Do I worry about something link this happening on my watch? I hope that I’ve set things up in a way so that if it does happen, wardens and junior wardens don’t remain so voiceless and afraid as I was. It’s hard to take down someone important. I can get my enforcers to investigate and question and tell me of any issue and we can come to a solution. To my grandfather, Kellas was someone he could send out for tough problems involving drass beasts. You need someone like that in your ranks. You can’t have everyone have the same strengths and the same weakness. However, one shouldn’t let someone’s strengthens shield their flaws.
The execution of Soletus’s plan started at sundown. He sent Tyrus to set-up a fake camp further down the eastern road across the bridge and the gorge where the river ran. Soletus took the horses and stayed at that camp that night. Mien didn’t like leaving him alone. Not because the young monk couldn’t take care of himself even when ill. He was even acting more like himself than he had days before. Having something to do and put his mind to use did him good. No, what worried Mien was the fact he was afraid that Soletus would get bored and join them. He would be with the horse while they camped across the bridge close to the town. He assured him he wouldn’t. But Mien imagined him fidgeting and pacing, waiting for them. Though really, the young monk would take the opportunity to get as much rest as he could.
He, Tyrus, and Doran bedded down until midnight filled with anticipation that made it hard to rest. They watched the poachers mill around as one went out down the road where the fire fake fire was and come back relaxed. The surrounding humans laughed, and they went back on to their work. Mien caught sight of Vlory. She talked to some people there. Then retreated into her home. Night came, and the anticipation thickened in his chest and felt more like anxiety as his mind wondered about all the things that could go wrong. They could be seen and chased out before they got to the chapel, let alone get to Vlory. In fact, he felt they should focus on getting Vlory, but Soletus’ bright idea was to set fire to the chapel as a distraction. And Mien couldn’t get Vlory first because he was the one setting the blaze. And that was if there was enough there to set the place ablaze.
The young chanter squished out his thoughts of everything going sideways and focused on what needed to be done. They entered from the road instead of the woods. Even with mist on the ground, it would be too noisy. The road under their boots yielded little sound than the occasional muffle squelch of boots on mud. The sky had cleared up, given them a little light from the moon to see and shadows to stand in. Mien kept his ears sharp as they scampered onward to make sure nothing was following them.
There was nothing to hear passed the chorus of night bugs. There were no sounds of footsteps or the yawns from a night watch. They entered the center of the abandoned village, uncontested. Doran led the way, ducking into shadows and crossing into the faint moonlight before vanishing into the shadows again. Tyrus went next, creeping low to the ground and joined him. Mien hesitated and listened for anything above the cricket chirps again. There was nothing. The entire band of poachers slept with peace.
They had no watch or anything. Once might say they were foolishly comfortable in doing what they did. And why wouldn’t they be. No one traveled that far out, and the entire place was warded. It was good because it made it easier for them. Mien was still nervous, though.
He scurried into the shadows with Doran and Tyrus. He couldn’t see their expression and they said nothing. However, he heard Doran sigh, and he felt Tyrus rest a palm on his back when he settled beside him. Mien pulled away from him. He was fine. There was no need for reassurances. He’ll do what he needed to do even and could ignore his nerves. The three repeated the same maneuver until they made it to the chapel.
A beam of moonlight touched the door making creating a dim spotlight on anyone who approached it. Doran darted out and tested the door with his shoulders. He fell when it swung open under his weight. Mien held his breath and Tyrus did as well hoping no one heard the thump of Doran’s body on the threshold. The young scout pulled himself in and soon motioned for them. Tyrus went first and this time Mien followed close to his heels, mind reeling at the fact the poachers were so careless.
Once inside, they shut the door and Mien chanted up a globe of light to see what they were dealing. He kept the light a warm amber and what the light touched showed them they were dealing with a lot.
There were drass beast bone filled crates stacked to his right and in front of there were roughly constructed racks that had rib bones and skins from not just beasties but that of deer, bears, wolves, foxes, and rabbits. There were feathers from birds, claws, and even feet all dried. Tyrus walked over to one of the crates. He squatted down and whistled to get their attention. Mien formed another orb and pushed it towards him. He stood up and held up a dried eagle claw.
“I get the skins and the feathers, but why feet,” he said.
“Black magic,” answered Mien. “That’s what they use beastie parts for.”
“I don’t get how a critter helps them.”
“It’s a give and take kind of deal,” said Mien absently as he inspected the length of a behemoth rib bone.
“Witchcraft, dark magic, black magic or whatever you want to call it,” he explained further. “With a chanter, the power comes from within you and is maintained by faith. It’s divine and the very opposite of dark magic. You wield abilities through potions consumed. And to make the potions, you must use the essence, as they call it, of something else. Each animal and plant have a certain essence to fuel certain potions.”
“So, beastie gives them something,” asked Tyrus.
“Yes,” answered Doran and came to a halt at a large skull of multiple eye holes looking back at him. “Well, that’s terrifying. My father told me it empowers them a great deal, but it comes with a cost.”
“It opens them up to the Maw,” said Mien and stopped walking down the altar when his light illuminated something several feet in front of him. It was a foot. He brightened his sun globe and raised it. “Well, more so than using an unclean magic.”
“Then why hasn’t the entire race of humans become husks,” asked Tyrus.
“They are resistant to corruption and certain kinds of magic. Some claim it’s their gods that protect them,” he said and brightened his light to fully reveal the three statues at the back of the altar.
“Is that the triad,” asked Tyrus.
Between the god Nigma muscular arms and one of the goddess’s, Gerth, eight wings was the third, the child god Sagie. It was Nigma who he was fixated on. He had a very human looking form but was bestial with all the muscles that was carved into his nude stone body. He had a sword in one hand and the head of a bull in the other. Three tails lashing behind him that reminded Mien of the end of a whip. Fitting of the god of strength and war. His cold stone eyes would be pleased at the sight before him. Mien wasn’t sure about the half goat half boy that was Sagie. He liked animals from what Mien had read. Gerth, as the goddess of wisdom and black magic likely wouldn’t be. The tools before were not in the right place.
Mien rubbed his arms from feeling polluted.
“I guess this is why Soletus claimed he found this place offensive,” said the half-elf.
“You’re a half-elf, you act as if you’ve never seen the Triad before,” said Doran. “And we also studied it in history.”
“Must’ve slept through that lesson. And no, I haven’t. My family isn’t particularly religious.”
“They’re nonbelievers,” he asked.
“Yeah,” said Tyrus flatly and turned around. “I guess we should start piling this all together. Make a nice hot bonfire.”
Doran then tossed him the pack of dried bark and moss they found as a fire starter. “So why aren’t you?”
“A chanter came and healed me when I was a jackass and busted myself pretty good by falling down a tree. They weren’t Brotherhood, but they were the only reason I lived.” He then pointed to the walls. “Look, tapestries burn great when dry are old and dry like this.”
Mien got the impression that Tyrus didn’t want to talk about it. If he had to guess, his family wasn’t so keen on his decision to become brotherhood.
“It’ll work, but drass beasts are nice and flammable already,” stated Mien. “Unless you want to bring this entire building down, sure. Add try cloth on top of it all.”
“Well, since we’re really going to char this place,” said Doran holding up a lantern. “This is full of oil.”
Tyrus chuckled. “Might as well try to make it huge. Sol missing the fun. I’m sure he wanted to see it.”
Mien nodded in agreement. Might as well try to make a glorious beacon out of it.
The three of them began to work quickly, gathering everything dry they could get their hands on and split the piles up. One close to the front door of the chapel and another pile in the center. Doran and Tyrus pulled down two dusty tapestries that ripped easily off the rungs. Mien went for furs and wooden poles that were probably cut to make more racks. Tyrus brought over a few crates and Doran a few dried behemoth ribs nearly as tall as he was.
“We’re going to need a long bath after this,” said Tyrus, standing back and admiring the structure of their indoor bonfire.
Doran came from the back of the temple. “There is a door here. We retreat there and make our way to Vlory’s.”
“Good, let’s head back there,” said Mien, taking the lantern and handed it to Doran. The young man emptied the contents of the lantern on the pile closest to the door while Mien chanted up a globe of light. He willed it to grow so hot he couldn’t look directly at it. Doran covered a tapestry with oil followed by a woven basket holding smaller bones. Then a trail of fur and bones to where Mien was at.
“I don’t know how they were going to get all of this border,” said Doran and then shrugged. “Well, they don’t have worry about it anymore.”
Mien then tossed his orb at the oil coated hides and then tossed another for good measure further back. He wanted to admire his handy work, however, he had to leave immediately because the fire was catching on quick. They hurried out to retrieve Vlory.
The three of them took the same route that Mien and Doran had earlier that day and paused at the shed before taking the wide arc around the village. They came to rest to watch a moment between trees. At first, it didn’t appear as if anyone would get up and see what was going on. It wasn’t long until the heat of the blaze got to a window frame of the chapel. Glass shattered. Someone lit a lantern from the home closest to them.
The three of them flatten to their stomachs when they heard a door open. A figure walked out of it and illuminated the side of the chapel. Smoke was pouring out of the broken window with flames leaping inside. They then began shouting and ran to all the occupied homes, banging on their doors. When they went to Vlory’s home and left, was when they hurried to her cellar door. Doran hung back where he was in the shadows to watch the front door. Mien pressed his ear to the door and stretched his hearing, searching for Vlory’s timbre. She was still in there and there was another person talking loudly. A woman and he heard her soft thumps and the front door opened and shut.
Mien listened again, waiting to hear anyone else. He heard nothing else, and he tapped the cellar door in short intervals. He knew as a chanter, she could hear it. It took several taps before she made her way towards them. When she opened the door, she shined a very weak sparking starlight on them. She was dressed as if she were about to go out.
She met his gaze, then side-glanced Tyrus with suspicion in her eyes. “Reckoner, have you been reckoning?”
“You need to come with us,” said Mien.
She frowned. “Why should I go with such naughty boys?”
Mien wasn’t sure how to persuade her, so he told her the truth. “Come with us. We can’t leave someone corrupted. We have to deal with them.”
“So, you decided, Reckoner. Why not come before and burn me as well?”
“I don’t want to kill you. Look, I’m going through my edict and part of that is helping and saving you. But I can’t do it here.”
Vlory started to push the door back closed. “You do the impossible, soft-hearted Reckoner. Take your friends and go.”
Tyrus then put his hand out, stopping the door from closing. “Look, we don’t have time for arguing. This isn’t a choice,” he told her.
“Tyrus,” Mien hissed, and pushed his arm down.
Vlory backed up to the shadow and winked out her star light. “What is this,” she demanded.
Mien then quickly explained. “I told you; we can’t leave you here. Rules of the Brotherhood state, we can’t leave anything corrupted alone. We have to deal with. However, I’m going save you, I don’t know how, but I will. So please just come.”
She narrowed her eyes at them.
“Please, Vlory,” pleaded Mien. “Believe me, none of us wants to kill you. We burned the stash because it needed to be done. However, no wants to do that to you. But you are a danger to the poachers and anyone that comes across this place. You know this. Please, we don’t want to drag you out.”
The kanu woman eyed them warily. “I shall need supplies.”
“Then get whatever you need, but no drass beast blood,” he said.
“Why don’t you just go with her,” said Tyrus, pushing him forward. “I’ll watch here.”
Mien nodded. Vlory motioned for him to follow her.
When he entered the upstairs, firelight from the burning chapel touched the kitchen and her eating area with golden light. Some were carrying buckets to the man who was standing at the front door of that chapel trying to put out the flames. However, flames lashed angrily at them through the remains of the wooden door.
“You know not the worth of what you burned,” she said.
“They know not the danger of what they store,” he returned, pulling his attention away and followed her in the room she hid them in. “You should.”
“Yes, my people created those abominations, so my fate is fitting. I tried to cheat death and I will me the same end as my ancestors,” she said, taking out one of her blankets and started collecting small items from her room. Not that she had a lot of things. She put in a comb, a small wooden box, a change of clothes, and three thin books she had on a table and wrapped it all in a bundle. On her way out, she stopped in front of Mien.
“Soft-hearted fool, this will not end well,” she said and moved past him and walking inside the open room again. The fire now raged beyond saving. The roof was on fire. She watched it. “Corruption burns brightest from purifying flame. You started that fire.”
Mien couldn’t deny it and watched the blaze as well. “Yes, but please, just come.”
“Then promise me when your figure out the decision Dias made, kill me, burn my body, and sprinkle my ashes under the boughs of a burning ash.”
Mien felt a knot form in his throat. “Vlory…”
“Promise me,” she said, forcing her voice at him. “There is no way around this. You will see soon.”
A chill ran down Mien’s spine. Lyndon’s fate was about to repeat itself. A chanter couldn’t save everyone. However, that didn’t mean he couldn’t try. He just had to think. But as far as he could see, he needed help. Dias had to guide him and help him find a chanter to help her. He couldn’t save her alone.
He blinked and beside of Vlory stood his guide.
“And you’re correct. You’re more powerful together than apart.”
“More powerful together,” he said, unaware that Vlory heard him.
She searched the room and then looked beside him. “Who are you talking to?”
His guide then tugged out a chain from around his neck. The flames flickered against a sterling silver pendant. It twinkled like a star. Mien realized it was a marriage pendant. It was a cyan jay with a meadowlark spiraling int the air together. “Some chanters are blessed and bonded so they can sing a song.”
“Kiao,” he whispered and then his guide vanished. He was replaced with Vlory now standing in front of him. She had her hands on his shoulders, squinting at him.
“Who is guiding you,” she asked.
And that was when the front door swung open.
Mien whirled around to see the woman who was stirring the cauldrons standing there. Vlory then acted quickly and shut the door, hissing softly at the woman trying to explain herself rapidly. The woman shook her head and pointed an accusing finger at the woman and let out a single scream before Vlory forced the phrase of silence at her.
The woman’s voice with squelched out, and she held a hand up to her neck, looking stunned and betrayed.
“Do something,” said Vlory, pointing to the woman. Mien held his hands up and backed away from her.
“That’s not doing anything,” said the Kaun woman.
“How long is that going to last?”
“An hour,” she said right as the woman reach to her side and pulled out a throwing knife. Mien sang out the phrase of protection and covered both him and Vlory. The knife bounced off the shield, sparking up a flame. It was a bone knife.
Tyrus then rose from the cellar. “What’s going on,” he asked and before Mien could even stop him, the woman flashed out another knife. The half elf ducked out of the way.
Mien manifested a light orb in front of the woman’s face and flared it bright. The woman covered her eyes and silently screamed. Tyrus leapt from his spot taking hold of her and pinned her arms by her side, saying something in what sounded like Suttish.
“Vlory, get whatever you need and head out back,” ordered Mien, following Tyrus as he carried the woman who was now kicking to the back.
Vlory then grabbed a stack of bread and shoved it in an empty flour sack as well as a small sack of something else and then left down to the cellar steps. The woman looked terrified, staring at him as Tyus carried her to the back.
“Find something to tie her up with,” shouted Tyrus.
Mien searched the kitchen and saw nothing. He then went back into Vlory’s room and found a short length of rope. All the while he heard thumping and Tyrus cursing. When he returned, Tyrus had the woman on the ground with her hands behind her back.
“Tie her legs with that. There’s a scarf in there that’ll be good for her hands,” he said and then spoke gently to the woman.
Mien worked as quickly as he could. He didn’t want her to follow them, not trap her. He tied her legs and found the scarf, grabbing it and tied her wrists together.
“Okay, let’s go,” urged Mien.
“Why isn’t she screaming,” asked Tyrus, standing and said one more thing to her before he followed Mien.
“Vlory silenced her,” said Mien.
Tyrus told her one more thing and shut the door to the room.
“What were you telling her?”
“Sorry. I mean, it’s a little scary for two men to tie you up. I didn’t want to be rude.”
When they were outside, Vlory and Doran were waiting for them in the shadows. Mien waved at them when he crossed into a beam of moonlight to keep going and they did. There was all sort of shouting around them.
“They aren’t happy,” said Tyrus. “They keep talking about dogs and searching the area.”
Mien asked Vlory, “They have dogs.”
“Yes, for hunting,” she said, creeping along the ground with them, clutching the things she brought.
“Who uses dogs for drass beast hunting,” said Tyrus.
“They’re big dogs,” she said.
“No, bigger, longer legs, wiry coats, and very fast,” she said.
Mien stretched his hear to listen for anything rustling in the woods. “They aren’t close yet,” said Mien.
Doran the said. “We should’ve taken a horse!”
Mien winced. This is why he hated quickly made plans. They always forgot something. He focused on following Doran back to the road. Once there, they started jogging, and that was when Vlory started to lag. Tyrus took her hand and pulled her along.
She then spoke between breaths. “How far are we going?”
“Just over the bridge, then you can ride,” said Mien.
They weren’t far from the bridge, but it felt like ages to get there. It didn’t help that Vlory couldn’t keep up with their pace, even with the drive to flee. And of course, it was crossing the suspension bridge across that made Mien nervous. They had crossed the swinging bridge before and below them was a raging river cutting through the rocks of the gorge below them. It was dark and the only thing that Mien’s light illuminated was just a couple of feet in front of them. However, it was that darkness below them that made him fell ill at ease. There were no gapes between the old wooden planks of the bridge. However, it wasn’t that well maintained. It creaked with every step they took. Doran had no trouble and nimbly went across it far ahead of them. Mien was next in line with Tyrus right behind him, dragging along Vlory who was whimpering with uncertainty.
“This bridge, they’ve rigged to collapse,” she told them. “Just on this end, though.”
That prompted Mien and Tyrus to hurry to the other side. Once they found their footing. There was rustling in the brush and Soletus came out with the horses following him.
“How the roasting go,” he asked.
“Great,” replied Mien, taking one of the horses and presented it to Vlory. “We need to go. Dogs are searching.”
“Not a problem,” he said and mounting on his horse. “We need to push forward.”
“Will they even bother pursing us,” asked Tyrus to Vlory.
“I don’t know,” said the young woman, settling down on the back of her mount, winded. “Maybe…Though, they maybe more concerned about the fire.”
Soletus nodded. “Then we keep going down the road and find someplace to hide.”
Once again, Mien jogged on, with Tyrus on foot. They continued like that for a few miles, with one of Mien’s sun globes leading the way. It then illuminated something in the distance. It was a road sign. Not only that, but a fork in the road.
Doran hurried his horse to it and then became confused.
“Wateree is the nearest town going straight,” he said. “Wateree? How are we so far north and west?”
Tyrus trudged over to the sign. “Yeah, it might be the closest, but look at sun marks on it.”
There indeed were five small stars marks on the sign. It was a five-day journey.
“There is a lodge,” said Soletus, pointing down to the lower sign. The lodge was two sun marks away. “Then that will be our meeting point. This is as good as anyplace to split up. However, first things first.” He said, bringing his horse beside of Vlory. “Hello, Vlory, was it?”
She tilted her head at him. “Another light, but you are a small flame.”
“Yeah,” he said slowly and glanced at Mien. The young chanter shrugged. He hadn’t a problem with the way she spoke. “I just wanted to apologize for doing things the way I did, but, truth is, we couldn’t just leave you there.”
“It was explained. And as I told the Reckoner to kill and burn me. You’re the embodiment of Lenneth nature, you know truth,” she said.
Soletus raised his brow at her. “How do you know that?”
“Your timbre is open and honest.”
Mien then cut in. “My guide told me I cannot do this alone. Kiao needs to help me.”
“Kiao isn’t here. She’s home,” said Soletus.
Vlory then added. “I’ve no drass beast blood today. My wounds will soon come back. I cannot travel to your monastery.”
Soletus sat up straight and considered Vlory for a moment, and then Mien. His dark eyes looked uncertain. “Mien, rules state, we cannot leave anything corrupted alone. We have to deal with it.”
“And I’m telling you, that it won’t come to that,” said Mien. “My guide told me I needed Kiao, and we will not make it home in time. So clearly, she’s coming to us!”
He then heard the chorus of the world whispered a harmony in Melodic in his mind. However, like listening to something that was a duet where someone just sung the harmony, but there was no melody to it. However, he heard two phrases. The phrase of protection and light.
“The sun is in his eyes, again,” said Vlory.
As soon as it came, it vanished. His guide grew into existence, walked down the road motioning him to come and then diminished into the darkness.
“We stick to the roads,” said Mien. “Soletus, we stick to the road.”
“Where do we meet Kiao,” the young monk asked.
“I don’t know.”
Soletus shook his head. “We can’t stay on the road, not with a pursuit. It’ll slow them down if we go to the woods and split. That was the plan. Vlory, you, and me continue on the shortest path to that lodge.”
“And I’m telling you, we keep with the road. My guided pointed down,” held Mien.
“By the time the day comes, a wound will open,” said Vlory. “The weaker I get, the more the corruption will hold me.”
Mien then forced his voice and stated firmly. “She cannot and will not die. Dias is the god of second changes, Sol. You know this. I will fight you and even her if this isn’t done. Have faith, trust me, this is what we need to do.”
“Son of Lenneth,” said Vlory. “Are you soft-hearted and foolish too? This will end in your death.”
“No, it won’t,” stated Soletus. “I’m trained to kill drass beasts. But if need be, I’m also trained to kill elves, humans, giants, and kanu. I can promise your death will be swift. However, I have to bow to the chanter. When he gets insistent like this, I can’t ignore him.”
Vlory looked to Doran and Tyrus for help. They had none to offer. “Fools,” she muttered.
Soletus gave a curt nod. “It’s decided. We continue down the road until Mien says otherwise.”
It's confirmed, Dias Brotherhood is an order of pyromaniacs. Pt. 3 ends with the next update. No break. I'm going right into pt. 4.