A journal lies open on a hand carved table, the sound of children arguing echoes from somewhere nearby. A list of academic areas of study takes up one page from top to bottom in order of least complex to most complex. On the opposite page is a hastily scrawled flowchart of the way that the topics flow into each other. Nearby sits a sheaf of papers, filled with hastily scrawled sketches of various buildings from around town, including floor plans and notes on support beams and load bearing structures. Near the top of the pile there are designs for original buildings, each referencing design elements from the previous notes.
Milo rushes from one end of the small kitchen to the other, searching frantically for the vial of rosemary that he’d wanted to add to the stew but had forgotten to pull out ahead of time. Finally they locate it at the back of the spice cabinet, likely pushed there in the commotion of their hurried movements. They’re pretty sure it’s rosemary, at least. It smells like something that goes in stews? They startle at the sound of liquid bubbling over the rim of the cast iron pot and dripping down into the fire.
Milo curses and runs back to the pot. In a rushed attempt to remove it from the heat they grab the handle with their bare hand, instantly recoiling as their skin immediately burns against the hot metal. The vial of rosemary shatters against the ground as they accidentally drop it. Milo curses again and tries to gather the glass up into a pile without cutting themself, The stew continues to boil over and drip into the fire, filling the room with smoke.
A piece of paper sits on the floor of a childs room, a stick of charcoal next to it. It reads;
milo wants me to practice riting and mom says now i need to lisen to him cuz they got mareed so im riting. i think its dumb cuz mom was a templar withowt reading but she says hes right so i gota. milo isnt even smart and he defun dafun for shur isnt brave so i dont think i want to be lisning to him. i had some friends over three days ago and he got scared and ran away from us. mom says hes a hero like her but he doesnt even have a sord and wont even show me how to fight. also i think he trikd mom abowt beeeeng a maeej cuz he always acts al scared when i ask him to do majic. i think its dum that i need to listen to him. mom sayd i need to finish a payj befor i can go play owtsieed and im done now okay bye
Milo sits just outside the front door to Cadence’s home. Now their home too, they suppose. A shirt sized for a preteen rests in their lap as they patch a hole in the sleeve. This was easy enough. They’d learned the basics of making and repairing clothes back when they lived on the road with their parents. Their mother had insisted they learn. Their eyes glaze over for a moment before the sound of a child yelling returns their attention to the present.
The yell breaks into laughter as Milo’s eyes find the small group of children play fighting in the yard. Sticks represent swords as they enact some grand battle or another. Milo’s heart is racing regardless, though. Their thoughts jump to what they’d heard at market about werewolves kidnapping children and their grip tightens on the shirt in their lap.
Three blades rest sheathed on a belt hung near the door. One of them gleams with shifting arcane symbols that confuse the eye, and the other is simple and worn. The third is covered by a sheath, it’s razor sharp edge too dangerous to leave in the open.
From the handle of the blade with the arcane sigils hangs a white cloth, stark against its surroundings. Upon the strip of cloth sits a simple design of an alligator dyed green against the white. The rest of the cloth appears to have collected a bit of dirt and a few tears, as though it was dragged across gravel.
Milo listens closely to Cadences breathing as they lay in bed. Eventually it steadied and grew deeper, and Milo knew she’d fallen asleep. They took a few breaths of their own and counted to a hundred before slowly and carefully rising from the bed and stretching. Their eyes had long since adjusted to the dark, and in the faint moonlight drifting through the window they gazed worriedly at their spouse.
Nothing could sneak up on Milo. They often joked that it was their “Rogalian Kidneys” but in truth it was because they lived every moment of their life in constant fear. Jumping at the danger that loomed omnipresent over their life, the shadow that had followed them since they were a child and that had ruined so many lives. The one that had taken their parents. They felt it here, too. Whatever had happened during the eclipse had made it seem so much closer. Milo began their new nightly ritual shortly after, and had held strong for a few weeks now.
Silent as the earth beneath them, Milo twisted their hands into the Knot, channeling the burdens of earth required to work their most useful magic. They held their hand towards Cadence, willing disease to flow from her and into them, where it would wither and die. They watched and waited for the black mist to seep from her mouth and into theirs.
Like every night so far, none came.
Milo let out a quiet breath in relief, before prowling out of their room and into the children’s, where they worked the same spell over each of them. Nothing, like usual. They nodded and crept back out into the living room, not returning to their bed but rather walking to the door. They slipped their knife bearing the Sudarium cadence had given them from its sheath before slowly slipping outside.
The cool night air brushed against their skin and banished the warmth of indoors from their clothes. They shivered a bit, but they’d grown used to such weather back when they’d lived in the woods. A little cold never bothered them. They snuck around the house to the back, where they had stashed a rough burlap blanket under the lip of the roof. They pulled the blanket out and curled up behind a bush, settling in for another cold night.