Monday 10 November 2014

Scent: Part 9

Gertie regaled Old Bill with the details of the attack at the back of the inn. Reven could hear her telling Bill of his heroism and he couldn’t help but smile as he looked down at Fang who sat by his side dutifully. He was seated at the table near the fire that had been recently occupied by the rapidly cooling corpses that lay outside. Reynard and Aisha sat opposite him. They had only spoken in whispers since they sat and patiently waited for Gertie to return with their drinks. After a few more moments Old Bill strode over purposefully and with one meaty hand slammed three steins of ale down on the table, Gertie trailing in his wake. “These are on the house and there are more where they came from if you are thirsty. Gertie does a good job of looking after this place…and me” he added a little abashed. “I’d be lost without her. Thank you friends” and then looking past the table to where Fang sat he added “and hounds”. As he said this he brought the hand he had been holding behind his back forward, revealing a huge bone that still had plenty of scraps of meat clinging to it. He offered it to Fang who snatched it out of his hand hungrily. With this Old Bill clicked his heels and performed a shallow bow before retreating behind the bar. Gertie gave Reven a wink and turned around heading into the back shouting over to Bill that she was going for a lay down.

Reynard raised one of the stein’s to his lips and tilted his head back letting the amber fluid fill his mouth, draining the whole thing in one go. He placed it on the table gently then belched so loudly that he startled the drunkards propping up the bar. “Now boy” Reynard started as he wiped his mouth with the back of one of his hands. “We want you to travel with us to Vardenfell and to speak with the leader or our order. Do you have a family that are waiting on you? Somebody you need to inform?” Reven simply shook his head and looked down at the table. Reynard inclined his head toward Aisha and smiled. “Good”, he said cheerily until Aisha elbowed him and nodded toward Reven whose head had sunk a little lower at the mention of his family. “I mean good for our journey, I didn’t mean to cause you distress lad” Aisha put her hand over Reynard’s mouth “This must all appear a little strange. Why don’t you tell us who you are and how you and your hound came to be here and then I’ll explain why we want you to accompany us” as Aisha finished speaking she gave Reven a kindly smile of encouragement. 

And so it was that Reven sat and told Aisha and Reynard his story and how the events of the past few days had unfolded; the attack on Rosholt, the loss of his adopted family, his brief visit to the war hound stable, his escape with Fang and their stumbling journey through the forest. When he had finished Aisha in turn explained that she and Reynard were scouts of sorts and they are tasked with recruiting ‘special’ individuals that shared certain traits. To Reven’s young mind it was all very confusing but Aisha made a good job of reassuring him that everything would be ok. It did occur to him whilst he listened to her talk that they had never actually asked if we wanted to go to Vardenfell. It was like he was in a daze after these last few days and so tired that he had no will of his own. All Reven wanted to do was sleep. Luckily Old Bill was in a very giving mood and let Reven and Fang have a single room at a discounted rate. Reynard and Aisha paid for his lodgings and took a room for themselves, waving him off to bed as he climbed the stairs to his small room. He lay in the bed and Fang jumped up beside him pushing Reven over. Reven turned on his side and flopped his arm over Fang and within moments was fast asleep.

Reven’s eyes snapped open. Darkness surrounded him. He was screaming. His body was burning hot and racked with pain. A figure stood over him, it’s piercing red eyes boring into him. It held something in its hands that seemed to squirm and writhe as he held it. Reven was unable to move, pinned in place by some invisible force. As he continued to stare at the figure looming over him the thing he was holding stopped moving and warm, thick liquid came from it, spilling all over his wounded shoulder. As the liquid hit Reven’s flesh it hissed as if landing in a fire. The liquid didn’t run from where it landed but pooled and bubbled. The being that stood over him starting muttering a chant and as it did so red light shone through the joins in his armour. In the suffused red light Reven watched in horror as the thick liquid that boiled on his shoulder came together and started filling the punctured flesh of his shoulder. It pooled briefly over the hole and then subsided as the wound drank it in. Reven felt sick, his stomach churning. He looked up at his torturer to see that it had spread its arms wide as it continued to mumble its incantation. To Reven’s horror he could now make out the vessel that the liquid had been poured from; the lifeless form of a war hound pup was held in the things left hand, limp and pathetic. The glowing figure tossed the pup’s body aside as it finished its murmuring. “You are our vessel, deliver our word, and adorn yourself with power”, as the thing spoke it reached down and placed the palm of one of its armour clad hands onto Reven’s shoulder. Reven screamed anew as he was introduced to new heights of agony. He screamed so loud he could taste blood and then he passed out.

Reven’s eyes snapped open. He was covered in sweat and Fang lay at the foot of the bed staring at him with a curious look on his face. Reven was breathing hard, the dream had seemed so real, and he could feel pain flare in his shoulder. Fang scrambled up the bed on his belly and started licking Reven’s face and pawing at his chest. Reven gently pushed Fang off and sat up. Sunlight streamed through the open curtains and bathed the room in a gentle golden glow. Apart from the sounds of distant movement somewhere else in the building and the rhythmic beating of Fangs tail on the bed there was no noise. After slowing his breath and laying back in bed Reven had to admit that despite the nightmare he didn’t think he had ever enjoyed a sleep so much. He felt fresher than he had for days. He ruffled the fur on Fangs head before stretching his arms wide and stepping out of bed onto the wooden floor of his room. He moved over to the window and was greeted by the site of Old Bill and Reynard loading an old cart with the bodies of the would-be rapists. For any other child his age this would have been a horrifying site but Reven stared on, morbid curiosity focusing him on the men’s every action. His gaze faltered when there was a knock on his door. Answering it he found a smiling Gertie on the other side. She took his hand and led him downstairs for breakfast.

Aisha was already tucking into a meal of bacon, sausage and bread and a plate lay in wait for Reven. He sat down after wishing Aisha a good morning and tucked in. Once again Fang sat at his side but this time the hound stared intently on every mouthful that Reven shoved into his mouth. “How are you feeling today Reven?” Aisha enquired, “Ready for adventure?” Reven nodded and replied “Yes Miss”, with a mouth full of meat and bread. She nodded, “Good. Once you’ve finished eating meet us out the front and we’ll get going”. With that she wiped her mouth, stood up and strode away from the table giving Gertie a wave before exiting. Reven ate as much as he could and then tipped the remains on the floor for Fang to finish off. As he pushed his chair back Old Bill walked towards him, mopping sweat off his brow. “A ’fore you leave”, he offered Reven something wrapped in cloth. Reven took it and unwrapped it to find the short sword he had taken from Rosholt within the cloth. “You never know what dangers the road will hold. Better to have that with you” he pointed at the sword, “Be careful young sir”. Reven thanked Old Bill and after a hug from Gertie walked out of The Barded Warhorse with Fang at his side wondering what the day would bring.


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