|Posted by S.M. Carrière on November 16, 2013 at 12:15 AM|
*****To read the rules and the story from the beginning, click HERE*****
You look between the two. Eilir and Oisin continue to stare at you, expecting an answer.
"Well," you say. "Oisin, as chieftain it was your decision to hand over the sceptre, and you did promise the other chieftains that you would be around to ensure that we were honest, and stayed honest."
Oisin scowls at you. "I did," he says slowly. "That is true."
"If only one of you must come," you continue. "It should be you."
Eilir smiles slightly, giving a quick sidelong glance at her husband. Oisin's scowl changes to a frown of thought. After a long silence, he nods. "Fine," he says. "Then I will go." He turns to his wife. "You win."
Eilir's smile smile broadens. "I always win."
"My lord," a young woman says from the door. "Forgive the intrusion. Father said that you requested food?"
"Yes," Eilir says. "Please come in."
No less than seven girls walk into the Chieftain's abode, carrying platters of steaming food and pitchers of freshly de-oaked mead. You would think that the Chieftain was hosting a feast, so much food streams in.
"Good grief!" Eilir says. "We are not an army!"
"Father said the food will spoil if he didn't cook it up now."
"Greta, would you be a dear and run some of these dishes up to the temple of Death? The acolytes worked very hard today and the priest is unwell. They could use a hearty meal."
"Yes, my Lady. Right away."
The young girl named Greta chose four plates and three pitchers, handing them off to her sisters before the gaggle of girls vanishes back into the destroyed village. Eilir sighs.
"This is still too much food."
"You might be surprised," Oisin says. "In spite of everything, I'm famished."
Smiling, Eilir indicates for her husband to sit. He beckons you over to join him and, before long, the four of you are having a quiet meal. Halfway through, Eilir stands and fills a now empty plate and an extra mead horn and takes them upstairs to Martel. After a brief, muted conversation, Eilir returns and continues to eat.
Before very long, you find the stress of the day settling in your bones, making them ache and your eyelids wearily drooping despite your best efforts.
"Come on," Eilir says. "Let's find you somewhere to sleep. You will be asleep in your chair, otherwise."
You smile sheepishly at Eilir, but do not argue. She's right. You will likely fall asleep in your seat, and face-plant right in your plate of food. You follow her to the two beds that have been made beneath the second floor. You gratefully pick a bed and collapse on it, falling asleep before Eilir has even returned to her place at the table.
Sobbing wakes you. It it not quite dawn yet, but a thin film of soft grey over everything informs you that dawn is not far away. The sobbing is coming from upstairs. Your heart sinks. You roll over, noticing Martel asleep in the bed beside yours. The crying hasn't woken him. Even asleep, he looks so tired that you doubt that anything could wake him. Sighing to yourself, you slide out of the bed and make your slow way up the stairs.
Oisin is standing behind his wife, who sits on the stool beside the bed. She rests her head on Fergus' now still chest and weeps. Little red-headed Llei stands beside her, tears streaming silently down his cheeks. One hand rests on his mother's arm, the other is wrapped around one of this father's knees. He sees you first and nods a solemn greeting. You nod in return. Oisin notices you and offers you a small, sad smile.
Leaving his wife and son, Oisin approaches.
"I am so sorry," you say softly.
Oisin nods. Now that he is closer, you can see that he has been crying as well. Now, however, there are no tears. "We were expecting it," he says softly. His voice trembles a little.
"This Seeker's Son," he says after a short pause. "Can it be killed?"
You shrug. "I've only ever seen it expelled. But it always comes back. If there is a way to kill it, I do not know it."
Oisin's expression hardens and, for a moment, you find yourself staring into the steel eyes of Fergus. "Help me find a way. I want to watch that thing burn."
You nod. 'I swear it. We will find a way."
Nodding Oisin glances back at his family. "I have to go inform the acolytes of death."
"Stay with your family," you say. "I know the way to the temple. I'll go."
You offer a smile before turning around and heading down the stairs and out into the dull grey of first light. You return after running your errand to a quiet house. Eilir has stopped sobbing, and now simply sits on the stool, her back resting against her husband and her son in her lap. Martel is still asleep on his bed, and still looks incredibly exhausted. You crawl back into bed and fall asleep promptly.
When you wake up next, it is lunch hour. Martel's bed is empty. You sit up and stretch, looking around. Oisin greets you from a seat by the hearth with a smile.
"Martel has gone to help the shepherds rebuild their houses. He has already sent the majority of the Rangers back with instructions. The others are moving through the village helping distribute food and administering aid to the injured."
You nod. "He looked like death this morning."
"He still does. The man works hard."
"Anything I can do?"
Oisin shrugs. "Not really. Not yet. When Martel comes in this afternoon, you can convince him to get back into bed. He'll be no good to us half-dead."
You grin and, when Martel walks through the door seeking a small bite to eat, you manage to get him into bed without much fuss, promising to take over his chores for the rest of the day.
That evening, the entire village gathers for the funeral of Fergus. No one was spared grief at his passing. There were tears enough to put out the funeral pyre, had they landed on it. Though the ceremony was brief, the mourners stayed on long into the night, watching the fires dance.
The next morning, you awoke late again to find Martel has already left to help the villagers. Eilir stays behind this time, warning you that Martel needs to rest. So, as it was the last time, you send Martel to bed when he returns in the afternoon and head out to take over for him.
It goes on like this for the better part of a week. Martel works in the morning and returns exhausted in the afternoon. You take over his duties then and encourage him to rest. Sylpha slowly gains strength in this time and before the week is out, steps from her bed for the first time. With Eilir's constant attention, the aged chieftain manages a small walk around the house before having to lie down again. She rises at dinner once more, noting everyone's surprised expressions as she shuffles forward to sit at the table.
She looks across at Martel. "You look awful," she croaks.
Martel grunts. "Says the raven to the coal."
Sylpha laughs. "Aye, true enough. Still, you look unwell."
"I'm just tired is all."
"That is not all," Llei offers. "You're getting sick."
"I am not," Martel counters. "I haven't been sick since I was a boy."
"Aye, well, you're getting sick now," Sylpha notes. "You need bedrest."
"My work is not done."
"And it will never get done if you collapse of exhaustion, either," Oisin notes. "Stay in bed tomorrow. The Sky Road walker and I can take care of what little there is left to do."
You nod in agreement.
"I can do it!" Martel insists.
Oisin narrows his eyes at him, then smiles. "You are not responsible for what happened here."
Martel looks down at his plate. "Aren't I? I knew we were being chased by the Seeker's Son. Perhaps it would not have attacked if we had not passed through here."
"Perhaps. But then, how else would you acquire the sceptre, the thing you need that will ultimately defeat this spectre?"
Martel simply grunts. "A lot of people have died."
"And a lot more will," Sylpha says. "That is the nature of war, my unhappy friend. But yet more will die if you had not done what you did."
"Well I never," Oisin teases. "A Ranger of the empire who is squeamish about death."
"Death does not disturb me," Martel snaps. He sighs. "Sorry. I did not mean to be harsh. And it was not entirely true. Unneccessary death... preventable death... these disturbe me a great deal."
Sylpha smiles. "May it ever be so," she says. "For that makes you a good man."
Martel smiles at her.
"Now go to bed," she commands.
Eilir chokes back a sudden laugh. Martel, the anger gone from him now, laughs softly and nods. "Yes, my Lady," he says, standing. He retires to bed and the sound of his soft snores accompanies the conversation over dinner that evening.
It takes only three days more of back-breaking work to fix the village and have it functioning again. Thoroughly exhausted, you relish the slower pace and ample sleep that follows. Sylpha regains her strength quickly and is able to ride again after the second week. Martel, in that time, deteriorates rapidly. His exhaustion is compounded by difficulty breathing, a thick cough, and a body that aches so terribly movement makes him wince.
Not knowing what else to do, you hover by his bed and nurse him as much as possible, despite the flat stares he gives you. By the end of the third week, Martel is permanently bedridden.
"We cannot wait any longer," Martel manages to wheeze at you as you spoonfeed him soup. "We have to get going."
"You are in no state to travel," you say bluntly.
"Our work here is done," Martel insists. "We need to get that last sceptre piece."
"You can't even get out of bed, Martel."
"I can." Martel attempts it, but can barely move. "With help," he admits at last.
Despite yourself, you laugh.
"Have a wagon made," Martel says. "My horse can pull it. That way I can rest as we move."
"And you will die of exposure," you argue. "You aren't well enough to be outside at all hours of the night."
"Don't argue with me," Martel says. "We're out of time, and you know it. The Seeker's Son will return. We cannot endanger the village for a second time."
You scowl at him. What do you say?
a) It's me the Seeker's Son wants. I'll go. Alone. You stay here and rest. You need to be well.
b) Alright, fine. We'll put you in a wagon and drag you back. If you die, it's your own damned fault.
c) Nope. Nope. Nope. You're the leader. No one is moving until you're back on your feet. You're needed.
What makes the most sense to you? Vote! Share! Good luck!
Categories: Your Very Own Adventure Project