Paladin the path north: Volume 1


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Chapter 1

Tar'vid pulled his head from the water barrel, flicking water down his back and soaking into the dry ground around him. He and Luna had been in Randell for months now, Tar'vid had taken over as the village healer since the last one had been eaten by Kikkimurs the year before. Luna spied him through the window of their cottage high up on the northern slope of the village.

"Are you finally going to get rid of that fluff on your face?" she called mockingly from the kitchen window.

Tar'vid rubbed the whiskers on his face, then looked at his reflection in the water. It wasn't a beard by any stretch of the imagination, but he wanted a beard damn it.

"Not yet," he shouted back grumpily.

"Get rid of it, you look scruffy," Luna called back sternly.

He sighed, pulling out his knife and an old leather belt. running the blade until it was sharp and clean, bidding his first hairs farewell he carefully scraped them away from his face. He picked up Torgard and made his way indoors, propping up the blade beside his boots. Tar'vid came up behind Luna, hugging her from behind and nuzzling her neck gently.

"Much better," she purred at him.

Tar'vid placed a hand on her belly feeling a sense of excitement, it was still hard for him to believe she was almost seven months pregnant now.

"She'll be here soon you know" Luna whispered, placing her hand on his.

Tar'vid smiled broadly, for in a few months he'd be a father. Never had he wanted something so much and never known he could have it. Luna held his hand for a minute more before slapping his thigh playfully.

"Come on, you have work to do. As do I" she said shrugging him off. He kissed her on the neck and went to get a shirt from their bedroom, rummaging through their wardrobe for a shirt he smiled fondly. Tucked away at the bottom of the wardrobe was his paladin tabard, its blue cross and white fabric completely cleaned of blood, the stitching so fine he couldn't see the hole where the arrows had grazed him so long ago.

“I wondered when you'd find that” Luna said from the doorway happily.

She sat down on the bed as he unfurled it, holding the garment to the light.

“Deadra brought it to Veldren with her, she feared my father would get suspicious if he found it in my possession” Luna continued with a faint smile.

“Thank you, I had thought my tabard was long gone by now” he replied, noting the extra needle work, a small infinite blue dragon worked into the cross' embroidery.

“Maeliene has been teaching me how to sew and I used your tabard for practice. Turns out I was pretty good” Luna told him proudly, running her fingers over her added stitching.

He kissed her and pulled it on over his shirt, he still felt a great pride in wearing the symbol of his order.

“Go on now, I'm sure there's plenty of clients waiting for you” she said waving him out the door.

Tar'vid picked up Torgard, belting the sword around his waist he slipped into his boots and turned to look back at Luna.

“I love you Lunathion” he said happily.

“I know you do you, now get going” Luna told him with a smile.

Tar'vid walked through their small garden, passing through the small gate and down the path into the village.

“Morning Tar'vid” said Jonas, a slim half elf he'd known for a while now. Though he seemed shy Tar'vid had seen something inside the boy, perhaps he'd be interested in learning sword skill one day.

“There's several men and women waiting at your surgery” Jonas continued, running a hand through his dark hair.

A queue at the surgery was nothing new as he was constantly late, it was probably just as well his services were the only ones available.

“That's hardly new Jonas, my time keeping is rather shocking” Tar'vid replied with a smile.

“These folk are armed, dressed as you are in fact. Their horses are tied up by the village hall, quite a bit of interest in the village centre now” Jonas replied shaking his head.

“Thanks for the heads up Jonas, I think perhaps you should inform Luna. I doubt this will be good news” Tar'vid said to Jonas firmly, who nodded and ran off towards their cottage. Tar'vid tested Torgard in it's sheath, he still came loose easily and as prepared as he could be Tar'vid headed towards the village hall.


Tar'vid spotted the group of paladins waiting by his surgery and immediately wondered why Jonas had left out that one of them was a giant easily two feet taller than the other three. It wasn't much longer before they spotted him, a grizzled older man tapping a tall elf on the shoulder and whispering something to him. The elf nodded in return, the other member a raven haired woman simply stared at him unflinchingly.

“I would have expected one of Tar'son's students to be more punctual” the older man said jokingly, his good humour belying his appearance. A great scar ran the length of his neck stopping at his left ear.

“Well, when your the only healer in the village you can set your own hours” Tar'vid replied with a wry smile, the elf he noted was not impressed.

“If you two are quite finished we have business to discuss. The grand master sent us here to convince you to come... though I see nothing remarkable about you Tar'vid” the elf said without a hint of humour.

“It would seem many have thought that about me, most regretted it shortly after” Tar'vid replied, challenging the arrogant elf.

He noted that the raven haired woman was the first to reach for her sword, though the older man waved a calming hand at her quickly.

“Now, now gentleman. It would seem we have gotten off on the wrong foot here, Tar'vid how about we go indoors where we can discuss things more privately” The older man interceded nodding beyond Tar'vid's shoulder.

When he looked back he saw Luna standing beside the pathway bow drawn taut and drawing a bead on the raven haired woman.

“Don't even try it young lady” Luna called over as Jonas looked on in awe.

The woman removed her hand from the blade, raising her hands slowly. In the same breath Luna slowly released the tension on her bowstring, lowering the weapon slowly.

“You okay here now” she called over to him seriously.

“I think so, it would seem things got off on the wrong foot” Tar'vid called back with a smile.

“How unlike you” Luna replied with a smile of her own before going back up the pathway towards their cottage.

“Perhaps we should go inside now, I think the village has had enough excitement for one day” Tar'vid declared taking a key from his belt pouch and unlocking the front door to his surgery, beckoning the other paladins to enter.

Tar'vid opened up the shutters on the windows letting light pour into the small wooden building he used for business, the other paladins taking seats where they could. The giant standing by the window seemed sceptical that any of the chairs would take her weight. After the last shutter had been opened he took his chair beside an old table he used as a desk, the other paladins focused on him intently.

“So... you were saying the grand master sent you to get me, why four of you” Tar'vid asked quizzically, looking to each of them in turn.

“According to the grand masters own words... Tar'mine himself requested it” The giant said, her voice much more feminine than her appearance would have implied.

“Indeed, though I believe introductions should be in order” the older man said firmly, the others looking to him respectfully.

“Indeed you are right” the elf said reluctantly. “I am Tar'gelth” the elf said, standing and giving a slight bow.

“I am Tar'gorth” the older man said happily, also offering a bow.

“I am Sah'eca” said the giant, also offering a slight bow. He noticed that she also had to squat slightly to avoid hitting the ceiling.

“I'm Sah'rah” said the dark haired woman. Though she didn't get up or offer him even the time of day.

“Forgive Sah'rah Tar'vid, you were made a full paladin several days before her. It would seem she coveted being the youngest paladin ever raised” Tar'gelth said apologetically, giving her a reproachful look.

“Indeed, though to get things back on track we are here to take you to Brownfields. The order has been amassing there for almost a year now and we're nearly ready to depart” Tar'gelth told him in a no nonsense tone.

“And as the grand master said, Tar'mine has personally requested your presence. I realise you have a life here... a family even. But you cannot refuse the saints own wishes” Tar'gorth said, though not without sympathy.

Tar'vid had feared something like this, Brownfields was a weeks journey at least and Tar'gelth had said about leaving. How long would he be away, Luna would be due in only a few months time.

“Can you spare me a few days to send for a new healer, my wife is due in a few months. I can't leave her without help” Tar'vid asked of them, though where he would get such help he had no idea.

“We can spare you but a few hours Tar'vid, the coming campaign has already been delayed to find you. I'm sorry” Tar'gorth told him in no uncertain terms.

“Then I'll have to tell my wife and sort things as best I can” Tar'vid announced, he felt sick to his stomach at the news. Especially knowing the saints wanted him to go.

“Please make yourselves comfortable here, I'll be back in a few hours” he told them. Tar'gorth nodded his approval and that seemed to satisfy the others. Tar'vid left his surgery at a run heading for their cottage to try and explain things to Luna.


Tar'vid arrived to find Luna calmly sitting on their porch in her rocking chair, a pack beside her. Was she planning on going too he wondered.

“Luna I'm afr...” he started to say before she cut him off.

“You have to leave. I knew it would be so when I spotted four paladins at your surgery. Here I packed up what you'll need for a weeks travel” Luna told him. Tar'vid squatted down beside her taking her hand in his.

“I was expecting a fight from you if I'm being honest. Why are you so calm” he asked perplexed.

“I've expected something like this for a long time, just be careful Tar'vid” Luna said, kissing him lovingly from her chair.

“Also, I never thought I'd see a Venna this far north. That was a treat” she added whimsically.

“Venna” Tar'vid asked puzzled.

“The large woman, she's half dwarf. Not the mountain men type, more the demi-god kind of dwarf that walked the earth thousands of years ago. I believe there's only a handful of real dwarves left now” she said with a wry smile.

“Now go on, don't keep your saints waiting Tar'vid” Luna told him sternly. “And don't worry, I've enlisted Jonas to help me”

Almost on cue Jonas appeared at the doorway with drinks and buttered toast.

“You can count on me Tar'vid, I won't let anything happen to her” he said proudly.

“I don't doubt it, then for now farewell” Tar'vid said sadly, leaving them alone before he started to cry.


Tar'vid's mood was still dark when he arrived back at his surgery, the other paladins already preparing their horses to leave. Tar'vid couldn't help but noticed Sah'eca's horse was monstrously muscled, though he guessed it would have to have been.

“Come Tar'vid, we brought a spare for you” Tar'gorth called to him, indicating a black charger tethered to the village hall.

“I don't know how to ride a horse though” Tar'vid relied a little embarrassed, Sah'rah snorted with laughter at his admission.

Tar'gelth stared at her until she noticed the look.

“Don't worry about it Tar'vid. Sah'rah will lead your horse until you're comfortable riding” he stated matter of fact, Sah'rah looked mortified to be babysitting him.

Tar'vid noticed Tar'gorth smile a little as he mounted his horse, the charger stamping its hooves as he picked up the reigns. Sah'rah immediately snatched them from him, leading the horse behind her with a furious scowl on her face.

The horses made slow progress through the forest that kept Randell hidden from the world. Tar'vid only now realising Tar'mine must have pointed them right to the village, he stared at the backs of the others wondering where they would be heading upon reaching Brownfields.

As the party broke from the forest way they picked up the pace, the horse breaking into a trot and heading east along the seaway road.

“Keep up Tar'vid” Sah'rah laughed tossing him the reigns to his horse.

Tar'vid panicked for a moment before realising the horse was trained to follow the others and he relaxed. It didn't stop the others laughing at his expense though and he cursed. It was going to be a long journey to Brownfields, he knew it.

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Chapter 2

Tar'vid was still shaky on the charger the next day, the previous night Sah'rah had rounded him up after his horse refused to stop. As Paladins there was no need for a fire, Tar'gelth allowing the others to sleep while he took first watch with Tar'vid.

“Is it true what they say about you?” the elf asked him as they stared out into the darkness.

“Guess that depends on what they say" Tar'vid responded with a wry smile, though it seemed Tar'gelth missed it.

“It's said you saved Fernhaven from this plague, that you defeated four thugs at once in that camp. Also that you survived and killed two elf assassins at the Inn in Redmane forest” Tar'gelth stated flatly, Tar'vid was unsure if this was praise, accusation or disbelief.

“It's true for the most part, though some of that's exaggerated I'll give you” he replied, not looking over to the elf and gauging his reaction.

Tar'gelth grunted and stood up. Then walked back towards where the others slept.

“Tar'gorth, Sah'rah your watch!” he called, then simply laid down on the ground to sleep.

Tar'gorth and Sah'rah walked over to where he sat, the older man tapping him on the shoulder.

“Go on lad, get some sleep. More travel tomorrow” Tar'gorth said, then stifled a yawn.

“Tar'gelth, he's a hard man to read. I can't tell if he disapproves of me or not” Tar'vid asked. Standing up and stretching out his arms.

“He's complicated, being back within Keldran's borders makes him uncomfortable” Sah'rah replied.

She said no more to him and sat down a few feet away, he wanted to ask her more but by the moonlight Tar'vid saw Tar'gorth shaking his head.

“Sleep well Tar'vid," Sah'rah said quietly, staring off into the night.

He went back to the area where Tar'gelth and Sah'eca slept, the Venna snoring loudly whilst the elf lay there almost motionless in his breathing. Tar'vid lay down on a patch of grass, laying his head down softly, he thought about Luna and how used to the comforts a home had brought. Perhaps the Grand Master only wanted to meet him, it was a vain hope and Tar'vid knew it was hopeless. He closed his eyes and tried to sleep for at least a while.

He woke after what could only have been a few hours sleep as an owl called out, then swooped past only inches from his head. How strange he thought, owls always seemed to appear at pivotal moments in his life and he followed it, stopping by a copse of trees. The night was still oddly quiet but for Sah'eca's deep breathing.

“Trouble sleeping lad?” Tar'gorth asked him from the darkness.

“Yes, I... I thought I heard something” Tar'vid replied, staring intently into the trees for something to reveal itself. When nothing moved after a time he returned to their camp and sat down to meditate, perhaps it was just a regular owl hunting in the night. Tar'vid started to recite several prayers silently until the sun started to creep over the horizon.

Tar'gelth suddenly sat upright, dusting himself off and standing quickly. “Mount up everyone, we break camp immediately!” he ordered, Sah'eca roused from her sleep, immediately moving into action.

“I hope you're well rested Tar'vid, there's a great distance to cover yet," Tar'gelth told him sincerely. "Also, I felt the power of your prayer. Perhaps the grand master is right about you"

“I hope so to, I've left a lot behind to come with you” Tar'vid replied.

The elf nodded and mounted his horse gracefully, perhaps Tar'gelth was warming to him he thought. Tar'vid mounted his charger once more and this time he held the reigns more firmly, trying to control the horse as he'd seen the others do. Though perhaps the horse was simply following the others, he felt a little more in control, perhaps for the first time in a few days.


The rest of the day was spent in near silence, only the rhythmic clopping of the horse's hooves breaking the silence. It was late afternoon when they reached a crossroads, a perfectly stationed Inn sitting in the junction.

“We ride on until nightfall” Tar'gelth called back loudly as they continued east, Tar'vid looking back longingly at the elven inn with its soft beds and nice food.

“Don't look so down lad, you shouldn't get so used to comfort after all” Tar'gorth said, forcing a smile for him.

“Say, you wouldn't happen to know how Tar'son is these days would you” he continued.

“When last I saw him he looked well, it was some months back now though” Tar'vid replied, still dejected at passing the inn by.

“That's good to hear, it's been some time since we walked the path together now. Must be nearly thirty plus years now” Tar'gorth mused before spurring his horse forward.

Tar'vid had to wonder how Tar'son looked so young, Tar'gorth was easily in his late forties after all.

The last rays of light started to fade as they reached the edge of a great lake, Tar'gelth calling a halt to them and Tar'vid felt infinitely proud of himself as he reigned in his horse.

“You're a quick study Tar'vid, who would have thought you hadn't even ridden a horse but a few days ago" Sah'eca commented with a smile.

They dismounted with watches being drawn as before, Sah'rah getting the night off this time with Tar'gelth and Sah'eca taking the first watch. He sat beside the great lake watching the moon reflected in its still waters, the night was especially cloudless and he suspected it was probably quite a chill night for summer.

“Trouble sleeping again," Sah'rah asked, planting herself down beside him.

“A little, I had hoped to see the birth of my child. Guess that's unlikely now though" he replied, picking up a stone and skipping it along the surface of the lake.

“Perhaps, but Tar'mine himself summoned you. You have to believe that he wouldn't simply tear you from your family without reason” Sah'rah said softly, trying to offer some comfort to him.

Tar'vid was sure Tar'mine had high hopes for him, that perhaps the Saints had some form of foresight he was

sure of.

“I'll pray on it a while, perhaps the Saints will alleviate my fears" he responded finally.

“Mind if I join you, I have doubts of my own. Though perhaps not as great as your own” Sah'rah asked as she crossed her legs.

“All problems are equal Sah'rah, and no I don't mind at all” he replied.

They both looked out over the calm waters of the lake chanting in unison Sah'ravel's prayer, the moon was almost full now and several birds silhouettes could be seen flying past. Tar'vid felt sure that the Saints were helping him now.


Tar'vid was woken sometime later by Tar'gelth with a tap on his shoulder. He noticed Sah'rah had fallen asleep on his shoulder and he lowered her gently onto the grass.

“You prayed together," asked the elf bluntly, Tar'vid felt an almost accusation in his tone.

“We did, it would seem we both needed some guidance from the saints” Tar'vid replied, trying not to sound defensive.

“Good for her, she has been somewhat lost these past few weeks” Tar'gelth replied before lying down to sleep.

Tar'vid wondered what exactly it was she was going through, though he felt they weren't close enough for him to ask. He walked slowly away from the lake, seeing Tar'gorth cross-legged in the moonlight with Sah'eca. The Venna clapping him on the shoulder before loping off to find somewhere to sleep.

“A beautiful night young Tar'vid," Sah'eca said kindly in passing.

“Indeed, sleep well Sah'eca” he replied.

“I always do” she called back quietly making him smile.

He was starting to find that paladins were as different to him as he was to Tar'son or the high priestess. Tar'vid had always thought he would mature to Tar'son's demeanour, though that seemed unlikely now he thought.

“Get much sleep lad," Tar'gorth asked as Tar'vid sat down beside him.

“Some, I prayed with Sah'rah beforehand. It seems we all have burdens the saints can help us with” Tar'vid replied candidly as a wolf howled in the night.

“That we do, some of us more so than others," Tar'gorth said disapprovingly, looking back towards the others.

“Now, enough about the others. How're you holding up, can't be easy having to leave your wife behind” the older man asked in a more kindly tone of voice.

“It wasn't too hard on her, she seemed almost relieved I was heading to Brownfields. I can't help feel she knows something about my future... strange as it seems” Tar'vid replied, looking out as another wolf howled at the moon.

“Lad I've seen a lot of weird stuff in my time, mirekrakes... now they're weird. Scrying the future though, generally par for the course as far as magic goes. I knew a guy in Liergan out Redrealm way, could see your future years in advance. Never saw the stampede that killed him though, poor guy" Tar'gorth reminisced.

Tar'vid was astounded at how flippant Tar'gorth was in regards to the future, such things were for the gods to know. When Tar'vid hadn't spoken for a while Tar'gorth stood slowly.

“I'm gonna make a circuit of the camp, keep your eyes peeled lad. I've had a weird feeling all night” he said whilst casting his gaze about, though what he saw in the dark was anyone’s guess.

The wolves howls were getting closer he was sure, within the hour Tar'vid could see the yellow glow of the wolves eyes in the darkness. He stood calmly gazing defiantly at the pack, he drew Torgard bringing the blinding flash of light as protective armour encased him. The act drawing the desired effect of sending the pack scurrying away in fear, Tar'gorth appeared a short time later hand on his sword hilt.

“What is it lad," the older man asked quickly scanning the edge of darkness.

“Just a wolf pack, I think any kind of magic user is more than they're willing to challenge” Tar'vid replied as he sheathed Torgard once more, his armour dissipating instantly.

“I guess so, still let's stay vigilant. There are worse things than wolves in these parts” Tar'gorth told him with a slightly worried look.

Tar'vid couldn't help wondering what else prowled the night that could worry the older paladin.


Tar'vid had spent the rest of his watch wide awake, Tar'gorth's words putting a strange sense of unease in him.

“You still with us Tar'vid” he heard Tar'gelth call over to him, Tar'vid realising he was falling behind whilst lost in his own thoughts.

“I am, just thinking" he replied quickly, spurring on his horse to keep pace. The charger snorted at having to exert itself but obeyed none the less.

“Are you still thinking of home?" Tar'gelth asked intrigued.

“In part, it was more what Tar'gorth said last night... of there being worse things than wolves in these parts” Tar'vid said in a hushed tone, instinctively looking around him.

“It's true, the Mages rarely train monster hunters these days and so the darker monsters remain unmolested to attack at will. If our numbers were greater perhaps we would take up that mantle" Tar'gelth pondered, the elf staring back into the distance.

“Remember that Arklar beast we took down a decade ago” Sah'eca boomed proudly as they caught up with the others.

“I do, the villagers described it as a four-foot long lizard, sharp fangs and spat a poison that killed a man dead. Turned out the damn thing was near fourteen feet long and spat poison that could melt steel, took three of us to kill it. Sah'raen wasn't so lucky that day, melted off half her skull poor woman" Tar'gelth recalled painfully. Sah'eca seemed to only then recall the sorrow of her loss and fell silent.

“How many of us are there exactly," Tar'vid asked solemnly, knowing how painful Sah'raen's loss still was.

The others thought long and hard, though Sah'rah was somewhat absently staring forwards.

“Less that a thousand, perhaps drastically fewer. All our garrisons have been left at minimal levels for this campaign and I know there are less than a thousand, perhaps as low as seven hundred Tar'vid” Sah'eca said trying to recount from memory.

“My ledgers are at Brownfield keep, I'll tell you once you've seen the grand master" she continued absentmindedly, seeming to then make a mental note of it.

“How do we campaign with so few” Tar'vid asked, he wouldn't claim to know the first thing about warfare, but he was certain that under a thousand paladins would struggle to capture a castle. They simply weren’t trained for such a task.

“The order has allocated over half its treasury to hiring and training an army, it's also being bolstered by mercenaries from the northern realms” Tar'gelth replied confidently.

“How many soldiers do we have” Tar'vid asked quickly.

“Approaching the hundred thousand mark now, we had to make assurances to around seven kingdoms that we weren't attempting to take them over by force" Sah'eca interjected with a wry laugh, Tar'vid could imagine the panic the elven kingdoms would have had at a new paladin army on their doorstep.

“So where exactly are we going on campaign," he asked, feeling it was about time he knew.

“North” Tar'gelth stated bluntly.

“But we're in the north” Tar'vid replied, wondering how much farther north they could go.

“Far north lad, as in a years march north under usual circumstances” Tar'gorth interjected, waving his hand northwards.

“To do what exactly" Tar'vid then asked, he now knew where. Now he needed to know what they were going there for.

Tar'gorth looked to Tar'gelth who nodded his consent.

“The blooming of hope lad, we found it after decades of its foretelling. We found it” Tar'gorth said excitedly leaning forwards in his saddle.

Tar'vid knew this blooming of hope must be important, though he had no idea what it was.


Tar'vid sat down beside Sah'eca as she began to recount the tale of the blooming of hope to them. It was Tar'vid's turn for the night off, but he felt he needed to know the story behind their campaign. Sah'rah sat with them, clearly having only just learned such information herself.

Sah'eca took a deep breath, closing her large brown eyes.

“The tale of the blooming is old, as old as the gods... perhaps older. It is said that a great rend opened up the fabric of our world aeons ago, that this event spawned our gods and all life as we know it. All that is certain is that a being of immense power was created to counteract the tear, but such power could only exist for a short time, eventually dissipating its energy to seal the tear. The tear, however, was too great to be ever fully sealed and so over the centuries it slowly unravelled, spilling more power into the world once again. And so the cycle repeated until mortal beings came to be, first were the Dwarviari that you will know as the dwarfs and my forebears. They found that now the being would latch onto one of them, imbuing him with great power until the blooming happened. At first they tried to harness such power, then the being revealed itself at the moment of dissipation revealing that they had a choice, they could claim the power for themselves ushering in a time of unrivalled magical power, but that in doing so the tear would grow until the next blooming and would only ever return to the point it was at, that the beasts of magic would become more numerous, more powerful over the centuries. The Dwarviari understood that the cycle must continue unbroken, having battled the creatures of magic for decades. Then came the elves, the mountain folk who adopted the name of dwarves. These young races were guided by the Dwarviari and so when the blooming came again they were ready. Then came the humans and the orcs, who were driven by war and conquest, only one man rose above his base desires and sealed the tear. Blessed be Tar'mine, who saw the wisdom of the dwarviari and ascended beyond mortality with Sah'ravel. And that about leads us to where we are now, an empire to the north has control of the blooming and we must take control of it, you may not have heard Tar'vid but in the south lands, dragons run rampant, as do the other greater creatures of magic. Should this tear become permanent, then expand in the next few centuries the world will be overrun by magical beings. Who knows what greater threats lurk beyond the tear waiting to push through" Sah'eca told them, never once opening her eyes as she recounted a compiled story of every text written about the blooming.

Tar'vid noticed the astonishment on Sah'rah's face, the ramifications were massive. That every nation in the world wasn't descending upon the blooming of hope was shocking.

“I'm sorry to have left you with such a tale before sleeping, the tales could all be false of course. The flow of magic always ebbs and flows. And of course, monster hunters are so rare these days, it could just be such beasts have been left unchecked for decades. The Grand Masters, however, will take no chances, especially since the edict came from Tar'mine himself. Well, good night" Sah'eca told them before standing and striding off for her watch.

Tar'gorth and Tar'gelth came over a short time later, sitting down and preparing for sleep.

“You two look like you've been told the world's going to end” Tar'gorth stated, before laying down.

Tar'vid wasn't too sure whether they just had been.


Tar'vid stretched out his legs in the saddle, the last day had been sombre for everyone after the revelations of the previous night. He and Sah'rah had learned of what was ultimately at stake now, and that he had delayed this important campaign north by almost a week. Tar'gorth and Tar'gelth remained at the head of the group, though they too rarely spoke now. Sah'eca formed almost a bulwark between them, occasionally venturing some fact or statistic on matters. Sah'rah looked ready to burst with anger when they arrived in Curintan, the buildings lit up in the glow of dusk. It seemed to Tar'vid a very human looking settlement, the low palisade and many of the buildings inside built mainly of wood. As they passed through the gatehouse he noticed that the guards were most definitely Keldran soldiers and that indeed most of the people still in the cobbled streets were certainly elven, Tar'vid also noted the glares they received.

“We may as well stay the night here” Tar'gelth called back, manoeuvring his horse towards a large building.

Tar'gorth allowed Sah'eca to pass him by and Tar'vid and Sah'rah fell into line with him.

“Be careful in here Tar'vid, as Sah'rah can attest, the locals aren't too fond of us. Ancient history and all you know” the older man said in a low whisper.

As they dismounted several young boys came from the large barn to collect the horses, Tar'gelth conversing with them before tossing them a coin.

“The horses will be safe, come Tar'gorth. We have grave matters to discuss, the rest of you stay out of trouble” Tar'gelth said sternly, though he was distinctly glaring at Sah'rah when he spoke.

“If they leave me be, I'll leave them be” Sah'rah muttered in response. Tar'gelth seemed to ignore her and went inside the large building after Tar'gorth.

Sah'eca followed after having to squat comically to get underneath the doors lintel, Tar'vid held the door open as Sah'rah breezed past him. The doorway opened into a large common room, tables and benches liberally scattered around a large fire pit in the centre. Tar'vid immediately noticed Tar'gelth in conversation with presumably the owner.

“Why have you come back here?” the owner asked, a rather short elf with a mane of blonde hair.

“I like the friendly atmosphere of your establishment” Tar'gelth replied humourlessly, Tar'vid couldn't help but note Sah'rah's wry smile. He also noted the angry looks from the other patrons of the tavern.

“After last time... look just sit over there and don't antagonise anyone, can you do that?” the bartender asked them all broadly.

“They leave me alone, I'll leave them alone” Sah'rah replied, though she seemed tense.

The owner stepped back a little, shrinking from her.

“I'll have food and drink sent over... please don't destroy my tavern”

After taking a coin from Tar'gorth the owner went into the back rooms, through a stout oak door, several young girls emerging with pitchers. They had all sat down, Sah'eca pulling two benches together to take her weight.

“What exactly happened last time?” Tar'vid asked broadly, he noted that they all smirked a little... even Tar'gelth.

“The locals aren't so keen on Paladins, so when Sah'rah turned down their advances...” Tar'gorth started.

“A slight scuffle broke out, needless to say, four Paladins made short work of them" Tar'gelth chuckled, the noise made Tar'vid feel a little uneasy.

He turned around, seeing that the other patrons broke their gazes immediately, some leaving the tavern as quickly as possible.

“What's the grand master like then?” he asked, wondering what the highest ranked member of their order could do.

“He's strangely amiable considering his power," Tar'gorth said, scratching at his beard.

The young girls placed the pitchers and mugs on the table quickly, backing away before Tar'vid could say his thanks.

“He's powerful, I know that for a fact. Records indicate he's killed at least two chimeras, rumoured he took down a dragon once too” Sah'eca butted in enthusiastically.

“The latter was never confirmed, and the grand master laughs it off without answer always," Tar'gelth said calmly, raising an eyebrow at Sah'eca's outburst.

Tar'gorth stood after draining a single mug of wine, bowing to them as a whole.

“Forgive my abruptness, but I'm tired and a good bed awaits me. I'll see you all in the morning, Sah'ravel guide you”

“And Tar'mine protect you” they all replied as one.

As the night wore on Sah'eca was the next to leave, having drained a full pitcher and eaten a full chicken by herself. Tar'vid had himself picked at his food and drank little, there was something odd between Tar'gelth and Sah'rah, he felt it in the air. The three of them were now alone and he felt he should leave them be, neither noticed him stand so Tar'vid walked away, their conversation only starting once he began to open the pine door on the east wall that led to the accommodation. He wanted to eavesdrop, but it wasn't his business and he pulled the door shut behind him, walking the length of the hall he wondered exactly which room was his. Passing by several doors he found that each door had a nameplate, his own being at the far end of the hallway beside a leaded window, frosted glass depicting the infinite dragon symbol of Keldran. He pushed open the door, stepping inside and unbuckling his cloak and sword, placing them both on a wooden chair by the door. He looked around, a simple wood framed bed took up most of the room, with a small cupboard standing in the corner. Not bothering to undress he lay down gently on the bed, enjoying the comfort of it after nearly a week on the road. He lay there a long time, merely staring up at the ceiling and imagining what Luna might be doing right now. A short time later he heard a door slam shut, expecting Sah'rah and Tar'gelth's conversation hadn't gone well.


Tar'vid mounted his horse quickly, the others having as yet not woken, the air was thick with moisture with a thick mist lying over the town blowing in from the lake. Sah'rah was the first out and she mounted her horse quietly, though he noticed her eyes were red she hung her head against her horse's neck.

“What a horrid morning, at least I slept well” Tar'gorth boomed, perhaps wanting to wake the elves that despised them. He fell silent on seeing Sah'rah's state, shaking his head before mounting his horse.

Sah'eca came next, followed by Tar'gelth, who looked none the worse after last night. Sah'eca mounted her steed, pulling up next to Sah'rah and draping an arm around her. Tar'gorth stared angrily at Tar'gelth who trotted his horse past him, his elven grace and haughtiness on full display. Tar'vid heard Tar'gorth curse before wheeling his horse around to follow after the elf.

“Tar'gorth what's going on?” Tar'vid asked quietly.

“None of your business lad, keep your nose out of it!” Tar'gorth snapped angrily, passing him by.

Sah'rah and Sah'eca passed by next, the Venna's height making her look like a mother comforting her child. Never in all their time together had Tar'vid felt so ostracised from the group, he hung back a moment, taking in the almost ghost town-like settlement of Curintan. He walked his horse on, hearing only the sound of his horse's hooves on the stone flags of the road.

“What have you gotten me into Tar'mine?” he asked the mist, not expecting an answer.

“Your destiny Tar'vid” he heard on the wind, though as he looked around he could see no one.

Tar'vid walked his horse onwards, ignoring his feeling of being watched. He had seen none of the owls that seemed to follow him, spying for their saints and perhaps protecting him.

The mist eventually fell away as they ascended a hillock, passing into the emerging sunlight he caught his first glimpse of Brownfields, a great stone keep perched upon a steep hill, and below it a large town that itself was surrounded by thousands and thousands of tents, stretching out almost to the horizon.

The others were already descending the hillock as he spotted it, a great stone circle standing alone in a field. That was where he would meet his destiny he knew, almost feeling like there was a hand upon each of his shoulders urging him forward.

“Go forth Tar'vid with our blessing” he heard on the wind, seeing an owl alight onto a small tree beside the roadway. Tar'vid nodded to the bird in acceptance, leading his horse downwards towards the encampment.

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Chapter 3

Tar'vid looked around in awe, at a distance the camp had seemed massive and now up close, the encampment was unbelievable in scale. All he could compare it to was the mustering at Veldren, and in comparison that had been tiny.

“Have you ever seen an army so large?” Sah'eca asked him, turning in her saddle and beaming with a broad grin.

“Never, the closest thing I can compare it to was nothing like on this scale”

They were passing down the main road in single file now, carts, oxen, columns of men and cavalry passed them by. Tar'vid had heard of the mighty oxen cavalry of the North, but seeing the armoured beasts up close was frightening.

“Bred for generations those Tar'vid. Can't match a horses speed, but they're greater muscled than our regular oxen. Near impossible to stop their charge I've heard too” Sah'eca murmured to herself, hand on the pommel of her blade.

Tar'vid noted that the soldiers all bore blue tabards with a white cross upon their breast. It was true then, the Paladin order was now a military order, he couldn't help but wonder how this would affect the way they were seen by other kingdoms now.

His musings were cut short upon hearing orders being shouted out, he turned in his saddle to watch lines of infantry moving in formation, others practising with swords and spears.

“Impressive aren't they?” Tar'gorth said proudly, having fallen back beside him, “I'm sorry I snapped at you this morning Tar'vid, It was a stressful time” he explained, though the older man still kept his thoughts to himself.

“Don't beat yourself up about it, I don't even want to be here...” Tar'vid said, trailing off as Sah'eca and Tar'gelth pulled their horses aside.

“We leave you for now, Tar'gorth and Sah'rah will accompany you to the grand master's residence. Sah'ravel guide you” Tar'gelth ventured. Once they had responded, Tar'vid noted Sah'rah had not given Tar'mine's blessing, he wondered what exactly what was happening between them.

“Come on lad, let's get you to the grand master before dark” Tar'gorth said gruffly, shaking the reigns of his horse and leading the way, Sah'rah followed behind them without uttering a word.

The rest of the journey felt awkward, Tar'vid's initial awe at the size of the camp having faded some time ago and his companions sombre mood was starting to dampen his already middling spirits. After what seemed hours they entered the castle grounds of Brownfields, passing through a large gatehouse, its portcullis raised to allow them to pass, though the far side remained closed until the first one closed. Tar'vid looked up spotting the numerous murder holes and arrow slits in the walls, It reminded him pleasantly of Whitecliff.

It was only a few minutes before the far portcullis opened, but the strained silence was unbearable now, only when they emerged out into the courtyard did Tar'vid feel the tension lessen. From the gatehouse it was only a short distance to the donjon, a small stone tower of only a few floors, nothing quite as spectacular as Whitecliff or Keldran's grandeur. As they approached the entranceway several men and women emerged from a side door, quickly taking the reigns of their horses as the three Paladins dismounted. A finely dressed man emerged from the main entrance a short time later.

“Greetings to you all, I hope your journey was uneventful” The man said pleasantly, he was nearly a head shorter than Tar'vid was, though Tar'vid noted he carried himself with the confidence of a trained fighter, he also noted the man was missing a fair few teeth and had broken his nose at least twice, shaving what little hair he must have had left from his balding skull.

“More eventful than I'd have liked Tar'lin” Tar'gorth replied, rubbing at his scar.

“Indeed, and you must be Tar'vid... Tar'mine's chosen” the short man replied, though Tar'vid noticed no trace of resentment in his voice, “the grand master asks that you two remain outside whilst he talks with Tar'vid, come with me now Tar'vid... the time is already late”

Tar'vid followed Tar'lin inside, Tar'gorth and Sah'rah appearing to pay him no mind once again.


Tar'vid walked behind Tar'lin in silence, the other man peering back at him intermittently.

“So you are the heralded Tar'vid?” Tar'lin asked, dropping back to walk beside him. “You're taller than I'd thought you might be, is it true that you have bested several opponents, And on several occasions as well?”.

“For the most part it's true... are these tales widespread around the camp?" he wondered, this was the second time his ability to fight had been brought up.

“Certainly, several of our newer arrivals have been telling us of bandits giving up when they would clearly have killed a lone Paladin, your reputation has saved lives Tar'vid, that's nothing to be worried about”.

The tower seemed strangely larger than it had from the outside as they ascended a spiral staircase to the second floor, Tar'lin pushing open a thick oak door and standing aside.

“Please address him as Grand Master Tar'vid, we have little in terms of hierarchy, but this is the only immutable one”.

Tar'vid nodded, starting to unfasten his sword belt.

“There's no need for that, you're Saint Tar'mine's chosen after all". Tar'lin said with reverence.

Tar'vid let go of the belt, stepping through the doorway and into a large chamber that encompassed the whole of the second floor, the walls were lined with great thick bookcases, bound tomes and scrolls covered near every inch of the shelves and as he moved forward he noticed the fine red carpet on which he walked was faded and fraying. Near the centre of the room lay a great thick oak table piled with parchment and papers, smaller desks sat to the sides, men and women hurriedly scrawling upon parchment before handing them off to men in fine livery that quickly ran past Tar'vid, toward the doorway he'd entered through. Tar'vid walked over to the large desk, he could hear the distinct sound of a quill scratching on parchment coming from behind the mountain of scrolls.

“Hello there?” he asked, rather unsure. “I'm here to see the Grand Master?”.

The scratching stopped and a man stood up from behind the desk, his shaven head reflecting the candlelight from his desk.

“Then you must be Tar'vid of Whitecliff," he said scratching his moustache and goatee vigorously.

“Indeed I am, here at the request of Tar'mine”.

“Greetings to you young man, I am Tar'mon, Grand Master of the Paladin Order," he said offering his ink-stained hand, which Tar'vid shook immediately.

“You're taller than I'd expected" Tar'mon said with a curt smile. "Come Tar'vid, there is somewhere we need visit before tomorrow's departure".

“We're leaving so soon?" Tar'vid asked, a little puzzled that such a large-scale operation could move so quickly.

“Indeed, we've been ready to depart for over two weeks now, Tar'mine, however, insisted you be a part of this. I have to admit, if he hadn't shown us where you were I doubt we'd ever have found you" Tar'mon said, guiding him towards the back of the room, towards a circular structure that soared into the upper reaches of the building. Like the chamber of judgement in Whitecliff the room had two Paladins guarding it, both in their armour and holding spears and shields, both stood poised for combat.

“We must leave our weapons here” Tar'mon said, unbuckling his own sword as Tar'vid did the same. One of the guards took the swords as the other stepped aside, standing to attention as they passed into the chamber, the door having opened itself. Tar'vid recognised the room instantly, the same as the one in Whitecliff to the smallest detail.

“All these chambers are linked aren't they?” Tar'vid asked, voicing his thoughts.

“Yes... and no, though it is the same room, it exists outside of time as we know it, you could never meet anyone from Whitecliff from the Brownfield room for example" Tar'mon explained as they made their way to the raised dais.

“Are you ready Tar'vid, this can be rough” he asked, Tar'vid nodded, remembering all too well his first time here.

Tar'mon spread his arms wide, the familiar blue flames leaping up and engulfing them both.


Tar'vid's eyes refocused as he blinked away the flames, they were standing upon the platform once more, those that had failed the judgement still surrounded it, knelt as always in deference to the saints, though they seemed to radiate less than before.

“Greetings once again Grand Master Tar'mon, and to you Tar'vid” Sah'ravel said, her voice still ethereal to his ears.

Tar'mon bowed and he followed suit quickly after, Tar'mine stepped forward placing a hand upon each of their shoulders.

“Please, rise, both of you” Tar'mine said with a kindness Tar'vid had noticed back in Fernhaven.

“You've done exactly what was asked of you Tar'mon, leave with our blessing Grand Master," Sah'ravel said, rather hastily Tar'vid thought.

Tar'mon bowed to them both in turn again before the flames engulfed him once more, Tar'mine placed a hand upon Tar'vid's shoulder, guiding him towards Sah'ravel.

“You may be wondering why I've commanded you north Tar'vid?” Tar'mine asked, circling around him and sitting on his white throne beside Sah'ravel.

“I confess... it has crossed my mind often on the journey here, though I knew you wouldn't tear me from my wife and child without good reason”.

Tar'mine sat back on the throne, waving his hand casually and conjuring images in front of him, some form of pod or insect chrysalis.

“Are you familiar with my life journey Tar'vid?” Tar'mine asked seriously, Tar'vid nodded, taking a more serious interest in the conjured images.

“Only the accounts in the book of your name, when Samarkand fell most of our records were destroyed, though I'm sure you know this” Tar'vid replied feeling a little foolish.

Sah'ravel smiled, looking over to Tar'mine, placing a delicate hand on his own.

“You were right about him, as I hoped you would be," she said happily.

Tar'mine smiled, waving a hand and creating a chair behind Tar'vid, “please sit, there is much to tell you Tar'vid”.

Tar'mine told Tar'vid the story of his journey, it turned out that much of Tar'mine's story had been lost with Samarkand, tales of giants and dragons... most importantly the story of the Blooming of Hope, the details were strangely similar to the tale Sah'eca had told him and he mentioned it to the saints.

“It's good to know that we still have scholars amongst our ranks, it's a trait I fear we have lost over the centuries” Sah'ravel lamented.

“There was a point in relaying my story to you Tar'vid, I believe you are the chosen of the Blooming, that you will make the choice that will seal back the magic once more," Tar'mine said leaning forward, fixing him with his gaze.

“I won't fail you both, if this is my destiny, then so be it” Tar'vid replied, standing and bowing to them both.

“I know you won't Tar'vid, go with our blessing," Sah'ravel said as Tar'mine stood once more.

“There are still the ruins of an old Paladin shrine where you're going, you can seek me out there if need be, stay safe Tar'vid," Tar'mine told him, before staring off over the sea of failed initiates, the blue flames engulfing Tar'vid and taking him away.


Tar'vid's eyes adjusted to the change in location quickly, Tar'mon standing up slowly beside him.

“How long have you been waiting?” Tar'vid asked, standing himself.

“Only a few seconds, time passes strangely in the presence of the saints, best not to think about it really" The Grand Master explained hastily, before leaving the shrine, Tar'vid looked around once more before departing himself. Once they left the shrine's door closed shut once again, the guards of the shrine handing them back their swords before barring the entrance once more. Tar'mon waved over one of the men in fancy livery.

“Fetch Tar'lin, tell him to find temporary quarters for Tar'vid... preferably with Sah'rah and Tar'gorth. Always best to be with people you know” Tar'mon said, clapping Tar'vid on the shoulder. “Come, while we wait for Tar'lin to arrive I'll show you where we're going”.

Tar'mon brought him over to the large table, there were still scrolls littering it, covering the multitude of maps underneath. Tar'mon moved a number of the larger scrolls aside carefully, pointing a finger to a marking reading Brownfields, then slowly moved his finger upwards on the map, his finger moved nearly two feet, then further up.

“Around here is our destination Tar'vid, it would take over a year to get to this destination, perhaps a lot longer with an army," he said, still a little amazed himself. "We chartered the Mages guild to go north over a year ago, they've placed markers down that will allow the Mages here to open a portal straight to the north, it's all rather complicated to non-Mages". Tar'vid agreed, it was all over his head.

Tar'lin arrived a few hours later, Tar'vid noticed he had been asked to disarm before entering.

“I'm afraid there was no room left in the first divisions quarters, I've had them set up a tent for you on the outskirts, it's only for one night though” Tar'lin explained, giving a short bow whilst addressing Tar'mon.

“Can't be helped I guess. Tar'lin if you could see Tar'vid to his lodgings, I think you can call it a day yourself. Good luck to you Tar'vid, I hope to see you on the other side”.

Tar'vid gave a slight bow as Tar'lin had done, then followed the short Paladin outside.

“Try to keep a low profile tonight Tar'vid, rumours have circulated around camp about Tar'mine requesting your presence here. Many aren't happy about it, I've put you near some of my more trusted men, they'll keep most people from hassling you” Tar'lin said, leading him through the courtyard and into the gatehouse, a small escort following behind.

“Are they necessary?” Tar'vid asked, indicating the group of soldiers.

“Our fellow Paladins, for the most part, are fine, but the other soldiers... so yes they're necessary" Tar'lin replied.

Tar'lin led them through the streets, passing by groups of soldiers and Paladins that gave them only a cursory glance before returning to their activities. As the sun began to dip over the mountains to the north Tar'vid noticed that enclosed lanterns began to ignite spontaneously.

“The Mages crafted them, would've taken our men ages to light all these lanterns" Tar'lin commented as they passed a large tent filled with soldiers and Paladins. "That's the mess hall, we'll stop in here now whilst you have some protection".

Tar'vid's escort filed in first, taking up positions around the dining area, their weapons kept close. He took his place in the queue, getting his serving of some sort of stew and bread.

“Tar'vid, come, sit here!” came Sah'eca's booming voice from the far end of the tent, immediately all eyes turned upon him, he noted many barely restrained their contempt for him.

Tar'vid made his way over to Sah'eca, perhaps others might think twice about messing with the Venna, Tar'lin remained within reach, should he be needed.

“How goes things young Tar'vid?” she asked, drinking from her bowl that seemed a cup in her hand.

“I was happier before everyone knew who I was” Tar'vid replied with a wry smile.

“Oh, sorry about that, I forgot you're not the most popular person right now” she replied, putting down a small book that she held in her other hand.

“It's fine, strangely not the first time I've had a target on my back” he replied, remembering his brief time in Keldran.

“Well, you may be pleased to know we're the second wave tomorrow. It's all rather exciting isn't it?” she said with a gleeful expression, “I've never been outside of Cerdic, I believe our destination is on another continent Tar'vid”.

“It is, Saint Tar'mine filled me in on the details earlier" he replied, noticing that many of the soldiers and Paladins were leaving the tent, their meals unfinished.

“I shall have to map the area out, perhaps one day we shall have a repository of knowledge that matches that of legendary Samarkand” Sah'eca continued, oblivious to what was clearly going to happen now.

After only a few minutes only Tar'vid, Sah'eca, Tar'lin and the four men of their escort remained, along with twelve soldiers and a Paladin, Tar'vid stood to leave, he'd rather avoid a fight where weapons were present. As he reached the entrance several soldiers blocked his path.

“You're going nowhere princess” one of them mocked, before spitting at his feet, Tar'vid stared at him indignantly.

Tar'vid heard a scraping of metal on wood, seeing the benches and tables being dragged to the edges of the tent, the other Paladin standing in the middle of the floor, his tabard discarded on a chair.

“So you're Tar'vid of Whitecliff, chosen boy of Tar'mine... you're taller than I expected," he said mockingly.

“That's getting real old" Tar'vid replied irritated, they would surely have many battles to come, why start more.

“How about a friendly duel?” the Paladin asked, gesturing around the room as if this was acceptable.

“Another time perhaps, if you'd forgotten we go to war tomorrow” Tar'vid said, eyeing the guards at the door once more.

“Tar'gon!” shouted Tar'lin, “enough of your idiocy, let hi leave or the Grand Master will hear of this” he added threatening him with a hand on his sword hilt.

Instantly everyone but Sah'eca pulled their weapons free, several flashes followed as Paladin armour clad the three of them. Tar'vid's mind immediately went into battle ready, he picked out his initial targets, he could take the two guards at the door, but his escort and Tar'lin would be cut down.

“You better think about what you're doing” Tar'lin addressed the soldiers, “You're attacking the Grand Masters chosen men, not to mention Tar'mine's chosen man, it'll be treason charges”.

The soldiers hesitated a moment, a court martial and hanging deterring an outright attack.

“That's only if you leave here alive” Tar'gon added, spinning his blade like an amateur.

Several of the soldiers began to advance, Tar'vid prepared for a bloodbath, and over what... several screams erupted a few seconds later, Tar'vid whipped his head to see several soldiers on the ground and a great tear in the tent, Sah'eca stood tall and holding a table in her hands.

“Tar'gon you will stop this now or by Saint Tar'mine I'll crush the lot of you, no one threatens my friends!" she boomed, Tar'vid had never seen the Venna so angry, it was terrifying.

Tar'gon sheathed his blade immediately, lifting up his hands in submission, the remaining soldiers doing likewise.

“Leave, and think on your stupidity!” Tar'lin shouted, Tar'gon and the others fleeing the tent through the newly created exit.

Tar'vid's escort relaxed and Tar'lin let out a deep breath, Tar'vid sheathed his own sword knowing how close they'd been to death.

“Arrest these men” Tar'lin ordered, indicating the soldiers bowled over by Sah'eca. “Someone's going to be held responsible for that” he continued, inspecting the large tear.

Sah'eca walked over to Tar'vid, placing a large hand on his shoulder, “come Tar'vid, we should probably get you back to your tent”.

“I agree, but I don't actually know where it is” he replied with a shrug.

Tar'lin must have overheard him and indicated the remaining member of his escort to show him the way.

“Be safe Tar'vid, the saints preserve us if we have to endure this level of envy the whole campaign” Tar'lin added, stepping outside the tent with them.

“I'm getting the impression I was never welcome here... and that I never wanted to be” Tar'vid said, taking a deep breath of the evening air.

“It's not what we want Tar'vid, it's what the gods want, and the saints... we're only pawns, never forget that” Tar'lin said, hand on his sword hilt. “Tar'mine protect you both” he added.

“And Sah'ravel guide you” they replied, Tar'lin turned and strode away towards the keep.

Sah'eca accompanied him and his escort through the camp, though it seemed that there were few people about now, most having chosen to get a full nights rest, with battle more than likely tomorrow. As Tar'lin had said his tent was indeed on the outskirts of the camp, several soldiers lounged about, though his escort received a nod of greeting from them easing his nerves. His escort bowed and left them after they entered the small tent.

“Certainly cosy," Sah'eca remarked, her head rubbing up against the roof.

“It's only for one night, besides I'm somewhat shorter than you” Tar'vid remarked, sitting on the mattress lying on the ground.

“Indeed, just sleep lightly, I never expected there would be such hostility towards you here Tar'vid”.

“It seems to be my defining trait since walking the path, though I'm glad to know you have my back” he replied, offering her his hand.

Sah'eca gripped his forearm lightly with a smile, that came across far more menacing than it should have in the low light. “I always have my friends backs, sleep well Tar'vid... I shall see you in the morning”.

“Indeed, Sah'ravel guide you," he said, placing Torgard beside his mattress.

“And Tar'mine protect you” she replied before leaving the tent.

Tar'vid lay back on the hard mattress, reminding him of Whitecliff and his rock hard bed there, he found his thoughts wandering towards Luna, he only hoped that Jonas was keeping her safe. Tar'vid's dreams were fraught with terrors as he tossed and turned, his worries manifesting in visions of death and destruction.

He suddenly went rigid, feeling steel pressed up against his neck, a hand firmly covering his mouth.

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