A Blessing and a Curse

A Blessing and a Curse

Postby Serrus » Fri Aug 07, 2015 2:20 am

He dreamt of a burning tree that had no ash, that burned aflame outside of a Golden City. No druids paid it no respect, no birds perched on it or sung to it. It burned as hot as the sun, until the flames reached so high that it was the sun, and from it came a thrum that burned his ears. What use have I for dreams, the thrum said through the fire that consumed all, and he pulled himself from the dream so he would not be burnt.

He was not burnt, for no fire had scorched him, no flames had choked his lungs and rendered his flesh. Just a dream like all the others. It was dry and warm again, and he could only figure by the light that strew onto his face that it was the forenoon. He found himself on his back from where he's slept, and an unfamiliar grunt of hogs and clucking of chickens rang through his ears.

The room was a small square at an old dive in The Hollows, a hovel dug pit of stone and wood near some old stables with straw and dirt for a bed. It stunk of shit, a smell he was all too familiar with, with the rancid stench of burning tanners and the forge of smithies, while the outside staink of butchers' offal and the odour of human waste dumped in outside ponds. With a grunt, he found his feet with little effort as the morning cast sunlit dusty rays through the cracks and holes of an old battered wall.

Slept in worse places.

He shuffled in the shadowy light, wash bucket full of murky water, floating with the strands of hair and beard he'd managed to hack off with a rusted dirk the night before, a blade that yesterday looked as sharp and oiled as the ornamental dagger of a manor, and now looked as corroded as a back alley shiv. Blades did not rust overnight, nor hair grow so long, nor seasons pass. The only possible conclusion of what had caused this strange phenomenon is one he did not wish to think upon, so he turned his attentions to the water. You can't truly believe that everyone is wrong. It is summer, she had said.

The water was cold upon his face, stinging like frozen nettles in the winter. "For you, might be," he muttered as he drew himself back, ripples upon ripples intersecting each other, like ripples upon a wet pond. A full moon, blood red. He found his hands touching the great scar upon his forehead without even thinking of it. It was red, and it still throbbed, only now the throb felt more like a thrum, and from the thrum, a voice came like a great wind as he stared into the pool of murky water, seeing the scar within his own reflection.

He touched you. He gave you his blessing.

Moonlight reflected through a great glass window, on a floor cold and black as slate, and a fingernail that burned through flesh felt even colder, as if it were a fire, only a fire of ice. The moon shifted across the sky like a blazing torch, a crimson stain of red. The finger of fire and ice emerged, and from it a tendril writhed, an angered worm, and he saw it, a writhing sliver of silver, blood that shone silver much the same.

He gave you his blessing.

He wanted to look into the thin, pale, living piece of flesh, to see what it was, but strong hands held him still. He fought and kicked, turning to stare at the thin silver worm, and in the worm he saw the moon, crowned with a great set of horns upon a king of white, and as he looked at the great horns, he heard a man scream.

He gave you his blessing.

Steel ran through the squire boy's stomach until he could speak no more, choking on the blood that ran out his mouth as he heard the same man scream again.

Why? Why must you resist? She is nothing to you now, she never was.

You are no daughter of mine.

The moon shifted, and he felt fingers squeezing flesh and windpipe, and he heard the same man scream again while blood ran from fingernails, long trails of hair webbed across a muddy porch.

Little Wolf, do you know me?

I knew another Wolf. His skull is upon the Gate.

The vision left him as he shouted in alarm, while he kicked and kicked again at the wash bucket, the water spilling out across the little floor, while chickens outside clucked and horses nickered, oblivious to any such struggle. Breaths came short in the small room, and slowed.

"Water. It's just bloody water," he told himself, a mantra, repeated again and again until he was sure of himself, and all there was left to look at was simply a small room and a great puddle on the floor.

* * * * * *

The crowds of Myrkentown were plentiful in the late afternoon, flocks and droves that wandered like aimless cattle, some stopping for wares in the markets, others toiling away, and some simply seeking shelter from the sun. He watched them walk on by as he stood at the intersection, and the scowl upon his features would not ease away, nor the palpable anger that seethed through him with each hot breath. Damn them all. A whole season and near another had passed on by, impossibly, and his own thoughts retracing steps would only lead to the same visions as before.

The sellsword had spent a good many sovereign at the smithy, who'd stripped his steel near bare to polish and oil the blades and whet their edges once more. Frustrated comments about caring for swords and blades had only angered him further, the point where he had to stay his hand to stop from running the man through. But he'd paid his dues and left the smithy behind, half of his tasks done for now. The pale creature had said she'd find his horse, but for all he knew it was probably long dead or stolen.

Through the turning of seasons, I care, she'd said. Daft bint would have more luck finding a priest in a damn brothel. There were many unanswered questions. A woods witch, a moon devil, both equally responsible for his predicament, yet as always, none in Myrken seemed to care for the dangers surrounding them. Seek ye the master in black, he seemed to remember, yet not from where. A book on hunting witches, perhaps. He knew very little men who called themselves Master, and he certainly knew none whom were black. Answers. He needed damn answers. But first, he had to find that bloody horse.
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