Monday, October 7, 2019

166 - “On Their Way” - Eddiwarth - A Tale of Heroes

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Eddiwarth jumped through the shimmering silver portal while the oval tear through the fabric of reality was still growing. He landed and nearly lost his balance. Instantly, he shivered. Wait. Why is it cold?

“Hey, move out of the way!” Karendle called from behind him. He snapped around and stepped aside. By this time, the portal was wider, with its lower arc glistening close to the stones of the street.

Eddiwarth looked around. It was twilight, getting dark, but that didn’t account for the deep chill in the harsh wind. He folded his arms and rubbed his shoulders. Where’s my cloak? Did I leave it back in The Vast? Or maybe I left it in the cathedral. The street was lit from above by an oculus on a high pole. The light shone on stones of the pavement, and cast jagged shadows behind his legs. The gutters along the side of the street were filled with fallen brown and crackled leaves. He turned his eyes up to the light. The branches of the trees near the pole were bare and a bit erie in the dim.

It can’t be winter! What’s going on?

Korr crossed through the portal next and Parith followed, with the drake clinging to his shoulders. Its tail was wrapped around his upper arm. The street was empty, without anyone passing by. All along the way, leaves and the occasional sheet of paper blew across the ground and swirled past the buildings.

On the far side of the street, he saw the crumbling ruins of a huge old building. Some stone walls still stood, but many had crumbled and fallen in pieces onto the yard. He walked toward it. The roof was gone, with only a few charcoaled timbers remaining. The boards and the rocks were well-weathered, like they had seen months of sun, wind, and rain since they’d burned.

Korr stepped up next to him. “I believe it’s the cathedral.”

Eddiwarth just stared, his brows knit.

Korr continued, “Of course, when we entered the structure, we must have come in through the west entrance. This is likely another facade. I think this is the monastery courtyard. Or, rather, it was.”

Eddiwarth shook his head in disbelief, shivered and stepped away, back toward the portal. Where’s Thissraelle? Has she not come out yet? “Thissraelle?”

He crossed around to the other side of the portal and looked through. Thissraelle was there, embracing Tarl. “Thank you so much,” he heard her say, then they broke. She turned toward the portal. He held his hand out, and she graciously took it as she stepped over the glowing threshold. She immediately shivered, reacting to the cold.

Eddiwarth shrugged. “I know! It’s weird! Wasn’t it summer a few days ago?”

She nodded. “I guess that’s what happens to time in The Vast.” Her breath clouded her face as she spoke. She handed something small, square, and dark to Eddiwarth, unfolded her cloak from where it had been draped over her arm, and swung it over her shoulders. Eddiwarth looked down at the book in his hands. It was small and leather-bound with gilt edges.

“What’s this?”

Thissraelle shifted her shoulders to adjust the cloak and pulled her hood up over her head. “Don’t you have a cloak?”

“I did, somewhere,” he said, “but I mean, what’s this?” He lifted the book.

“A gift from Tarl. From the library.” She took it from him and began walking toward the others. She stopped suddenly, staring at the burned out ruins of the cathedral. “By the love of The Creator,” she whispered.

Eddiwarth just stood next to her, not sure what to say. She spun to face across the street and looked up with wonder, almost fear. He followed her gaze. She put her hand over her mouth and sighed, blowing chilly air through her fingers.

“What are you looking at?” Eddiwarth asked.

She whispered, as if no one was listening, “My tower.”

Your tower? That’s in the Guild Hall. It hadn’t even occurred to Eddiwarth that across the alleyway would be the Wizard’s Guild halls, where he had lived and studied up until the past summer. That part of his life seemed to be so long ago, and he hadn’t even thought about it in weeks. The building was undamaged, but completely dark and empty. Karendle stepped up behind them, but said nothing. Eddiwarth looked at Thissraelle’s face, trying to understand what she was thinking, feeling. She just stared in silence.

"Good morning! Good morning!"

They all spun around, with their hands on their weapon hilts. Korr's feet planted in a defensive stance, with his hands in front of him. An old, short man in a gray cloak stood smiling under the oculus light. His hair was uneven, and a thin beard framed his smile.

"It's a lovely spring morning in the city!" He gestured upward. "Birds are calling, fish are swimming in the skies..."

Eddiwarth hadn't heard the man's footsteps. He looked at the others, who glanced back with raised brows. He started to move forward, to place himself between the man and Thissraelle.

The old man raised his chin and turned his head from side to side, looking closely at Thissraelle, then at Karendle. He shrugged his shoulders and chuckled. Then he walked between the baffled clump of people and continued down the street.

Thissraelle called out, "Wait! Who are you?"

He stopped and looked back over his shoulder with a giddy grin. "Soon you'll be traveling far, I suppose. Maybe you'll need things?" He started walking again, with a bit of a limp. After a few steps, he began to shuffle from side to side, as if dancing to unheard music.

Thissraelle looked at the others one by one. Eddiwarth shrugged and gestured at the old man with resignation. The drakeling on Parith's shoulder trilled.

Thissraelle nodded and caught up to the man, and the others followed.

The End of Part 12


This continues the story of the heroes in Wynne, in Twynne Rivers, in the world of The Hero's Tale, Family Friendly RPGs. Here's more info on The Hero's Tale, and family friendly RPGing. If you like this story, support us at our Patreon!
Thank you: Chet Cox, Genevieve Springer!

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