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Part 2 - The Ruins

 
Cuthred busied himself dusting the fallen ash from his gear and made an attempt to soothe his mount. "'Tis an ill day when I would rather wake to this than stay sleeping." he says shaking his head with disgust. As he laces up his leather jerkin and buckles his sword belt the tower can be felt to shake from the rumble of thunder and the rain can be heard to increase its relentless pounding on the stone walls without.

"I see the weather favors us this day as well. What playful moods the gods have had of late."

Rikard awoke to the familiar dull aches of a body with too many nights spent on the campaign. The lingering odor of wood smoke evoked memories of well-cured ham and freshly coddled eggs, but the reverie lasted only as long as it took the swordsman to open his eyes. Hearing that the rain is still pounding the structure, he grudgingly sat up and checked his armor to make sure it had thoroughly dried.

"Unless any of you are keen to get wet again so soon, I suggest we explore the extent of this tower," he offered to his companions by way of morning greeting.

Tristan sat bolt upright with a gasp, both of his hands grasping at his stomach frantically for a split second. His eyes flicked around the tower rapidly, though he himself looked disoriented. It seemed to take a moment for him to get his bearings and let go of the armor covering his stomach, both hands raising to rub his face vigorously and slide through his shaggy, unkempt hair.

"Bloody hell, that was a vivid... dream," he said. His eyes began to scan their surroundings a second time, though this time a frown was painted on his face and his expression was a mixture of concentration and curiosity as opposed to disorientation.

"A dream about this tower, then?" Braithe asked, still lounging on her side, eyes closed. She hoists up, looking at Tristan and stretching her neck to either side. "And oddly specific? Most of my dreams are much less gory and much less coherent. More a portent than a dream, I suppose, though I haven't had much truck with fortunetellers. What was yours about? Mine had half a dozen not-very-bright fellows who decided to take on the whole Quadan nation here and that turned out about as well as you'd expect. It gave me the distinct impression that if we do intend to search this tower, we ought to please mind their vengeful spirits. Why can't you fellows ever take me anywhere nice?"

She says all this as she crawls out of the furs, moving to the horses. She smiles across at Emeric as she rummages through the saddlebags, looking for something to eat.

Emeric's eyes met Braithe's gaze and returned her smile warmly. He paused, wondering briefly if he should say anything. Instead, the Velian guessed that she was hungry, handing her one of the baskets of dried fruit from the Quadan camp as well as some of the deer jerky they'd taken from the raiders. "Can't say I had any dreams, but it was a good night." he said with a smile.

Eating some jerky, the warrior scanned the rooms they explored at night time, giving each one another look, wondering if he'd missed anything the other day.

Tristan ceased his examination of the room they were in and turned his eyes to Braithe as he listened to her words, his brow arching at the end of her statement. Standing, he brushed at his armor randomly to no avail and moved over to his own horse to give it a light pat on the head. He was silent throughout, seeming contemplative as he went about the morning routine before finally turning back to Braithe.

"We had the same dream, then. It was not pleasant. I felt as though I was there, getting a spear through my own belly."

Cuthred looks on with a furrowed brow as Braithe and Tristan discuss their dreams. At length he snorts and spits on the ground. "Talk of dreams. Such speak is normally for wet nurses and babes." For a few moments it seems his sentiments have ceased at insulting, but then he sighs and takes a deep breath and continues.

"But my dreams were plagued with these visions also."

Rikard's somewhat grudging acceptance of the morning was pushed rudely aside by the talk of unpleasant sleeping hours. He took in the faces of his companions one by one, soaking in their troubled expressions; the chain shirt he had been gathering moments before lay forgotten for the moment on the ground; steel could not protect from the shadows of distant memory.

"The spirits of my ancestors are strong. Strong too are the towers they built to defend the lands. But equally strong are the horse-riders, and against them Stromland was sorely tested. It took the might of all Rysylis to put the Quadan back in their place, and not before a great number of valiant deaths such as you dreamed."

Rikard's eyes grew distant, searching the ragged tapestries for further clues, but in his heart he felt the valor and sacrifice even if the fabric was no longer whole to recount the tale.

The Velian warrior took in Rikard's facial expression, and only after a long pause did he then speak up: "If you'd like, I can open the vanguard of our little search party."

Rikard nodded, at last hefting the weight of his chain shirt and pulling it over his head. As he settled the armor about his shoulders and hips, he gave the door a contemplative look. "I would prefer not to have to leave someone to guard the horses. While but a few days ago I would not think it necessary, under the odd circumstances..." He left the specifics of his concern unspoken, yet his eyes drifted to the heavy doors, seeking some way they might be barred or barricaded.




 

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