Monday, October 4, 2010

Chapter Four

Byelbog kept his eyes on Lanbrott as the setting sun sent gashes of light across the sky Jaromil poked his head out of the tent, saying “Byelbog lets play Akhetian Speed again.”

Byelbog woke from his fixation on the town. “What?”

“I want to play Akhetian Speed,” Jaromil said.

“You’re not bored of it yet?” Byelbog asked.

“No! Come on, pleeeeeeeease?”

Byelbog sighed, “Alright.”

He climbed into the wagon, letting Wilder take over once more. Ceslav was already dealing the cards. “If he wins one more time I’m going to tie him to the back of the wagon,” Ceslav said pointing at the eager Jaromil. Byelbog simply shook his head, and took his seat.

That night, stopped near one of the many farms just outside of town, Byelbog sat off on his own, Jaromil played with a bug he found. Ashen was heading into town to try and draw a crowd for tomorrow's performance. Ceslav had disappeared shortly after they arrived.

In Lanbrott, a cloaked man darted into a side street hoping to avoid the rapidly growing crowd. He exited the other side of the ally right into a section of the mob. Their cries of alarm sent his feet into motion. As the screams fell behind him he peeked back. His escape stopped short when he slammed into Ashen. His cloak flew as they tumbled. Ashen quickly regained his footing. The man rolled away from Ashen. As he stood up he glared at the cloak now behind his new obstacle. Soon the crowd caught up with him. His red eyes broke contact with Ashen’s spinning around he pulled a torch from a nearby wall and took a swig from the skin at his side. Than he turned to the advancing crowd holding the torch in front of him sprayed forth a massive flame setting several people alight. When Ashen looked back the man was gone. He bent over and retrieved the well used cloak, examining it quickly before darting down the alley after him.

After several minutes of wandering through the town, taking one educated guess as to the man's destination after another, he found a group of boys laughing. As he approached he realized they were laughing at one of the boys whose clothing was singed, still patting the singed bits down as though he wasn't quite sure the fire was really out. Several of the boys scurried off when Ashen moved from his alley to theirs, but the singed one was too distracted to escape.

Ashen grabbed the boy by his collar as he tried to run and asked “Where's our fire-breathing friend gone?”

The singed boy just shook his head no. Ashen rolled his eyes and pressed the boy against the wall by his throat, his skeletal right hand digging into his neck with his gloves. "I really don't have time for this, kid," he said, pushing him up off the ground.

"He went north, up towards the markets!" the boy said, panic creeping into his voice.

"Y'know," Ashen said, smiling and pulling a knife out of his long, red coat, "They say the reason that little boys lie is because they're unhappy with something. Are you unhappy?" he asked, pointing the knife at the boy's face. The boy was dead silent. Ashen smiled wider and slipped the knife into the boy's gaping mouth, pushing it up against the edge of his lips and tugging slightly against them without breaking the skin. "Let's put a smile on that face," Ashen said, grinning wickedly.

"No!" the boy shouted, his voice garbled a bit by the knife in his mouth. Ashen pulled the knife out and tilted his head towards the boy, listening intently. "He went east, out of town!" the boy said, "Please don't hurt me."

Ashen dropped the boy to the ground and turned east, glancing back over his shoulder to shout "Bearing false witness is a sin!" before disappearing down the alley.

Ashen found the man hidden behind a nearby barn. The man immediately took a defensive position and asked "Who are you?"

“Lost and found services. Is this yours?” Ashen tossed him the cloak, “Who're you?"

“My name's Vanagandr,” the man said.

“I'm Ashen, wonderful to meet you, mind telling me how you managed to get so popular around town?" Ashen asked.

"It wasn't my fault-" Vanagandr started, but Ashen cut him off, shuffling the four of spades out of his deck and saying "Of course not, when you were a little boy, did you ever wish you could run away and join the circus?"

***

He felt a bead of sweat roll down his brow. His hand gripped the hilt of the sword. The target stumbled down a nearby ally. The townsman was clearly drunk. He screamed for his legs to stop, but they wouldn’t listen. His heart started to pound against his chest when he spotted the man leaning over in the ally. Pleading for it to stop his body moved in for the kill. He begged his hands to listen to him. Refusing his wishes they slipped the blade into the townsman’s chest over and over. Warm blood ran down his arms the weight of the body slumping over on him. Crawling to the end of the alley the image of blood burned into his eyes. He couldn’t remember how long he sat there or if what had just happened really did happen. Eventually he managed to stand and shamble out of town. As he left Wilder passed him.

“Ceslav, what's wrong with you?”

All he managed to mumble was, “I'm fine.”

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