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

Author: Zairron

I'm writing to build a habit, practice, and be creative.

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