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The Tiger and the Storm

The Tiger and the Storm

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Published by Robert Blezard

A short story set in my homebrewed World of Kulan campaign setting for Dungeons and Dragons.

A short story set in my homebrewed World of Kulan campaign setting for Dungeons and Dragons.

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Published by: Robert Blezard on Jan 10, 2013
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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06/20/2015

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THE TIGER AND THE STORM

A WORLD OF KULAN SHORT STORY
By Robert Blezard

PROLOGUE
David had lived on his family‟s stedding at the edge of Davial‟s Hollow for all his eight summers, but he had always been obsessed with the outside world. His mother would often scold him for forgetting about his chores to play „warrior‟ in the Tharwood. But he would simply tell her that a great adventurer has no time for lowly work when there were orcs to chase and dragons to slay. And when the Hermit had come to the Hollow, David had become considerably worse. The Hermit was a strange old man that had taken up residence in an old tower in the Tharwood, near David‟s family stedding. David‟s adventurous spirit often led him to imagine the old man brewing potions and casting spells to charm the squirrels and rabbits that always seemed to follow him everywhere. During that summer and fall, David tried to convince his friend Suzie that the old man of the Tharwood was up to no good. “I tell you, he's a powerful sorcerer come to charm all your puppies and turn them into monsters." "That is the most ignorant thing I've heard you utter." She was always trying to make him feel small and unimportant just because she was a summer older than he was. "My mother has met him and told me that he's the nicest elderly gentleman she's ever met." "Aha! He has ensorcelled your mother,” David crossed his arms over his chest in triumph. “And your puppies are next, Suzie." All of a sudden, she leapt forward and shoved David into a bramble bush behind him. "Oh, I just hate you! Don't ever speak to me again!" With that, she turned and stormed away in a huff. David was absolutely humiliated, a brave warrior defeated in hand to hand combat by a mere girl.

RITE AND WRIT
The autumn solstice had arrived and the leaves of the Tharwood lay scattered about in patches of orange and yellow amongst the carts of the festival grounds. David enjoyed watching the jugglers and acrobats that had traveled all the way across the Hollow from Meriton. They leapt and pranced about making funny faces at the younger children, causing them to squeal with delight at every turn. David knew that the other boys his age would chide him for taking part in kiddy fun. He has so many fond memories of Tiker the Tantalizing, the juggler that he had loved to watch when he was younger. Tiker had referred to the children as „you lovely small ones‟ which was ironic since he had been a halfling and not much larger than most of his audience. Thinking of Tiker made David sad. The halfling juggler had passed away five years ago during the cold winter months and it hurt him immensely when he'd learned of the juggler's passing. He had known that the jolly little halfling had been getting long in tooth but it seemed so sudden, so pointless. The spry little fellow had years of life left but the cold has no mercy in Davial‟s Hollow. David cracked a smile as one of the tumblers lost his footing and tripped over one of his fellows. The kids howled with laughter at the sight as the young man struggled to his feet and bowed graciously to the children gathered as if they were the sons and daughters of royalty, instead of farmers and woodcutters. He slowly backed away from the ring of children as not to break the actor‟s concentration. Then he spun about and strolled through the rest of the festival. His mind quickly turned to others things. One thing in particular, today he took part in the Rite. He had waited almost fourteen and a half summers for this day and he wasn‟t going to be late. The Rite was his passage into apprenticeship with one of the local craftsmen. He wanted to be Marrab the Lantern‟s choice, as did all the other boys taking the Rite. If Marrab chose you, it is a one way ticket out of the Hollow. Marrab‟s a merchant and minstrel by trade who has made it big but comes back to the Hollow each year for the Rite. Because of his station and fame he always goes first, always. Yes, David had waited a long time for this day. He made his way past the tables of sweetmeats and the other food that the ladies of the Hollow had so carefully prepared for this year‟s solstice. Mrs. Gawon tried to coax him with one of his old favorites – sugar leaves. He shook his head and pulled out his pockets so that she could see that he hadn‟t any coin to buy it with, then he quickly moved on, passing the stalls and tents of several local merchants from all over the Hollow. No point in upsetting to the old woman, for he had lost interest in such treats a long time ago. He had lost a lot inside since his mother had died three summers ago. He had never realized how much she had meant to him until she was gone. His father had remained emotionless about her death and had immediately set upon making David his entire existence. He was determined to either apprentice the boy or marry him off once he was old enough. And if David didn‟t become apprenticed this year during the Rite he‟d be doomed to marry a local girl and spend the rest of his days stuck in the Hollow.

Such thoughts made him hurry along faster than he should have, running through the Dancing Circle recklessly. He didn‟t see the girl in front of him until it was too late. He slammed into her at a full speed and the two went down in a heap right in the middle of the dance. Startled gasps quickly turned into giggles and then full hysterics. David‟s ears were burning at the sound and he knew that he‟d never live this down. Then he noticed the girl he had ran into. “Oh no.” “David! You clod, you- you- you‟ve ruined my dress you brute! Won‟t you ever grow up?” Suzie stared at him, her eyes burning into him. This was one argument he could not win. Suzie had grown out of her tomboy stage fairly quickly but still had a quick temper. The two had grown apart over the years and Suzie had embraced her womanhood without question. She went to every dance and event, desperately trying to catch herself a suitor. Not that she was an unattractive girl. In fact, she was the beauty of the Hollow and every young man‟s head turned when she went by. Well, almost everyone, David did see how beautiful she had become but could never get past the fact that this was the girl he had roughhoused with only six to seven years ago. No, David still saw the same dirty little girl whose headlocks had been legendary. He brushed himself off and offered his hand to help her up. But she just scowled at him and took the hand of Jeffrey Winkler, a local boy she fancied as of late. David rolled his eyes and shook his head in disgust. “Well, I‟d say I‟m sorry but you probably would just spit in my face. So I‟ll get out of your way and if all goes well at the Rite today, out of your life as well.” He started to push through the crowd that had gathered but Suzie wouldn‟t let it go. “You get back here and take your punishment like a man! I demand a Challenging.” She turned and batted her eyes at the Winkler boy. “Jeffrey, will you be my champion?” “It would be an h-“ David started laughing. He couldn‟t help himself. “A Challenging, where the hell do you think this is Suzie, Cabaret? The Challenging is not the way of the Hollow, you know that.” David turned and locked eyes with his old playmate. “I am not going waste my time fighting Jeffrey just so you can feel like a Lady in the Baron‟s Court. You‟re a farmer‟s daughter, Suzie, not a princess.” David‟s words cut through the air like a sword and the crowd went silent. Jeffrey stepped towards him, rolling up his sleeves. “Why you crass little bastard! I‟m going-” “You‟re going to do nothing, Jeffrey. You come one step closer and I swear I‟ll kill you.” David kept his voice low and calm in response to Jeffrey‟s threat. The boys and girls gathered around backed away slowly. They knew that tone it was the same as David‟s father. It said „I dare you to make this personal.‟ Jeffrey stared into David‟s cold blue eyes and began to shake. As he took a step back Suzie grabbed his arm and spun him around. “You coward, don‟t let him intimidate you! I know him, his bark is worse then his bite! Ever since his mother died-” David lost his temper. “Don‟t you dare bring her into this, you little harlot! My mother was twice the

woman you will ever be!” His voice rose above everyone within thirty paces and a few of the younger children scurried away frightened and crying. Raising his voice finally attracted the attention of several adults near the circle that had seen this sort of adolescent cawing before and had been content to let it play out. Realizing that it was getting out of hand, they quickly moved in to keep Jeffery from charging into what surely would have been the beating of his life. Suzie‟s mother pulled her aside and scolded her for acting improper and unladylike. Andro Rourak, the local blacksmith, pulled David away from the circle. “Come along lad. I‟ll escort you to the Rite. And don‟t you give me any lip, you hear?” “Andro, I might get angry once in while and can even be a little dense, but I‟m not that stupid.” “Ha!” The dwarven smith slapped the boy on the back as the two of them went down the path towards Ritehill. “That‟s a good lad. Now what by my ancestors‟ beards do you think that was all about, hmm?” “Same as always, I wasn‟t watching where I was going and chaos was the result. Of course, if it had been any one else but Suzie.” “Aye, she fancies you lad.” “What! No offence Andro but that‟s insane. She can‟t stand me… she hates my guts. You didn‟t hear what she said about my mother.” “Listen lad, I know what I saw and heard. Do you? She never actually said anything bad about your mother. You cut her off before she could finish. Aye, it did get out of hand but she was simply baiting the hook lad. And hooked you she did. I‟ve never seen you get so flustered before and I cannot believe that you didn‟t get a little charge out of it.” David looked at the old dwarf like he‟d gone completely off his tilt. He turned away from Andro and started down the path towards Ritehill. As the smithy stepped in behind him, David started laughing. The smithy stopped in his tracks, shaking his head. “Hmm, I could be wrong.” David would have let his feet dispel his caution the rest of the way to the Rite if Andro hadn't been there to contain him. Andro knew the lad had hopes of winning a place with Marrab the Lantern and also knew it wouldn't happen. David's father, Jacob, had made Marrab promise not to pick the lad for he had no intention of letting his son out of his sight for even a day let alone a lifetime of wandering as a minstrel. No, Marrab would choose Mikael Sanlans this year. The minstrel told him so just last night while having Andro put new shoes on his gray stallion. Andro would choose David, at Jacob's request, for he would be the only other craftsman that David would accept as his mentor. Even then the next year would be a hard one on the lad. Smithing is hard work and David was still young even though he towered over most his age. Andro doubted that David would ever be a master smith but he'd be a suitable replacement for the old dwarf. Andro made no secret that his choice this year would take over his shop at the end of the mentoring. He longed to see his homeland again before death came

calling and was determined to leave for Milo in the Greystone Mountains the day after David's mentoring was over. The lad would then be on his own to do the work, while his father would guide the finances of the smithy. "Almost there," David quickened his pace and the old dwarf was soon falling behind. The path meandered up slowly through the tall trees of the edge of Tharwood coiling around Ritehill as a serpent would its prey. Andro soon had to stop and catch his breath, his heart racing. The last thing he wanted was to be remembered as the old bearded fool who died trying to keep up with some young human lad whose energy was legendary. David watched the old dwarf with both amusement and concern. But then once the smithy recovered and started to walk the steep incline again the boy's tongue, which was also legendary, couldn't help itself. "Come on Andro, I'll race you to the top." “Lad, I might be set in my ways and can even be a little dense, but I‟m not that stupid.” David smirked at the retort he had used earlier. He couldn't stand the wait anymore and took off up the side off the hill dodging through the trees with precise timing and grace. Ritehill was more of a large mound than a hill but the name Ritehill had been chosen for the mound ages past. The local‟s of Davial‟s Hollow had carved the path up Ritehill to allow easier access when it was chosen to hold the Rite. That was more than eighty years ago. Now the path was so well worn that even old Charlie Finster could make it up the path, with a little help. Of course, Finny, as the local youngsters called him, had been retired from active craftsmen status for years. But Finny would come every year, regardless, eyeing the boys, as if he was going to choose one of them and reopen his old pottery shop. David had found Ritehill deserted except for Marrab, Tom Balin and Alekk Sanlans. Tom Balin was the village‟s mayor and constable; not that he had much need for the second title. Nothing exciting ever happened in Davial‟s Hollow. David wasn‟t surprised to see Mr. Sanlans there but was surprised to see Marrab. It wasn‟t like the minstrel to be so early for the Rite. Usually, he kept everyone waiting and in suspense. David didn‟t like it. Then David‟s father came up the other side of Ritehill. The man he had come to dread, as much as love looked right at him startled. He hadn‟t expected David to be there. None of them had. Marrab looked at David and the boy knew. He knew his father had gotten to the minstrel, insisting that Marrab not choose his son in the Rite. No, David didn‟t like this at all. “David,” his father saw David‟s face and that he knew the boy had guess what had transpired. “You had to know I wouldn‟t allow you to leave Davial‟s Hollow. I need you here, son.” Blunt and to the point. That was his father‟s way. It was his way too. There wasn‟t any doubt about that. They were father and son. Anyone could have guessed it. Yet, David held his tongue keeping his rage inside least he say something improper and get him banned from the Rite.

Andro came huffing up the path on the other side of the hill. He looked at the scene unfolding and held his tongue as well. David stared his father down. He would spend the rest of his life under his father‟s boot. No matter what the outcome of the Rite, David had made his choice. He was leaving the Hollow whether his father liked it or not. Soon dozens of craftsmen started coming up the path of Ritehill. A gong sounded in the center of the village calling the boys old enough for the Rite to their future. The boys weren‟t as eager to come knowing that this would mean the end of their carefree days and the beginning of their apprenticeship. Even Mikael Sanlans didn‟t want to do this. David knew the secret conference on the hill obviously had been to ensure that Marrab would choose Mikael and not David. That was the part that made David madder than anything. Mikael didn‟t want to leave his home and his family and travel with Marrab. He wanted to stay a boy for another year or at least be apprenticed to someone who wouldn‟t pick up and move him away from his mother. Mikael was a mommy‟s boy. Mikael‟s father couldn‟t stand it. This would be the boy‟s test into manhood and he‟d most likely fail miserably. The look on Marrab‟s face told David that he didn‟t like the choice either. David‟s father had intimidated the minstrel who was known more for his booming voice then his fighting skills. Marrab sighed as the gathered craftsmen waited for the last few boy‟s to climb Ritehill to what they considered their impending doom. Mikael took up the rear looking back, as if hoping his mother would come and rescue him from this horrible fate. She wouldn‟t though. Mikael‟s father was a hard man and David considered himself lucky that his father wasn‟t a horrible drunk who beat him. Mikael was damn lucky to be getting out of that house and David thought someone should rescue Mrs. Sanlans as well as her son. Now she would take the brunt of the man‟s fists and fury. Mikael came to the top of the path and walked over to where David and the rest of the boys stood, that were old enough to take the Rite. Jeffrey Winkler stood several paces from David eyeing him smugly. Jeffrey had been old enough for the Rite two winters ago but his parents had delayed his entry into the Rite in order to get him apprenticed to their own shop, the local general store. It was an easy job. It suited Jeffrey who would one day inherit the store from his parents. Jeffrey‟s older brother James had been the stores previous apprentice. James had moved across the Hollow to Tylen‟s Point in the spring, on the shore of Lake Qualitian, to open his own shop. David didn‟t like the Winklers but that wasn‟t hard in Davial‟s Hollow. No one really liked them for them. People liked them for their money and prestige in the community. Jeffrey‟s father, Hugh, was an all right fellow when away from his wife. She was that families equivalent of Mr. Sanlans. Loud, obnoxious, cruel and usually tipsy. She didn‟t have the same sort of temper though. She intimidated in other ways best left to the imagination. David didn‟t feel sorry for Jeffrey though. He was as bad as his mother, and so was

his older brother. How Hugh Winkler put up with them was a mystery? Most of the other boys taking part in the Rite were from the steadings around Davial‟s Hollow. They would be apprenticed out to other local steddings in an attempt to match up the boys with young available girls. It was like a forced courtship for they boys. Neither they nor their fathers had any decision in the matter. Each boy‟s mother had chosen her son‟s „apprentice-courtship‟ months even years earlier. This is what scared David the most for he was one of those boys. If his father had agreed to supply David to some mother‟s daughter, he would be doomed. Of course, he wouldn‟t be doomed either way. He wouldn‟t stay no matter what anyone said or did. Tom Balin was just about to bring the Rite to order, as the Hermit came up the path of Ritehill. Everyone stared in shock at the man only known as the Hermit. Very few people spoke or saw the old, snowy-bearded man during the year. He was as much an enigma now as when David was eight. Of course, David didn‟t think the old man was an evil sorcerer anymore. Most thought the Hermit to be some sort of hedge wizard or mystic. Even David didn‟t know what to think of him. Regardless of the rumor mongering of Suzie‟s mother, he definitely wasn‟t a good-natured old gentleman that you sat down to tea with. David had made the mistake of sneaking into the old Hermit‟s tower in the dead of night when he was eleven. He had still been in that stage where he looked for adventure around every tree trunk swinging his wooden sword at invisible goblins and worse. The old Hermit had surprised him near the bottom of the tower‟s spiral staircase, giving him the fright of his eleven years. He had refused to go into the Tharwood for nearly six months after that. Then his mother had died. After that, the woods didn‟t scare him anymore and neither did the Hermit. He spent a lot of time in the Tharwood wandering through its fallen branches and natural silence. Of course, this had meant running into the Hermit from time to time. The old fossil tried to look frightening but David wasn‟t buying it. Soon they had learned to tolerate each other‟s presence. David would wander the fringes of the wood or nap in one of its many clearings. The Hermit kept to himself and soon they had pattern worked out where they would pass by each other within mere minutes without even seeing each other. David hadn‟t seen the Hermit up close in almost a year and a half. Yet there he was, coming up the path of Ritehill. He walked with a long gnarled staff with several strange pelts dried and hanging from the top of the staff. He was dressed in a brown robe with a course rope as a belt. Dozens of pouches hung from the rope swing to and fro like squirrels hanging from a tree limb. The old man‟s beard was neatly groomed, which David found intriguing. All the times he had seen the Hermit, the man‟s beard had been a bird‟s nest of hair, small twigs and bits of food. Tom Balin stared in shock as the old man put out his hand to shake the mayor‟s hand. The Hermit stared at Mr. Balin, waiting for him to move. Then just as the mayor moved his hand the hermit laughed walking past patting the other man‟s arm as he passed. Mr. Balin looked as though he‟d just seen a ghost turning white as a sheet. The Hermit walked to the center of Ritehill planting his staff firmly in the ground.

“I have come for my apprentice.” The Hermit‟s words rose above all those gathered on Ritehill. “Excuse me,” the mayor had recovered his courage enough to talk. “But the Rite is for the citizens of Davial‟s Hollow only.” “How long have I lived in the Tharwood?” The Hermit fixed his eyes upon the mayor. “I-I‟m not sure,” Mr. Balin faltered under the man‟s gaze. “About five years I believe. Why?” “Six and a half, really.” The Hermit pulled at his beard eyeing the boys like a vulture would a rotting corpse. “And you tell me that after six and a half years, I‟m still not welcome in your community. Hmm, is that it?” “Uh, of course you‟re welcome. What I meant w-.“ Mr. Balin was sweating buckets. “I know what you meant, sir. But I don‟t take offense. After all, I am a bit of recluse. But I believe I have lived here long enough to take part in this little Rite of yours. If you don‟t agree then we could always bring in the nearest magistrate to handle the dispute.” “No, no! It‟s all right,” Tom Balin didn‟t like it when the magistrate from Meriton came to visit. “You can take part in the Rite if you so choose.” “Fine, fine. I knew we could all be civil about this. Now, how does this work?” David couldn‟t help but smile. The old bugger was making this a lot more fun then David had thought it would be considering his options. “Well, since you‟re new to the Rite, you will have to go last. Unless you have a written statement from a boy‟s parents that allows you to choose him before anyone else. Do you have such a document?” “I do.” Everyone stared in disbelief as the old Hermit took out a old rolled up piece of parchment and handed it to the mayor. For a moment, the mayor just looked at it. The parchment was sealed with wax, an emblem clearly marked on it. David couldn‟t see the symbol, of course, but he knew a wax seal when he saw one. Mr. Balin cut open the seal with a small knife and read the document with several of the craftsmen looking over his shoulder. “This cannot be,” the mayor was stunned. “Yet here is the family mark and these signatures looks authentic.” David eyes widened in shock, as the mayor looked in his direction passing the document to David‟s father. Larren Allethwend of Cabaret has been given full Writ of Authority over David Herron of Davial‟s Hollow. The document is signed by both Mr. Allethwend and Felicia Herron.” “That‟s impossible!” David‟s father was livid. He read the document over and over pacing from one side of Ritehill to the other. “By the North Gods, this is dated before David‟s birth! How is that possible? She couldn‟t have signed this, not unless-.” The realization of what his wife had done sunk in. She had known she would give birth to a boy and

that she‟d name him David. And she had known that Larren would come to Davial‟s Hollow to claim her son. And he saw the priest‟s signature and knew that David was not his son. “How? Why?” David watched as his father, the only father he‟d ever known, feel to his knees weeping. Larren Allethwend stood above David‟s fallen father. “Jacob Herron,” the man‟s voice was now hard and cold. “You must have suspected. Felicia wasn‟t like other people. She was gifted. And as a result she was barren. There wasn‟t any way for her to have children, yet here David stands.” “It was a mistake,” Jacob pounded his fists against the ground. “The healers, the priests, they made a mistake! She wasn‟t barren!” David felt something building inside him. It fear terror mixed with brimming excitement. Then it happened. He felt something touch his soul. It was like the wind blew through him, thunderclouds raging in his head. A storm of divine proportions roared at him as the great tigers of the Storm Jungle. He was sure his chest would explode until he felt a hand on his head. “Peace child,” he could hear Larren‟s voice in his head. “You must be at peace. Fight the storm, fight the beast inside you. It is not time for you to know that power. Peace child.” David was on the ground sweating his heart racing as he came out of whatever it was that tore through him. Yet, he knew what it was. It was magic. Magic burned in him hotter than any forge. He knew this somehow. But still he didn‟t know. “What am I?” Larren kneeled next to David his eyes closed tight. He held David‟s head between both hands. “Tell me what you saw!” Larren‟s words were urgent. “I-I saw a r-raging storm in the sky un-unlike anything ever seen before. A-and I saw a beast from someplace called the Storm Jungle. I‟m not even sure where that is, but I know it somehow.” “What was this beast?” Larren‟s words were calmer as the boy came further out of his trance. “A tiger,” David‟s vision cleared some more. His father was staring at him in awe and fear. “I saw hundreds of the great tigers of the Storm Jungle. They roared my name in unison. They spoke to me.” “What did they say, boy? Tell me.” Larren was in an almost trance-like state, his words echoing across Ritehill. “They said I am one with the sky and slave to the earth and its creatures. I am the tiger‟s claw and the storm‟s wind! I am the tiger‟s teeth and the storm‟s thunder! I am the tiger‟s soul and the storm‟s lightning! I am the Tiger and the Storm!” David‟s words lifted into the autumn sky booming louder than any boy‟s voice should be. The people of Davial‟s Hollow ran from Ritehill in fear. Even David‟s father ran from the voice. It shattered his will.

Alekk Sanlans died as the fear crushed his heart. Only Andro Rourak stood next to Larren Allethwend staring at the boy who only moments before had been joking with the old dwarf. He knew what David was and, yet even he still doubted his senses. “He is touched by the North Gods, isn‟t he?” “Yes,” Larren keep his hands on David‟s chest as the boy fell into a deep peaceful sleep. “He is blooded.” “His mother was a god?” Andro shook his head in disbelief. “No,” Larren sighed watching as David dreamt of running with tigers through the jungles of the south. His mother was half-fey. She was partially blooded. Felicia believed that her mother‟s father was Sanh.” “The Stormmaker,” Andro knelt beside David with a new respect for the boy and his power. “If she was so strong then why did she die?” “Good dwarf, I know your curious but these questions are for David to ask, not you. Come Andro, you must come with me to Cabaret and help me teach the boy.” “I can‟t leave my smithy,” Andro didn‟t like where this was going. “I have nearly a dozen orders to fill and David was supposed to be my apprentice. Now what am I going to do?” “Why didn‟t you run with the others?” “Hmm, what? What‟s that got to do with anything?” “Sanh has chosen you too, Andro. I can teach David about magic but who‟s going to tech him a trade. And who‟s going to teach him to fight, if you don‟t?” “You‟re serious!” “And besides, the villagers will not want you around after this. After all, you are one of the long-lived races with a natural immunity to magic. They will be suspicious of you, at best. Completely hostile, at worst.” Andro thought for a moment. He‟d lived in Davial‟s Hollow most of his life. He‟d watched as the humans became old and died and new children were born. They would treat him differently even though they didn‟t have reason to. But it was crazy, what could he teach the great grandson of the Stormmaker, a god‟s great grandson. “You have to do it, Andro. Can you risk him falling into the hands of darkness? He needs you. He needs you more than he‟ll ever need me.” “All right, let‟s say I do this. And I‟m not saying I will but if I did then I‟d like some say as to where we take the lad.” “What do you mean?” “Come on, man! Think! You said it yourself… he‟s blooded! He isn‟t completely human and I don‟t think a human city is the best place to guide him. Even if he is the great grandson of Sanh and I‟m not saying I believe that, but if the lad is then we‟d better keep him away from those high and mighty priests. I know the

lad pretty well and I don‟t think he wants to become an acolyte or whatever in the Church of Sanh.” “You have a point. So where do you suggest we h-, um, take him?” “Well, if I can‟t stay here then I‟d like to go home for a while. See my kin. Have you ever been to the Greystone Mountains?” Before Larren could answer the noise of the villagers coming back to Ritehill rose through the air. They came with rakes and shovels and pitchforks. They came as a mob enraged by fear. “We‟ll decide later,” Larren looked at the dwarf unwavering. “Are you in or are you out?” “I‟m in,” Andro stared over the edge of the hill. The villagers had torches and a few hunting hounds with them as well. He couldn‟t believe that these people, people he‟d lived with for two generations would do this. Larren was right, they‟d never accept him now. “Damn, I wish I had my axe.” “What‟s it called?” Larren closed his eyes concentrating. “Uh, Foecleaver,” Andro lifted his arm and there it was in his hand. “How‟d you? On second thought I don‟t want to know.” “There coming up the path, we have to go now!” Larren grabbed David‟s around the torso while pulling the dwarf to the center of Ritehill. “Hey now, no need to be rude. I‟m com-“ The mob of Davial‟s Hollow came to the top of Ritehill to find it barren. Only the hint of almonds in the air and scorch marks on the earth told them of the magic Larren Allethwend of Cabaret had used to teleport his charges away. The mob of Davial‟s Hollow ran screaming from Ritehill refusing to ever set foot on the mound again.

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