Part 2 - The Ruins

As usual, Tristan had kept mostly silent as he led them up along the stair and past the obstacles. The dream still clogged his thoughts, though he wouldn't admit it, or show any discomfort. It was a good thing that the others had come to expect mostly silence from the woodsman. At the discovery of the gap Tristan frowned, holding his torch out before him to get a glance down the hole before back up and across to the door before turning back to Rickard's words.

"I've got no rope with me, so unless Braithe's got some hidden somewhere I'd say not."

"I don't," Braithe said, and peered across the gap. "And I'll not leap that. What do you expect to find in this tower? Look at the state of it, what use would it be to anyone? It looks as if it hasn't been touched." She shrugged.

"I think we ought to press on. We could wait out the rain, but I've not survived to here only to break my bones on some stair while we check all the corners for dust., so unless one of you knows there's a hidden stack of treasure about..." She leaned against the wall.

Emeric stifled a laugh as Cuthred described the way his father had gone about explaining how to do the deed. He listened, but did not make fun. "To be honest, the first time was terrifying. I think it was the nerves more than anything. The second time it happened to me, there wasn't an issue at all."

He nodded as the man described how he'd rather face an army instead. He shook his head briefly. "I don't pretend to understand women, but I'm pretty sure they're definitely not as daunting as an army." he said, chuckling. "But look, everything comes in due time, you just have to be patient. I was just lucky enough that the girl was keen enough to make the first move."

Emeric seemed lost in thought for a second and shrugged. "Your secret is safe with me." As the conversation turned towards his origins and how and why his family had come to Linden in the first place, the young warrior smiled. "My family were craftsmen back in Velmark. But I think that already at the time, their skill in their craft was diminishing. I heard a big fire erupted in the clanhold's archives and caused dozens of years' worth of knowledge to be lost. From what my father used to tell me, we came to Linden in search of opportunity. And for a time, we were the best smithies in the land once more. I think he... wanted me to take over."

The Velian closed his eyes. "I wish my father was here. There are so many things I now want to ask him." His eyes opened slowly, as he contemplated the scenery outside. "What about you? How long has your family been in Linden and what drove thm there.

"I'd have to agree with her, Rickard. I can't see what purpose there is in crawling about these ruins, unless you think it has something to do with our recent troubles," said Tristan, turning away from the gap as he finished. He held his torch to illuminate where the three stood, but far enough to the side not to keep the brightness out of their eyes. His curiosity wasn't enough to give him a desire to leap over any gaps, and that coupled with the dream nagging at him confirmed his opinion.

"I can't say for sure. They were Norians though, came over long before the Quadan Wars. Family legend says that we used to hold land along the Antler River until Myndill came and drove all the Norians into the mountains. Probably just tales though. Who knows, my line is as likely to have sprung from thralls as from nobles." He smiled. "In those days it didn't matter. All Linden was ripe for the taking, and nobody cared what anybody had been in the old country."

Hearing voices from above, Cuthred glanced up. He cupped his hands around his mouth. "Find anything up there?"

Rikard grunted, a somewhat disgruntled assessment of the situation. "I'm not about to risk any life of limb to satisfy curiosity. Let's head back and discuss whether to brave the weather."


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