BloodIt wasn't the first time I'd sworn an oath in blood, but it would be the last. As I stood there with stained hands, I thought back over the last few hours and for the thousandth time sought something I could have done to prevent what had happened.
I was in the training halls early in the morning, as was my habit. I liked to get in some practice before the raw recruits showed up and started begging for lessons. As I sat in an antechamber with some oil and a whetstone attending to my sword, the door opened and in marched two elite guards in the service of the High Chamberlain. I rose and stood to attention as he entered, his purple robes of office streaming behind him in a self-important manner as he did so. With a nod, he ordered the guards to wait outside, and asked me to stand at ease.
"So, Ramun, have you had a chance to consider my proposal as yet?" he asked.
"It is as I told your honour at the time" I answered. "I ha
WarmthRenik could not remember the last time he had been truly warm. Though he was certain that it had not been a lifetime ago, it seemed that way on this frozen night. No more could he recall to mind the feeling of heat from a fire soaking into him, or the rays of the sun on his back, or the wet warmth of laying with another.
It wasn't that he felt any particular desire to be warm, though; few enough desires yet remained to him, though he could remember clearly having such drives. Perhaps it was a blessing that these had for the most part left him, as he recalled with certainty that unfulfilled desires were painful indeed.
He glanced out from the space in which he was sat; the moon had nearly set, and it was almost time to start the hunt. He closed his eyes while the last of the silver light left the world, to help his eyes adjust to the near-blackness that would follow. As he did, the thoughts of her came unbidden again to his mind; th
WarThe hamlet had enjoyed relative safety for uncounted generations. Since its humble beginnings as a small inn at a convenient point on a mountain road, the peace had only been shattered by the occasional tavern brawl – except for the one time that a detachment of troops had passed through. Those who considered themselves well-versed in the world beyond the last house of the hamlet told the others that the soldiers belonged to the lord of the land, though to most of the people, never having left the area, this meant little.
The day that was to change this pattern of peacefulness dawned like any other, to find farmers already tending their land, and the quarry workers setting off to the south. Housewives busied themselves with various tasks, and children visited the temple for their morning classes.
At about midday, a small caravan entered the hamlet, stopping to water the horses and restock for their journey. Many of the travellers sought refre