In The Shadows: Sins Of The Father
DescriptionThis is my first attempt at writing a medieval fantasy novel it bears some similarities to A Song Of Ice and Fire, it's in its very early stages. Enjoy
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Prologue“We have been searching for hours” cried Col as darkness surrounded them “do you want to go back empty handed?” “Do you not fear our Lord?” Ser Wilkin Loren asked with a hint of disappointment. But Col’s frustration grew, he was what most men would call a milk drinker not fit to serve as a warrior despite his young age and strong body, he despised anything bloody “If our Lord wanted to find his son shouldn’t he have gone and not us?” “we should turn back towards our own hearth” These childish remarks did not help their dire situation for all of them were battling against a harsh winter storm, becoming more aggressive as they pushed on as if it wanted them to fail, “And what do we say to Lord Rinzer?” “I would like to keep my head upon my shoulders” their argument was becoming more like the storm filled with fury, hate and a heart colder then ice. Only a miracle could douse the storms hatred for these men a miracle they so desperately need, if the storm didn’t kill them eventually, they would resort to tarnishing their own blades. “have you no honour?” “And what would you know of honour Garland?” the young man scoffs as he turns to face him, hard and cold like stone. Soulless. Garland was the youngest and smallest of the three, this did not do him any justice as a child or an adult, his small figure made him a target for those filled with malice, this disdain towards him as a child only made him stronger no matter how many beatings he endured nothing hindered him from smiling, even though he has not fought his maiden battle he was more of a warrior then Col tenfold, where Garland was humble Col was boastful and deceitful, where Garland let his actions speak for him Col wielded a tongue of silver to charm tavern wenches. The bitterness between the two was thicker then fog their faces boiling with rage, yet they rode on slowly trotting through thick snow neither would dare meet the others gaze, his voice filled with hate Col muttered to himself, muddling words, rambling like a madman. “Fuck it!” he bellowed abruptly cutting in front of Garland drawing his sword, Garland bursts with laughter “finally grew some balls did you, well go on, try and gut me” Garland raised his arms leaving himself exposed with a smile radiating off his face, this was a game he was all too familiar with all he had to do was sit there and wait, like a snake in the grass staring deep into the eyes of his aggressor silently mocking him. Whatever fuel remained in the fire was dwindling Col couldn’t handle holding his sword for too long, his strength continued to wane as the tip of his weapon dipped there was no struggle, only a battle of attrition and wits. Silent. Waiting for a strike to come staring into his soul with a smile on his face as Col’s sword arm began to tremble but Wilkin’s patience was wearing thin, he knew he would have to stop acting cold when there is such heat behind him, melting his resolve “we would be half a day’s ride from Dragon Hill with young Kyle if it wasn’t just me looking and you two fucking arguing!” Wilkin roared as he went to Col’s side, plucking his sword from his fragile fingers turning away in disgust unable to look at them as he fashioned a makeshift scabbard beside his knapsack. Silence. As a blood red sun kissed their cheeks the three realised how much time they had wasted bickering, when they know a boy’s life is at stake. Garland slowly came to his senses lowering his arms softly blowing into the wind, grabbing the reins urging his horse to move alongside the weary, frustrated warrior “leave Col before I do something rash” he grunts, unable to realise his wrongdoing he goes into a childish rage spitting and cursing in the old tongue as the disappointed warrior watches it all unfold dealing with like he would with his children, by simply not paying attention and walking away. After Col was finished with his little tantrum, he spits in Garlands face fleeing with his horse the other way leaving them to carry on the hunt. Wiping his face onto the loose cloth of his saddle he couldn’t help but feel vexed by Cols’ actions looking beyond the horizon wondering if he was within the range of his bow, all he could see was the sun burning his eyes. The pair gazed at each other before slowly but surely moving on, even though they had lost Col their determination to find the young lord became stronger scouting league after league. On horseback the two screamed “Lord Rinzer!!” hoping to find the young boy, through forests, rivers, vast snowy plains they searched. Relentlessly. When Garland thought all hope was lost he looked at his Old Comrade, even though age held him back, Wilkin didn’t give up, for this Garland respected him he wanted to show Wilkin that he too shares this determination, pushing himself beyond his limits his eyes burning like a crimson flame, Wilkin could sense it letting out a smile thinking of him like his own child “Ser Wilkin, shouldn’t we search over there” Garland asks directing Wilkin to a sinister part of forest, there was only darkness there, a darkness that struck fear in the Old Warrior He knew that he would have to swallow his fear, so he went forward allowing the darkness to consume him. The moment they were past the tree line darkness was all they found, Wilkins horse became uneasy frantically jumping in fear begging his rider to go back to safety, but no matter how much effort Wilkin made to quell that fear nothing seemed to do so. Garland decided to dismount stroking his horses’ mane as he walked alongside it, quickly calming his horse like he was putting a baby to sleep, noticing the young lad Wilkin turned basking in wonder “keep doing that lad and I’ll start calling you horse whisperer” he chuckled, at that moment they forgot the darkness surrounding them bursting with laughter and tears, slowly they went forward through the darkness always scanning their surroundings and their swords ready for any foe lurking in the shadows, there was no birdsong, no light, nothing in sight, this made the warriors shiver in their cold heavy armour it was so cold they could see every breath as it left their lips white like smoke. every step echoed through the void “there’s nothing here, we should leave” “hold on… look over there, do you see that? It looks like a cave and it looks like someone is in there” Garland let out a quick smile before he kissed a talisman around his neck. Wilkin looks over his shoulder and without a doubt the young man was right, in the distance was a small cave emitting a dim light, but before he could gather his thoughts his young companion acted “I’m going in” tying the reins of his horse he dashed towards the cave unaware of what awaits him. Wilkin chases after him leaving his horse, in a defensive stance he draws his sword “Damn it boy” he says to himself, entering the cave he cautiously wandered following the light hoping that it would lead him to what he was seeking. The passage in the cave was getting smaller, small enough that the knight was crawling through kicking dust from his boots as he willed himself forward, as he continued the rough stone gripped his torso, struggling to break free from its clutches he let out a painful shriek, his face was red, his eyes ready to pop. Time passed and still Wilkin was embracing the small passage relentlessly bashing the stone hoping it would let him go, like a piece of game caught in a trap “when I find that little shit, I’m gonna knock some sense into him I’m going in ugh, fuck me he’s a daft one if he didn’t run off I wouldn’t be stuck in this Gods forsaken hole” but he still didn’t give in to the pressure, continuing his struggle ignoring everything around him in his own little bubble, a bubble close to being popped. Looking up he saw what he failed to notice a vast cave as dark as it was cold, with water reflecting off the ceiling emitting a soft blue light across the whole chasm like a snake, but the warrior had no time to sit there in wonder he had to free himself “Ser Loren Is that you?” a familiar voice echoed, the Old man’s head bolted up scanning the surrounds like a hawk. The sound of footsteps slowly approached getting louder with each step but something else could be heard, the sound of a struggle could be scarcely heard in the distance the Old man could not make out who it was, but it did not matter the footsteps had stopped, all he could see was a pair of murky steel sabatons covered by countless muck as if its wearer had endured a long and hard journey but that didn’t stop it from keeping it’s shine “do you require my services Ser?” the Voice jests lightly striking him on the shoulder the old man gazes upward what he saw made him let out a sigh of relief a young man donning ornate black plate armour almost as dark as the cave they were in, in his arms was a boy no older than eleven. Placing the boy down Garland firmly grasped the old man and pulled with all his might constantly changing his grip heaving exhausted breaths, the boy sat there quietly amused by their struggle giggling and clapping at every failed attempt. The old man continued even when Garland was out of breath twisting his body until a loud crack bounced around the void propelling him forwards with part of the stone wall in tow. Clouds of dust caused him to sputter and cough surrounding him as he laid there in total agony, the young man threw himself to the ground laughing, the old man looks at him confused placing himself upright striking dust off his legs “what are you finding to be so amusing lad?” “oh nothing, I just think you’ve gone fat Ser” the young man almost died of laughter pointing towards his companion imitating what happened not so long ago, soon after they took the young boy with them placing him between the two so that they could thwart any chance of him escaping, Without a word they found their way out back into the dark wilderness that they hoped to avoid, traversing through the shadows they went back into the light taking the boy home. No words had left the boys lips on the ride back he seemed more concerned with what his father might do when he returned home, consumed by this thought the little lords’ face turned to ice and dread crossed over his face. “so m’lord why did you flee the safety of Dragon Hill surely you would realise the harsh nature of the wilds” the Old knight enquires, the lordling casts a distasteful glare but didn’t heed his request. Rattled once more, his mind became flooded by troublesome thoughts, questioning the young boys competence as a ruler, this idea was stuck in his mind for this boy was nothing like his Lord father or his kin before him, regardless of any disdain towards the Lordling he was bound by honour, it was like shackles he could not cast away. They rode thrice the pace from before eager to warm their frosty limbs at a familiar hearth, in the horizon a small mountain range was scarcely visible as if the sky was close to devouring it. Following the ancient stone road not submitting to fatigue, it guided them towards a towering gate as ancient as the stone giants around them revealing the lordlings presence a voice bellowed from the ramparts, the giant gate creaked louder than thunder unveiling the crater city each of them call home. Passing the city gates, they made their way up the road the city was overflowing with people, the common folk would turn and bow as the lordling passed continuing their simple daily routine when his gaze was no longer upon them, grey cobblestone houses hugged the winding street and the smell of all manner of waste on the brink of suffocating the populace, congesting the lungs of all living creatures, the lordlings eyes flew away in disgust of his subjects. As they went in the depths of the lower town the crowds became noticeably larger halting their advance, a cacophony of shouts sharp enough to make anyone clasp their ears roared down the street almost shaking earth, the comforting aroma of fresh fruits and warm bread tickled his nose. Realising his mistake Wilkin adopted an assertive tone calling out “make way” parting a sea of blues, browns and greys, a shadow dominated them they were insects in comparison of it, this goliath came from another wall splitting the city in two, from its gate the two sides were within arm’s reach one could simply cross the border from the muck to the splendour, fear was all that stopped any man. Fear stood there like a Sentinel, the two would never hold hands while fear stood between them, denying their union the wall stood as a constant reminder that luck had not favoured many. Shifting from the lower town to the finery of the Ruby Roads the lordling grounded his eyes changing his skin, adopting the etiquette that all Rinzers should uphold he would wear a strong face like that of his father, but Ser Wilkin knew it was nothing but a mask. Home to the finest tailors, smiths and merchants many peculiar items could be seen on display so that those with enough coin could gander, there was even a diverse range of guilds each dedicated to their chosen craft but none stood mightier than the merchants guild, crowned with its own bell tower high enough that it almost invades the Gods domain, the difference between the Ruby Roads and the lower town did not require keen eyes, like comparing iron to gold all knew their worth, the streets were wider, the buildings of marble and polished stone gave the rough and dull homes of the town below a stark appearance. Before them stood the ancestral home of House Rinzer, Snow Drifter Keep, built by Agenor Rinzer the warrior who solidified the kingdoms stance as home to the fiercest warriors in the northern reaches, when he rallied his people to face off the now long gone Morvian Empire. The final gate was within sight, the boy would find no need for any masks once he pasts the threshold, footman gave way bowing their heads in respect. The Keep was partially built into the bosom of the mountain shielding it from siege tactics forcing any would-be invader to try and take it honourably, making their way to a courtyard there was no party to welcome them only the grooms relieved them of their mounts. Navigating the many narrow passage ways of the Keep the three found themselves in the great hall, Lord Rinzer could be heard addressing his court his tone had a hint of rage but to whom, Ser Wilkin halted so that his presence would not be noticed waiting for an opportunity to announce himself, peering around the corner he saw Col on his knees broken and crying for mercy with deep, bloody cuts carved into his back, a dark figure stood over him “you swore to forever serve my house the day you donned that armour and sword, to always obey… and yet you have forsaken that oath, spat on the honour of my armies. Do you have anything to say before I carry down your sentence?” even though his position to Col was not a fruitful one he could not bring it upon himself to hate him, pity was all his heart could muster. A long silence followed none dared even cough when such a delicate matter was at hand nothing, but laboured breaths left Cols’ lips faith had all but left his shattered body. Wilkin thought to himself as to why that fool ever thought Lord Rinzer would treat his transgressions lightly, what madness had consumed him. But watching these events unfold had misled his mind for his Lord had noticed him.
BjornThe unexpected appearance of Ser Loren gave Björn a sense of relief, but his attention was needed for a more important matter the court was awaiting his decision, he needed to make an example of Col but to what degree. This conundrum clouded his mind, every thought that surfaced is welcomed with a sense of uncertainty, “Ser Loren, Col accompanied you in the search for my son, your firsthand experience with his transgression and its cause are unknown to the court, please indulge us” urging him to come to his side upon the high ground. Carrying out his command the knight made his way to him with haste, the clank of plate armour ricochets off the thick stone walls of the elaborate hall, navigating his way through the crowds of lesser lords like a river around a rock, following a path laid out by an exotic red carpet reaching across the room with iron braziers along each side, burning with the same passion as those who laid the first stones. as a child Bjorn admired the undying loyalty of the knight knowing that he would speak true for honours sake, arms reach apart from his noble servant he dipped his head in respect. “m’lord, m’lady” “lords and ladies of the court, m’lord instructed me to gather two able, sober bodies and pursue his son Kyle, one or two days hence that order we made no progress, instead a snow storm greeted us almost decimating our supplies, Col suggested that we go before our lord empty handed I disregarded his whining, he became consumed by anger to the point of violence. There was no honour in his actions, no sense of duty, all I felt was pity when I sent him away, m’lord I suggest sending a message to your armies, that honour should not be so easily disregarded, but the decision is up to you, may justice be swift” His instincts remained true, Björn rested upon the massive stone throne beside him, above him was a ruby larger than any man’s head, shades of red like blood flowed like a river across it, there was a peculiar shine coming off it, this shine followed the gaze of any who stared for too long. A perfect diamond shape its edge sharper than any blade resting within the smooth rock for all to see. House Rinzers prize. This deception set loose a wave of silence upon the great hall, a horde of savage eyes stared at the wounded snake, once everyone saw his true form debate erupted amongst the court for many had been played by his silver tongue and his charm, all the masks he carefully crafted were now in tatters. In that instance it seemed more like a pack of wolves circling their wounded prey. countless savage growls could be heard above the squabbling crowd hurling insults for all the wrongs done to them demanding justice, putting their own sentence forward some screaming for him to be hanged, the simpletons and priests begged that he be spared, the screams fell upon deaf ears. Bjorn was deep in thought still in complete awe as to how deep this snakes poison went within his hold, scanning the room witnessing how horrific all his crimes are. The infantile remarks of children were of no interest to Bjorn, he was more invested in how to send a clear message to every warrior under his banner, with every passing moment the children got louder, more like a tantrum then a debate, all the bickering sullied the finery of that ancient hall where the first kings once reigned, driving him to anger. Pushing himself from his throne he forced his anger down his throat “enough!! I shan’t allow such childish remarks from this court. This snake no matter how he wronged any of you is under my mercy. His actions alone show that Col allowed his rage to take hold, regardless as to why Ser Loren allowed you to live, but why you came back to the guardhouse is truly beyond me. I Bjorn of House Rinzer Lord of the Sovereign Plains, Lord of Dragon Hill, the Walking Storm, Khan of the North, sentence you to spend the rest of your days in a Gibbet let this serve as a reminder to what happens to those who try to deceive me, your body will be left for the crows” signalling his guards Col was dragged away, his screams could be heard across the city begging for mercy. the court shortly dispersed from the great hall empty like a void, silent, only Björn, Ser Loren and the lordling remained. But silence would not find its place there, the only thought that crossed Björn’s mind was how to deal with his son, an all-consuming rage like fire burned within him the Rinzers have always possessed such fire, in their rise to power all grew to fear it, some thought of it more like dragon fire. This rage was better suited for battle if only he could subdue the flames within “Ser Loren, your reward awaits you in the armoury take the lad hiding behind the corner with you” shifting his gaze towards Garland forcing him to come into the light, it was uncertain if gratitude or fear shined off his face but still, he bowed before retrieving his reward. Fear like fog surrounded the young lord, his breathing was heavy, and his eyes would not meet his Lord father, he knew whatever punishment would come would be brutal “Kyle, do you know why I sent that man to die?” “he disobeyed you father” he said as his limbs turned into stone. Like a wolf stalking his prey Björn’s eyes never left Kyle as the silence grew, he waited for the young fawn to make a wrong move his eyes drilling through his skull. Björn was growing impatient, he thought his son was still not finished with his answer “you should not keep me waiting son… is that all you have to say?” he says his eyes still piercing his sons face as his steps echoed along the stone walls, it seemed more like thunder yet no storm was brewing, the skies were clear any man, women and child could see this but inside Snowdrifter Keep Björn’s rage was, his intense blue eyes seemed calm though, as Björn knelt in front of Kyle gently stroking his cheek as he wept, his fear held him in place regardless of how much he wanted to escape. The main door of the hall creaked open and with it a frail man clothed in the robes of a Scorlae, limping his way to Bjorn, his weak breaths made it seem like he would fall into Jors embrace at any second, “forgive me for the intrusion my lord, but Lord Agnar has returned” “thank you Velir, I would speak to him in the yard” Velir makes his leave from the hall looking over his shoulder from time to time like death was always in his shadow waiting, Kyle subdued his fear with whatever willpower lingered, gritting his teeth and with a clenched fist his eyes rode up the dominating figure that was his father. Björn’s clothes near matched his personality, stark, rugged and as old as the earth beneath them, jubilant rally cries drowned out the dreadful silence, something whispered into his ear begging him to investigate, leading him to an open window that would creak with every slight brush of the wind. One could see the entire courtyard from that window, the soft cool wind and dominating position was the only place he truly felt at peace and in control, he knew how idleness can simply take control when people suspect no eyes are watching them. inspecting the courtyard below several servants sped across it retrieving all manner of game, deer, rabbit, boar, pheasants all laid across the back of every horse near the larder, staring at the bountiful hoard his hunters had amassed for the coming festival, he casts away his anger for a moment, leaning his head back as he let out a sigh of relief thanking Kora for guiding their way. The moment Björn’s watchful eye broke off from the young fawn fear had completely escaped him as if he slowly breathed it out, yet he would find no solace from his Lord Father who even now was coldly deducing what punishment would be fitting. Björn retreated to the centre of the hall taking his sons head without a single word leaving his lips. Treating his son more like a prisoner then his own kin Björn dragged him through the many passages of the castle passing by near every servant without paying them any heed, all they could do was stand in complete awe. They came to a small courtyard, beautifully carved stone arches lined its inner border, Björn’s grip on his sons’ head grew tighter like a vise crushing an apple Kyles struggling climaxed flailed kicking and screaming as they made their way towards the centre. Launching him into the centre Kyles face was buried in sand breaking past his lips, sputtering a viscous sickening mixture, a battered wooden sword is thrown at his feet, circling around the young fawn the same way a wolf circles around its prey “pick it up…. I SAID PICK IT UP!!” “instead of committing yourself to your studies you concoct a plan to sneak past the guard and venture out into the wilds alone like a wandering minstrel, you should be grateful Ser Loren retrieved you, I could have left you to die out there like a dog is that what you want, to die alone? Your mother is the only reason I bothered to send someone to fetch you, what are our words?” “Honour or the sword” he says half-heartedly “yes, our words and name everything you do can be used against you, people must fear you so they heed our commands and if they do not fear you your reputation will be dragged through the dirt, people would treat you like a common peasant. One day you will know how you as a Rinzer must always act. You know nothing of honour, so I must show you the way of the sword” Kyle scrambles for the badly carved sword placing himself in an aggressive fighting stance, there were plenty of weak points that Björn could exploit. Björn could just force him out of the sand but he had another idea flicking his cloak out of the way taking out his sword still in its scabbard Rage, runes of the old tongue adorned the centre of the blade carved in gold, the right end of the cross guard had broken off, no matter how many times one of his subjects suggested repairing it he would find some way to steer the conversation elsewhere, but Björn was a very skilled swordsman that small disadvantage did not concern him. The young fawn was completely enveloped by his father’s shadow, his dark attire put a strain on Björn’s weary eyes, Kyle was not well versed in swordplay his first few lessons proved something Björn long suspected, like an hourglass sand gradually seeped into their boots bringing a feeling of discomfort upon them both, they hadn’t even crossed swords yet. The young fawn struck first, swinging wide hoping to land a blow on his torso Björn easily parries striking him in the face, the force of the hit pushed him into the sand again. It quickly turned from a swordfight into a battle of attrition, it was like a titan fighting an ant the odds were not in the ants’ favour, every time Björn landed a blow the young boy would bruise like a peach, but the boy continued to fight “I thought you would have given up by now?” he says trying to take advantage of Kyles wild rage, wanting him to go berserk. It didn’t take much to do so, he hasn’t had the opportunity to learn to control it as his father once did. Kyles shouting echoed across the opening of the cavern catching the attention of every soul in the castle, the pitter patter of footsteps lingered in the back of his mind as servants continued to pass by scurrying like mice, their soft giggling was of no concern to him he was more interested as to where the Master-at-arms was, it was out of character for Ser Baris to not be there. the fight ended with Kyle covered in bruises his black pourpoint stained with blood, he could barely stand but his intense blue eyes were filled with a storm’s fury, attacking once more, Björn snapped the sword in half with one hand, Kyle thought it to be as strong as steel when in truth was brittle like tinder. “listen well son… our rage tempts us, it tries to control us, it may whisper in your ear saying give up it’s over, whisper back to it and say, get back in your cage”
AgnarRevelling the recent successful hunt Agnar joined his brothers in arms at the local tavern, The Cart Before The Horse. Filling his belly with warm mead, the mouth-watering aroma of roast meats engulfed the senses. Sunset was almost upon the ancient city and as the sun retreated below the horizon the children of the night emerged from the shadows, soon enough Agnar’s party was surrounded, merchants, craftsmen, pilgrims any soul with enough coin was allowed in. Always looking over his shoulder Agnar knew something wasn’t quite right he fidgeted in his seat as he devoured his meal, his eyes flew across the chaotic mass end to end for the source of his discomfort, his obsession cost him the remainder of the evening. From hunter to prey he abruptly rose from his seat him leaving a stack of coin on the table before he left hoping to avoid whatever trap was waiting for him, slowly fumbling towards the door fuzzy eyed and reeking of mead. The following morning welcomed him with a throbbing headache and stiff body regretting a night he could barely remember a warm sensation rushed up his right-side gazing down his bare chest a small, slender babe laid on top of him legs draped over his thigh, softly rubbing her groin against it, this feeling of flesh on flesh made him burn hotter than a furnace, tempted to drift back asleep he closed his eyes. Water rushed over his face shaking him from his peaceful state rising up with his arms crossed shuddering leaving his mouth agape, the shuddering kept his fury buried deep below his drenched skin. The rustling of a turning page piqued his interest, his head moved like a slug slowly. “Morning dear brother” a soft black cut out covered the man’s face his lean fingers held it in place, Agnar dropped his head into his palms “Eorlund… what did I do last night?” Lowering his guard Eorlund placed a book on his lap and scratching his stubble whilst deep in thought “Agnar, look down” Agnar gawked at his response but quickly settled down when his brother’s composure stayed true, peering down his cock limped over his breeches, embarrassed he looked away hiding it form plain sight, covering his mouth he turned back to his brother chuckling softly “how many times have you saved my sorry ass sweet brother” “enough to believe Valaro has blessed me” Agnar scoffing at his reply he hiked over the piles of drunk kinsmen at his feet overwhelming Eorlund’s senses with the pungent smell of mead “the gods can go fuck themselves” rolling his eyes at the thought of the Calrean Order and their twelve. Before any more could be said shouts filled with malice erupted in the distance, the brothers desperately searched for a way of retreat jumping table to table hoping to avoid disturbing those who laid in slumber the only avenue was up. Agnar’s stomach churned as he ran up the stairs creaking with each step the shouts continued to get closer and wild, peering from a window the pair saw a stubby, pasty little man running in the middle of the street his leather apron barely making its way across stretched by his protruding gut “I’ve never seen that fat prick run before” Eorlund strikes his brothers arm in jest, a small detachment of household guards were descending upon them, marching close behind the angry paunchy man, Agnar absorbed by the sight plants himself there, while his brother twisted and turned not leaving any option left unexplored, Agnar always found a way to amuse himself in a bad situation even when his life was on a blades edge. Still searching Eorlund cracked open a window and pulling his brother from his freshly placed roots dropping into the unknown. Flailing about as he fell trying to dig his hands into whatever came within reach, his fall was cushioned by a soft bale of hay groaning as he clambered out. His brother quickly followed rushing down like a wolf in pursuit digging his hands like claws into Agnar’s shoulders pushing him onward “what the fuc----” “hush Agnar, there are guards nearby we need to get out of here” Agnar admired his brother’s endless devotion to some pact they made as children. Squeezing their way through a small dark alley into the sparse streets, daybreak rose over the mountainside burning through the mist ascending from the lingering morning frost, the road stung Agnar’s bare feet wincing quietly. Agnar had never seen the Ruby Roads so barren before looking around to see the craftsmen silently fulfilling their daily routine, this vast emptiness put the groggy man to a standstill swaying with the wind his brother trailed along not far behind. Eorlund threw his oblivious brothers arm over his shoulder hauling him downhill “You really don’t remember anything Agnar?” His words didn’t rouse any response avoiding his gaze, fathers voice would surface in his mind commanding him to mask his distasteful expression, Agnar didn’t want his brother to see him pout “All I can recall is leaving” “the innkeeper didn’t seem happy about your conquests yesternight, you really should learn to control your urg—” “oh, get your head out your arse” Eorlund would grin menacingly at him when his shapeless slab he called a head wasn’t buried in one of his pointless books, his smile felt like cold steel slowly piercing flesh, only he could feel the blade tickle his spine. Eorlund’s bantering made his blood boil, his body red like hot steel, the snow melted under his feet, the frosty mountain winds bombarded the somnolent city, the bright yellow embers of the sun branching out into the horizon staining the clouds a soft pink like a summer peach. the path widened into a grand square the merchants guild faced them, Agnar loathed the sight of its bell tower, how can such lowly men mock the lords with their statue of greed and its ring. The soft flutter of banners hanging along its border made him feel only sorrow, the merchant’s guild was growing too comfortable in his eyes, it displeased him that his father never took action to put them back in their rightful place, crossing the empty stone plain Eorlund settled him into a finely carved wooden bench walking out of his sight “where are you taking me, you know I hate this part of the city?” Agnar’s ears started to ring everything around him was spinning wildly grasping his stomach as it churned. Leaving Agnar to choke back his nausea, Eorlund climbed a small stone stairway thumping on the door at its peak but the queasy Rinzer pondered the intentions of his dear twin. his bones had turned to stone preventing him from twisting his broad torso, lustrous ebony hair blocked the light of the morning sun and his eyes glowed, the striking difference in colour always put people on edge one a deep cobalt, the other green like an emerald. His brothers murmuring continued giving Agnar time to admire the surrounds many of the houses still bore no light,