Two Knives

In one forum I doubled my wealth. from one knife to two.

staring into the fire the forums events kept playing on loop.


“Just put the money on the ground” hissed an unsteady voice. “Now back away. Back AWAY!” she shouted, knife held to the child’s throat.

“Where are you going Kanut?” the voice reverberated though area “Did you bring me tasty Meat?”.

“Take him in to custody” Lady Vindicta pronounced.

The world swirled in colors, magic hidden glowing into sight, Ancient Shade coming into sharp Contrast.

“Still in your own head?” Clements voice spoke over the crackling fire. “You wont find answers there, Rumination is like rocking in a chair. It gives you something to do but gets you no where”

“I’m more worried about what sticks in my mind and what does not.” Kicking the burlap sacks sitting beside me. “Those should probably make me more uncomfortable than the rest”.

“I am twice as wealthy as I was last forum, and yet I now have a myriad of problems” Sigurd deadpanned.

“Myriad?” Clements mused.

“Just because I cant mark it in ink does not mean I don’t know what it means Clements”

“Fair, enough Sigi” Clements assuaged. Glancing down at the burlap sacks Clements ask the question that had been hanging in the air. “What are you going to do with those.”

“Take a leaf out of your book Clements, Teach a lesson.” Standing Sigurd looked over to Clements across the fire. “Kanewt will not be here next forum to ease the lesson. In a way i’m glad he wont have to see it.”

Picking up the pair of burlap sacks, the knives weighed heavily at my belt. Twice the wealth, twice the trouble, a pair of heads in burlap sacks.

The Hungry Tree

I heard you wanted to know about the tree.

So be it.

Knut and I were sent up the last night of the forum.

There was a report only one prisoner was there where four should still be.

It was late. Muddy paths, we were just about to go to sleep when the messenger found us.

We could hear sobbing in the distance. Slowly growing louder and louder.

It was but one voice.

She stood alone chained to the tree. Surrounded by a field of…

Parts.

She begged us to take her. Anywhere. She would do no wrong again.

She… oh she made my heart ache. I know fear. I use it when I need to but she was beyond the pale.

Eventually we got her talking and like a flood it just came out.

Of the people who were “imprisoned” there, she was the only one left.

The tree ate the rest.

/Sigurd takes a drink from a bottle/

As we stepped away from the tree with the girl in manacles a voice spoke out.

“Kanut, where are you going Kanut”

I froze. It was not I speaking. Kanut looked at me. As if to ask what I had said.

And again.

“Did you bring this large one for me”

We were looking at each other. Neither of us spoke those words.

The poor girl just started screaming. I took her several paces away as Kanut spun looking for the voice.

/Sigurd sighs/

I’ll spare you the details. Mostly I do not want to relive that conversation.

That tree. He? Is. Was?… the first man to starve chained to the tree.

We thought people had been set to watch over the prisoners.

No.

The first to starve opened his eyes and found food. Chained to him. He was trapped where he had starved to death.

And he began to eat.

And eat.

And.

/Sigurd Drinks/

The poor girl. She was there for the whole time. Drinking what she could.

Eating what she could.

The Tree… leaves quiet a mess.

It’s hungry. It..

He starved. Chained to a tree.

I almost feel sorry for that…

/Sigurd raises a hand pointing at the hill in the distance/

So.

Now you know…

I will leave you to your meal.

Words Spoken We Fear

“Sigurd, That’s the third man this week. If you keep this up HE will notice.”

Stripping the cloak from the still warm body Sigurd quickly rifled the former thrall for anything of value. A Spare ration, boots in decent shape, serviceable knife. Sigurd continued taking anything that would go unnoticed from the body, not hearing the man who worried by his side.

“Do you even care that he’s dead”

Standing, Sigurd motioned to a young boy barely old enough to stand to arms. “Come here Nefstien, this man chose to act like a beast rather than a man. He has no need for these any more.” Sigurd spoke, while holding a neatly rolled bundle out towards a pair of eyes watching from a nearby tent.

“The dead feel no cold, tread no ground, and cut no meat. Take these.” Forcing the bundle into the child’s hands Sigurd began to walk towards the cook fire. “Kalder has made as many orphans in this camp as our Branded has. If he wishes to act as our Branded I shall treat him as such.”

——————————————————————————————————————————-

“Beneath the Sun and the Old Gods Eyes you have been found wanting. Beaten by a thrall with nothing more than a knife.”

“You who would send others to fight battles you would not face. Coward”

“You who would Claim deeds not your own. Liar”

“You who would kill his own brother, Murderer.”

“You who would take, and never share. Thief”

“On this day I could take your life. Hear my words and Obey”

“Your presence is disgusting. Never let the Sun see your shame.”

“You are dirt. Never take your eyes from the ground.”

“You are a Leach. Never rest for the day till you’ve brought food to the camp.”

“You will know hunger. Never eat until all others have fed”

“You are a beast not a man, and beasts have no names. Leave cur, before I take your life as I have taken your name.”
——————————————————————————————————————————-
“He’ll kill you one day you know that Sigurd.” Orm muttered as the cook fire spit and timber settled. “You should have taken his life and been done with it.

Sigurd answered in a tiered monotone.“ Dead men bring nothing but more death. Until the day that beast regains enough honor to be a man, he will at least bring food to the camp and learn what it’s like to live as those he tried to rule.”

Finished eating Sigurd stood. “Now that the last of the would be rimelanders has been taken care of, we can see to what comes next. Skard, pass word among all who we trust. Just before First light at the First birds song. We take our freedom for ourselves.”

Walking away from the three orphans Sigurd spoke, almost to himself. “I have no honor, so I work through the night. I am a coward, so I strike while they sleep, I am a thief. I shall take their life’s. I would be a leader. I have but one choice.”

Pausing before the first Jarl’s tent.

“For Nef, Orm, Skard.”

Sigurd stepped inside, dagger hidden but ready.

Bedding Down

One Door.
One window.
Three Bunks, a wash basin, and a “water closet”. Never in my dreams did I think I would have such comfort.

Looking back at his bunk, Sigurd paced the room. No way to secure the window but any who wanted to use it would have to climb over a sleeping Kanut. Good enough. One way or another an intruder from that path would resolve itself.

Unfurling a patterned blanket, Sigurd paused. Was there really no one who needed this cloth? to think spare Blankets. He shuddered with how wasteful an action this would have been just weeks before. Sliding the blanket under the mattress above Sigurd made sure to leave a gap next to the head board.

With cloth draped all around the lower bunk one could not tell if someone lay within. sliding into the makeshift cave, Sigurd smiled with satisfaction. A perfect sliver of vision looking out at the door, with enough room to respond to unwanted guests.

Stepping Out Sigurd stripped.

Taking one last look around, Sigurd grasped his sole possession, A black dagger. Gifted to him by his Lady’s other vasal. Kanut.

“Two blankets, a cloak, and a knife.” Sigurd wondered aloud. “Never did I think I would have this much to call my own.”

Climbing back into bed, Dagger in hand, Sigurd lay watching the open doorway. Dagger ready to strike.

“This place. I could call home.”