Part twelve in the Blood and Lies series
Part One: Blood and Lies (pt. 1)
Part Two: Blood and Lies (pt. 2)
Part Three: Blood and Lies (pt. 3)
Part Four: Blood and Lies (pt. 4)
Part Five: Blood and Lies (pt. 5)
Part Six: Blood and Lies (pt. 6)
Part Seven: Blood and Lies (pt. 7)
Part Eight: Blood and Lies (pt. 8)
Part Nine: Blood and Lies (pt. 9)
Part Ten: Blood and Lies (pt. 10)
Part Eleven: Blood and Lies (pt. 11)
“Where have you two been?” Pan’s tone is dark when the two practitioners of magic return from their conversation beyond the edge of the village. Rubin answers with a serious expression, his eyes shifting conspiratorially to Oliver who returns the look with a practised aloofness.
“I’m sorry, I would have brought you with us but you were unresponsive,” Rubin answers quietly with a heavy quality to his words. The scout shifts cautiously at the severity in those words, looking around for villagers who might overhear as well as insight into what’s going on.
“What’s the matter?”
The scholar lowers his voice even further, leaning in so not to be overheard, “The Anathema claws were coated in a potentially fatal paralysing toxin. Telfor and Vahkragg are barely alive due to the ministrations of a necromancer the villagers have kept hidden called Zsófia. Oliver and I were discussing our course of action, he has agreed to help us capture her in exchange for our testimony in defence of his character at his trial.”
Pan narrows his eyes at the callousness of the suggestion, “You’re telling me our companions are only alive because the villagers trusted us with their secret and you want to betray that trust by arresting her?”
“It is the law, Pan. We are employed to enforce that law.”
“No, Telfor is employed to enforce bring specific people to be judged by the law. We are employed by Telfor for our expertise. Right now our only job is to bring him to the capital,” he responds bluntly, gesturing to Oliver with a reversed thumb, “Until I get different orders from Telfor, that’s the only thing I am employed to do.”
The scholar glares silently back at Pan, flustered annoyance seemingly choking his attempts at a response. This dogmatic straightforwardness was the reason Pan had opposed Telfor’s decision to bring the university journeyman with them. Mercenary work is only profitable when you are willing to be flexible and the Weatherford indoctrination is anything but.
The blind hatred for practitioners of black magic proscribed by the university gives no room for nuance and the law and the church support them in their zealotry. As a Revenant, Pan is uniquely positioned to recognise the danger these beliefs pose to some of the ordinary folk. He hid his condition as best he could to avoid dealing with people’s reactions, and while he existed in a legal grey area as a victim of natural necromatic resurrection his kind are treated cruelly in areas where the kingdom’s bureaucracy holds greater influence.
Necromancers who served remote communities as pagan priests are not unheard of. While they are denounced as dangerous corrupting influences by the Kingdom, Pan is wise enough to the ways of the world to see both sides.
“Regardless, of what you decide,” the sorcerer’s voice penetrating the tense silence between the two bounty hunters, “We should inspect the condition of your companions as well as the magic she used on them.”
Inside the house, Jacob and Aria have started cooking dinner for their guests. They are nervously watching over Zsófia and the others while they are resting. Jacob keeps his trowel close to hand, hoping he won’t need to use it. With the strong men and women of the village still out on their hunt, he was the only one there to protect Zsófia if the bounty hunters try to arrest her. He had recognised the Revenant amongst their number and hoped that meant they would be more sympathetic.
He was replacing the grey skinned soldier’s bandages when he heard the door rattling and open. The Revenant leads the other two as they enter, hopefully a good sign. Grabbing his trowel to help him lift his old bones from the ground, Jacob politely positions himself between the patients and the visitors as he greets them. The bounty hunters’ eyes passed him to look at their companions and Zsófia, however Jacob noticed their prisoner who stood at the back of the group was watching the other two with a concealed intensity the older man saw through.
“It’s good to see you’re up an moving, lad,” Jacob says to Pan warmly, placing a friendly hand on the Revenant’s shoulder “I’m so sorry for your loss, I wish there had been more I could have done. Your other two companions are very weak, but they should recover thanks to Zsófia.”
Pan nods, staring at Telfor’s pale face. His emotions still conflicted towards the grey soldier. Seeing him laying there, alive, but also clearly injured and pained rekindled his anger as well as the shame that comes from thinking that way.
Turning back to face the elderly man, Pan says, “Until our companions are well enough to travel we may need to rely on your hospitality. Would you be willing to let us stay with you for now, we are willing to contribute to work that needs doing and we have some coin we can offer.”
“Of course you are welcome to stay, and you help around the village would be greatly appreciated, those of us still here aren’t as young as we once were.” Jacob smiles a welcoming grin, squeezing the hand on the revenant’s shoulder before removing it with a parting pat. The old mans expression changes to a more serious expression before he continues, “But I need to ask what your intentions are regarding Zsófia. We know what the university and the law say you have to do, but she is a good woman and our village needs her. If you want to hurt her or arrest her, we won’t let you.”
The old man didn’t beat around the bush, Pan has to respect him for that. He glances back at Rubin, who is exactly as subtle as he could have expected from his sheltered education. He could almost taste the magical energy surrounding the scholar, he similarly noticed that Oliver at least seemed to share his concern at Rubin’s demeanour. When Pan turns his attention back to Jacob, his answer is directed as much towards Rubin as the old villager, “I understand that without her bravery in revealing her secret to save their lives, our friends would almost certainly have died. As far as I’m concerned, we haven’t see anything that requires us to take any action on. Don’t you agree, Rubin?”
The scholar grits his teeth, in a display of annoyance before releasing the magic he had gathered around himself. He nods mechanically at the scouts declaration, “Of course.”