The Burning Village
I heard screaming outside my window. I woke up with a start to the screaming of ordinary people and the screeching of some kind of beast. I grabbed my Brotherhood armor by my bed, I first slipped on my black cloak with the hood and turned toward the steel plate, a steel plate engraved with the crest of my brothers, an emblem of the god of nightmares, Maugrot; a cracked screaming skull with a dark smoke escaping from the deep dead eyes. I slipped on the chest plate, and then I slipped on my shin guards and boots, the same dark dull color of the chest plate. When my main armor was in place I turned toward the chest at the bottom of my bed, a simple straw bed, the usual supplied by the taverns in this area. I was staying in the “Sparrow’s Heart” a grungy tavern filled with thieves and murderers and other people running from the Council. I fiddled with my key, my hands shaking from the adrenaline my body usually supplied by the sound of death. I was finally able to open the chest. I reached in and pulled out my sword, I grabbed the crescent moon shaped hilt, and weighed the jagged body of the sword on my hand. It was a perfect sword, evenly balanced weight, with a good grip handle, and a shining silver blade. I had cleaned the blade last night from a slight battle with a Council soldier draped in a white cloak who had managed to find me out, he was a weak opponent, and I dispatched him quickly. I remembered him calling my name, “James Miturna,” I hadn’t heard that name for a long time. I shrugged the name away when I started to run, now I was simply Harry Sunderman, and I was fine to be called that. I had planned to move in the morning, but it seemed I may have to move sooner. With the screaming still ringing outside and the screeching still piercing the air I pulled myself away from the chest, grabbed my knapsack with my belongings in, holstered my sword and crept out of the door
The hallway was quiet with one little torch lighting a corner in a golden light. My room was at the end of the hallway facing the stairs, surprisingly all the other doors were closed, yet no light of a lamp escaped the crack at the bottom of the doors. I turned to face my door, crouched down and placed my hand on the ground, “Immaculus blike”, a simple hiding charm, removing the trace of my magic in the room. So if the Council managed to trace me here, the tavern wouldn’t be charged for housing a fugitive. It was in the rules; anyone who stays has to leave no trace they were ever there. And also there was the fact I was practicing a new kind of magic. I was already charged with the death penalty, but if they found out what my project was, they’d keep me alive just to learn my secrets. And I’d rather die and take my finding with me, ten let the Council find it and use it for their own will. A blue shimmer swept through the room, and I made a mental note to not use magic until I was outside in the streets. I turned back toward the stair and crept along the wooden floor, my footsteps were silent, and I never made a shadow flicker past. I looked up at the window at the end of the hall, and saw fire burning a nearby house, still that screeching, but the screaming had hushed. I could taste the scent of death on my tongue, it was still sour but bearable over the many years I had tasted it. I crept across toward the stairs and worked my way down. When I reached the second floor, there was no sound at all, just the wind patting against the windows. Though as I listened closer I could hear soft deep breaths being taken, as if it was sniffing in the fumes of, I was guessing, bodies around it. A shadow flittered past the window just to my right, and instinctively I dove underneath the windowsill. This was why our armor was black, so we can hide when needed. I pulled the black hood over my head, the fabric brushing against the stubble that dotted my chin. When it was clear that whatever it was I had seen had moved on, I crept along again.
Now down on the first floor, I saw why it was so quiet. My guess was right, bodies. All the inhabitants of the tavern were piled up on top of each other like rubbish needed to be taken out. They had obviously been woken up by the screaming and went to see what was going on, and they were met with death. I chuckled at my cheap luck; it was only for my heavy sleeping had I survived, though my brothers will be ashamed. We had been taught that our bodies and mind should always be alert, even during slumber, so even the quietest mouse would wake you up if it stepped too close to your bed. Of course, I had perfected it, but since being on the run, I let it fade. The woods were a noisy place, and if I stayed alert, I would get little rest and would be too tired to venture in the morning. When I saw where the bodies were laid I sighed. They were piled on top of the trap door I was going to use to escape. I crept along to the tavern door which was slightly open, stopped from closing by the head of a bystander, the rest of his body on the other side of the street. The head stared at me with his tongue slumping out of his mouth. To be honest I had to stop myself from laughing, the man looked like a fool, well who can blame him. Most people are a fool when they meet death. I tested the door, it was quiet enough, a slight creaking could be heard, but one that I hoped I could only hear because I was crouching right next to it. I slowly opened the door and moved the head with it with my foot, so it wouldn’t slam shut. When the gap was big enough I slipped through out into the open street. I stay crouched in the little indent in the tavern that acted as a cover for when it rained. I pulled down my hood and squinted at the nearby area. When I had finished scanning the street, I lay my hand in front of me. I felt the air wisp through my fingers, I felt for disturbances, and I could feel none. I kept my hand out in front and whispered, “Sighur bodin” instantly my vision changed. I could see behind walls, and I could see the dying heat of the bodies lying behind them, and I found when I looked around, on the street. I looked for a while longer, yet could see no other heat signature then the last dying person slumped against their chair in their living room. I suspected that he had been watching the fire, studying the dancing embers and the rising flame with the slightly fading smoke leading its trail. He was probably just dozing off after a long night when the thing attacked, presumably without warning, seeming he hadn’t gotten up from his place to fight or protect his wellbeing. I made my way out onto the street. I was met with a faint glow from a flame slowly dying. The lamp posts that usually lighted the way were strewed across the street, the glass smashed and the candle melted, its former flame forever gone. I continued to creep past the houses and the bodies that used to live in them. I continued to creep, still looking for any heat signatures, and still could see none. I pulled my hood back over my head, knocking out my heat vision, there was always a little pinch with magic; it had its rules. I shifted into a dark alley way, if I made my way down it, turned left, and sprinted up the hills into the cover of the Engorn Forest, I should be able to escape unseen. I crept along, feeling the cold wet stone walls against my finger. I had to be quiet, patient and slow, if I made a mistake, whatever it was that massacred these people, would come after me, and I was too tired to fight what could be a long battle. I heard rustling and froze, my blood pumping through my veins, supplying my muscles with the energy that may be wanted soon. I waited while the rustling got louder and steadily louder. I prepared myself to pounce on the intruder, when it came pass the opening, a laborer’s hat floating in the wind. I chuckled to myself, but then stopped myself; the wind I had been passing through wouldn’t be strong enough to blow a hat. I heard a roar of wind and a cloud parted to let the moons light creep through. I took no chances; I drew my sword and sprinted toward the hills.
I sat down and panted, looking down on the village behind the cover of the trees. I had encountered nothing while running, nothing had tried to stop me, and nothing had even seen me. Whatever had attacked had left, it had travelled on. Where I did not know, but I was glad it hadn’t caught me. I stood up and made my way into the forest, I was to move on, further away from the Council, I left the burning village behind, and ventured on. My only wish; whatever had attacked the village, wasn’t Council property.
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