The Warmth of the Hearth

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Tick Tock

“Carson, you have a visitor.” Essie bluntly speaks, an extremely irritated look on her face as she approaches the young Blaise, now drenched in sweat from the field work.

A cold breeze brushes against Carson’s skin, causing his body to be alert in an instant. Noah Skye walked beside Essie, Eron Fir following suite. A beastly surge of rage crashes within the pit of his stomach, an uncontrollable desire to tear the man standing in front of him apart until nothing remained but his corpse for him to burn, begging to be let loose. Noah Skye, the man who was partly responsible for the death of his father, stands in front of him, as if he was mocking Carson and his house. “What is he doing here?!”

Essie was the first to respond, stepping in between the two men to ensure that Carson won’t do anything stupid. “He brings a proposition for you, says he wants you to be the first to hear. I suggest you do Carson, we won’t be able to do anything if he wishes to bring all of this down to the ground.” She touches Carson’s arm, pulling his ear closer to him. “Show some restraint.”

“Forgive me for barging in like this, young Carson.” Noah Skye speaks, a poor attempt of a smile plastered on his face, falling into more of a grin. “I mourn for the loss of your father just as much as yo---”

“Cut the crap Noah, I know you have other reasons for coming.” Carson crosses his arms, veins popping out of his well-toned structure. Irritation was all that he felt, knowing that Noah was up to something. Luke arrives, now standing beside Carson, which evidently shocked Noah who was now trying to fix his reaction.

Noah steels himself, never expecting the presence of Luke Laisren, the one who was known to be the first victim of the rebellion. “Young Luke! I am glad to see you are alright. I am sorry for what happened to your house, I did not partake in the horrors your house has suffered.”

“You seem pretty glad to see me, considering you were one of the reasons why I died in the first place. Regardless, you did not do anything to stop what they were planning Noah.” Luke now steps forward, keeping himself in check. “You’re nothing but scum Noah, scum who doesn’t care about anybody but himself.” His voice now threatens to fail him as it raises with his anger. “I’m willing to bet that you’re here because you didn’t get what you want, and now you need our help in some way that puts us at risk while you sit back and watch!”

“I came here hoping that you guys would know better than to defy me.” Noah’s eyes grow a bright white for a brief moment, almost losing control over his emotions. Laisren and Carson stiffens up in front of him, small pups preparing to bite whoever was trying to hurt them. Good for nothing mutts! “Eron, we’re leaving boy.”

“B-but!” Eron attempts to contradict Noah’s decision, knowing full well that Carson was a vital part of the plan.

“Come boy. We’re done here.” Noah commands, now making his way to the outpost that led to the shaft. His eyes meet Carson’s which looked at him with certainty, opposing all of his propositions before he even got the chance to present them. “You’ll regret this Blaise.” He speaks as the shaft whirs to life, lifting him and Eron back to the entrance.

They make their way down the mountainside, escorted by the same mage that welcomed them with flames when they first arrived. The two of them arrive at the foot of the mountain, Noah now untying the ropes that kept their horses in place. A cloaked woman emerges from the trees, carrying an unconscious Claire Blaise on her back. “Well done. Did you leave the letter?” Noah speaks, eyeing the woman who was now tying Claire on the back of the horse.

“Yes, they’ll see it soon enough.” Varsha takes the hood off of her head, revealing her long black hair tied into a messy bun. “The lad got to you, I see? He must’ve seen you as untrustworthy for him to shut you down completely.” She laughs, now getting on the horse Eron arrived in.

Noah simply smiles, knowing that there was no other way this negotiation would’ve ended. A proper cooperation would’ve been too much to ask for, but it was worth a shot. “Now, he will come to regret his choices, at the expense of his sister.” His eyes fall on the sleeping Claire helplessly tied at the back of Varsha’s mount. “We will continue as planned, this is merely a small bump that we’ll have no trouble overcoming.” He lifts himself up to the saddle, offering a hand for Eron to take. “Come boy, we have much to do.”

“Lanky Luke really gave him a scare. Good job fending them off, you’ll probably make a good scarecrow.” Carson jests, watching the lift drop down as Essie exits, now descending the flight of stairs leading to the main ground. “I wonder what they have planned. They surely won’t back off like that, unless they had something brewing.”

Luke chuckles, unable to believe that he actually talked shit against Noah Skye, one of the most powerful mages in history. “Can’t say I feel great. I could swear I saw my entire life flash in front of my eyes.” He notices Claire’s door left askew, as if it had been pried forcefully. Thoughts flood Luke’s mind as to what could have happened. “Hey Carson, have you seen Claire?”

“Not lately, why?” Carson asks, confused by the sudden question.

Luke dashes towards the door, examining the lock. It was broken, as if somebody had pried it to get it to open. He enters the room and was met with a mess. Furniture was thrown all over the place as burn marks could be seen all over the walls. His gaze falls onto a small piece of paper left on her desk, its penmanship evidently written in haste. Carson arrives, his eyes wide open upon seeing the scene. “Claire…” Luke looks at the letter once more, its message written in big bold letters. TICK TOCK. “They have her.”

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