Paladin - the path north volume 1

All Rights Reserved ©

Chapter 21

Sah’rah had listened to his tale intently, as had the hundreds gathered around the fire pit... including Languardia, how was she feeling right now? She’d only recently taken a new husband in Tristain and now her old one had shown up, back from the dead it seemed, she must be feeling worried at a potential splitting of her household. Tar’vid finished his telling and the gathered crowd cheered, though she knew he had left out much of what had transpired at Kendral, his tale had seemed too whimsical. She sighed, Tar’vid looked so beaten down, though his white hair didn’t suit his young face. He caught her staring and smiled broadly, had he really changed that much? As he stood Tar’gorth grabbed him in a crushing bear hug, Tarquin and Bordin following suit subsequently.

“It’s good to have you back lad, we all mourned you...” Tar’gorth said, letting up his grip.

“It feels good to be back, I regret what has happened to us... are we few all that remains of the order?” Tar’vid replied, looking at the five of them in turn.

“We are if any are still around, they’re isolated now... alone” she cut in, imagining Sah’eca’s last moments for the first time in months.

Tar’vid nodded, his fist tightening into a ball. Before he could speak the crowd parted as Languardia made her presence known, along with her husband Tristan, Tar’vid’s sons were ushered forwards towards him.

“Gerhart, Gerson... this is your father,” Languardia said with tears welling in her eyes.

The two boys walked forwards and stopped before Tar’vid. He knelt down and embraced them each in turn, the boys seeming terrified of him though. Perhaps with good reason, he’d been built up for so long with tales of his heroism and prowess in battle... and here he was, standing before them like a war veteran.

“It is a pleasure to finally meet you both” Tar’vid said eventually, the emotion in his voice was palpable.

“Are you mommy’s old husband?” Gerson asked, his grasp of language still astounded everyone.

Tar’vid mouthed the ‘old’ part, before catching on, quicker than he would have in years past.

“I am, but things won’t change too much for you both. I know your mother has raised you well in my absence.”

Tar’vid stood once more, the crowd backing away from him, perhaps expecting a swift end to Tristain. Instead, he clasped forearms with his old friend.

“Thank you for protecting my family old friend. Languardia, know that I understand your decision, I’m glad you haven’t been miserable in my absence... please enjoy your life together, our marriage ended when I died after all. We can talk in the morning if that’s agreeable?”

“It is Tar’vid... I waited over a year for you...” she started before the words died in her mouth.

Tar’vid bowed to them both, ignoring Languardia’s words and returning to the fireside, music started playing and drink flowed freely that night. This was the first time she’d touched a drop in two years, but by the gods did she need it tonight.

“Are you really okay with the situation?” She asked him as he sat down beside her, taking a long drink from his tankard.

“Not really, but I won’t kill Tristain for such a thing... I think we’ve both moved on from our years apart, I wouldn’t have her regret her mourning” he replied sadly, putting down his tankard and draping his arm over her shoulders.

“So, you all mourned me?” He asked her jovially, Sah’rah nodded in response, remembering that dark day clearly.

She necked the rest of her tankard, a refill arriving quickly.

“Everyone seems happy, perhaps I shouldn’t have returned... this will upset the balance here for sure” he told her, the statement was true enough... loyalty to Languardia and Tar’vid would split the tribe as to the true ruler, and in his condition, Tar’vid couldn’t hope to win a duel with Tristain.

“What’s your plan then?” She asked, intrigued by his more mature vision, if not his attitude.

“Probably wing it, but first, I’m getting drunk,” he told her with a laugh that reminded her of the old Tar’vid, if only for a second.

“For a second there, I thought you had a real plan” she chuckled, raising her drink.

“To happy reunions!” She shouted loudly, all those that heard her echoing the toast.

“And lost friends” Tar’vid said to her quietly, banging their tankards together.

Bordin and Tarquin joined them along with Tar’gorth after a time. Later they decided to retire back to Tarquin’s residence to sample his wine collection. On the way there she spotted Brundwill sitting beside the doorway of his temporary residence.

“Why don’t you join us? I’ll introduce you to Tar’vid” she asked the Dwarf, noticing her slightly slurred words.

“Our first meeting should be under more... sober, circumstances. Do not worry about me Sah’rah, there is time enough for our long fated meeting. Enjoy your night” he said with a bow.

“You too Brundwill, you are a most courteous man” she replied, following after the others. Had she noticed the Dwarf smiling in the moonlight?

Sah’rah stretched out her arms, how much had they dunk last night? Dropping her arms she heard a muffled groan, feeling someone pressed up against her bare skin. Rolling her head over slowly she offered a prayer to the gods, please don’t let it be Tar’gorth. She looked over at Tar’vid, his sleeping face looked so innocent. She waited until he woke up, grinning at him broadly, he was still good looking after all and perhaps this had been long overdue. Sah’rah had expected a panicked reaction from him, but instead he just lay there cuddling with her... it was nice she thought as he draped his arm around her.

“You don’t regret this then?” He asked her after a while, squeezing her hand gently.

“No, only the fact that I can’t remember it” she joked, nestling up against him.

Tar’vid held her tightly to him, was he reading more into this than her. Sah’rah moved his hand away, rolling out of bed and gathering her clothes up. As she pulled on her top Tar’vid tapped her leg.

“Did I do something wrong?” He asked, his face seemed so innocent.

“No, it’s just... this was a one-time thing okay? Languardia is my master after all” she explained, perhaps too bluntly as she pulled on the rest of her clothes.

“Might it happen again though? I can’t honestly say I haven’t fantasised about this before” Tar’vid said with a smile, she smiled back, glad he wasn’t getting clingy over this.

“Well, it was fun waking up next to you... I wouldn’t be adverse to a second time” she replied, tossing his shirt at him.

He got out of bed and pulled on his trousers and shirt. Putting on his boots before gently kissing her.

“It’s fine as long as Languardia doesn’t know, right?” he asked.

“I don’t know what to think of this new attitude of yours” she answered, watching as Tar’vid vanished out the door.

She left her home, stepping out into the calmness of early morning, the banners of the Jakken hanging limply on such an overcast, windless day.

“Good day my lady” Godwin called out to her, she hadn’t seen much of the knight, though he was always a pleasant and considerate man.

“Yes Sir Godwin, it is” Sah’rah replied with a smile, in truth she felt like a new lease of life had come to her... she finally had what she’d wanted.

Godwin smiled back, his squire diligently following at a respectful distance. Was it strange she still didn’t know his name?

“What brings you to see me this morning Sir Godwin?” she asked, suddenly remembering he wouldn’t turn up without reason.

“I merely wished to make sure that Tar’vid did not take your virtue my lady. Men are beasts when intoxicated after all” he told her without embarrassment, he was a knight so perhaps talking of virtue was fine... though she’d given that up a long time ago.

“My friend, her virtue is long gone, though if it were not, my other friend has walked away with it,” Tarquin quipped thoughtlessly from beside her home, she pointlessly offered a prayer to Tar’mine for Godwin to take it in jest.

“You would besmirch the good name of a lady?” Godwin asked calmly, though she knew his anger was rising.

“I meant no offence, to you, my friend, many times have I tried to have her. Then my young friend comes sweeping in and accomplishes what I could not in a single night... it is enough to make a man weep is it not?” Tarquin replied with a smile that was easily used to rile the knight.

“You say it was not meant as offence, yet it is taken none the less” Godwin told him, still as cool as ever.

“That is a shame then, my friend” Tarquin replied, his hand hovering dangerously near to his sword hilt.

Godwin removed a single gauntlet and tossed it onto the ground before Tarquin, the Samarkand native eyeing the knight suspiciously.

“I challenge you to a duel sir, for the honour of lady Sah’rah. Apologise now and I shall forget this incident” Godwin said, his hands now rested upon his weapons.

Tarquin smiled, though a friend, the man often spoiled for a fight, he stepped on the gauntlet grinding it into the dirt.

“I will gladly take you up on such a request, my friend” Tarquin replied, standing only inches from Godwin now. “Just tell me when.”

“At dusk this evening, to your death or apology” Godwin stated, his gaze unflinching.

“To your death it is then, my friend” Tarquin stated flatly.

“Then pick up the gauntlet and accept the challenge” Godwin told him with barely repressed anger.

Sah’rah had been so focused on the two men bickering she hadn’t noticed Tar’vid arrive behind Tarquin.

“Ah, Sir knight, you appear to have dropped your gauntlet...” Tar’vid said cheerfully, reaching down and picking it up from out of the dirt. “I’m afraid I can’t wipe it down, because well...” he said indicating his missing arm.

“Tar’vid, do you realise what you have done?” Godwin asked kindly.

Sah’rah wasn’t sure either and from the look on Tar’vid’s face neither did he. In response Tar’vid shook his head.

“The man who takes up the gauntlet accepts the challenge, may I ask you to apologise on your friend’s behalf?” Godwin asked with a kind smile, Tar’vid was more rational than Tarquin after all and in his condition less likely to fight.

“What am I apologising for? If it’s reasonable I’ve no problem doing so” Tar’vid said, passing Godwin his gauntlet. Tarquin stood stock still, it was strange to see him without a quip or snarky remark ready.

“This man has claimed you took the good lady Sah’rah’s virtue. As a married man, I’m sure this was a falsehood.”

Sah’rah winced, knowing what Tar’vid would have to say, he was still an honourable Paladin like her after all.

“I’m afraid I cannot do such a thing, for it is the truth... though my wife is with another man now, so I see no fault in my actions” Tar’vid replied, exactly as she knew he would.

“Then I have no choice but to accept you, the duel will be at sundown, in the training yard, to the death or an apology” Godwin told him bluntly. “I suggest you make peace with your God.”

Tar’vid simply nodded and walked away from them. What should she do? The suddenness of the situation had stunned her and from Tarquin’s reaction, him as well. A few moments later and Tarquin had set off after Tar’vid and she quickly went back inside to arm herself. Gods above, she’d only just got Tar’vid back, he couldn’t be taken away again... not now. She grabbed her sword, then knelt down beside the bed, sliding out an old box. She opened the clasps and pulled out Torgard, it was Tar’vid’s blade, after all, gifted by Saint Tar’mine. She strapped both swords to her waist and left her home once more, she had to find Tar’vid before anything else went wrong today.

Sah’rah found him soon enough, Tarquin shaking and pleading with him.

“Gods be damned, let me fight him, my friend, how can you possibly hope to win?”

Sah’rah stopped a good distance away, it seemed Tarquin couldn’t stand the thought of losing his friend so soon after getting him back. Perhaps she could get Languardia to intervene? As Tarquin continued to plead with Tar’vid he turned to face her.

“Perhaps you can get through to him, he’s as stubborn as you are” he asked angrily, passing by her without looking back.

Sah’rah went up to Tar’vid unstrapping Torgard and passing the ancient blade to Tar’vid. He looked down at the sword for a moment without taking it, then pushed it back towards her.

“This doesn’t belong to me anymore Sah’rah... continue to take care of him for me, okay?” He asked her, walking away from her once again.

Sah’rah held the sword to her chest, shaking her head at the rejection of the legendary weapon. Why would he turn it down? had he resigned himself to death? she couldn’t accept his decision and ran after him, catching up with Tar’vid as he made his way out of the north gate.

“Tar’vid! Wait!” she shouted, catching up with him once he’d stopped, his strides were incredibly quick she noted.

“What is it Sah’rah? I have urgent business and scant time to do it in now” Tar’vid said hurriedly, though he still smiled for her.

“Your sword, why won’t you take it? I’ve kept it safe for you all these years, I always held out hope, even if it was slight” she answered, annoyed he didn’t appreciate that.

“I cannot, Torgard chooses its owner. He’s left me now to serve another... we’re upon different paths Sah’rah... If there’s nothing else, I’ll be on my way.”

Sah’rah lowered the blade, then Tar’vid stole a kiss from her.

“It’s what I came back for in the first place,” he told her cheekily, dashing off before she could hit him.

When had he become so... adorable, the straightforward simpleton she’d met at Brownfield seemed a different man, perhaps this wasn’t Tar’vid after all. She watched him leave though, unwilling to follow him any further if he wouldn’t reconsider. Sah’rah walked away, not stopping until she reached the great hall and dropped down beside the fire pit.

“Something the matter with you?” Bordin asked, sitting down beside her.

She looked up at the bear of a man, hadn’t he heard about his friends impending death at the hands of Godwin?

“And why are you still holding his sword? Surely he’d want it back, they were literally inseparable” he remarked, nodding to the pommel.

Sah’rah sighed, putting the blade down. “He refused it... twice, said they were on different paths now. You seem awfully calm might I say, have you not heard of the duel?” She asked, though Bordin often seemed a little detached.

Bordin chuckled. “I have known Tar’vid a long to know better than anyone, he is most confident in battle. I have never seen him bested in a one-on-one duel, this time I expect it will be no different... mark my words, Godwin is a fool if he underestimates him... though were Tar’vid to fall, it would make the coming months easier on the rest of us.”

Sah’rah wanted to be angry at Bordin for his comment, but she knew a strong showing in the duel would make Languardia’s position shaky. In regards to the duel she knew Tar’vid had been a great fighter, perhaps the best, but he wasn’t the same man that she’d thought dead these past years. She stood up and left without a word, lost in her thoughts. If need be, she’d intervene in the fight... honour be damned. The streets felt strangely busy today Sah’rah thought as she closed the door and sat down heavily on the bed, kicking off her boots, Sah’rah’s feet banged against something wooden on the floor. She picked up the empty box and cursed, she’d left Torgard at the hall. Reaching for her boots once more to return, she noticed something in the corner of her eye, looking around she saw it, Torgard, propped up against the door frame. It seemed the sword really had chosen a new owner. Standing up slowly she picked up the sword, drawing the blade she saw Torgard appear beside her.

“You’ve been ignoring me, haven’t you?” The Dwarf jested, sitting down on her bed.

“Not exactly, I’ve just been busy lately” she replied weakly, looking away from his projection.

“You know I can see everything you see with that necklace on” he chided her, walking around to face her.

“Including, say, a drunken one night stand... you really believe it was just that?” the Dwarf asked, shaking his head in disapproval.

Sah’rah balled up her fists angrily, who the hell was this Dwarf to know her feelings? She turned on him, raising a finger to his face and ready to dress him down, but the Dwarf looked so... sad.

“What’s the matter with you?” she asked, a little more angrily than she’d meant to.

“My connection to Tar’vid is truly gone, I can’t return to him.”

Sah’rah had known that, perhaps since meeting Tar’vid at the gates yesterday. The Dwarf did seem upset over it, perhaps overly so.

“Am I your new owner then?” She asked the sword had just returned to her from the hall after all.

“No... the one you carry inside you will be” Torgard told her, nodding to Sah’rah’s belly.

“I, I don’t think I heard you right” she stammered, hovering her hands over her midriff.

“You’re pregnant, you are aware that’s what happens when you... well, you know,” the Dwarf said in a mocking tone she didn’t appreciate.

Sah’rah lay down on the bed, pulling a pillow over her head. This was turning into the worst day in a long time.

Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.