like this.” She said.

“Neither do I,” he answered, “You can stay up here if you’d prefer.”

She glared defiantly in response, “You know that’s not what I meant.”

He nods. He did know, but it was all he had to offer her. Objections raised, they step down into the dank, stale air off the cellar. What lay below was a fairly standard, if impressively stocked wine cellar. The rock here was much dustier, and worn. The air is cool and damp, with a strange odour to it.
Again, Laurin is not immediately apparent to them as they enter. The rows of wine shelves keep sight lines short and claustrophobic.


The call is answered by his stepping from between two of the far shelves and waving them over. When they meet him, there is nothing but more wine shelves, nothing unusual like they’d been expecting.

“I need your help moving this shelf, it’s not built into the wall like the others.” Laurin says before they can question him, pointing out where the corners of the wood differentiate from the rest.

With a slow nod, Telfor positioned himself on one end of the shelf. Laurin after letting the larger man through started towards the other end, but Jasha pushes him back and out of the way, positioning herself on the other side of her husband.
The air shifted cold momentarily as a trickle of magic was drawn from the ether to strengthen Jasha then together they drag the tall wooden shelf a couple feet away from where the wall should have been. Instead carved into the rock and dirt is another room. Much rougher than the craftsmanship of the house above, this is clearly roughshod, hasty work.
Inside the hidden room a corpse stands, still animate, staring through metal bars towards them.

“God’s blood…” Telfor curses beneath his breath.

The corpse stares in thoughtless hatred. It’s mere presence an abhorrence that beggars belief. How could there be undead in Capital? And in a priest’s house no less. It didn’t make sense.

“Laurin,” Telfor’s voice is low and menacing, “I think you’ve kept me in the dark long enough. How did you know to look for this?”

Laurin sighs, none of his former playfulness present, “I didn’t. Honestly. Not this. I was looking for something, someone, else. My niece went missing some months ago, I’ve been looking for her whenever I could. I’m only here because I ran out of meaningful leads ages ago, now I’m just looking for anything that could be anything.
“I’d heard rumours about the conflict between the church and the crown. People on both sides taking secret actions against the other. Your prisoner is up there is a priest of Anir. Even better secret hoarders than me. I discovered Diatter by accident, we have some mutual acquaintances of a lower quality than most would suspect a priest to be friends with. It was curious, but I had better leads so I didn’t look further into it. When you brought me that contract of yours, it was suddenly strange enough for me to consider looking into. I figured even if it was nothing to do with my goal, it might give me something to trade.
“I never expected this. Gods, I hope my niece’s disappearance had nothing to do with this.”

The plot thickens. More undead, and one right here in Capital, under a priest’s house!? That’s probably a bad thing, I would imagine. Lucky they caught the guy, now everything will be a-ok!

Featured art is called 20120327 by Ardenrey, so go check ’em out!

– Zairron

Concord of the Reborn (pt. 6)

The Beginning
The Beginning of Part Two
The Beginning of this Part

“When are you going to settle down, Vahkragg?” Laurin asks from the head of the group. Looking back without slowing his quick pace when not receiving an answer, unvoiced laughter plain on his face. “I suppose not. I’ve heard said that the plainsmen don’t marry, they just couple when the mood hits them and let the tribe raise any children. Sounds like my kind of people.”

Vahkragg continues walking vigilantly through the dark alley as if Laurin hadn’t even spoken. His right hand flexes slowly, however, Telfor notices. The gesture could be annoyance, or simply anxiety over the job. It was difficult to be sure, but he didn’t want to let Laurin keep prodding until they found out.

“Where are we going, Laurin? You still haven’t told us anything about this plan of yours.”

“Haven’t I? That’s odd, seems pretty stupid to agree to a plan you don’t know anything about.”

Hot anger began building in Telfor, the heat spreading up his neck and ears. He could feel Jasha’s eyes on him, she’d said the same thing earlier.

“Just tell us the plan, rake.”

With a pleased laugh, Laurin says “Not much of a plan really. I know where he lives, we go there, you knock on the door and ideally he agrees to come quietly.”

There’s a tone to his voice the old soldier doesn’t like, “You don’t think he will?”

Laurin shrugs like couldn’t possibly know anything, but continues anyway “Well, I’ve never met him personally so I couldn’t say much as to the gentleman’s quality. But there are some who say that this priest has been engaged in some very questionable activities such that going quietly may not have a desirable outcome for him.”

Telfor exchanges looks with Jasha and Vahkragg, the contract had been non-specific specific on the reasons for the arrest. Priest’s weren’t usually magic users, but they also weren’t usually wanted criminals. If he was, that would be the most likely outcome for things getting unpredictable.

“Do you think he’ll cause us any trouble?”

“A single priest against four armed and experienced soldiers?” Laurin laughed, “I should hope not! No, he won’t cause us any problems.”

Telfor frowned. Thing’s weren’t adding up and he didn’t like it when that happened.

“Why did you want to come along then?”

Laurin simply answers with a smugly condescending look, but before he can be questioned further he changes the subject, “We’re almost there. The good father’s home is on the street ahead, just two doors to the left of where we come out across the road.”

True to his word, the narrow footpath they’d walked between the stone houses turns towards and opens onto the main thoroughfare. The four of the pause behind the last house, out of sight of the road but still visible to any resident who might happen to peer out their back window.

“Is there a back way on the other side like this one?” Telfor asks.

“Almost identical.”

“Alright, Vahkragg, Jasha, you two loop around and watch the back. We’ll give you a minute to get into position then knock on the door.”

They nod and together depart the alleyway. Laurin leans against the back wall of one of the houses, casually watching Telfor as they wait.

“Are you expecting any trouble at all?” Telfor reiterates now he has the chance.

Laurin pauses as if to consider his answer, “Not in the way you mean.”

“In what way then?”

“Might be we find something interesting inside.”

“We’re not going inside.” Telfor states firmly.

Laurin actually looks surprised at the assertion, raising one eyebrow and studying Telfor for a moment before another burst of incredulous laughter breaks from his lips. “You’re serious. I’ll never understood how you got this far, Tel. Look or don’t, it’s your choice, personally I’d rather know if there’s anything worth knowing.”

With no time to continue the discussion Telfor just narrows his eyes in disapproval and starts walking from the alley towards the house.
Capital is old. Not all of it, of course, but there are parts like this one that predate the current kingdom. The stone buildings along this street almost resembles the compact design of the under-mountain folk. Compact and practical, only the obviously skilled craftsmanship and strangely boxy artistic flourishes, left over from whatever culture had originally built them, kept them from seeming like simply giant carved rocks.
Rapping his knuckles on the wooden door, Telfor waits patiently for an answer. After a short wait, the door opens and in the unlit interior of the doorway a rotund, middle aged man of less than half Telfor’s height looks up in confusion.

“Father Diatter? I have with me a warrant for your arrest, I request-”

Telfor is cut off shortly into his spiel by the priest attempting to slam the door in his face. However, this was the reaction they’d been expecting and before the door was completely shut, Telfor shoved back with his vastly superior size and strength knocking the priest back and off his feet.
Scrambling to his feet, the priest makes to dash deeper into the dark of the house. He wasn’t fast enough though, before he able to properly stand the priest was back on the ground with Laurin’s vice-like grip on his wrist and knee on his back.
Recognising the situation was under control, Telfor also enters the house, closing the door behind him to keep out curious eyes.

“As I was saying, you’re under arrest.”

Telfor takes his manacles from their pouch and taking over from Laurin, locks the small man’s wrists fastly. Rising to his feet again, he considers the complete lack of light in the house.
In the time he had taken to bind the prisoner and consider the lack of light, Laurin had disappeared deeper into the house. Cursing him, Telfor resolved to wait with the prisoner, not that he’d have any luck pursuing Laurin in the dark. Laurin’s ancestry was in the deep wood. Light rarely broke the ancient canopies there so his eyes were well suited for this environment.

“Please, you’re making a mistake.” the voice of the priest was high and thin, “I am a servant of the gods. Return me to the temple and you’ll be rewarded twice what they’re offering you. By the will of Anir, I swear it!”

A lot of weirdness around this job, but overall it’s seeming surprisingly simple in execution. What’s Laurin hoping to find in the dark? And that church money must sound pretty tempting to Telfor right now.

Today’s featured art is called A Quiet Man by Peter Mohrbacher, I highly recommend checking out his stuff it’s hyper cool. His Angelarium is amazing.

– Zairron

Concord of the Reborn (pt. 5)

The Beginning
The Beginning of Part Two
The Beginning of this Part

Telfor slowly turns the page of his book in the mild afternoon sun. Keeping a mindful eye on Sara who is busy playing with the other park children. Books are one of Telfor’s last remaining guilty pleasures,  the guilt of which is almost entirely the cost of the hobby. Even in capital books are expensive. And having failed to get payed, Telfor resorted to rereading an old favourite instead of picking up a new on.
This book once belonged to his father. It purports to be a history of the Kingdom but reads more like a collection of myths and fairy tales. To Telfor carries fond memories of his childhood in Pike’s Reach during the years before the war. A couple of pages into the story of Vike the Wretched (the hero despite his name), his reading is interrupted by Sara wandering over and throwing herself wearily into his lap.

“Wear yourself out, did we Miss?”

Another dramatic slump the only answer he’s likely to get, Telfor closes his book and pulls himself and Sara to their feet. The scars on his chest where the anathema had wounded him tug, and again Telfor wonders how many years he’s got left in him and if they’d be enough.
Outwardly he conceals any of his inner concerns and taking his daughter by the hand, leads her out of the park and down the paved roads towards their home. As tired as she must be, Sara manages to tap into some hidden reserve of energy to tell him all about everything he needed to know about the kid’s she’d met at the park and the very elaborate story they’d made up about super-punching unicorn riding warrior wizards.
At the end of the short walk home, Sara seems to have recovered from her exertions at the park and Telfor is feeling exhausted from listening to everything.
Wondering at Jasha’s ability to keep up with their daughter alone whenever he was out on campaign, Telfor was perfectly content to swap places with his wife and take over the household chores while she watched Sara.

Hours pass, and their first full day together as a family in months comes to a close as Sara’s endless energy finally finds one and she is put to bed, sleeping like a log. Tossing a wood he supposes will last until he has to leave for the mission, Telfor settles down by the fire.

“Your mission still on for tonight?”

Telfor looks to his wife at the question, trying to anticipate the direction of her inquiry. Finding nothing in her demeanour, he answers, “That’s right.”

“I’m coming too.”

He felt the denial spring to his lips almost before he realises what she’s said. Jasha stands over him, her well muscled arms crossed in front of her torso, her stance defiant and firm. Catching himself, he pauses to actually considers it and realises it made sense. She was Reborn too, though currently inactive. More than that she had been a better fighter than him when they’d both been active, and he would be very surprised if she’d slacked on training just because she wasn’t active.

“Alright. But if it’s for any reason you have to make a choice between getting me out or getting yourself out, you get yourself out. Sara needs you more than me.”

Jasha gives him a look that said she didn’t agree, but was too good a soldier to argue. At least in the Reborn, he did outrank her.
With the matter agreed upon, Jasha’s confrontational demeanour softens and she settles down by Telfor’s side, leaning against him with a hand on his.

“Do you really think there’s a chance one of us might not come back?” There was no fear in the question, she simply wanted to know.

“Nothing I’ve seen or been told gives me any reason to think there is. We’re just going to knock on an old priest’s door at night, arrest him, and take him back to the reeve. It should be easier than caravan duty.”

“But you’ve got a bad feeling.”

“I’ve got a bad feeling.”

“Is it because of what you said the other day about the crown and church feuding?”

Telfor sighs, not fully knowing the answers himself, “No, not really. That all makes sense, we’ve considered that and accounted for it. I suppose it’s because I don’t know why.”

“Honey, we never know why. We’re mercenaries.”

He shook his head, brow furrowed, “Not like this, though. Most of the time what we don’t know is irrelevant. We know we’re escorting a caravan to protect from bandits, doesn’t matter why they’re travelling. We know we’re marching east because there’s a war, doesn’t matter why the nobles are fighting. But this one, I don’t know. We’re arresting a criminal to face trial, or justice. Usually that’s enough. But something tells me this isn’t that.”

Jasha runs her palm up his chest to his neck and pulls him down to kiss him.

“I don’t know anything about any of that, but I do know it’s bad to go to a fight tense and we’ve got a couple of hours to ourselves…”


A couple hours later, Telfor and Jasha are weaving their way through the markets. The night is alive, as they always seem to be here, with music, fire, and dancers. Open dining stalls open to the entertainment mostly replacing the practical goods stalls of the day with numerous enterprising sellers of stranger curios seducing market goers from their journey’s with mystery and guile.
They first spot Vahkragg, his head and shoulders breaking free from the crowd vertically despite the crowd of gawkers he’d attracted simply by being a clansman in the city. Almost as quickly, the keen eyed giant spots the pair through the crowd and pushes through the crowd to meet them.
Seemingly not surprised by Jasha’s presence, Vahkragg doesn’t bother trying to talk through the dull roar of the festivities. Instead he nods his head in beckons to the pair and guides them through the crowd to an alley where they find Laurin waiting seated on top of a wooden barrel.

“Well if it isn’t the Rushing Blade, herself. I heard you’d retired.”

Jasha grinned at the smaller man as if she were simply showing him how many teeth she had. It would be a threatening gesture if not for the two’s colourful history. Telfor felt a little heat rising, but pushed it down. That was ancient history.

“Anyone else I don’t know about joining us on tonight’s run, Cap?” Laurin asked.

“Just us.”

“Wonderful.” Laurin smiled, hopping gracefully from the barrel, “It’s this way. I’d call it a shortcut, but technically it’s longer just avoids the crowds.”

Now that’s enough happy family time, now it’s time to go and murder them, right? That’s how fantasy do now? Nah they’ll probably survive. Maybe. I dunno, read and find out.

Featured are is called Thief and is by Jesper Ejsing who makes rad art, go check it.

– Zairron

Concord of the Reborn (pt. 4)

The Beginning
The Beginning of Part Two
The Beginning of this Part

“Daddy!” Sara’s voice met Telfor as he enters, the door opening with a familiar creak and the cosy light of the fireplace warming the room. Springing from her seat at the table, Sara runs across the room to greet him. With a joyous laugh the old soldier catches and swings her up off the ground to carry her on his hip as he moves to where his wife, Jasha stands waiting. With his free arm he pulls her in and kisses her deeply. Her hands rest tenderly on his chest for the moment, gripping the hem of his shirt in a way that tells him she missed him.
When they part, the smell of stew finally reaches his brain. In the excitement to see his family he’d overlooked it but now in his hunger it’s all he can focus on. No other smell could simultaneously send his mind both back home, and out on campaign at the same time. Jasha had been a soldier like him before they had married and had Sara, and she still cooked like a soldier. Unlike many army cooks, Jasha took pride in what she made and her stew was always delicious.

“Difficult time on your mission, Tel?” Jasha asks, her arms crossed and a sternness concealed beneath a pleasant conveying more than her words. 

With a sigh he hoped expressed contrition rather than annoyance, Telfor put Sara down with a kiss and set about helping himself to a bowl of stew, “Yeah, things got complicated. I’ll tell you about it.”

Complicated was their code for when they should continue when Sara’s asleep. Jasha nods her understanding and the three sit down together for dinner. Almost finished eating already by the time Telfor had arrived, before long they are just listening to Sara telling stories about everything that had been happening in her life while he was away.

“Mamma’s been teaching me how to fight! She says I’m a natural with aug-magic!”

“Is that so?” Telfor asks, looking up questioning at Jasha who returns his stare defiantly.

Sara nods confidently, “That’s right. Also, Cardicus is teaching me to read. He says I’m going to be a warrior poet, like the old kings.”

With a small chuckle, Telfor tussles her hair, “So long as you don’t tell me you want to marry a prince. I’ve never heard a single story where marrying a prince went well.”

“No, Daddy,” Sara answers, seemingly earnest.

Together the family finishes their meal. Sara goes and sits by the fire, telling herself a story with two toys made with sticks and cloth while Telfor takes the plates to clean. For the next a few hours they have nothing but each other. These are the times that Telfor cherishes, and made all the sweeter by how rarely they actually happen. This last job had kept him away for two weeks, half of his away time already.
Much too soon, it comes time for Sara to go to bed. Telfor takes her to her room and tucks her in with a kiss.

“Daddy, are you leaving again?”

“Not until the new moon, sweetheart.”

Sara considers this, frowning a little, “That’s so soon.”

“I know, love,” he answers, “I wish I could stay here with you and your mother all the time, but I need to work so we can afford to ear.”

“Why don’t you work here in the city?”

“Because my profession doesn’t have much demand here. Soldiering is best when it’s done far away.”

“Mamma says that war is coming to capital, though.”

It was true, everyone knew war was coming but hearing the words come from his daughter’s mouth sent a shiver down his spine, “Now, Sar, there’s never been fighting in Capital for a hundred years. That all stays outside the walls, up in the hill forts. You’re safe here in the city. I won’t be gone forever, one day soon we’ll have enough saved that your mamma and I will be able to buy an inn here in the city, or a farm down south and we’ll all be together all the time. Promise.”

“Hmm,” Sara considered the prospect deeply before deeming it acceptable with a nod, “Alright. Just remember you promised.”

With another kiss, Telfor took the oil lamp and left his daughter’s the room, hanging the lamp at the end of the hall and extinguishing it as he re-enters the main room. Jasha was sitting on the rug before the fire, mending clothes worn down and torn during work and play. He settles down beside her, watching the fire dance as he waits for her to speak.

“You were late.”

“I know,” Telfor acknowledges apologetically, “Things went bad, the job itself should have been simply but we encounted an army of undead on the King’s Road and had to flee into the Märchenwald.”

“The fairy wood? Jugir’s blood… it’s a wonder you made it back at all. But, an undead army? What was that doing there? How could it be there?”

“I wish I knew,” he answered, “We lost them fairly quickly, even the dead know better than to enter those woods. We were fortunate, we only suffered one fatality in the wood. Verumalleus died saving the lives of Vahkragg and I.”
Jasha’s hand left it’s hand to rest on his arm. He took it in his own as he continued to speak, “We were poisoned, but we were treated by a girl in a village we were lucky enough to find. Zsófia is her name, she asked to come with us and I couldn’t say no.
The prisoner got away while we were recovering. It seems like Rubin might have let him go, I didn’t have time to properly investigate and it wasn’t a good idea doing it then, anyway. Anyway, Vahkragg and I came back to report our failure and the undead presence but had to leave Pan, Rubin and Zsófia behind to treat a curse.
That should have been it, just a dead friend and a failed mission but that’s not it. Arnhilde gave us another job to arrest a priest here in the city, made me a veiled threat about it too.” 

“Arnhilde veiled a threat?”

“Aye, was almost like someone else was talking out her mouth when she did it. I could almost see the strings move. Could tell she hated it almost as much as I did.”

“What about this new job?”

“Spoke to Laurin, he confirmed what I already knew. It’s a trap. Not for us, we’re just moving pieces. Not sure exactly who for, don’t rightly care, but Laurin said he knew how to get to the target while out of sight of the Pantheonic guard. The plan is to do that tomorrow at midnight, Sara won’t even know I was gone.”

He could feel the tension in Jasha’s hand as he spoke, could tell she wasn’t happy. She’d been a soldier before Sara, and she’d never expressed any discontentment with Telfor’s profession, but he could feel it was there, even if she’d never admit it.

“It’ll be three of us and the unsuspecting Priest, we’ll be in and out in an hour, tops.”

“Three of you? I thought you said only Vahkragg was with you?”

“Laurin’s coming with us.”


“That’s right.”

“That wastrel’s never done anything for free in his life, what did you promise him?”

Telfor hesitates before answering, “Ten percent.”

“Bloody one, give me strength!”

“I didn’t have much of a choice, Jasha, the crown and the church are feuding. I wasn’t about to risk my life on the hope they give him up peacefully.”

That gives Jasha pause. He’d only recently learned that himself, and he had been travelling with a crusader and working for the crown. To most people’s eyes, the church and the crown were dual arms of the law.
Jasha puts the clothes aside and lowers her head for a couple deep breaths. It was something she did when her temper was hot but she knew she didn’t want a fight.

“I trust you. I’ve always supported you, and you know I always will. I’m so sorry to hear about Ver, she was a beautiful soul. But the most important thing is that you’re still alive. We need you here. Don’t forget that.”

He put an arm around her shoulder and pulls her in to him, resting his head on hers. They sit in silence for a time, the tense energy in Jasha slowly being released. He can tell she’s finally ready to forgive him when she climbs onto his lap, kissing him deeply.

A bit of a longer one today, usually I try to go for closer to 1k words flat, but felt that the scene wasn’t complete this time for a bit longer. If I was editing these rather than just stream of conscious writing, I think I’d bring Tel and Jasha’s conflict a bit more into the open. But I also kinda like it all going on underneath.

Featured art is by Steve Argyle it’s the art for 4e D&D for Half-Orc’s, Tel and Jasha aren’t half-orc, but they aren’t human and half-orc was the closest I could find where art vaguely resembled.

– Zairron

Concord of the Reborn (pt. 3)

The Beginning
The Beginning of Part Two
The Beginning of this Part

“My lord, word has arrived from the Lord Magistrate. He says that the Reborn have accepted the mission.”

Lord Winsome looks up from his work, and breakfast to Seneschal Marek receiving the report while extending his hand to take the letters simultaneously offered.  He studies the man for the moment, technically the King’s majordomo the Seneschal’s loyalty and forthrightness was not something the Earl relied on too deeply.
Satisfied, Winsome regretfully abandoned his meal to quickly regard the letters in case he needed Marek to leave with some form of response. His shoulder’s ached and he felt the beginnings of a headache already forming behind his ears. The first couple of letters were insignificant, responses and queries or complaints from various equally insignificant nobles, functionaries, and the like. It was only the final letter, sealed with the emblem of the church that brought that heavy weight of annoyance with it.

He skipped past the formalities, usually almost an entire page telling him his own titles, to the meat of the correspondence. This part at least was brief.

“Our agents in Verwich have arrested a sorcerer, stated name of Oliver. We would be delighted to negotiate the exchange of the prisoner with the Crown or one of her duly appointed agents and wish to extend an invitation to the Cathedral of the Sun.”

Feeling the heat of anger rushing to his head, Lord Winsome takes a long moment to carefully fold the letter and breath to steady himself before taking his quill and rapidly penning a response communicating his intention to accept the invitation.
With practiced efficiency, he signs and seals the letter before standing to offer it to Marek.

“Send this by mounted courier and make preparations so I may leave for Verwich as soon as is possible.”

Marek nods, the curiosity in his eye imperceptible if the Earl hadn’t been expecting it, and bowing, exits the room.
The Lord Winsome patiently waits until Marek is well out of earshot, listening to his footsteps to be sure, before slamming his fists violently onto the desk and throwing himself into his chair, slumping in defeat.
Looking up at the portrait of himself and his wife, Countess Chloe, hanging on the wall. His pain he’d thought in the past re-surged with a vengeance. It was true, after all. The High Priestess was many things, but never a liar. The boy was real. And so the rumours must be too. He wondered at the absence of that blinding anger he’d felt when he’d first been confronted with the possibility of his wife’s infidelity. Perhaps that would come later.
Pushing down his emotions, Winsome considers what this new information meant for his plans. Taking solace in the analytical state he took for dealing with matters of state, he centred himself and started to come up with his next steps.
Eventually he pulls another blank page from the pile and starts to write a new letter.


With Laurin gone, telling another fiction to another sap Telfor assumed, the old soldier finishes up the drink he’d gotten when they came in. Counting coins in his head against the number of new recruits who’d likely arrive with the old guard when the company reassembled, he added another couple of years to his retirement plan.
He looked across at Vahkragg, the giant was staring intently at a couple of drunks who seemed to be mustering the courage to do or say something to another. Fight’s breaking out weren’t that uncommon, but they rarely lasted long. Plenty people like Vahkragg who enjoyed “evening the odds” in unfair brawls.
Telfor thought about his wife and daughter. He should have been home with them a week ago. Placing his empty cup on the table he stands.

“I’ll see you tomorrow night.”

Keeping one eye on the brewing fight, Vahkragg nods. Just like an enormous cat waiting to pounce Telfor thinks to himself, stepping from the inn to the waning hours of the afternoon.
The walk from the gate district to his home was a long way, the gate district was on the other side of the Palace and the market, just getting through those would take half the journey, then the residences were close to the opposite wall. At least they’d been able  to afford something inside the walls, he wouldn’t wish the sprawls on someone who deserved them. That part of the city devoured people.
The market’s were even more packed when he made it there this time. The late afternoon bringing even more folk to the square to shop, peddle, or even perform. The frantic vibrancy of it all brought a smile to his face. Vahkragg may hate the city, but to Telfor this city at least was home and he loved it for it’s wild, unique personality.
Passing from the main markets through the inner gate that separated the wealthy from the ordinary, he crossed the much calmer but even more brightly coloured marketplace. Instead of the temporary stalls of the main market here were built permanent stores and the square was an open garden for strolling. He stood out somewhat in his more humble attire, but he had papers authorising his presence so the soldiery left him to cross in peace. He noted the abundance in House Drachengier’s heraldry, usually diminished by the presence of the heraldry of other nobility presently visiting occupying much of the space. Today however it seemed other House Argon, and Venta were in residence. They’re running scared, he thought.
Beyond the markets, things calmed significantly. In contrast with the narrow, winding roads of Verwich where even whole buildings could hide well enough never to be found, the streets of Capital were straight and proud with paved roads even out in the residences. Another contrast was Verwich’s abundance of wooden homes compared to Capital’s stone. The palace had been dug into the mountain, so stone had been abundant in the cities construction, while the Märchenwald Forest, the only significant source of wood was miles away to the south.
Thoughts of comparing his home city to abroad left Telfor however, as he saw his personal home coming up to greet him as he approached. The familiar feeling of nervousness built in his chest, even after all these years, coming home after a long time away could still make him feel this way. Or perhaps it was fear of what his wife would say. The thought made him smile. It was good to be home.

Happier with this one, though I had less of an idea where I wanted to go with it. I feel like a learned something about Vahkragg and Telfor I hadn’t know previously. I’m feeling things starting to come together, I’m excited.

This featured art I unfortunately couldn’t find any sign as to the owner, so if you know please let me know so I can credit them.

– Zairron

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