FreeHolds Adventure, Cycle 3 Part 5d

FreeHolds Adventure, Cycle 3 Part 5d

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The folks from Lekas and those that had gathered to help them greeted Adwin and his companions as returning heroes. Seeing Milla reunited with Lef had been heart-warming. The old musician had wept tears of joy and the two of them had held onto each other, both laughing and crying. The news of the sorceress’ death was welcome and there were cheers, as well as warm embraces, heartfelt hand shakes and plenty of backslapping. The wood, weapons, horses and extra fighters were well received.

With the spring rains having passed, work around the village had resumed at a reasonable pace. Over the past few days much progress had been made. While an impromptu celebration started on the green, Andisal had taken Adwin, the twins and Del back to the tower. She certainly wanted to know what had transpired in Aramy, but she first dug out a bottle of wine and poured them all a drink. With an arm around Del she raised her cup and said, “To a job well done. Thank you, all of you.”

Adwin was surprised by her gratitude and perhaps more so by the woman’s open smile, rarely had he seen her not scowling deep in thought. Briefly, he caught a glimpse of what she must have been like in her younger years, certainly an attractive and compelling woman. The passing of years had taken much of that from her, though she was still one of the most imposing people he knew. He felt humbled by her gratitude.

After the toast she heard the story of what had happened in Aramy, in her usual way she listened and took a few notes on a scrap of paper. When they had finished relating the goings on in Aramy, Adwin had asked about Tipper. Having not seen her since their arrival he was not surprised to learn that there had been no sign of her, nor any word as to her whereabouts. Despair weighed heavily on him and he processed very little of what was said after that. He did hear that word had come from the dwarves saying they were on their way and that Andisal was thinking of putting together a group of raiders to harass Sharlok’s army as it advanced, as it no doubt soon would be doing.

He declined the invitation to stay for a meal. When he exited the tower he was a bit surprised to find that it was still daylight, disconcerted by the joyful noises coming from those gathered on the green. Not in the mood for company he headed in the other direction, eventually finding himself up on the earthworks along the west end of the village. There were a few people manning the barrier and a couple of people up in a lookout platform that had been erected in the time they had been gone. Thankfully no one bothered him, he found a place to sit and watch the sunset.

He struggled with a deep sadness. The sun sank to the horizon and the sky turned a beautiful dark blue before fading to black. Distantly he heard the folks from Predost singing the passing of the day. Though he realized Tipper was likely dead, he refused to shed any tears and clung to the hope that somehow, somewhere, Tipper was out there still trying to reach them.

Adwin sat in the dark for a long while, he was startled from his revere by a familiar voice. Sefla asked, “I take it there’s been no word of her whereabouts?”

“No.” It came out rather curtly.

There was a long silence, Adwin wondered if he had offended her. Eventually she quietly said, “I’m sorry to hear that.” She sat down beside him and sighed. They sat in silence for a long while. Kallen rose to the northwest, the stars were bright above them, the Three Rivers clearly visible.

Distantly Adwin noted there was still music, singing and dancing happening over on the green. It sounded like people were having a good time, “I thought you’d be dancing?”

“I did. There’s plenty of others dancing now, lots of drunk and happy people… So… I…”

He looked over but could not see her expression in the dark, “Are you okay?”

“I don’t know. I think so… I… I scared myself.”

“Scared yourself? How so?”

She took a deep breath and slowly let it out, “I didn’t mean to kill that man. At the falls… It just kind of happened. I didn’t even feel the gash on my foot until Mokha helped me up… afterwards… It was such a strange feeling. I mean, all of it. I was really excited and thrilled. Hunting those people down and trying to capture them. The danger of it all, the risk of being exposed… It was fun. I felt powerful, more alive than I can ever remember feeling.”

“Oh…” He really wished he could see her expression, she sounded remorseful, maybe ashamed, but also wistful. He was caught off guard by what she had said. He certainly had not felt that way in the fights he had been in. Neither during nor after and definitely not before a fight. If anything, he felt fear beforehand, terror during and regret after. To him it always seemed he fell short of what he expected from himself in those situations. But, or so he had been thinking since Aramy, maybe he was just comparing himself to Tipper too much.

“Do you think I’m crazy?”

“What? No! Not at all. Look, we’re all different, I mean… no one is going to respond the same way to a situation as another person. We’re individuals, we all have different backgrounds, different talents, desires, feelings. No one thinks you killed that man deliberately. It was an accident.”

“How did you feel when you killed the witch?”

“Ah. Well, surprised. I mean, it happened so quickly. I think I was expecting more of a fight or some sort of trickery… The way she looked though, shocked, maybe confused… that haunts my dreams. I don’t regret it, not after seeing what she had done to those people. She needed to die.”

She reached over, found his hand and gave a friendly squeeze. In the silence that followed they looked to the stars above. A long while passed, eventually two of the lookouts walked up to them, they had a lantern on a long pole. A friendly looking homesteader broke the silence and asked, “Everything okay here?”

Sefla replied, “We’re good.”

Adwin stood up, “I was just star gazing.”

“Nothing wrong with that. Good night for it.”

The other lookout, a middle aged woman in new leather armour asked, “You’re Adwin? Adwin of Willik’s Hold.”

“I am.”

She offered her hand, palm outward, “Peace be with you, friend. You and your companions saved my brother. You are welcome at the Haldervale Homestead anytime.”

He placed his palm against hers, “Peace be with you.”

The other lookout suggested, “We’re thankful for what you’ve done, all of us here are. We should move along though, we’re on watch.”

“I won’t keep you any longer then. Thank you.”

“Good night.”

“Good night.”

The guards moved off, leaving the two of them in darkness. Folks were still celebrating over on the green. After listening for a few moments he sat back down, Sefla moved closer, took his hand again and leaned against his shoulder. He thought she smelled nice.

She said, “I think you are a good man, Adwin.”


She gave his arm a squeeze, “You are.”

“Well, I think you are an amazing woman Sefla. Talented, beautiful and very considerate of the people around you.”

“I wasn’t always that way.”

“Talented and beautiful?”

She laughed, “No actually. When I was younger, my siblings used to tease me about being ugly. I was a very awkward child.”

“Really? I can’t imagine you being anything other than graceful.”

“You’re such a flirt.”

“Am I? I didn’t mean it that way. Ah, well, I didn’t not mean it that way either.”

She squeezed his arm again, “I didn’t know how to be considerate until a few years ago. I was raised like a princess and I didn’t understand that most people don’t get to live the way I did. Even after my father had decided to get rid of us I was still just a selfish little girl. It wasn’t until I lost the rest of my family and had to start fending for myself that I started to learn anything about humility, sharing or even considering what another person might be going through. You. You just seem to be that way. All the time.”

“The Sisters of Mercy raised me, compassion and helping people is their thing. It might have been different if there had been no WinterWar or the fever that followed. If I’d had a family.”

“Well, family or not, I think you’re one of my favourite people.” She leaned into him again, hugging his arm.

Adwin felt the stirring of his desire. He cleared his throat and pointed up to the sky, “Does that star look too long to you?”

“What? Where?”

“There, about an arms length above the horizon, a bit to the right of the East Sister.”

“What do you mean by too long? Elongated?”

“Yeah, like it’s stretched out a bit.”

“Maybe, though now I think I’m just seeing all of them that way.” She laughed.

“Maybe I’m just tired.”

“Maybe you should sleep, then.” She gently pushed him back, his heart beat faster and he did not resist her.


“I guess.”

She lay down beside him and lay her head on his shoulder, “I think I see what you mean.”

Distracted, he did not understand, “What?”

“The long star. There.” She pointed to the sky above them.

“Oh, yeah. That’s it.”

She snuggled close and together they fell asleep gazing at the sky, wondering about the long star.


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