One: Ordered by Gods
The Dirty Half Dozen
Berrona Eoselunday - Berrona Clairesularday
We climbed aboard the airship and my Companions were shocked to see a human they called Pikkett. I also reacted strangely as I got sick to my stomach and my right arm felt like it was on fire. This mysterious man was dressed as a war priest and had news of Domaldi. I leaned heavily against the back wall as the dreadful story unfolded. He spoke of the vile resurrection of Domaldi after his noble death and all to bring shame to his tribe. I could not even spit in anger at the vile knight of Heeroneous named Lokiyar that begat this crime. A stain on the scales of that force for good…
Unexpectedly, I fell asleep quickly…
A tall and muscular human was speaking boldly to a ragged group on their knees and chained to the floor. This inquisitor named Reisman told these six that they would gain death or redemption in a mission for Heeroneous. They would slither in the shadow of a mountain surrounded by an army of brutes near Sunfalls. They were to destroy a mountain and crush the leadership of these Brutes.
My dream faded away to blackness. Flame…screams…pain.
Domaldi sat in a small stone prison cell writing in his journal. A war priest entered his cell. He spoke at length but there was no sound. Pikkett, it was Pikkett. Through the dream I could hear no words and only feel pain. Fire and pain. Domaldi said nothing and no sounds came from this Pikkett. It was clear to me without the sounds that while at first Domaldi wanted to talk to this man, very quickly there would be no hope. His jaw was set like a stone and his arms tied like a knot. Something the war priest had said got under his scales. The longer the priest spoke the higher the wall became. There was only fire now.
Betrayal…Light…darkness…I am dizzy…pain.
A cool wind blew over this dirty group of six as they watched the world from above. Domaldi sat in prayer but he clenched his sword to his chest. His arm burned and his mind seethed. All was silent as they jumped to their destiny.
No wait, come back! I must know more. No! Thunder…silence…the roar of the wind…pain.
Still in silence, the mountain falls and this half dozen stiffen into pride as the morning sun promises them their delivery. As delicately and as crisp as the crack of an egg, one of them says, “As this mountain falls Domaldi, so does your innocence.” A heart as black as mud, a soul twisted by madness. Innocents crushed and trapped in the belly of Sentar to feed the evil coiled inside his mind. Chaos erupts as this little man scurries away from his crime. Domaldi attempted to grab him and protect him from the others. Was he a fool? There was fire in his body and mind; did he want vengeance for himself? Ah, no: truth, hope, and redemption for the others. Ever the true hero seeking the greatest good at his own expense regardless of the cost – he is the fool. Chaos erupts again as brutes attack them in the morning light. True foot soldiers of Heeroneous try to sell their lives dearly as they can and Domaldi rushes to their aid. I watch from above as a hoard approaches these three. I screamed at him in this nightmare to flee back to us that need him. Is Heeroneous the god of fools?
Domaldi looked back as if to run and my spirit lifted. Did he see me? No, he saw the ruined man, Victor, dead from the treachery of stone dweller Vladic. Domaldi turned back to the Brutes and hewed them with the name of his god and Father as his dying breath. An addled egg crushed on the anvil of life…
Drums…blood…blood and more blood on the grass. The smell of flowers and a flash of light. The pain ends…
I awake in a sweat with no breath in my lungs. I gasped. I stand and go into the cool of the night. I thought I saw Victor and reached for my kurki just as my eyes focused and I saw Arek… my Stone Friend”.
He turned and spoke, “Hail Janarl, how fare thee?”
“Poorly, ba rital amil. I dreamt of the Fall of Domaldi surrounded in pain and flame. It was like I was there over his shoulder but useless like a baby bird still in the nest as he fell. What does his Fall mean to my quest – father and son forever beyond the Veil of the Night and I with this mask. A mask without a face is bad luck among my people… and now I carry two.”
“Will you leave us then, Janarl, to track your people?”
“No, I will track with you as I have said and promised and sworn. My mother clearly knew that she would not see me again, hence the Pouch delivered by my Adiya-uncle and its ominous contents. My path is with you and yours until its end. The Web must be re-woven. The war priest Pikkett said there were too many coincidences – I think I agree.”
“Your eyes and your claws and your bow we will need and so you are welcome.”
“Ba rital amil, may I ask you a dire question?”
“Surely, it will not be the last, I fear.”
“The Time of Justice Fell and could not be found by the man Pikkett. The innocent died and cried and suffered under a cloth woven by the Son of the Spear. In spite of that does he sit tonight under the tent of his god, around a fire with his Father and Mother?”
“I do not know and weep as I pray that it might be so.”
I turn away into the shadow to return to bed. I will be unable to sleep for I did not tell my ba rital amil the last flash of my dream that could not have been a dream. All night I rolled that lump of mud in my mind over and over again searching for a twig of a clue. It evaded me like a deer in the spring rain…
Flowers and light and blood. Domaldi walks through a narrow path with a shield and a spear; blood on his head and hands. A bright light ahead but the way is unknown and the path twists and remains so narrow. It is quiet in the way the forest gets just as dawn breaks. There are trees and grass and the smells of the warm and humid forest all around like a blanket laid on you by your mother. Finally, a clearing appears at the end of the path but the light is so bright. Domaldi raises his shield and spear and yells, “Father, I return!” Silence and the smell of flowers. “Father?”