It is a universal truth that all men wish for something greater than they have in their lot. Oftentimes far grander than they have any right to have. It is also reversely true that all men have no inherent right to have anything, save what the gods deem to gift them. That is what the deacon had taught Deet’var. It is humility and appreciation for one’s lot that keeps the inner vices of men in check, grander wants only lead to self-destruction and the suffering of others.
But Deet’var wasn’t so sure. She thought to herself, what does it mean for something to be grander? In scale? The same way one simply wanted a bigger meal? Or more wealth? What about nobler wants? To self-improve? To provide for one’s countrymen? To love all fellow men and wish them well?
Deet’var didn’t know. The whole thing left her confused, sour and bitter at the contradictions formed within her mind. She listened to the rest of that sermon and made her way to back to her quarters.
She bade her way into her room and launched herself onto the bed upon the first thrust of her door. She raised her palms and pressed them against her face, trying to soothe away her melancholic expression.
“I take it something dumb happened?”
Deet’var removed her hands and looked to her roommate. Carina, a girl just the same age as her. She had short curly chestnut hair that just reached her shoulders, green eyes, and a fine nose. She was no taller than Deet’var herself and wore the same uniform as Deet’var. Shirt and pants made out of animal fur adorned with the crest of the church just across her breast pocket. Anything less would be tantamount to freezing in the Silesian climate.
“Yeah, some malarkey about want and humility. I take we’re supposed to be okay staying here forever then?”
“No, better yet- to stay here and pour fresh porridge for the deacon!” Carina laughed, clapping to herself.
Deet’var smirked, a bizarre mix of anger and amusement. “You’re lucky I love you, lest I pound you with my shoe.” But before long, Carina’s laughter was contagious, and Deet’var joined in. “Okay okay, but really. It was one time okay, stop bringing it up?”
Still wheezing, Carina nodded. “Still funny.”
Deet’var lifted her leg and undid the laces of her shoe.
“Okay okay.” Still laughing she took a moment to collect her breath. “Alright then. Studies are over...want to go with Tohias?”
“That sounds great really.” Deet’var laughed.
“Pretty sure he doesn’t mean it literally,” Tohias said flippantly, his hands pressed down to hold his book open. He skimmed through the pages looking for the precise passage the deacon was referencing.
“Then how am I supposed to take it? Sometimes it’s literal, others times it’s metaphorical. How am I supposed to tell which is which?”
“I don’t know, Dee!” Tohias threw the book across the room, connecting and then falling from the wall. “Damn.” He dropped himself into the bed, covering his face with his pillow.
Tohias was, by all means, a rather kind, albeit a somewhat snobbish boy. He had straight mossy green hair on his head, with slight curls just at his ear. His eyes were hazel and he had a tall if slim build. Deet’var almost mistook him for small tree once.
Deet’var walked over and grabbed the book off the floor. “You better hope no one heard that.”
Tohias lifted his pillow to speak. “Then I’ll just blame it on you two.”
“Rude.” Carina said. She grabbed the nearby pillow and jokingly smothered Tohias with it.
Deng. Deng. Deng.
Tohias having been released of his hold from Carina, sat straight up. “Sounds like the bell.”
“You’ve been found out, now they’re going to make you recite all the songs in the cold snow!” Carina pushed the pillow back onto his face.
Deet’var placed herself between the two, breaking up their squabble. “Alright let’s check what it is. It’s not the warning bell for sure.”
The trio put on their fur coats, the bell had called them to gather at the central yard. As they walked out the door, they joined dozens of people with the same goal, from small children to the priests of all ages. In the yard, they assorted themselves directly behind another. Deet’var in front, Tohias in middle, and Carina in the back. Soon other children begin to place themselves beside them in all directions until they formed a block. The bell continued to ring until it came to stop. The priests arranged themselves across the yard as well.
There was nothing but silence.
Carina poked behind Tohias. “What’s happening?”
“Shut up, we’re going to get in trouble,” chided Tohias.
“Both of you, sssh.”
Deet’var could feel the cold Silesian breeze intrude despite the furs she wore. The raising of her goosebumps and hairs made her feel uneasy as if cold ice were tracing its mark onto her skin. Her toes were numb, and all Deet’var could do was dig into her sole hoping to generate enough heat to bring some feeling back into her feet.
Flap. Flap. Flap.
“A bird?” Carina turned to her side looking for the source of the sound. “No wait, a pegasus!”
“Shush.” Both Deet’var and Tohias said to Carina.
Carina didn’t seem to pay them any mind, watching as the pegasus began to descend to the floor. A rider dressed in white and gold rode the majestic beast, a helmet obscured her face.
Deet’var was taken aback by the appearance of a pegasus rider. She carried on her attire the symbols of the Royal Family, streaks of gold and white.
White to symbolize the pristine beauty of the Silesia; also symbolizing the incorruptible nature of the pegasus rider. She wore an attire of white, a silver breastplate was embedded with golden symbols. Her uniform was unsullied like fresh Silesian snow. Gold was to symbolize the mark of grace that a pegasus should wield, a hallmark trait of their God. Deet’var had heard some pegasus knights took green over golden to more closely reflect the beauty of their lands but she found it a bit silly. What’s wrong with flaunting a bit of gold?
The rider stepped out of their saddle and removed their helmet. Deet’var could see that the rider had red hair, a rare sight in Silesia. Short crimson locks that did not extend beyond her neck. Her eyes were auburn and her face was stern, sharp, and pale as snow itself with short lips and a short nose. She held a spear, with a small green cloth tied where to the metal rod and wooden shaft connects.
She walked around the square of children, inspecting each individual child. Deet’var could notice slight mouth flaps on her face as if she were taking mental note of whoever she inspected.
She eventually turned to the same column as Tohias, one of the orphanage administrators came to her whispering in her ear.
The rider raised her hand and pointed squarely at Tohias. “Tohias, yes? Might I speak with you?”
Tohias swallowed his fear and made his way forward.
“What if he leaves us?” Carina said, crying into her pillow.
“Then I’ll grab him back and punch him square in his jaw,” Deet’var was trying to console her friend.
The Silesian military often took in recruits they hear that carried promise. They visited orphanages looking for children gifted in their academic studies, often carrying the promise of a position for the crown. Architects, scholars, and the rarest of them all were mages.
Deet’var knew that the priests at the orphanage had taken an interest in Tohias since he displayed potential for higher levels of scripture study. Tohias seemed to possess the ability to control magic at a level far beyond what most could do, Once he accidentally blew hot porridge while reciting a basic wind spell. Deet’var chuckled when she learned Tohias had to clean the stables for the rest of the day.
Carina was trying to hold back her tears, and Deet’var was trying to soothe her worries. All their lives they wanted to see more of the world, to live outside the confines of their little orphanage. To experience everything, and then decide for themselves if the scriptures were right. If Tohias left them on their own, then Deet’var will do everything to meet up with him. And punch him right in his arrogant little face.
Deet’var rose from her bed and opened the door.
“Tohias!” Carina leaped out of her sorrow and embraced him. Tears began to pour out of her eyes again. “You didn’t leave, I knew it.”
Tohias began to gently tug Carina away, his shoulder now wet. “Carina-Carina, let go. I’m not leaving.”
Carina turned herself away and gave Tohias space to breathe. He turned beside their bed and pressed his hands together. His face was full of thought and hesitation. Deet’var grew impatient and tugged at Tohias’s hair.
“Come on, out with it.”
Tohias raised his right thumb just underneath his the edge of his lips. “They asked if I were interested in studying in Silesse.”
“What, the Capital? Really?” Carina gasped.
“Yeah. The pegasus rider was doing a patrol actually, but seemed like a lord from upper north wants new mage recruits. Can’t say who or why really.”
Deet’var felt troubled by Tohias’s expression. “You didn’t take it.”
Tohias shuddered, pressing his nail between his teeth. “I was tempted to. I really want to actually.”
Carina’s eyes began to water up again. Deet’var’s brow raised, she knew Tohias to be calm and collected. This was new.
Tohias’s grabbed with both his hands at Deet’var’s and Carina’s shoulders, kneeling his head into their embrace. “I didn’t want to leave either of you.” He voice muffled, but Deet’var could feel his tears seep into her shoulder.
Tohias was always her friend growing up, but perhaps out of all of them, he wanted most to leave this little town. Tohias always seemed bored by the life here, he accomplished any scholarly task given to him with ease. The games they played together did little to ease his boredom, but he played with them anyway. In time, Tohias grew a bit out of his shell, but even still his boredom was never too far behind him.
Carina lowered her head to his. “You dumb idiot! You should have taken it. We would have been mad at first, but we would have been happy for you in time.”
He sobbed, his voice still weak. “It’s not worth going if I’m not there to show off to you.”
Deet’var chuckled. “Should have gone, I would have done better than you anyway. Don’t need no knight with a fancy lance to take me to the Capital.”
“Shut up, Deet’var!”
“I love you too.”
“Tohias, please recite the following passage if you will.” The old priest commanded.
Tohias raised up with the book in hand.
“As he spoke the lord of gales, Forseti, struck his champion’s tendons with his scepter, and filled his heart with valor and righteousness. In a light gleam of radiance, Sety could brisk across the plains as if a hyena pouncing for scraps. ‘Sety, swiftest and noblest of the Crusaders, raise your palm and unleash a typhoon upon these wicked souls of Loptous. Accept no ransom nor mercy, strike down all those who aid them in their escape.”
“And why does our Lord command his Chosen to strike without ransom or mercy?” He questioned to the class, walking around. “Deet’var, your thoughts?”
“Because the Dark God is evil and ours is just.”
“A simple answer, unpolished like newly made pottery.” He chided.
“Because children, these servants of Loptous defiled both the natural accord of gods and men with their hubris. They so foolishly believed that their wealth and station could save them from righteous fury. They pleaded to their judicators, attempting to incite men’s love for their fellow man. It failed. They discarded such notions when they gave themselves to the Demon, and ergo have forfeited all right to be treated as fellow men.”
Deet'var took in her teacher's words and nodded.
Soon enough the bell could be heard from outside their study room. “That's enough for today, children. Reread the scriptures and study up.”
Deet'var walked up beside Carina, together they made their back to Tohias's quarters.
Carina nudged to Deet'var on their trail. “I quite like the description between Crusader Sety and his student Ovis's battle against Archbishop Whateley.”
“Of course you did, the battles were you always your favorite part. Shame though Ovis died.”
Carina began to lower her voice into a hum. “May our Lord bless his everlasting love for Sety.”
Carina pressed the door into Tohias’s room. He sat legs crossed on his bedsheet, intently focusing on his book. “You know, most knock.”
Deet’var slammed the door behind them. “Yeah but we’re not like most, are we?”
“Unfortunately.” He said in an unfocused manner.
Tohias had Deet’var prep him on questions for his next exam, while Carina sang to herself. She spoke of tales of love and woe, of heroes and gods, and of life and death. Her voice was elegant, and it was a sort of simple tranquility in their room.
Deet’var got back up on her feet instantly, the sudden sound was altogether foreign to her. “I think Most is here, Tohias.”
Tohias’s stomach began to churn. “Shut it, Dee. What did you two do this time?”
“Nothing!” Carina said. Tohias stared back, eyes slanting.
“As far as we know.” She replied weakly.
The door began to open. “Well…you know murmuring isn’t murmuring if I can hear you behind the door.”
There she was, the pegasus rider from before. A bizarre almost accusatory expression he carried on her face. “You know....there are cute girls at the capital. You really going to miss an opportunity like that for these two?”
Tohias’s face blushed. “What? I don’t-”
The rider began to laugh, her palm placed just above her mouth. “Come now, relax child. I only jest.” She patted Tohias’s hair. “But these are the lovely girls you’re always around?”
Tohias’s face was as red as a tomato. “Yes..”
Deet’var could see that this pegasus rider was bothering Tohias. “What do you want from Tohias?”
“My my, aren’t you an aggressive little sprout. My name is Alvira, pegasus knight of Silesia. No doubt your friend told you what I want. I’m just here to have him consider otherwise. When I learned he’s particularly attached to a couple of girls, I’ve got to wonder why.”
Deet’var felt anxious by the sight of this woman. She was calm and carried an aura of confidence, there no stop for breath in her words. She held herself high and knew full well the authority she wielded, Deet’var was glad she wasn’t an enemy on the battlefield.
Tohias spoked up. “I’m afraid I have little interest, Lady Knight.” Tohias took a quick glance to Deet’var and Carina. “I cannot abandon my friends. They mean the world to me. We are a family, and without them I am purposeless.”
Alvira crouched down to Tohias’s height. “It doesn’t have to be goodbye forever, you could always visit them.”
Tohias stood firm and spoke. “I want to grow up with them. Make memories with them, laugh, cry, be mad, and love them all the same.”
Alvira chuckled. “Determined aren’t you. Well then....little ladies.”
Carina glared to Deet’var, at a loss for words. “Um yes?”
Deet’var joined in. “Yes?”
“What can you do? Can you nurse?”
“Somewhat, we know basic herbal remedies,” Carina answered proudly, a smile brushed up on her face.
“No.” Both of them replied.
“Can you fight?”
Deet’var glared back. “We’re not allowed to learn how to fight.”
“The teachers say this is a place of learning, not fighting.”
“I didn’t say if you were allowed to, did I?” Alvira’s expression turned serious. “Can you fight?” She repeated.
“We practice, far out from the orphanage. There’s a creek further north-”
Carina began to ramble, Deet’var realized that if she spilled everything they would never have a chance to practice again. “Carina!”
She realized what she had done and shut her mouth. “I’m sorry.”
“I’m not going to speak one word of this. But it’s true. This is a place of learning, you two shouldn’t be doing this. It’s not an easy life. The uniform might look nice but it's much heavier than you think it is.”
Her eyes switched to Tohias. “I came here for Tohias, and my lord is quite persistent. I would very like to take you two along as well, but on just your word alone I can not.”
Alvira raised herself up and walked to the door. “I’ll be pestering you Tohias, all I ask is you think on your decision. You will likely give up before my lord will.”
She made her way out of the door, and the stillness in the air began to cease. Tohias sat on his bed. “I’m not leaving without you two.”
That was the end of that. Deet’var and Carina made their way to their rooms, Tohias kept to himself. Deet’var couldn’t find any way to console her friend, he was a bright mind. Deet’var didn’t like the idea of Tohias leaving her and Carina. For his own sake, he had a bright future ahead. He doesn’t deserve to waste an opportunity like this on them. But at the same time, she knew Tohias would be miserable over there. Or worse, he would forget about them. It was certainly possible. Even if Tohias doesn’t intend to, given with enough time he may forget them.
For the next few days, Alvira would come and visit then. Sometimes to Tohias alone or by chance when all three of them together. She was kind if serious at times. She often made jests often at expense of them or her superiors, but never from a place of malice. Deet’var found it refreshing, she never did like it when her teachers or priests mocked another behind their backs. For all their talk about fellowship with men, they didn’t seem to take to their own principles as often as they should.
On the fourth day, however, Alvira didn’t come. Tohias was uneasy throughout the first half of the day but eventually became acclimated and at ease on the latter half. They spent their time in Tohias’s room as always, Carina had taken to habit braiding Tohias’s hair as practice. He didn’t seem to mind, even when Carina tugged a bit too tightly on his hair. He was calm, almost serene. It lifted Deet’var’s spirits to see her friend enjoying himself again.
One of their teachers came through the door. “Children, there's something you need to see.”
Confused, they followed their instructor outside. It wasn't long before they noticed obsidian colored clouds roaming the sky. The other students were not panicking but clearly distraught. This is the first instance Deet'var ever saw smoke like this, it terrified her. What terrified her most is that she didn't understand what was happening. She prayed in her heart that the snow didn't turn black.
It was explained that the nearest town of Pytheas was set ablaze. Pytheas rested west of Deet'var's hometown of Glitnir.
But there were certain oddities, to say the least. From what has been gathered there were no casualties, just several burnt houses, and buildings. It was clearly orchestrated arson, but by who no one could say. It was midday which only added to the mystery.
Whispers soon began to take hold, it was only natural. Even in Silesia with its natural mountain ranges and deep snow, the common folk still had the fear within their hearts of surviving Loptians among their midsts. Of course, it had been far too many generations since their reign and most whispers amount to just that. Whispers. Some even go far as to say there are no more Loptians, the last of that ancient demonic order died when the Empire fell. Even if they did survive, then there existed no means to resurrect their Dark Lord, for the accursed line of Loptous had also gone extinct. Their lot in this world ceased ages ago.
But still, mysterious flames and no suspect or causes was considered by some to be an omen of sorts. Deet'var didn't know what to think.
Word soon came that Baroness Alicia of Glitnir had appointed half her forces to assist in Pytheas's construction and to further investigate the origin of the flames.
Deet'var presumed that is where Alvira had left to. She missed her company.
“It's rather late don't you think?” Carina said, her eyes heavy with exhaustion.
Tohias got his furs. “Not every day you see Mars so brightly across the firmament. If you don't want to-” Tohias puts on his boots. “-that's on you.”
Deet'var laid on the bed, “Okay, but you have to show me Polaris.”
“I already showed it to you before, thrice now.”
“Well, I have a hard time finding it each time.” She retorted. “The stars all look so similar.”
Carina started to walk toward the door. “Well have fun you two, I'm off to bed.”
“Night.” They both replied back.
Tohias turned his attention to Deet'var. “Ready?”
“Give me a moment.”
Deet'var had gotten ready and the both of them walked out into the snow, on their way to a small hill a fair distance away from their orphanage. She carried a lantern in her hands to light their path. As they walked toward the hill, Deet’var could see a few small lights across their village. Mostly just the lights of the bars, inns, and one building incredibly far from the rest of the buildings. She could just make out curious figures walking toward it in a rush.
They sat beside a log and looked up to the stars, how they twinkled in the firmament.
They sat for a while, simply enjoying the serene forest sounds. Tohias shook Deet’var’s shoulder. “I suppose since it’s just us, I have to ask. What would happen if I left? Would you really hate me?”
Deet’var knew he wanted to go, but he also too committed to Carina and her both to leave. “I think...we would be mad at first. Carina especially. But in time we could accept it….if it made you happy.”
“I don’t want to leave you two out of my life.” He said. He lowered his face, staring into the snow below. “It wouldn’t be the same without you both.”
Deet’var leaned in closer to him and held him in her arms. “I..cant..I..won't stop you..if you really want to. Just please think about it, okay?”
“Okay....we should probably get back.”
Deet’var helped Tohias get up, struggling to balance himself on the solidified snow. As they descended how the hill, Deet’var could see another light not present before. “Hey..look.”
Pointing toward the town, the light began to grow in size, and the surrounding lights began to dim. A foul smell reached her lungs. Fire.
“There’s a fire!” From their view on the hill, several new lights began to emerge across the town.
At first thought, they held their arms together and ran back to their home. Cold smoked air intruding into their nostrils, their faces becoming numb, and the feeling of something that will swallow them all up began to take hold in their minds.
They immediately made inside their orphanage. On the divide between the rooms and the offices, Deet’var reached for her friend’s arm. “Warn the deacon, I’ll get Carina.”
Deet’var didn’t even look back, she instantly bolted toward her room. Her heart didn’t stop racing, her legs were becoming tired but she did not stop. She slammed into her room and shook Carina awake. “Carina wake up, wake up, It’s an emergency.”
Carina bothered woke up. “Huh? Wha-?”
Turning away she reached into their closet. “Get dressed, hurry!” Deet’var threw at Carina her fur coats, and pants.
Carina got up and rushed herself into getting dressed. “Deet’var what’s going on?”
“Fire outside, hurry.”
Crack. Thud. Clash. Clang.
There was a sudden burst of sounds coming from across the hall, muffled screams from afar.
“Carina, let’s go.”
“Carina let’s go!”
Deet’var quickly thrusted down Carina’s coat and grabbed her out the door.
Out the door they saw tall figures reaching into rooms, grabbing children. Deet’var pushed Carina all her might with her. Absolutely frightened they ran across the hall, gasping for air.
They could hear roaring voices from the halls and outside, screams of children and voices she couldn’t make out.
Deet’var knew they couldn’t escape through the main exits, they ran back to one of the study rooms at the back of the orphanage. Deet’var slammed the door open and bolted straight for the window. She grabbed onto the handle pushing it. “Carina, help!”
Carina on the opposite side pushed with all their might, the old window eventually gave way. Deet’var helped Carina out first before exiting herself.
From the back, she could see there was no one, and the shack seemed untampered with. “Come on, let’s go.”
From the side of the shack was a rock about the size of a medium dog, Carina patted the stone until she found the small little hole on its backside. From there she removed a small little key and gave it to Deet’var.
Cold and shivering, Deet’var removed the lock and open the shack. “I think it’s on the other side.”
Deet’var went to the back of the shack and jumped onto a small crack within the floorboards. Finding the loose board, she kneeled and removed the floorboard. From beneath she took out a short spear. It was a simple wooden shaft, short but durable. Its tip was obsidian, chiseled to a fine point.
Carina reached over. “Here your’s.” Placed in Deet’var hand was a short dagger no larger than her hand. Like the spear, it was made of durable wood with an obsidian blade. “Here’s your sheath too.”
Deet’var strapped the sheath onto the belt of her pants.
“We have to find Tohias.” Carina blurted out, cowering her face in fear.
“I told him to warn the deacon. I don’t think we can go back inside there.”
“What do we do then?”
“You two ain’t goin to do anythin’,” A roaring voice came from behind.
He was a tall brutish man, arms as large steel beams with large purple veins, and he easily stood at a height of nearly seven feet. A scar covered his right cheek, golden earring on both his ears and his teeth were almost jagged and brown. Worst of all was his smell, a thick musky scent of sweat, garlic, and fish. In one hand he had a short sword, curved and with a fine point on the tip. In the other hand, he had a net large enough to carry a few people.
“Now, drop it and nun’ gets hurt.”
Deet’var looked toward her spear. “That’s right. Put it on the floor.”
She turned to Carina, nodding. “Okway, just pwease don’t hurt me.”
“Don’t talk like that, it annoys me!” The man’s temper began to flare up, raising his hands in the air.
Deet’var poured all her strength into throwing the spear forward.
The man leaned to the left to avoid the spear, but it cleaved through his clothes. “Ahhh...FUCK!”
He fell onto the floor, his blade falling to the floor as he tried to put pressure on the gash he had on his side.
Deet’var and Carina bolted past as fast as they could, seeing they had no other option but to move forward the orphanage.
“What now?” Carina huffed as she ran.
“Hide in the trees.” She yelled back, inhaling in the frozen air. Deet'var could feel her senses more acutely, She could visualize in her mind the precise pressure she placed and the shape of the texture of the snow under her feet. Her feet and hands were no longer numb from the cold, fear had kindled them to life again.
Circling the outer perimeter of their orphanage they headed into a wicket of tree branches intertwined with another. “Here.”
They entered the thicket and through the trunks of the trees could see the flame light. The sky was black in parts and even flamelight would dim through all the smoke. The air was somewhat richer here, and the ground was not as frosted as by the orphanage.
Deet'var searched close by for a tree with an open trunk or perhaps one with just enough leaves to obscure their presence.
“Dee, over here.” Carina nested herself to a fallen tree, portion of its trunk hollowed out enough to hide them both.
They rested within the tree, the insides rotting was delayed by the ice crept within the trunk of the tree. Carina held on to Deet'var for warmth, the long distant shouts brought them both to tears.
“I'm scared,” Deet'var admitted.
“Me too. Don't let me go.” Carina replied.
Crunch. Snap. Twag.
“They're coming.” Carina whispered.
“Oi boss, they ain't no one ‘ere.”
“Well keep at it, we don't got much time. Snatch up every little one ya can.”
They could hear the crushing of leaves around them. A least a couple few were in the close distance, but soon the steps became fainter until they faded away entirely.
“I think they're gone.” Carina whispered. “Should we peek out?”
“No. There might be more.”
They kept their place and soon enough another rustling of leaves came close. It was right beside them outside the tree trunk. They felt a push beside them, each subsequent one more aggressive than the last.
Deet'var held onto Carina tighter. She knew.
At once a sudden force brushed against them and the trunk they hid began to spin across the ground. Swirling and unable to stop their momentum in the trunk, they were rocked against the trunk's inside.
In a flash, they were pushed out of the trunk. Her body sore and bruised, and she could feel a stinging sensation upon her temple. Deet’var brushed her fingers against het her head only for them to be coated with something warm and sticky. It was her blood.
Deet’var turned and saw Carina’s body laid across the snow, she could see her struggling to push herself back up on her feet.
“And what do we got here?” The man grabbed onto Deet’var’s arm, raising her up. “A little bruised up...but you’ll live.”
He was just as much as a brute as the man before, save his temple was covered with a blue bandana and his bottom front teeth were all gone.
“Ahh!” Deet’var could feel the man hand crushing her arm. Using her free hand, she quickly unsheathed the dagger on her side. Without hesitation, she jammed the blade into his right breast.
The man winced in pain, falling to the floor. The dagger fell from his chest onto the floor.
The man raised himself back up. “To Hell with orders, I’ll kill you myself!” From his sheath, he took out his own dagger.
“Guh!” The man shuddered, kneeling to the ground. Huffing and yelling profanities.
Deet’var confused, raised herself up and ran toward Carina. She stood upright her hand raised into a throwing motion. But she held herself a side, her leg held her up in an uncomfortable fashion. She began to limp toward Deet’var until she fell. Raising her arm over her shoulders, Deet’varbrought Carina back to her feet. A quick glance back she saw Carina’s obsidian dagger embedded into his lower back. But it wasn’t enough to stop him.
Carina had hardly the strength to push herself forward. They would be caught easily, no matter how fast Deet’var pushed herself. But Deet’var wasn’t going to abandon her friend, the girl she would proudly call her sister.
As Deet’var propelled herself forward she slipped on icy ground. Falling back onto the ground. The man chuckled maniacally, a mix of unbridled anger and bloodlust. “You think you’re really funny ey?”
As he approached, Carina held onto Deet’var. There were no words between them, they clenched each other. Ready to accept their fate.
The two opened their eyes at the sound of that familiar voice.
“Carina, Dee. Roll to the side now!”
In the last of their strength, they rolled together to the right. As Deet’var rolled she could see a beam of light shot besides them.
The man was once again on his knees, and in the air was no longer the smell of ash. The scent was rancid.
“What did you do to me?” The man yelled.
Carina and Deet’var raised themselves up to see Tohias. He had bruises on his face and hands, his top coat was torn from the back, but in his hand was a large yellow book bound in white.
Tohias didn’t even answer the question, but at the snap of his fingers, he activated the spellbook once more. A beam of light emitted into his hands before directing toward the man.
It connected, his skin began to burn and in portions even boil. He yelled in pain, struggling to get up from the sheer trauma his body was experiencing. He kneeled just before Tohias, shivering from the difference in temperature from his skin and cold air around him.
In one final struggle, the man raised himself back up. Lifting his dagger, he aimed straight for Tohias. Instinctually, Tohias raised his hand and released another beam of light from his hand. It was larger and faster than previous beams, it enveloped the man’s entire body so much that Deet’var could see his shadow within the beam itself.
After a few seconds, Tohias let go and the man fell onto the floor. Still breathing, but no longer able to move forward.
Tohias huffed and limped his way to Carina and Deet’var. He raised them both up, binding their arms to support another.
“Why is it so dark? Where is everyone?!”
The man struggled to raise his hand to his own face. Pressing his hands into his eyelids, rubbing his eyes repeatedly.
“I can’t see. I can’t see. Why can’t I see?”
He continued to yell, struggling to even get up.
From behind they heard ruffled steps coming toward them.
“Good...they’re here,” Tohias said, inhaling heavily. His knees started to wobble, and he fell to the ground.
Deet’var could see the lights come into view, figures in white and lances coming their way.
A pegasus knight came. She knelt and removed her cloak and wrapped the trio in it. “Hey, three children here. Send in the clerics.”
She turned her attention back to them. “You three alright? Don’t worry, we’re here now.”
A couple of other knights came, carefully wrapping the trio in their cloaks and raising them in their arms. They were escorted through the woods and made their way into a campsite.
The campsite was recently made, some tents still in construction. All around Deet’var she could see children being reunited with families, clerics and knights tending to injured civilians, and knights delivering these strange men in chains.
Deet’var eyes turned heavy, her mind no longer racing began to slow, and finally, she slept in the warm arms of a dutiful knight.
Deet’var awoke on the side of her bed, the same bed she always slept in. She checked herself and she found she was changed into clean clothes. Touching her face, Deet'var could feel cloth wraps around her head.
Beside her bed was a mug, still steaming, attached with a piece of parchment.
Deet’var, please drink. It’s a herbal tea that alleviates pain and helps in healing wounds. - Alvira.
Deet'var took the mug into her hands and drank it. It was rather distasteful and had a minty aftertaste, but Deet'var tolerated it enough to drink it whole.
Recounting the last events in her memories, she gathers all that had transpired last night; the attacks and burning of Glitnir. Deet'var didn't really put much thought into it but she figured that most likely the attacks were orchestrated by pirates. They probably were responsible for what happened to Pytheas, too. Although she never heard of pirates this brazen to travel this far north.
The ocean was often swirling with chunks of ice, sometimes ice would freeze between small straits trapping seafarers. Tales of strange monsters roaming the ice and lights in the sky were enough to dissuade most travelers to come to Silesia through the sea.
Deet'var settled on these thoughts and changed into outing clothes. She made her way from her door to see numerous people moving in and out of rooms with large pieces of wood. Others were escorting the wounded. Civilians and soldiers alike were assisting.
Deet'var didn't know what to do, she walked aimlessly. Taking in all that changed, at the broken doors, walls, and windows. She felt lost even in her own home. She decided to make her way back to Tohias's room, the only place she could think to go.
Opening the door she saw the sight of Carina and Tohias, tenderly embracing another.
They took notice of another and instantly separated themselves. “Dee! You okay?”
Carina scurried to her, placing her palm on her head. “You feeling well?”
“I feel terrible, but what about you?”
“Nothing serious, some bruises and cuts. Tohias is the same, I checked.”
“That's good, glad you're both okay.”
There was a stillness in the area, an aura of uncertainty. They were all thinking it but didn't know how to approach it.
Deet'var began to tap her foot, anxiety taking root in her mind. All the memories flashing in her mind, a small streak of tears came out of her left eye.
“What happened?” She said, her voice pained to even say it.
Carina explained that it seemed the men last night were slavers. They had started the fire in Pytheas and the one last night to distract everyone. Their goal was to loot and capture anyone they deemed fit.
Tohias stepped in and explained that after he warned the deacon the attack had begun. He hid in the library and stole a tome from the restricted area. After Tohias sneaked his way out of the orphanage and hid in the woods. It was by chance he came across Deet’var and Carina.
He recounted his feelings of fear he felt, and his desire to protect them when they were attacked. Tohias described it as if someone else was controlling his body, a display he believes he can never truly replicate. Magic was always difficult to Tohias, but one brief event he held a mastery can’t even describe.
Afterward, their stories converged, they were found and even Alvira gave the three a visit. Although Deet’var was asleep, nonetheless Tohias said that Alvira would meet up with them to discuss something important. What that meant they weren’t sure.
The trio resolved to see Alvira herself and left their Tohias’s room. The orphanage was still buzzing with activity, but with everyone fixated on construction and treating there wasn’t much in the way of cohesive structure.
They made their way to the campsite where most of the Silesian soldiers were stationed, no one seemed to pay them any mind. It seemed a significant number of children were kidnapped from these slavers.
But as they did they noticed an open space, a large makeshift platform. It was erected high enough for all to see. A crowd of people were a short distance from the platform, they organized themselves well for all to see.
Three knights approached, and one of the slavers. Two of them held the slaver in chains pushing him forward onto the platform. The third knight directly behind, with a great long broadsword with her.
As the trio got closer to the platform and saw that the knight with the broadsword was none other than Alvira. The two knights restraining the slaver placed him on his knees beside a stump of wood. Directly in front of the stump was a straw basket.
Deet’var knew full well what was happening.
Alvira raised her sword, the tip touched the ground. “I, Alvira, Angelic Knight of Silesia, hereby sentence you to die by the grace of Our King in sight of our God and Men.” Alvira raised her sword up, the pulmer to her face. “Do you care to speak your last words?”
The slaver raised his head to catch Alvira’s eyes. “Nuthin’ you don’t already know. Get on with it bitch, I’m freezing to death.”
Alvira raised her sword overhead with both hands and made one swift motion.
The snow turned red.
Deet’var drank more of that special brew that Alvira made during her recovery. Apparently, she taught the recipe to Tohias. The tea started to grow on them in taste, although Tohias, in particular, was not very fond of it. Needs more sugar, he would say.
Lessons were canceled for the most part, and students were told to stay in their rooms or within the orphanage. Continue their studies from last lectures and everything will resume soon.
Deet’var was hard pressed to think that anything would remain the same. More whispers came around the town, the slavers were prioritizing children, and from what little has slipped from Silesian army it seemed these slavers were contracted. The first immediate thought was to believe Loptians, everyone thought it. An attack like this was unprecedented, Silesia was no safe haven for pirates.
Furthermore, the tactic used by the slavers was simple but effective. Thought it ultimately failed, it still proved useful. It just seemed too patient for slavers. Deet’var knew little or heard little outside of Silesia, but she did know that in areas like Orgahill or the riverlands in Thracia were more common havens for slavers
Much of the past four days since the attack has been rather peaceful in a strange sort of way. The attack, while still present in her mind was minimized by the tranquility of her time with friends. They played, talked, and relaxed together. It was almost idyllic.
Then the fifth day after the attack came with a knock at the door.
“Open,” Tohias yelled.
Alvira emerged, draped in finer clothes than that day.
“I see you lovelies are doing fine. Bruises healed?” She pointed to Deet’var forehead.
“Mostly...General.” Since learning that Alvira is one of the four Angelic Knights of Silesia, her perception of the woman had changed. What was once a respectable knight in her own right, had become a model for Deet’var. She was one of the most powerful persons in the country yet treated Deet’var so playfully. So kindly. Almost...motherly.
Alvira scoffed at Deet’var and sat beside them. “Oh hush, no need for that. I'm tired of titles, nice to talk on a first name basis. Besides I’m more concerned about other things.”
“Me?” Tohias asked.
“That too, but still another thing.”
Alvira reached from her side two small daggers. “Obsidian. I take you got lucky and found it on the base of these hills?”
Carina nodded. “Are we in trouble?”
“Normally yes, it’s not right nor expected for someone as young as yourselves to be interested in such things. But because of your interest, you’re alive.’
She got off the bed and laid the daggers to the side. “And you young man.”
Tohias got up, afraid of what she would say.
“You have great potential. But it's unrefined and dangerous, you blinded a man.” She scolded.
Tohias hid his head. “I-”
“You wanted to protect your friends, I understand. But now I'm under orders. You have to come with me, you're far too dangerous for that kind of power to be left unchecked.”
Tohias lifted himself up, tears beginning to fall down his face. “Okay...it would be wrong for what I did to go...unpunished. Might I say goodbye to my friends before we go?”
Alvira patted his head. “No need for that.”
She turned her attention to Carina and Deet'var. “Answer what I'm about to say honestly.”
They both nodded.
“I saw you. I saw you both watch me take the life out of that man. Do you understand why I did it?"
“Because he was a slaver, and slaving is most accursed,” Carina responded.
She nodded. “How would feel if you had to do what I just did with your own two hands?”
“We were taught that murder is wrong,” Carina said.
“There may times where it may be necessary but it's never something we should be hasty to do.” Deet'var added.
“We owe it to them to speak their last words, and perhaps even mercy if it's right.” Carina finished.
“And how do know if it's right?” She asked.
Neither of them had an answer, they stood there ashamed and silent.
She patted their hands. “You're both sweet girls.”
Alvira stood on her two feet again.
“You two are undisciplined and given your inclination for trouble, I'm also taking you. In fact, you three are under my jurisdiction.” She winked.
“Wait- so?” Tohias interrupted.
“Deet'var. Carina. Tohias. From here on you are my squires as deemed fit by his Majesty, blessed be his name.” Alvira's voice thundered and they all stood gasping at the words they had just heard.
She smiled and walked to the door. “If it wasn't clear, I'm your mother now.”