The Music of Darkness

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Chapter five: Disaster

The next morning Drell was as one walking in his sleep. He saw, heard, and felt only what he wanted to and no one could break him out of it. All colors seemed dull, as if painted over with a fine layer of white wash. The voices around him were an unbearable racket he had to escape. Even in the woods he had once loved so well there was no solace, no ease to his pain. Only dull colors that had once seemed beautiful, irritating sounds that had once seemed musical, and nauseating smells that had once brought him such peace.

It dawned on him that the only sensible conclusion he could draw upon was that this feeling was what the humans called depression. He had never suffered it before, he had suffered grief, but never depression and for the life of him he couldn’t figure out the reason for it to afflict him now. There had been no death in the family or any war to complain about. Drell spent hour’s pondering over this when a loud thundering caught his attention. He followed the sound to a road that cut through the open land east of Narisden forest.

The sound eminated from twelve knights on horse back, their silver armor shimmering in the mid morning sunlight. At the head of them was a broad shouldered man with thick red hair and beard to mach. Drell was curious for he had never seen men coming from the East. There were no men in the East. Loosening his short sword in its sheath and slinging his bow over his shoulder, Drell stepped out onto the road in front of the approaching Knights. On seeing him they came to halt.

“ I am Drell Dasrenvair and I am curious as to what business human knights have in these parts and why they might be coming from the East where there dwell no humans” The words sounded a bit more hostile then he had intended them to be but the Knights took no notice. The red bearded fellow nodded his head in greeting,

“I am Sir Lionel Redtree and we really don’t have any business here at all. We were returning to Hain Oringard, having been sent from there on a mission from our King, the details of which I may not disclose, when we noticed black smoke upon the horizon. It appheres to be coming from the Temple of Second Life”. Black smoke! Thought Drell in alarm.

“Sir Knight I wonder if you would allow me to come along with you for a friend of mine, a lady, was staying there and what you say has caused me to fear for her safety” Drell stepped close to sir Redtree’s horse.

“Hop on” Redtree extended his hand. Drell took it and was effortlessly hoisted into the front of the saddle, at Drell’s request the Knights picked up their pace.

It was late evening when the temple came into sight. Arriving at the gates Drells heart sank and a gasp resounded throughout the Knights. The gates had been forced open and the two mages lay dead. Mardain had been split wide open, so that his insides now lay on the ground and his lady counterpart had had both of her arms sliced off.

“Mina!” cried Drell as he leaped out of sir Redtree’s saddle. The bodies of the clerics littered the courtyard their blood drenching the grass and staining the waters of the pond red. Detached limbs and organs lay like puzzle pieces on the ground.

“Mina!!” cried Drell as he charged through the bloody gloom, bits and pieces of flesh and bone stuck to his boots as he ran. The Soul house was desecrated; its inner and outer walls were covered with blood. Drell’s heart began to pound as he ran into the visitor’s quarters. In one of the inner chambers an old blind man lay crumpled on the ground. His face was thin and bearded. His frail body was covered over by a long brown robe. Evidently he had been a monk of some type. In his right hand he clutched a plain wooden staff; his other hand clutched his chest where a sword had pierced it. Drell shook his head and settled down beside the old man. Drell rolled the old man onto his back, straitened his legs, and crossed his arms over his chest before leaving. Aside from the old man, the visitor’s quarters were deserted. Drell paused at the undisturbed doors of the temple afraid of what lay inside. Taking a big gulp of air Drell pushed his way in.

The stone benches were overturned, some of them smashed, the blue cushions had been stolen. A chunk from one of the broken benches had been hurled at the stained glass window, smashing it and casting the shards upon the floor. Bereft of their silver chains the bronze braziers lay on the floor. The headless body of Rosemarta lay at the foot of the alter, her blood the first ever to touch its pure surface. Amid the carnage there was no sign of Mina.

Out in the courtyard the knights were looking for survivors, not that they would find any. As Drell approached Redtree the other knights halted in their exploits

“Did you find her?” asked Redtree.

“No” said Drell as he swept his eyes over the courtyard.

“Do you have any idea who might have done this?” asked Redtree.

“Yes I think I do. Do you know a forester by the name of Brom?”

“Brom? Do you mean Brom Ford?” Drell shrugged

“I don’t know his other name”

“There is only one forester I know of by the name of Brom and that is Brom Ford. But you cannot think that he did this. What reason would he have had. To what end?” Redtree ran a hand through his hair. Drell took a deep breath and retold the story. At the end of which all the knight’s faces were stony.

“So you think that it was these bandits that waylaid Brom and your missing lady that did this. I have never seen such brutality from bandits before my self but it is not unheard of. If Brom knows who they might be he can help us find them and make them pay” the knights nodded approval in unison.

“Where do I find him?” asked Drell, his eyes ablaze.

“He lives on the Plains of Morlan, his hut rests right up against Jarleime jungle, north west of the tribe of Taine. If you don’t mind the company I think we would like to come along with you” replied Redtree. For a minute Drell was silent, then he nodded

“Vary well but we must first make a stop in Neroedell for supplies and no doubt my brother will want to know of this”. The knights consented without complaint and they rode back to Neroedell with Drell on the front of Redtree’s saddle.

It was a half an hour till midday when they arrived back in Narisden. Drell lead them through the woods until he could see the silver Spider Gate shimmering through the trees. At which point Drell leaped from Redtree’s saddle,

“My good sirs, allow me to be frank with you, a human hasn’t set foot in Neroedell for over a thousand years and for one, or many in this case, to set foot there now would cause a political upheaval which we cant afford at this point in time. So I feel it would be in everyone’s best interests if you were to stay here and wait for me, I shan’t be long” The Knights agreed and Drell disappeared from their sight.

Kaladearroe was at his post above the gate, leaning heavily upon his silver tipped spear when Drell came into view.

“Well, well, well, look who finally shows his face again, and I think you aught to know that Loroedor is plenty pissed off with you. I think someone is due for a spanking,” the captain smirked. For the first time since the first day he met him Drell lost it

“You shut up you pompous piece of”

“Don’t you tell him to shut up!” cried Loroedor as he strode through the gate.

“Where in the name of the Shade have you been? Do you have any idea how worried I was? Before I beat the living shit out of you, you had better have a damn good excuse” Loroedor`s fists clenched.

“Mina’s been kidnapped” said Drell, his voice level. Loroedor went white

“What?” Drell nodded

“You heard me. I ran into a group of Knights out on the merchant road, they were going to the Temple of Second Life and so I went with them. The clerics were dead; all of them and Mina was gone. I suspect it might have been the bandits that had persued Mina. I plan to find Brom Ford and ask him a few questions. I came here to tell you this and to ask if you would like to come along”. Loroedor sighed

“Where are these Knights now?”

“They`re hiding in the trees almost directly behind me” said Drell.

“Alright go to them. I’ll tell Neldaroe were we’re going then I’ll grab my horse and some provisions and meet you out there” Drell nodded and departed into the trees.

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