Peace

Peace

Status: Finished

Genre: Fantasy

Details

Status: Finished

Genre: Fantasy

Summary

Ten years on from the Shadow Wars peace has seen Severine thrive under the continued leadership of King Titus. Alexander Tor’al has vanished into the footnotes of history while Nathan Drison has retired to the quiet life. For Brent T’elc, Chosen of Heironeous, life has also changed. No longer adventuring beyond the next horizon he has finally found peace in one location. Commander of an army and beloved leader in Land of Zealots he continues to walk the difficult path of Chosen. Yet Brent knows all to well how fickle finding peace can be. I have used the D&D religion of Heironeous and have done so only out of deep and abiding respect and love for it. I have written added my own analects and personality, but have tried to keep as honestly to some materials found in the D&D world as I can. This is, for legal purposes, a fanfiction under the Open Games Licence.

Summary

Ten years on from the Shadow Wars peace has seen Severine thrive under the continued leadership of King Titus. Alexander Tor’al has vanished into the footnotes of history while Nathan Drison has retired to the quiet life.

For Brent T’elc, Chosen of Heironeous, life has also changed. No longer adventuring beyond the next horizon he has finally found peace in one location. Commander of an army and beloved leader in Land of Zealots he continues to walk the difficult path of Chosen. Yet Brent knows all to well how fickle finding peace can be.


I have used the D&D religion of Heironeous and have done so only out of deep and abiding respect and love for it. I have written added my own analects and personality, but have tried to keep as honestly to some materials found in the D&D world as I can. This is, for legal purposes, a fanfiction under the Open Games Licence.

Chapter34 (v.1) - Chapter Thirty-Four

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: November 11, 2016

Reads: 108

Comments: 1

A A A | A A A

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: November 11, 2016

A A A

A A A

CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR

 

“I don’t like it.”

Damien grunted and handed him an envelope. “You knew it was dangerous sending raw recruits out and about,” he reminded him. Brent shook his head and frowned, his eyes never leaving the trainees in front of him. “They needed to be knocked down a peg.” Damien clasped his hands behind his back and waited. “That one over there,” muttered Brent. “Really? His back hand is sloppy.”

“But see his grounding? The footwork’s solid.”

Damien sighed. “If it means you’ll look over my proposal then I guess I can take him for extra lessons.” Brent glanced at his follower with a small wry smile.

“I’m being obtuse again, aren’t I?” He chuckled at his companion’s silence. Clasping his shoulder he invited him to walk.

 

“Tell me what’s on your mind, Damien.”

“It’s all in the letter, Chosen,” the Courageous muttered. Brent guided them back into the long hallways of the Keep. “And read it I will, but I want to hear from you first. I know you have been avoiding me, that you are uncomfortable with how things have progressed around here in the last few months.” Damien pursed his lips and looked stoically down the hall saying nothing. “Forget what I am, Damien. Just talk to me, please.”

 “It’s him,” Damien admitted quietly. At Brent’s nod he cleared his throat. “When Drison visited last, I sensed, I felt,” his words stopped abruptly. Two folk passed them at the intersection in the hallway before he continued. “Something is off about him, something foul. I’m surprised you don’t sense it.”

 

Brent paused and thought carefully about his answer. “Nathan is a-”

“Not him,” interrupted Damien.

“Oh. You mean,” Brent coughed discreetly, “Owins.” Damien pulled a face.

“That disgusting man can go choke on a dick,” he growled tactlessly. Realising who he was talking to, he looked up.  Expecting a rebuttal he looked confused when Brent laughed, “An apt choice of words.” Damien looked repulsed and muttered,

“Quite.”

“Well I assure you,” Brent said slinging an arm around his companion’s shoulders, “that he won’t be choking on yours any time soon.” He felt the tensing of his muscles and added quietly, “Oh yes, I’m aware of what he said to you back at Fortnight’s Feast. He had no right to humiliate you like that.” He saw his companion nod. Patting him on the back he dropped his arm. “You chose a hard vow, Damien. One I could never give.”

“If I die in battle I don’t want to leave a woman and a baby behind. It’s as simple as that,” replied Damien. He let out a deep breath. “I was referring to Tolin, Brent.” 

Brent raised an eyebrow. “Oh?”

“Haven’t you noticed his behaviour of late? Jules and I have had a few beers over that one.”

Brent kept his voice deliberately light. “You have any evidence?”

“Yes. I –”

Brent put a finger to his lips and shook his head, glancing around the nearby area.

 

Quickly leading him up to his private rooms he ushered him inside and locked the door. “Never been in here before,” commented Damien looking around. “Not what I expected.”

“What did you think I had in my rooms?” grinned Brent crossing the room to his cupboards and pulling out a teapot. “Paintings of naked girls, lots of swords, trophies, gold plated four poster bed, some sort of sex shackles for lover boy, maybe a plant or two,” rattled off Damien. The words came out unintentionally. Brent started to laugh and shook his head with merriment as he placed the teapot on its hook in the fireplace. When Damien’s mind registered what he had said he reddened and coughed uncomfortably. “It’s not a problem, Damien,” remarked Brent coming over to stand beside him. “Very few ever see my rooms. The picture over the fireplace is of a Nathan and myself riding to Aldurin Temple. The others are of locations throughout Severine, ones of personal significance.” He grinned, “No naked ladies I’m afraid.” Taking his elbow he led him over to several glass cupboards. “As for weapons, these are gifts from those I’ve helped, or old faithful blades now retired.” A low whistle sounded. “Ah,” smiled Brent, “tea is ready.”

 

Pouring them both a mug he gestured for Nathan he take a seat by the fireplace. Sipping his tea Nathan looked at the cold fireplace. “Magical heating stones,” Brent said without preamble. “A gift from a wizard down south for rescuing his apprentice. Apply pressure such as a log or a brass teapot to the hook and the stone beneath heats up.” Clasping his fingers around the warm mug Brent relaxed in his chair. He kept his tone light, however the watchfulness of his eyes betrayed the seriousness with which he took the matter. “Now, we were speaking about Tolin?”

Damien nodded slowly. “The letter.”

“Give me the context first, as you see it.” Damien swallowed and gave a brief nod.

 

“Jules and I have some mutual friends. We meet down at the inn once a month. It was nothing out of the ordinary at first. We’d talk about colourful characters, some shady dealings the guards had dealt with, that sort of thing.” Damien frowned thoughtfully. “There were a few things that stood out to me; people meeting at regular intervals but consistently in new locations, items vanishing, prices going up at some of the shops.”

“That could be written off as different groups, the effects of the adverted famine, new thieves in the area,” commented Brent, his eyes never leaving his face. “Yeah the guards said that but Jules noticed I didn’t dismiss it like the others. We started to meet weekly, sharing the titbits of information we found.”

“You noticed a pattern.”

 

Damien nodded. “One out of three thefts that fitted the profile were a hit on one of Tolin’s holdings or a business partner of his with whom he had significant investments. Within a week of the corner deals he took a loss of income. Food, cattle, calves all gone with reasonable excuses: weevils, water damage, wolves.” Damien lifted to eyes to meet Brent’s. “It was that last one that got my attention. I decided to do a little investigating of my own.”

“No wolves,” acknowledged Brent finishing his tea.

“Not even tracks or scat according to the scout I had with me. But I did see cattle being led away in the night from farmsteads.”

“Robbers?”

“Don’t think so. They only ever took two or three at a time.”

“Repeated offence then.”

Damien nodded and put down his mug. “I reckoned it was to avoid paying his good behaviour fine.”

Brent cocked at eyebrow at him. “You knew about that?”

“Aye. It isn’t exactly a state secret, you know. Guards talk and so do innkeepers who check public records.” Brent grunted and ran a hand through his hair. “I wanted to give him another chance; do it right, help out a person I considered to be honourable.”

“More fool you then,” remarked Damien flippantly. Brent looked unimpressed. “Sorry.” Brent waved his apology away.

“Don’t be. I appreciate the honesty.”

 

“The thing is, Jules and me, we can’t work out how the cattle are getting out of the state without being noticed. We’re not that big and with all the natural land barriers...”

Brent glanced at the letter. “Where does this fit in?”

“One of the guards found it while patrolling. Handed it to Jules who gave it to me.”

“Why didn’t Culin receive it?”

“No clue. I assume it’s because his boss wants proof before moving on an ex-council member.”

 

Brent opened the envelope and pulled out the letter. His eyes flicked over the contents rapidly before rereading it slowly. “What did you think was here?” he asked, wetting his thumb to separate the two pages that had stuck together in the corner. “I was wondering if you had some writing of Tolin’s, if I could compare the sample and see if it is his.” Parting the pages Brent scanned the writ of sale.

“Staggered delivery over two months. Why not simply move them off side and then bulk sale them?” he queried. Damien shrugged. “Leave this with me. I’ll look around for a piece of Tolin’s writing. I have several of his agricultural reports somewhere. Come back tonight around seven. Bring Jules with you.”

 

After seeing Damien out Brent rummaged through his bookshelves. Withdrawing several thin report files he checked the author’s name before carrying them over to his workbench. Sitting he peered intently at the form of each letter, clarifying by the use of loops in the author’s penmanship of ps and gs that the same hand wrote each of the reports. Choosing the most recent he opened it to a random page and placed the incriminating letter beside it. Carefully he analysed each letter. Even since opening the letter he’d had a feeling of misgiving yet he could not put his finger on it. “I’m missing something,” he growled to himself.

 

Frowning in concentration he chewed absentmindedly on his thumbnail. What the hell did they write this with? Homemade flower ink? he queried peering at the ink blotches. Getting nowhere he dropped the papers and sat back in frustration. Closing his eyes he rubbed his face.

 

Clarity struck him.

 

Garden. Green tomatoes. Unripened vines. Purple black ink.

 

Icy truth settled on his shoulders.

 

He was at the fireplace in moments, gathering charcoal and crushing it in his hands. Grabbing a mug from nearby he filled it with water and tipped in three tablespoons of the black soot. Swirling it in the mug he quickly sculled it down. Refilling the mug he cleaned off the water and charcoal residue before resting his hands on the bench and taking several calming breaths.

 

Heart rate elevated. Possible anxiety or drug. Eye vision clear. No headaches or nausea. Yet. Heartbeat slowing to regular levels. Good. Very mild poisoning but not taking chances. For the first time since he had parted from Patrick’s side he was glad his lover was safely away from home. Sensing that his immediate danger had passed, he left the offending paper on the workbench and sat to consider his next move.

 


© Copyright 2017 Justin Fyld. All rights reserved.

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