Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Oneiros - WiP - "Trial"

"What do you think you are doing?"  They all jumped at the sound of Garland's voice.  He sneered at the fire, "What is this?"
"This," Warwick spoke up with his head held high, "is a fire.  We use it to keep warm, cook meals, and for light."
The archer narrowed his eyes at the Storyteller.  He looked as if he was about to chastise the older man, but he kept whatever remarks he had to himself.
Glancing from Garland to Warwick, Christina tried to decipher their moods.  She wanted to believe they were only teasing, but she had a nagging feeling that Garland was still sore about the bridge and Warwick was tired of putting up with his dismissive tone.
"Since you have decided to join us once again, could I interest you in some stew?  I know it is not much, but that seems to be all we could manage this evening on our own."
Garland dropped his gaze.  Shame and irritation crossed his face before he hid it in he shadows.  He stalked to where Christina sat and snatched up his bow.  "We should be going."
Vetch groaned.  "But we're still eating!  Do you expect us to eat on the run?  No one can follow us know.  How are they gonna get across that gorge?"
The archer looked to Vetch slow and unsteady.  He tilted his head as if straining to see him.  "You may continue as you wish, young one.  Chris and I are moving on.  We have more ground to cover."
A low grumble came from Warwick.  "So you have decided to go on without us.  Are we slowing you down that much, boy?"
Garland didn't acknowledge him.  Christina, wide eyed, held her place.  Something was off.  This was not his normal demeanor.  Yes, he could be gruff, but this too bitter even for the archer.
"That is alright," Warwick answered himself.  "I assumed this would come eventually.  It is just like you to drag us out of our comfortable lives for some harebrained scheme to dash this poor girl across creation only to dump us at the first sign of trouble.  I would expect nothing less from a washed-up knight who cannot even save his own hide."
Slack-jawed, Christina stared at the older man for his embittered telling.  That was nothing close to their situation.  Perhaps Garland knew of an approaching threat.  Maybe if they went on their own, the others would be spared any more difficulties.  She hoped she was right.
Even still, she wanted their little band to stay together.  A cautious glance at the archer only left her wondering.
Garland's sneer darkened.  "I am happy to know I have lived up to your expectations, sir.  I will not bother you any longer."
He looked to Alkanet, "Your company has been dearly appreciated.
Next, he eyed Vetch.  "I know it is your ability to see them to safety.  Farewell."
"But …" Vetch was to his feet, "Wait, Garland!"
The archer had ahold of Christina's arm and was already pulling her to her feet.  She was too stunned to counter him … at first.
She jerked her arm free and gaped at him.  "What is going on, Garland?  What is wrong with you?  Where do you think we are going?"
He drew a deep breath and leaned down, bringing his face close to hers.  She fought back the urge to cough at the rank of alcohol on his breath.  "You want to go home, do you not?  You are my only responsibility.  You.  The others her have simply tagged along for their own interests.  This is not a game.  I have a job to carry out."
"That's not true," Alkanet spoke up.  "Not really.  We all feel responsible for one another.  The only interest we have is concern for each other."  She paused for a moment and stepped closer.  "And you are no longer a Knight, Garland.  This is no longer your job.  We are all here on our own.  No games, no tricks.  Just a group of friends looking to find some happiness."
Everyone softened at Alkanet's declaration.  The timid young woman spoke her mind clearly.  What more was there to say?
The archer didn't meet her eyes as he strained to form audible words.  "The Knights are no more.  That, I am aware of.  But I am responsible for her," he said as he waved his hand in Christina's direction.  "She wants to go home.  She needs to go home.  We are wasting time.  There is not a reason to drag this out any longer.  Let me finish this."
There was no more argument from the three remaining by the fire.  Christina stood quiet, still in shock at the way things developed.  She never imagined they would go separate ways.  She never imagined they would all give up so easily.
"Do what you must," Warwick said with a huff.  "We will not get in your way.  Move along, boy."
The Storyteller looked to Christina.  A sad smile tugged at his lips and added age to his wrinkled face.  "Take care of yourself, Christina.  Do not let anyone push you around, not even him.  We will be seeing you again.  Stay safe."
Garland staggered away shaking his head.  Christina frowned at Alkanet and Vetch, not knowing what to say.  She couldn't stand their disappointment anymore than she could Warwick's.
She hesitated too long.  "Come, Chris.  We have to move on.  Bring nothing with you.  We have all we need."
Turning to follow the archer, Christina felt lost.  In all the times before, she could sense his courage.  This was different.  An air of self-doubt trailed him.  He was not the same archer she had come to trust.  Garland was broken.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Shattered Remnants -The Veiled Heiress (WiP) - Recovery

He gaped at me in disbelief.  "When were you going to tell me?  Did you think I'd rat you out?"
I chuckled at how childish our conversation sounded.  It was as if we were back in training camp.  "Honestly, I hoped it wouldn't be noticed."
His expression turned to one of disappointment.  "He was a dead man.  I expected to come back and find you waiting with a body.  Even still, I never suspected Star Tears.  They're not on the front line enough to be a possibility.  Zeke gave them to you, didn't he?"
It still felt too early to discuss it.  I had no idea what kind of retribution I would be facing or if anyone else might be punished along side me.  I never meant for others to be pulled into the mess.  What was so wrong about saving a life?
"You're not going to talk about it, are you?"
"Zacairus, I don't want you to take any blame for this.  Maybe …"
"I have your back and you have mine.  I would have helped you.  We could have figured something out."
I flashed a nervous smile to keep a frown at bay.  I never doubted Zacairus' heart.  He would stand beside me every step of the way.  But we were from two different worlds.  What I did while being veiled would not have any effect on my destiny.  My path was cut for me before I was born.  Zacairus' life was still unfolding.  I couldn't let him risk his future for something I was going to do on my own.
"All right," he said with a pat on my shoulder.  "Have it your way.  Just let me know if there is anything I can do to help."
I shook my head, "Thank you, but … There is something you could do for me."
"Name it."
"Could you check in on Corbin?  See if there is anything he needs.  He didn't do anything wrong."
He puffed out a laugh and dropped his hands to his sides.  "You are facing the wrath of our captain and a band of officials and you are still worrying about the guy you don't know anything about?  Dea!  Stop and think about yourself for a moment."
What was there to think about?  "He didn't mention the Star Tears.  He knew very well what they were and he didn't mention them.  He wasn't the one who would have been in trouble for them, I was.  Why didn't he turn me in?"
"He probably knows you saved his skin.  You don't turn in the person for that."
"He doesn't know me."
"Perhaps he felt he owed you.  You save his life, he defends your career.  It's civil."
It was a goodness that was often reserved for the dearest of friends.  Chances were we would never see one another again.  Why would he care what happens to my standing within the Fortis.  He didn't seem to be one to consider the welfare of a Validius.  It was as if he resented everything about us.
"You are thinking too much again.  Let it be."
The kindness in his eyes threatened to evolve into worry.  I wished he wasn't able to get in my head so easily.  He had a habit of scrambling my thoughts.  "Yes, sir."
He raised a brow unimpressed.  "Get back to work before Alton has you scrubbing the stables.  The kitchen is loosing its sting."
I gave a nod and pointed at the pile of dishes that had doubled.  "It's going to be a long night."
"But the plates will be oh so lovely for breakfast."
Zacairus jumped out of reach before I could push him away.  Chuckling as he left, he snatched a heel of bread from the rack beside us.  It was his usual prize for visiting me during my incarceration.