A Wrong Thing for a Right Reason

I haven’t even slept overnight before Haxl comes to me. My hands have only known my own pockets since entering the Lord Saenger’s service – and I intended for that to remain the case – but when she explains her story, my heart tugs with a camaraderie it hasn’t since my life in the Rimeland. She doesn’t ask for anything not rightfully hers, wrongfully taken from her, and I find her request difficult to refuse.

I wait until after convocation and out from under the eyes of the Gothics’ Lion God to pinch her necklace from the guardsman. Can someone do a wrong thing for a right reason?

We end up sitting and simply talking together for a moment under the smokey, fire-mage moon. An ominous omen, but beautiful when filtered through the black pines and shared with a fellow. I’ll admit to a touch of pride at her surprise to discover I’d slipped the trinket into her pocket in passing.

She assures me she’ll be alright without the coins she offers in return. “We have to look out for each other,” she says. I trust my lord to take care of my needs and yet… I hope our paths cross again.

Contention, Contentment

Rage boiled inside Luqa as the skald reiterated what he had said in the tavern. A ritual of Jorg? The inquisitor lied to my face. I came before him, I offered to swear to whatever he asked to keep a secret, I begged him for the truth of the matter, and he lied to my face and said the ritual was not of the old Gods. What else was a lie then? Obviously his claim that Rolf’s lionization wasn’t manipulative couldn’t be trusted.
“So you let him die for no reason then?”
Luqa’s blood ran cold. I wasn’t sure if it was from the unexpected comment from the Djinn in my mind, or because the Djinn was absolutely correct. The main thing that had kept me from performing the ritual of Sveas was the reassurance that there was another way. But Jorg, Sveas? What was the difference? None that I could see. Rage.
“You know, perhaps I can help?”
Luqa needed to meditate. “Over here Luqa!”, but father asher was calling him back to his duties. I was still supposed to be guarding the inquisitor, despite the jaunt into the woods. No meditation, no breath, no water. Only rage.
“You only have to ask me, i’ll take care of your problems, just let me free Luqa”
Luqa gritted his teeth, subconsciously going into a combat stance. “Point your damn spear upward Sharaqyn!” Captain Sinclair’s harsh words snapped me back to the present as i apologize and move away from the cappacian.
“Fine, then this one’s on me. Don’t say i’m not looking out for you young master”
Luqa barely had time to process the Djinn’s words before he saw the deer. Then the captain and the inquisitor saw the deer. Rage. Did he give in to what the Djinn obviously wanted? What did the Djinn gain? Time seemed to stretch infinitely, why was Asher’s back still turned? What was so mesmerizing about a damn deer in the woods?
“Or don’t take the shot i guess, if you really want to be alive for nothing…”
The flash of steel. a cry of pain. Blood. The purest cycle of time, spilling out onto the ground, again.

“Let me help quiet your mind at least”, Striga was obviously a hardened individual. It was unclear whether that was something to do with their personality, their scar, or simply the world around them. But that just made it all the more touching when they moved to join me on the floor, forsaking the much more comfortable chair to be eye level with a criminal. “When you think of home, what comes to mind?” I wasn’t sure, then, somewhere deep inside, I heard the soft burbling laugh of my mother, long forgotten from ages past. “My mother” i managed to choke out. “Ok, then just focus on my voice. Close your eyes. Imagine home, a quiet desert in winter, soft and smeared like pastels.” I closed my eyes, and tried to quiet my heart. The rage was gone, the fear of death was gone. I was left empty. “Think of an oasis, there is no wind, the water is still, the trees don’t move. Just you and your mother, in perfect calm” Try as i might, the peace would not come. When I closed my eyes, I just saw the disappointed face of Sister Solace telling me that she would execute me in the morning. No apology, no chastisement. She had already shut him out of her heart. “Just hold that love and peace in your heart. Breath.”
When striga told Luqa to breath, it all clicked. I looked back into their eyes. “Breath. Blood. Heart.” the tears were bursting forth as I spoke at this point, what had I done? “The purest cycle. Each breath, each heartbeat, a new circle” I had to break it. My breath was about to end, but if my cycle was ending, then there was another cycle that too should end.

A flash of steel.
A cry of pain.
Blood, my cycle this time, pouring out onto the ground.
“Djinn. Reveal the inquisitor’s true nature, and your wish is granted”

The cycle ends

Upon waking-

The day before Striga left town had been a busy, unseasonably warm one. Their workroom stank, even over the incense they’d lit, the reek of dead flesh permeated everything. But the work was almost done- they leaned over the body they were cleaning, gently scraping under the nails with a fine brush. The door creaked. Striga paused. They could hear soft footsteps, the clink of a chain, and a polite, awkward pause-
“Spit it out, I’m busy.”
“Striga-”
They turned to face Brother Howe, a tall, red-faced man all in white, wearing an expression of slight disapproval.
“What do you need, Brother?”
“Must you be rude, my child?”
Striga wiped their hands on a rag and reached for the packet of thin cigars they kept tucked in their belt.
“Sorry. It’s been a long day and I’m working alone, mum’s stomach, you know-”
The priest nodded.
“When she’s anxious, there’s no helping it. I understand. I- Striga, she told me some things. Things I should like to discuss with you. I will not deny I am worried, child.”
His eyes moved over the ugly marks on their face and neck. Striga turned away so he couldn’t see, exhaling a cloud of vaguely herbal-smelling smoke in the direction of the body.
“There’s nothing to talk about. I’m fine. Honest. It’s just nightmares.”
“Sleepwalking?”
“People do that sometimes.”
Brother Howe made an exasperated noise.
“I’m not trying to fuck with you, Brother. But it’s really not something to worry about. I’m just overworked.”
“I don’t believe you. But I won’t force you to tell me.”
He gave her arm a gentle squeeze.
“Your family is worried about you. Walk in the light, child.”
Then he was gone, before they could deflect again. Striga finished their cigar, staring at the half-washed body on the table, lost in thought.

The door creaked.
“Brother, I told you-”
“It’s wrong to lie, little witchling.”
“What-”
They turned. Brother Howe was in the doorway, but he looked…wrong. His eyes were wet, black pits, his nose a tattered ruin, his mouth full of broken teeth and a red, red tongue. His priest’s vestments were filthy. And his hands- claws, reaching for them.
“But you’d never lie to me, would you? We know everything about each other, witchling, come-”
They moved, so the table was between them and the not-Howe. And it stared. Grimaced. Lunged forward, mouth agape-

Striga jerked awake, hands scrabbling for something to throw.
“Easy there!”
They rubbed their eyes. Faces swam into view- the farmer who’d let them sleep in their barn, his wife and children. They all looked scared. Of them.
“Sorry…sorry…bad dream…”
“You sure?”
Striga nodded, reaching for their boots. The family didn’t look reassured.
“How far is Runeheim from here again?”
“Handful of days, if you stay off the main roads.”
“Good.”

Hurt

Alphonse walked quickly away from Sophie with tears in his eyes, unwilling to let her or anyone see his pain.

“We are forming a council. I’m sorry, but everyone really doesn’t feel comfortable with you on it because of what happened earlier.” Sophie’s words echoed in his head and he imagined those who might have been responsible. ‘Granny’ Jo. Corben. Marianette. Sophie herself, maybe? An enemy, certainly. The logical side of his mind, barely acknowledged in his pain, said that it probably wasn’t as bad as it sounded. But it HURT.

To his own mind, Alphonse has tried to express a sympathy and respect for the dead lord and lady that had gone unspoken in the face of the hellfire and brimstone preaching of the villainous false Melandihim, Father Billet. Valet? Bullet? Whatever. Father Hate. And the community now hated him for it. He had sought a kind word. He had sought a warm heart to share in mourning. And he had been soundly rejected both by Cole and Theo, but also by everyone else present. What more should he have done? And what should he do now?

Vengeance burned brightly as one option. Father Hate needed to die, but Alphonse had never killed someone with such directed forethought. He threw his clothing into a bag. He just needed to go. He needed to be away from the community and those who thought so little of him that they wished to excise him entirely. To neutralize him. He would not be part of a community where anyone could be his enemy hiding behind a polite smile, but whispering behind his back.

“Are you ok? Are you leaving?” Cadence spoke from the doorway. He was too lost in his miserable reverie to notice her come in. “I have to go,” he replied shortly. Even she couldn’t really understand. And even if she could, he couldn’t burden her. She was important now. She represented the community. Everyone looked to her and she shouldn’t have to handle his problems. And she probably needed to care about the majority of them than him anyways.

The truth was that it was hard to listen to someone familiar. To someone who saw what happened and made the choice to stay silent- probably correctly. He kissed her on the cheek as he moved out the door. She didn’t deserve to feel badly.

“Alphonse?” The voice gave him pause. Ludovic approached down the road. “We should have that talk now.” Alphonse examined the older man’s expression. He was utterly unaware of what happened or what Alphonse was in the middle of. Alphonse carefully hid his emotions. This was too important. And where was he going to go anyway? Home? The problems would continue. At least with arcane power maybe he could earn some respect. Be helpful enough to someone that they actually listened to his thoughts and opinions.

“Alright,” Alphonse replied with effort. He turned to flash a wan smile at Cadence and mouthed a ‘thank you’. She really didn’t deserve to have to deal with him. And then he followed an old wizard into the woods.

A story told to the local Vacatran circle

I….Have a story to tell. Truth be told I would rather I didn’t, but I heard too many of the important bits not to share them.

I will start kinda early, with the spider webs we found on the banks of the river. There were a lot of them, and they were spinning some very fine silk for those talented enough to harvest it. We didn’t think much of it till the new fancy noble lady from up north came to town. She is creepy and a little bit spider themed, and anyone who met her doesn’t really trust her for a lot of reasons, some reasonable, some maybe less so. Anyway, her retinue made it through the mists to come marry off her daughter to our local Lord’s Son. She’s got her eye on taking over, and everyone seems to believe it’s a done deal except for all the little details. Anyway’s there is a whole lot of politics and Noble jibber-jabber surrounding this I won’t pretend to understand.

But what did stick out to me was something her handmaiden said. She told me the reason they made it through the mists at all is because the paths were COVERED in spiders. So long as they walked with the spiders they were fine. But if they strayed too far from them…things.. would reach out and try to grab them. And whenever she slept, she woke resting her head on a nest of spiders. They still had a rough time making it through the woods, and lost a good many of their numbers to bandits and other dangers, but the main reason I bring it up is because the spiders didn’t hurt anyone, and actually made sure they got here in one piece.

Again, when I heard this, I didn’t think much of it other than the nightmares I might be having later. Fast forward to the big party in the woods that night, where several of the local spirits and Standing People showed up to celebrate with us and share some of the forests bounty. One of the folks who showed up was a giant spider..man…thing? It had glowing red eyes, lots of spiders crawling on and around him…. It was dark and I was glad not to see him too clearly, but he…it… was quite polite and openly friendly. He let us know that he was the herald/messenger of his mistress, The Weaver. The Spider Queen, The Crone of the swamps to the north. Her story is that she was a mortal woman, who joined with a giant spider spirit long ago, to become something more than either.

He was sent to let us know a couple of things; First that his mistress is the one who is trying to pull some strings to arrange the marriage of the fancy noble lady to our local lord. Apparently she is The Weaver’s great, great, great…an a few more ‘greats’ beside…distant daughter or nice or some blood relation. The Weaver wants the Mists we have here that protect us and shelter us, to also protect her and shelter her and her lands too. The only way to do that is to make both lands, one land. Hence the marriage.

Now I tried to learn more about this ‘Weaver’ and aside from being a mortal born, part spirit person, the herald also claims she is a Vacatran Crone. He..it.. says she knows many of the old rites and wants to share them with us and ours. He wanted to know why we only had a mother, and not a crone to guide us and wanted to help teach our mother more rites that he might otherwise have lost. He told us his mistress wants to widen the lands the standing people have dominion in, and allow them to walk among her lands in the way they do ours. She knows the nobles in her lands are Banalian, and hopes that the mists will help encourage the people of her lands to go back to the old ways of Vacatra. The Herald promised his mistress would help spread the Vacatran faith in her lands and implied that maybe if we wanted to worship her in our lands we could also do that…but that sounded a little suspicious to me.

Now I know what you are thinking: What did the Standing People have to say about all this? Well, both me and the herald tried to get them to weigh in one way or another, but the three that talked about it all said it was our decision. One agreed that it would be nice to have more room to walk in, but that it was not in their nature to want or not want it. They simply were. If the lands are joined, there will be more land, and if they aren’t then they will still be here. The herald tried to ask Brother Gorse to bless and confirm the…. wedding, but until they were actually together, he said it was not his place to interfere, one way or another. I thought maybe just seeing how they reacted to him being there at all would tell us if they approved or disapproved of him and his mistress, but they treated him like any other party guest, showing neither favor nor concern.

The last thing that the herald wanted us to know is that his mistress can, and wants to help us with our sin. He claims she can take our sin from us, wrap it up in her webs and then destroy it with her venom, leaving us cleansed, and the sin destroyed. Also said a whole lots of creepy stuff about spiders being spiders, but there wasn’t a whole lot that really stuck out as being anything but what you would expect when talking to a giant spider….thing.

So that’s my story. I won’t pretend to know the truth of this ‘Weaver’ or her intentions, but that’s what her Emissary said, as best as I can remember it for now. I know we all have some…concerns about the noble lady herself and what her being here means for the town, but I think that’s an entirely different matter then deciding what the circle wants to do about the Weaver. Should we do as she asks, and help join our two lands? Or should we not trust that she is actually a Crone of Vacatra, and oppose her plans? Do we even think having a Crone nearby is a good thing? I don’t know. But we are going to have to talk about this as a group, and ask Chevreuil for all the wisdom he can give us on this matter.

The Woodsman’s Hope

((Sentences or parts of sentences in all capitals seem to be written by a much more frantic and chaotic hand))

The warm summer sun shone down through the verdant canopy as a woodsman, new to this particular area, trudged on through the underbrush. There was a bit of a reprieve from the hotter-than-normal summer Njordir was having in the cool shade of the forest just outside Runehiem, but the evidence of hard work and exertion showed on this man’s clothes and brow. His pack, filled with materials gathered from the land, weighed on his shoulders, albeit still a burden he could bare. His clan taught him well the value of hard work and respect for the land. He ventured toward the top of a hill deep in the woods in search of a vantage point to get a lay of this new land, as well as a place to sit to enjoy his hand-made trail rations.

As he shifts through the brush, steps over fallen trees and rocks, and skips over small sinkholes, he thinks back on his parents. They were so caring and knowledgeable in their craft and taught him much raising him. HE’S JUST SO DISAPPOINTED THAT THEY HAD TO BREAK THE FAMILY APART. They taught him the best mixture of nuts, berries, flour, honey, and just a bit of animal fat to make these trail rations just the right thing for a hungry gatherer. All he’s learned in life has been from either his parents or his clan, EXCEPT VIOLENCE. He still misses them, EVEN THOUGH THEY DID THE UNTHINKABLE. As the woodsman sits on a fallen log atop the hill to enjoy his trail rations, he looks out into the forest and hopes he continues to make friends in this new village. For the short time he’s been here, it’s felt more and more like home AND WHERE HE BELONGS. He sees new paths forming toward bright futures, and not only the one involving taking a priestly vow. As he’s dwelling on the new friends he’s made, he finishes his trail rations and is ready to venture forth again.

He looks back from where he came, and a small ephemeral bird darts across his sight line. It was so quick, even the trained woodsman couldn’t fully catch it. He looks toward where it went and is met with just the typical sight of the dense foliage with several rays of sun piercing through the canopy for illumination. A voice stirs in his mind, “I HOPE YOU ENJOY YOUR LIFE, EVERY ASPECT OF IT”. He blinks a few times and shakes his head. For good measure, he takes a drink from his water skin, and tries to focus on the voice again. Nothing but the chirping of the birds, the buzzing of insects, and, in the distances, the soft rushing of the river. He says a brief prayer for safety and turns to make his way back to his work and to town. This incident sits uneasy in his mind, BUT AS SOON AS HE LEAVES THE FOREST AND GETS BACK TO TOWN, IT IS OF LITTLE CONCERN TO HIM. He finds peace in his community and the act of helping them with their needs.

Over the next few weeks, during days when he ventures not into the wilderness, the woodsman is found practicing archery in whatever suitable open area is available, mostly out of preparation for the next season’s hunt BUT ALSO YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN YOU NEED TO PROTECT YOURSELF. His thoughts, again, drift back to his parents. His mother was such a dependable hunter and member of the clan, BUT SUCH A DISAPPOINTMENT IN THE END. The clan trusted her with many a folkwise and leaned on her frequently for food and clothing for the winter. WHY DID SHE HAVE TO DO IT? WHY? WHY? WHY? The woodsman, gathering his arrows from his last volley, had tears welling up in his eyes. He wiped his eyes, nocked another arrow, and took just a second to aim. Just before he let the arrow fly, he closed his eyes and let images of hope fill his mind. Next he opened his eyes, he was met with the arrow jutting from the center of the makeshift target. “The light of Benalus is the gateway to hope, the road to salvation. I feel I have hope, so I must be on the right road,” The woodsman mumbles to himself.

The family business

Striga was absolutely filthy. It had been an oddly long work day, three families come for viewing and the rest for the grave- and they could feel the fatigue tugging at their limbs as they heaved the narrow copper tub out of storage and into the yard. Their mother- bless her- bustled over from the pump with two massive buckets, the maid following with two more.
“Just toss your things on the steps there, my duck. Birdie’s doing the laundry tomorrow. And I’ve promised your pa I won’t let you in the house until you’ve had a wash.”
“Birdie shouldn’t have to touch that.”
Striga rasped, stripping down and clambering into the tub- for their family, the human body held no mysteries, living or dead. Zora passed them a bar of soap that smelled strongly of thyme.
“Birdie knows what the work entails, dear- make sure you get under your nails.”
“At least it’s not freezing out, you harridan.”
They shuddered, recalling a particularly gruesome work day that had led to a speedy wash with a bucket of water with the ice still in it. The family always bathed after work- wouldn’t do to track mud and gore into the house, stinking of who knows what and embalming fluid. It was the proper, polite thing to do. Even if it was miserable at times. Birdie collected their disgusting clothes, apron and all, and disappeared into an outbuilding.
“Shall I get your back and hair?”
“Please. I think if I tried to lift my arms, they’d just fall off.”
“You were at it all day, we’ll have to make you some tea to help with the ache. How on earth did you get dirt in your hair, I never-”
They let their mother grumble on, drawing their bony knees up so they could just…rest while she worked oil into their hair. The news from town, Striga’s general scruffiness, their brothers’ marital woes, the familiar litany washed over them as the sky gradually darkened overhead.
“And he said-”
“Wait. What was the magister on about earlier?”
“I…well. We have some news. Your brothers are settled now, and we’ve…ducky we’ve been called to the warfront in Runeheim. And we need you to come with us. There’s so much work, and we don’t want to leave you alone, and-”
“When?”
“We leave at the end of next month. You’d need to go on ahead to set up, the shop travels slow. I know we’re asking a lot of you, dear. We wouldn’t if it wasn’t important.”
Striga looked up. Zora was usually insufferably cheery, almost jolly, the mama hen at the center of the family business. The note of uncertainty in her voice was almost wildly out of character.
“Of course I’ll go. I just need a day to drop off invoices and pack my things.”
Their mother kissed their forehead.
“Thank you, dear. You do so much for us.”
She sat back as Striga rinsed and stood up- the bath water was an unpleasant shade of red-brown but they were squeaky clean. There was nothing to be done for their hands, permanently stained black from the crematorium. And the scarring on their neck…like long, thin fingers gouging out the flesh, it had been a livid, foul purple at first, now it was a dull, dark rose against the corpse-pale skin around it. Their mother paused.
“Does it still hurt?”
“Sometimes.”
“…Would you consider seeing a priest? Please?”
“I don’t need a priest to scowl and tut and say something’s wrong with me.”
“Ducky, I worry. You were sleepwalking again.”
“Mum.”
“Think about it? While you’re on the road?”
Zora passed them a clean shift, kissed them on the cheek.
“I need to help your pa with supper. I won’t push you but…we- I love you, my little witchling.”
“I know, mum. I love you too.”

Meditation

“We could bring him back, you know…” The hoarse whisper echoed around the empty glade, and Luqa jumped, despite himself. It had been a long time since his other had made an offer.
“I don’t believe that’s actually in your power.” Luqa answered despite himself. He usually tried to ignore his passenger, but the audacity of the claim caught Luqa by surprise.
“Perhaps, perhaps not. We could get help, I’m sure the witch you met would be happy to get her claws into a saint!” Luqa sighed and closed his eyes again, ignoring the voice. Deep breath, move through the spear forms. Hear the beat of your heart in your ears.

Luqa is 8 years old, breathing heavily, tears of rage at some perceived slight cloud his vision as he stands over another child. A Sahirim monk passing by scolds him.

Luqa is 14, his heart pounding as he stabs the spear into the dummy, the Jinn chattering incessantly in his head.

Luqa is 23, his adrenaline racing, the first man he ever killed laying at his feet. The padishah was safe, but at what cost? Was this him now?

“Breath child, hear your heartbeat, listen to your body!” 8 year old Luqa looks up at the monk, not understanding. He stabs the spear into the dummy as the voice echoes in his head, drowning out the Jinn. “All time is a cycle, it continues the way you direct it into perpetuity.” Was the dead man his perpetuity? Was he destined to be a killer for all time? “The heartbeat is the purest cycle of time, with each breath and each beat, life flows through you.” Luqa focused on his breathing as he continued to stab the dummy. The Jinn would not control his life. “You can control the flow of your own time, one cycle, one heartbeat at a time” 8 year old Luqa ran home to hide behind his mother’s skirt. “Time is a circle, but it need not be the same circle” Luqa wipes the blood off of his spear. The other guards come to see the commotion, but Luqa is already resuming his patrol of the palace.

Luqa breathed out, then in again. Each cycle, new. No, he would not look back at the loss of St. Rolf the Unbroken. He would not continue to wallow in self pity for his part in Rolf’s death. But Rolf the Unbroken would live in each new breath.

“I will not be the same circle”

Oli and Evi

“This is your new home.” Helgi swept his arm across the interior of the small one room house. Oli peeked inside without crossing the mantel. Evi hung back even further, clutching to Oli’s hand. “You’ll be safe here for now. The city is well defended.” Helgi lied. That seemed to reassure the two boys enough to cross the threshold.

“This is Ragna and Laurel, your new siblings.” The children barely looked up to acknowledge the newest additions to the family. Helgi glared, “Welcome your new brothers!” ” ‘elcome” one of them grunted. That was the best he’d get, so he moved on.

“Up there is Ormr, don’t worry, they are quite harmless as long as they’ve eaten.” The two boys took a step back at the sight of the snake. Was this place really safe they wondered? But where else could they go. Aunti had said Helgi would help them. So they stayed.

===========================================================================

Life wasn’t so bad here. They fell into a routine. There was barely any time to think about mother. Rise before dawn, start the fire for breakfast. Practice your letters with Laurel.

“Letters are the keys to knowledge. Knowledge is the key to power. Do you want to be weak or strong?” Helgi would ask.

“Strong” they dutifully replied.

That was always the right answer. But that always meant more work. After lunch it was time to learn to fight with Ragna. They started with boxing. Helgi said they could use a knife when they proved they were ready.

“If the raiders come again what do we do?”

“Fight them!” Oli said.

“No” Helgi admonished. “Are you stronger then a raider? What’s your advantage? What’s your escape plan when the deed is done, there will be more raiders on the way.”

“Then we just run away again?” Oli barely whispered.

Helgi nodded. “Fight when your strong, flee when you’re weak. That’s how you survive. That’s how you win.”

Oli gritted his teeth and renewed his attack on Ragna’s bag of hay. “That’s how you win”, he repeated to himself. “That’s how you win.”

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.