Crucible Vows

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Chapter 8

As a knight of Obrenor, I learned to sleep lightly. As such, it only took me mere moments to wake from slumber and fully armor up when the shouts of fire filled the tavern. Exiting my room with shield in hand and my sword by my side, I ran down the stairs to make sure that all patrons were able to leave safely.

A beam once fell and I blocked it with my shield and threw it off for a family to get out of the door. I was the last one out. As I began to check on the people, I found the Natale’s staring at the Winter Tavern and Inn with sorrow in their eyes. I began to walk towards them until I saw several shadows run from the back of the building.

“Catch those men!” I ordered to several other knights. “They may have started this.”

“Yes Captain!” The others replied and took off towards the shadows.

“Elora?” I heard as I turned back towards the Natale’s.

Mr. and Mrs. Natale began to search for the young Elf who had helped them in the tavern for a while. My eyes scanned the crowd through my helmet, but I didn’t see the young woman with short brown hair and long pointed ears.

“Elora!” Mr. Natale called.

“Is she still in there?” His wife asked in fright.

Without hesitation, Mr. Natale began to head towards the building. I ran over and grabbed his shoulder, pulling him back. And without saying a word, I went into the inferno instead and began to search. I knew she didn’t sleep in any of the guest rooms of the inn. So, I went to the back area of the inn and quickly found a door being blocked by a bookcase that was now beginning to burn from the fire. Running over, I pushed against the shelf and it began to shift. After a bit, I managed to get it out of the way enough to cause it to fall to the ground.

I grabbed the door handle, feeling the heat radiate through my glove, but the door still wouldn’t budge. I didn’t have time to figure out why. For all I knew, Elora was probably suffocating from the smoke in her room. And seeing that her door had been blocked told me plenty. She had been targeted and set up to be killed here. I wasn’t going to let that happen.

Unsheathing my sword, I raised it high and chopped at the wood around the hinges until it hung to them weakly. Taking a few steps back, I ran and hit the door with my shoulder until it broke free and fell to the ground. Entering the room, I saw her. She was motionless against the floor and I barely caught her eyes closing as I rushed over to her. Unhooking my cape, I draped it over her body and lifted her into my arms.

I needed to find an exit fast. I began to run to the front again, but the way had been blocked off by burning debris. Cracking from above caught my attention as more burning debris fell. I crouched over and covered Elora’s body with mine to protect her from the falling coals. Glancing up, I noticed a window straight ahead. I sprinted forward and used my shield to protect the young woman in my arms as I broke through and rolled forward. Fresh cool air filled my lungs and a sense of relief filled my body. It didn’t take long for the Natale’s to run over to me.

“Thank you, Luna.” Mrs. Natale said as she lifted my cape of Elora’s face. “I’m glad she’s safe.”

I let out a cough as the smoke in my lungs burned. “I think this was deliberate. Her door was blocked so she couldn’t get out.”

“I knew that people here didn’t like her simply because she was an Elf.” Mr. Natale said with sorrow in his voice. “But I didn’t think they would go to such extremes.”

I forced myself to stand up. “I’m going to take her with me and get her someplace safe. If I stay with her, most people will think twice before trying to harm her.”

“Thank you, Luna.” Mrs. Natale repeated.

I paused before I turned to leave. “Is there anything I can do to help you rebuild?”

“We’ll be alright.” Mr. Natale reaffirmed. “My wife and I were thinking it was time for us to retire. Maybe move to a new home that’s more welcoming. We have enough saved to be able to get where we need to be.”

Carefully setting Elora down, I reached to my side and pulled a pouch from my belt. It clanked with gold coins that I carried in case I needed it, but that wasn’t often. I held it out to the older couple. They looked at the coin and back to me. I insisted and Mr. Natale finally took the pouch.

“That’s for taking care of me and her.” I explained. “You two did so much for the both of us that I want to make sure you are cared for.”

Mr. Natale smiled at me once more before I picked Elora back up and began to walk into the night. It wasn’t too long before I arrived at the local law house. When I entered, I found the place to be quiet. Suddenly exhausted from the fire, I walked over to one of the open cells and placed Elora on the bed. The door remained unlocked as I exited and sat down in the chair next to it. My eyes drooped and I slowly allowed myself to sleep.

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