Part Twenty 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)
Part Twelve: Blood and Lies (pt. 12)
Part Thirteen: Blood and Lies (pt. 13)
Part Fourteen: Blood and Lies (pt. 14)
Part Fifteen: Blood and Lies (pt. 15)
Part Sixteen: Blood and Lies (pt. 16)
Part Seventeen: Blood and Lies (pt. 17)
Part Eighteen: Blood and Lies (pt. 18)
Part Nineteen: Blood and Lies (pt. 19)
The sun rises and the people soon follow the next day. The heavy drinkers grumble through their pain and weariness as the villager begin work to prepare the party in the evening. Jack had returned very early in the morning, emerging from his home with Aubrey and Pan late into the afternoon. With Zsófia’s blessing Vahkragg dragged Telfor into the clearing to take off the rust the weeks recovering had left on his combat senses, despite the grey soldier’s hungover protests. The children crowded to watch as the giant drove his companion into the dirt time and again, the pain from their cheers worse than the bruises Vahkragg gifted him. Rubin reappeared in the company of one of the larger families of the village, to help with setting up the tables and chairs.
The food preparation has been going since the previous day for a number of the dishes. The appearance is relatively minimal, a long semi-circle of tables around the town square covered with more unique meals than seemed possible with the limited selection of forest meat and home grown produce. At the centre of the tables an enormous bonfire stands to heat and light the village into the night. Placed very specifically at the edge of the fires reach shrines honouring the hunters who had been lost on this expedition are placed at the edge of light to allow the dead to join the celebration with their loved ones one last time. A ward he had learned from Oliver before they’d arrived in the village performed by Rubin keeps tormentous presence of insects at bay.
As the party began the group separated by the company they kept among the villages. Vahkragg found a seat at the edge of the fire by himself, eventually being joined by Telfor and Jacob. Pan had grown friendly with Jack and Aubrey, spending the evening in the company of the couple and their friends drinking and smiling. From his place at the edge of the of the celebration, Telfor occasionally spotted Rubin among the crowd, being dragged around by excited children or talking reservedly with parents. The sorcerer had been well loved by the locals, being so distinctly foreign he was of endless interest to the children. His willingness to explain the fundamentals of magic and the sciences had also earned him the fondness of parents who held hope their children may one day be able to enter the University.
The sun eventually set and celebrants thinned, children taken to bed and some early risers disappearing as the food thins in favour of more drinks. Still recovering from his previous drinking, Telfor feels no desire to do more than nurse one drink and enjoy the company of the small group that had formed around them.
“Where are you all from originally,” the conversation turning its focus to the outsiders is met with interest by the villagers.
“We’re from all over,” Telfor grins, raising his cup to point at Vahkragg choosing to quickly gloss over the giant’s history, “You know the desert plains east past Tassholm? That’s where this brute was from before he took the king’s coin.”
Continuing quickly to prevent any curious questions he gestures vaguely across the crowd, “Rubin is even further east, from the Empire of Karsh originally. His home was lost in the plague but he was among the survivors the church rescued and brought back to the capital. He was too young to remember much of that and being raised at the Weatherford University, he considers that to be his true home.”
“The Bulwark was Pan’s home, that’s why he’s got all that fur, for surviving in the cold. Vahkragg and I met him there through the army, he was years our junior but he’d been discharged due to his condition and I could see he needed to get out of that place, so I brought him with us when we left.”
“Verumalleus was originally from Verwich, she joined the temple and was taken to the capital to become a crusader before being assigned to Pike’s Reach. She’d known Rubin from before, and suggested us to him for his Journeyman training.”
“I’m from Pike’s Reach, not far to the north west of here. That’s where we’re based these days, where I met Veru and how we got the job that took us this far south. We’re far enough at the edge of the Earldom that our work is mostly travel heavy rather than conflict heavy, which is why I chose it. I’ve got a daughter who needs a living daddy after all”
None of the villagers had ever been beyond the village for any reason other than hunting and very rarely for trading with Tassholm or Verwich. The evening passed answering questions about the world and trading stories. The community here was one that Telfor had developed an affection for quite quickly, there was none of the judgement that he’d come to expect from people in the kingdom. They were welcoming and generous as long as you were willing to lift a hand to help out, perhaps one day he would bring his family here.
The celebration winds eventually down, with their journey beginning again the following day Telfor made sure to tell all of his companions to get some sleep and be ready to leave early the next morning. Bidding the villagers a good night Telfor and Vahkragg returned to Jacob’s home to turn in. The time they had spent here had been pleasant, and the time to recover from Veru’s death had been vital. However they had been gone far too long, they were weeks overdue to report back from their mission to the capital and the horde of undead they had encountered were still a danger they didn’t know the source of. While far too small to be a true threat to any of the major cities, it’s existence alone raised too many questions. With luck the coming week’s journey to the capital would go better than the events so far.
Like Sonata in Red, Blood and Lies will be entering a brief hiatus before restarting with the next leg of the story. At this stage they’ll likely be returning at the start of November, so pencil that into your calendar. If you missed either series you can catch up on the story with the first parts of both here and here, respectively.
In the meantime I’ll be continuing my one shots until the end of September. In October I’ll be starting my “Short Scary Story – Halloween Horror Challenge”, posting one horror story a day in honour of the season. In the other slot I’ll be revisiting a short story I previously uploaded called Rainbow with a series expanding on that story.
Hope you enjoy it,