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Amensol's Shadow: The Fox and the Wolf, Part Six Finale

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    March 28, 2020 12:06 AM PDT

    Amensol’s Shadow: The Fox And The Wolf, Finale

    The 8th Tale of the Unseen Pillar of the House of Amensol, by Benonai

     

                CRACK!

                    Smoke and sand everywhere.  It made each breath hurt. Two cubits ahead was hard to see.  Three cubits ahead was completely lost in the slurry. And the lightning and thunder came from seemingly all around.

                    “Argh!”

                    Indistinct voices carried through the dark and stinging wind, roaring through, then a reply. Some were rage-filled battle cries, and some were boisterous arcane incantations that rode on the air itself.

                    CRACK!

                    BOOM!

                    White and yellow light tried to push its way through the darkness as heat lightning shone dimly through the veil of thick cloud. The light had a hard time pushing through, but the shockwave was enough to make every step unsure.

                    Avendyr led the way through the smoke and wind, slowly and carefully following the sounds of war while watching for dangers one step at a time.  There were boulders that had been thrown loose from the high cliffs surrounding the entrance to the sanctum; broken and flung by the awesome forces of the Suns of Terminus and of the High Mortal Ossari. It made it hard to walk straight in any direction without stumbling over something.  The voices on the wind and the constant flashes of light and flame spoke of the ensuing battle between them. And Avendyr meant to join it. This war had been costly to the race of men, and he was set that men would see it finished. 

                    Kole hid himself behind Avendyr, stepping where he stepped, moving when he moved. He wished he could run from this place, but his fear kept him between Avendyr, King of Men, and Allistan, the head cleric and now default commander of the armies of men and elves.  There was nowhere so terrifying, but nowhere he felt as safe. His foot slipped on the rocky terrain, and a familiar hand gripped the back of his vest and steadied him. The comfort of Allistan’s steady hand settled his nerves, even if slightly.

                    Allistan’s left hand gripped the mace he had scavenged from the battlefield.  The rush to greet Ossari a couple hours earlier felt like a lifetime ago. He had not taken the time to gather his gear from his quarters before heading out to the battlefield. His constant need to advise and strategize had kept him out of regular combat, especially since the fall of Havensong, and he felt almost a relief being back in a situation with his fate squarely in his hands.  He dreaded the fight before them, being so weak in comparison to the supernatural beings they were going out to meet. But there was no other choice at this point. He had come to watch over Kole. But the closer he got, the more he felt drawn to it. As his left hand held his weapon, his right hand penned invisible symbols in the air as he recited a prayer of protection. A faint aura glowed around the party for a brief moment. He noticed Kole and Avendyr calm a bit and quicken their pace at their newfound vigor. Then he began a new recitation as they continued closer to the epicenter. 

                    BOOM!

                    The force of a breaking wave blew the party off their feet as heat and light filled the air around them.  Allistan looked panicked as his hand searched the ground for the weapon that had fallen from it. They were still recovering as a body rose from a crater beside them.  It was the fire-wielding Monk Wizard, picking himself up from a brutal strike that would have killed any mortal man.

                    “King of men! Stay back! This battle is beyond your abilities,” shouted the Wizard through the storm. The sun was already beyond the horizon and the air was thick, but his skin glowed bright like flame and made him the most visible object through the storm.  The Wizard turned back toward them before leaping back into battle. “I will not spare wrath for your safety. You must stay here.”

                    The monk crouched low then burst upwards with the force of a meteor and disappeared into the storm.

                    “We press on!” Avendyr shouted back to his companions and received a stern nod of approval from Allistan.

                    Following the cries of the three powerful beings brought them into the eye of the storm.  The sand and ash that had been swirling began to dissipate, although the wind was still swirling around them.  The felt tremors in the ground beneath their feet that seemed to fall in line with the large thunderclaps and sounds of explosions.  As the air cleared further, the three finally caught a glimpse of the battle taking place. The female WarWizard was staying on the move from ledge to ledge against the cliff walls, keeping Ossari moving as she called down lightning from the sky.  The storm encircling them seemed to emanate from her; her magic was stronger than anything Allistan had ever seen. It was enough to keep Ossari on the move as well. He seemed to almost teleport from one location to the next, able to move faster than the eye could process.  He took his opportunities at both WarWizards as he was able, nimbly guarding against the powerful magic of the Elven female while focusing much of his effort on the monk. He charged the monk again with blinding speed and was rebuffed immediately. The monk had no need of that speed.  He was ready for Ossari’s next move before it ever came. The instant Ossari slowed after delivering a blow left a window to attack before he recovered to move again. The monk spun and placed his heel against the back of Ossari’s ribs. The armor absorbed much of the blow, but it was evident from Ossari’s grimace that he could not withstand that forever. 

                    Avendyr watched the commotion for a moment while crafting his plan of attack.  He looked around the tornado encased arena and spotted a boulder lying near the action.  That was enough, he thought. Avendyr wasted no time, sprinting into the fray in a line straight for the boulder.  Kole felt exposed as Avendyr left his side, and he quickly jumped out after him, but was choked by his own collar as Allistan reached out and grabbed him at his nape.  He pulled him back hard, rougher than Kole ever remembered Allistan acting with him. He landed on the ground at Allistan’s feet. Allistan was not in the mood for squabbling about what Kole could or couldn’t do.  It was time to do as he was told. 

                    Allistan focused his attention on the strategy in play here. Avendyr was obviously trying to get close enough to the fight to have a shot at a passing Ossari, if he could keep out of his line of sight.  He could help increase the chance encounter by driving Ossari in that direction. Allistan turned quickly toward Kole.

                    “Kole, you stay as far from the combat as you can.  I am keeping one eye on you as I fight and I can’t afford for you to get in harm’s way. Understand?” he asked directly.  Kole nodded without saying a word. He looked up at Allistan, searching his eyes for comfort, but there was none. There was only war.

                    Moving forward toward the fight, Allistan began reciting his prayers as he gestured with his hand as if he was pulling power down from the sky.  His voice climaxed at the end of the prayer and his hand swooped down. An invisible force smote the ground in front of Ossari, blowing rocks and debris everywhere.  Ossari looked up and saw Allistan poised to join the fight. He snarled under his helmet, but his mannerisms spoke clearly to Allistan that his presence was not welcomed here.  Allistan was already reciting it again. He picked a point halfway between he and Ossari. Ossari charged in Allistan’s direction just as Allistan dropped his hand again. The explosion hit 10 cubits in front of Ossari.  Ugh, too far, Allistan thought.  But Ossari noticing the obstacles in his was decided to move laterally.  The WarWizard caught up with him and threw several glancing blows on Ossari as he parried.  Ossari swung his sword around trying to interrupt the offensive move. The monk jumped back from the swing giving Ossari enough time to create more space between them.  He set his focus back on Allistan and moved further to his side. Allistan again brought his hand down as the ground was smitten again just in front of Ossari causing him to stumble backwards. A loud boom followed a lightning strike just to his side, which pushed him back farther still.  Ossari seethed in his frustration and beat his chest as he let out a deafening roar. Allistan winced as the sound carried over top of the noise of the wind and storm. There was just enough light given off by the WarWizards to see silhouettes of each person, but the light outside had faded and it was getting harder to see clearly.  Ossari beat his sword on his shield as he taunted Allistan to come face him. Ossari was pacing around to his left when his left knee went limp and a sharp pain shot up his spine as he collapsed down to one knee.

                    Avendyr circled around him and wiped the blood from his blade.  Raindrops began falling on his head as he moved to look Ossari eye to eye.  Ossari made no attempt to move, other than to check the back of his knee for the extent of his wound.  He appeared comfortable, even in this moment of weakness.

                    “A clever move, boy,” Ossari said grinning.  He winced slightly, shifting his weight to feel the extent of the injury.  “There are… weaknesses in any suit of armor. Am I right?”

                    “Get away!” shouted the Monk. “We must finish this!”

                    Avendyr didn’t move.  Allistan noticed their attacks stop as Avendyr was right in the middle of the strike zone.  Apparently, they would spare their wrath for Avendyr, if not for his soldiers. Allistan looked back to check on Kole. Pale light hung in the cloud cover and rain and gave an ominous dark orange appearance to their field of battle.  It was just enough light to see in the early night. He spun around looking in all directions. Oh no, where is Kole?

                        The elven WarWizard cried out to her counterpart to finish the task, but he hesitated with Avendyr, the king of men, in his way.  They had been sent with a specific purpose and interfering too greatly in the affairs of the mortals would be unwise.

                    Ossari rested his hands on his thigh, still down on one knee.  “You have any weaknesses in your armor, Avendyr?” Ossari said slyly.  “Say, for instance, your father?”

                    Avendyr tightened the grip on his sword. “That is not my problem now, it is yours. I am going to kill you on my father’s behalf, and MY people will enjoy an existence they have never known under you.”

                    “Ah, I see.  Revenge and bloodlust are noble aspirations for a ruler, of course.  I’m glad you learned so well from your god. But, be careful where you place your esteem.  Many placed it on me and see where it got them?”

                    Allistan started to panic.  Kole was not behind him. He dared not call out for fear of breaking the focus of Avendyr in such a volatile situation.  It only takes a moment, as they learned, for Ossari to snatch life from any man. Then, something caught Allistan’s attention out of the corner of his eye; a glint of metal peeked around the side of a loosened boulder in the distance between him and Avendyr.  He squinted his eyes and waited for another clue.

                    “No one is placing any esteem upon you now, you ruined and wretched mortal,” Avendyr said to Ossari.  He would see to it that Ossari was abased before he took his life. “My father was a better ruler than you ever were. He cared for his people. And you… you abandoned your duty for wrath and even greater power at the expense of your own legacy.  My people will forget your name. But the name of Amensol will live forever.”

                    Ossari chuckled lightly, looking straight at Avendyr.  He stopped for a moment and removed his helmet, unafraid of Avendyr.  Ossari shook his long brown hair and it settled like a mane around his shoulders.  Avendyr looked into his eyes for the first time. It was a green like the sea that seemed to be lit from the inside. It mesmerize him as he stared.  Ossari slightly shifted his weight and Avendyr jerked his sword up on defense.

                    “Stupid mortal,” Ossari said. “Your death won’t be quick, like your foolish father’s, no. I gave him what he wanted, silence; and I’ll give you what you desire: blood.”

                    “My father wanted peace, and blessings for men.”

                    “You prove your ignorance in every opportunity,” Ossari raised his voice. “Your father didn’t want peace, he wanted forgiveness, and chased it until his last breath.”  Avendyr seemed caught off guard by this remark, which wasn’t a sharp tongued insult as he expected.

                    “Oh, your father was haunted by his deceit. He told even his own family lies every day of his miserable rule. He didn’t even bury his secret sins. He kept… him… close.”

                    Kole crouched low under the rubble strewn across the battlefield.  He couldn’t see but a silhouette of Avendyr and Ossari, not 20 cubits off.  A faint blue and red glow rested farther off in the distance up in the sky where the frightening wizards were waiting.  He couldn’t stop breathing hard, the drops of rain pushed and pulled from his quivering lips. He was scared, but the thought of his mother never returning was a greater ache than the ache of death.  He had to do something for her. It’s what she would do for him.

                    “Yes, Avendyr, son of Amensol.  I believe you know of what I speak,” Ossari continued. “It was the weakness in his armor.  His lies were too inconvenient at first to be confessed. So he hid them. Then, as time went on, the truth was too dangerous to be buried, so it had to be managed.  Never able to admit it, and never able to let it go; he was in purgatory and none of his deeds could free him. And you, the sniveling, lesser son of his great legacy, must be crowned to keep his better, stronger, smarter son a secret…”

                    “YOU LIE, COWARD!” Avendyr roared back.

                    “Did you know he abandoned his own bastard son and the child’s mother?. He fooled every pathetic human, raising himself from a manipulating tramp to leader of men.  The truth is, my creation made me sick to let the lowest form I created rule them. Order needed to be restored. And I certainly couldn’t leave it to the second rate son.”

                    Avendyr had always known he was second rate in his father’s eyes. And he always told everyone that Honnai was like a brother to him, but Amensol had treated Honnai as his older brother.  The words Ossari spoke were true, but his heart had never put them so plainly. Avendyr had chased his father’s approval and recognition all of his life, but always felt he fell short of the long shadow cast by his closest friend, Honnai.  And, after he was martyred saving his Avendyr’s life, people would never stop talking about him until his actions could eclipse such deeds. He had spent his life chasing accomplishments to prove his worth to his father, and to live up to his legacy. If it was true that Honnai was his half-brother, and he suspected that it was, then he had an obligation to live up to Honnai’s legacy as well.  Either way, Ossari must die, and no one was going to kill him but Avendyr.

                    “And now,” Ossari stood ever so slowly and gently, as Avendyr stayed locked in his captivating stare with his sword drawn, “you come to grips with yourself. Unwanted, second best, lacking…”  Ossari saw his words hitting Avendyr like daggers. “You do not deserve to rule, your family does not deserve to rule! And when the others find out… when the boy… finds out, you will be cast into outer darkness and the house of Amensol will burn to ash.”

                    “This is enough.  We must act now,” the monk looked at the Elven wizard.  She agreed. the time was now. He shot off toward the showdown to catch Ossari while he was still recovering, and Avendyr would pay whatever price came with his petty revenge.

                    “The house of Amensol will live on, I swear it,” Avendyr hissed, his hatred and rage burning through his body at this attack on his family, his king, his people. Ossari would die by his hand. Then he would know who the real ruler of men was. A sound caught his attention from behind and he turned. The monk was charging through the rain, ready to finish this fight with the high Mortal, Ossari.  Avendyr stepped in front.

                    “This is my fight, not yours!,” Avendyr shouted as he threw his shoulder into the monk, throwing him slightly off balance as the Sun pushed through the collision toward Ossari.  His fist missed Ossari’s uncovered face by a sliver, and Ossari brough his sword up, glancing it off of the ribs of the WarWizard, spilling hot blood to the ground. The monk cried out as he grabbed his ribs, and the other Wizard placed a lightning strike directly between Ossari and her companion, knocking them both apart.

                    Avendyr lay on the ground after taking a blow from the immovable monk, and from his slightly dazed state, he looked up just in time to see a figure splashing through the rain toward an off balance Ossari.  The figure lept in the air and was lost in the shadow of the large warrior.

                    Ossari yelled out loud as pain shot through his shoulder. A blade had found the crease and made its way into his body. He turned his head painfully to see a small hand grabbing the handle of a small dagger that was pertruding from the top of his right shoulder..  He was dumbfounded for a second at the sight. He turned his body to try to reach the small body attached to the handle.

                    Kole hung on for dear life, his tears mixed with the rain and mud on his face as he held his hand on the blade of his father, sticking nearly halfway to the hilt into Ossari’s shoulder.  He screamed through his terror and anger as he hung there.

                    Avendyr reflexively bounded to his feet with his sword ready.  This was his moment in the confusion. He raised his blade as Ossari turned his body and revealed Kole hanging by one arm to the knife. Kole was in between them. There was no stopping now…

                    Kole felt the water splashing on his body, but not his face.  Something was over top of him. His eyes were closed. He dared not open them for fear of Ossari.  He felt arms reach under him and pull him into a body. A voice that was familiar to him was shouting, then calling his name.

                    “Kole, Kole!,” Allistan yelled only inches from the boy’s face. “Son, speak to me.  Kole!” His right hand stretched down and grabbed the boy’s arm as he began reciting a prayer of healing.  Blood was still seeping through the wound running down the bone and muscle, and into the clothes of Allistan.  The boy’s severed hand,sliced up past his wrist, was laying unmoving a few feet away.

                    “Allistan… watch out for… Ossari,” Kole said, still keeping his eyes closed.

                    Ossari’s body laid at the feet of the two WarWizards and Avendyr.  His head laid next to it covered in the mud into which it fell. Avendyr still clenched his sword tightly, his knuckles white and his face tensed up in anger and spite.  He spit onto the removed head of the fallen high mortal.

                    The monk spoke up, “Let us go drive the enemy back with the head of their fallen leader.  This battle must end soon. Waste no time here,” he said, grabbing Avendyr’s arm, waking him from his fixation.  Avendyr looked at him, almost like a child looking for affirmation, and nodded his head in silence and followed them back to the battle in progress near the eastern side of the walls of the Silent Sanctum.

                    Allistan watched Avendyr as he and the WarWizards raced past him back toward the battle.  He looked back down at Kole.

                    “Kole, it’s okay,” Allistan said, much quieter now.  He stroked the boy’s face as he held him halfway in his lap.  The healing spell had slowed the bloodloss, but it needed additional medical attention.  He ripped the sleeve from his shirt, his dark brown skin almost disappearing into the night.  He wrapped the sleeve around the boy’s wound before the boy regained his senses. He had to get him back to the doctors at the Sanctum while Kole was still docile.  This would not be easy for the boy who had already lost so much. Allistan stood up from he wet mud, Kole in his arms, and carried him the half mile back to the entrance of the stronghold.

     

                    The sun had dried up much of the rain that seemed only to fall over the battle the night before.  It was past midday, most had slept until nearly midday from the battle that raged well into the night.  Bodies of men were piled near gate entrances mostly in the second level walls. The bodies of the Revenant horde were strewn everywhere from the gates all the way to the charred ash pit where Havensong once stood.  That is where the army, led by King Avendyr and the Suns of Terminus, stopped pursuing their foes and finally returned triumphantly back to the Silent Sanctum with the head of Ossari, once famed god of men, in he clutches of the King’s hand. His body had been carried out to Havensong and burnt in the ashes of the city.

                    There was a feast being prepared with the finest of the rations, now that their days in the Sanctum were numbered.  The WarWizards had left unceremoniously the night before after escorting the army back to the Sanctum. They gave no words to Avendyr, except for saying they had done their part, for now. The monk’s sliced side remained untreated, but seemed not to concern him. The left the same way they had come, bursting through the clouds in a fiery blaze until out of sight altogether.  Avendyr had turned to the army, silent for a long moment, then held up the head of Ossari and cried, “Tomorrow we feast!” at the cheer of the crowd. And so, in the morning, those who had sheltered in place during the battle woke to the pain of loss and the bittersweet victory, and a new hope for the future that had eluded them since before leaving Havensong and the death of their king.  Avendyr, slayer of gods, had conquered their enemy, with the help of the Suns of Terminus. This hope overshadowed the mourning of their departed brothers, sisters, and friends. And the feast would be to the honor of all.

                    “I’m not going,”Allistan said, not turning around to face the doorway where Lorn stood. He was watching over Kole, barely taking his eyes off of him the entire night.  Lorn, the acting general of the army, was frustrated at Allistan’s defiant attitude.

                    “Allistan, the men want to recognize their leader. You ARE the General of the triumphant army.”

                    “Congratulations, Lorn. You are now officially the General.  Comfort the men for me,” Allistan replied.

                    “What am I supposed to tell the King?  You know he’ll ask me where you are. He’ll want you to say something.  Allistan, the people all look up to you.”

                    “First,” Allistan picked his head up slightly, “he is not my king. I’m done propping up men not worthy of their position. Second…”

                    “Allistan, pull yourself together,” Lorn said, looking over his shoulder down the hall for any evesdroppers.  He pulled the door shut behind him just in case. “It couldn’t have been as bad as you say. It’s just the raw nerves after a tough battle.  We’ve been through them many times.”

                    “I know what battle feels like, Lorn,” Allistan tried hard not to raise his voice while the boy was sleeping. “I’m not stupid and I’m not losing my nerve or anything like that.  He cut… the arm… off of a small boy because of his uncontrollable bloodlust and need for revenge. He could have stopped. He just didn’t care.”

                    You know just like any military leader that you can just make judgment calls about other soldiers’ actions in the fog of war.  You don’t know his calculations during that moment. You can’t understand the…”

                    Allistan stood up from his chair and turned and moved quickly across the room to the face of Lorn.  “You don’t understand. I’ve been told enough that I’m not going along with the mainstream ideas that move us along like sheep to the springtime slaughter.”  Allistan backed up, trying to calm down. “I’ve given my entire life here in Terminus to Amensol, a man who lived each day trying to prove he was worthy of being called king; pushing battles to their breaking point, sending countless lives to their deaths to have one more victory, one more statue erected to his honor, one more quarry to build his empire, one more log mill to build another hall.”

                    “Allistan, all of those help us, help our people…”

                    “He didn’t do it for us!  That’s the whole illusion!  These things aren’t done to further the standing of men.  They were done solely for his ego. So he could prove he was a great king.  He never thought about us! You, me, Honnai, Hugreth, Carinna. We were his minions set out to prop him up to the masses.  We were children, Lorn! He used us. And he twisted his own son up so much that he will do whatever, sacrifice whatever, to keep his father’s legacy in place.  Nothing is too pure or sacred to be spared in order to tow the line for the house of Amensol. By the gods, his own hubris got him killed right in front of everyone.  And Avendyr talks about it like it was some noble gesture to save us all, like his father could have killed Ossari all by himself. That was Carinna’s sacrifice for us and he wasted it. If Amensol would have listened to Carinna and I back in Havensong, we would have twice the army remaining as we do here in the Sanctum.  He needed war, and he needed us to sell it to the masses. Well, their deaths are on our hands now.”

                    Lorn stared at the floor while being scolded by his longtime friend.  Allistan had always been reserved in his judgment of leadership and in his council.  This was a different Allistan that spoke to him now.

                    “I’m tired, Lorn,” Allistan said as he swung slowly back around to his chair by the bedside.  He slumped down in it sideways so he could still see Lorn out of the corner of his eye. “I’m so tired of holding these unworthy men up, of dragging folks along.  I know how Honnai felt. He really was the best of us, in every sense. He knew that this was a necessary evil to an extent, to give people something to believe in.  But he understood the facade, the arrogant lies we tell to get people to believe in it. I would have followed Honnai into any battle he deemed worthy because I knew that he knew, not all of them were.  I can’t do that for Avendyr. I won’t do that to the people.”

                    Lorn looked up at Allistan, staying silent.

                    “I must decrease, understand?” Allistan looked over at Lorn.  Lorn shook his head with a look of sadness on his face. “Lorn? I will miss our battle rhythm.  You are one of the finest men I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.”

                    “I remain your servant, forever, sir,” Lorn said back, placing his hand over his heart.  He hesitated for a second at the door, implanting the memory deep, then walked through the door of Allistan’s quarters and down the hall to the feast.

                    Allistan turned back to the boy, who was still lying asleep on his side.  He stroked the boys hair, then got up and began packing his belongings.

                    Kole left his eyes shut.  He knew Allistan didn’t like him to hear disagreements between the leaders.  He looked down at his very sore arm where his hand used to be and thought about everything he heard about his once great friend, Avendyr, king of men.

                    Avendyr smiled and laughted sitting at a banquet table with his men.  He looked around. Even in the midst of the loss, there was cheer on their faces.  He knew more would be required of them, but they needed this revelry. He saw Lorn making his way to his seat a couple tables away and caught his eye.  He flipped his had toward himself, trying nonchalantly to motion Lorn over.

                    “My king,” Lorn said smiling.

                    “Have you seen Allistan? Everyone is asking for him.  After all, he’s a hero now,” Avendyr said, smiling back.

                    Lorn’s face lost its smile as he searched for words he felt comfortable saying to his king.  “Allistan regretted that he had a lot to do this evening and wouldn’t be able to make it,” he said, hoping there was enough truth in there to suffice.

                    Avendyr paused for a moment, calculating all the in-between lines.  He finally spoke up, “He’s leaving?” The abruptness of his words startled Lorn for a second, completely giving away the truth.  Lorn nodded. Avendyr sat quietly doing more calculations. Allistan was a good warrior, a good man. He would be missed greatly.  On the other hand, he was short-sighted, and Avendyr had less need for advisors that did not agree with his philosophy. Then there was Kole.  The boy of Carinna, his one and only love. If anyone were to find out that Kole was also an heir to the throne, that would cause a great amount of intrigue and drama that would not be helpful in a time like this.  It would be better if that information was left in the shadows. Much better for the kingdom.

                    “Let him go,” Avendyr finally spoke up.  Lorn nodded, slightly showing his sorrow on his face.  “But, make sure he is taken care of and has all he needs.  Tomorrow, we need to sit and discuss next steps. The Ravaging Lord will not let this go unanswered and we may need to join the other four races.  I’m sure ours can be an example to rally forces now that we know they can be defeated. It’s time for us to make our mark on this world.” The king stood up, inspired by his own words.  “To victory!” he shouted while shooting out of his chair, raising his cup, and the great hall of men and elves erupted in cheers.

     

                   The next spring brought a quiet planting season.  Many of the men were traveling half a world away fighting to crush the Ravaging Lord and his Revenant Army.  Allistan received word while out tending to Carinna’s family’s estate since the boy was the last remaining heir to the property. And it was far from the politics of the day.  It helped that Avendyr and a lot of the council were away. It allowed time for things to settle down here. Kole had taken to using his left hand quicker than he had thought he would.  It made the inconvenient change of lifestyle less depressing. Allistan could tell he missed the busy lifestyle at the Sanctum, but he could tell he also enjoyed the country. He was doing well on his riding, and learning to use a sword in his left hand. But, he hated tilling the garden one-handed, and Allistan made him do a quarter of it while he took care of the rest.

                    “Allistan, come on.  I’ll do anyting. Hey, I’ll fetch the water.”

                    “Actually, I already need you to do that.  I have to get this correspondence ready to go out to Lorn,” Allistan said, smirking.  “But, look on the bright side, I won’t make you carry buckets in both hands.”

                    “Oh, you’re just full of jokes today,” Kole said, half playing and half irritated still at all these chores on such a great day outside.

                    “Hey, did you hear the letter that came yesterday from Lorn?,” Allistan asked.

                    Kole didn’t remember a rider coming yesterday.

                    “It came by seal, and I notated it. I am sure glad I took one of these seals last year after the elves made them.”  Allistan looked around for the note. Kole came over and stood beside him.

                    “Here it is.  Let’s see. Lorn said it had been two months since the great dragon had come out of the earth and eaten the Ravaging Lord, and half his men were still worried.  He also said that he found out since the last correspondence that the WarWizard that had died by the Ravaging Lord’s hands had been the Monk that was here.”

                    “Aww, he was so powerful, too,” Kole said.

                    “Apparently, the wound from Ossari never went away.” Avendyr has been planning a new capitol with the new council he established.  It will be called… Thronefast.”

                    “Are you for real?” Kole was off on a rampage.  Allistan knew any news of Avendyr was dangerous but this kind of information usually set him off.  He needed to hear it, though. He would soon enough.

                    “Why is he always using my mother’s words as his own?  Did he tell anyone that was my mother’s idea? That she was always the one talking about keeping the throne fast, blah-blah? “

                    “You know how I feel about it,” Allistan continued, “but it will be out across the fjord on the coast of the Bethrael Sea. As far from the plains here as he can get, so don’t worry.  Also, those men who have been trekking down to the sea lately? They are recovering pieces of Havensong to build towers on at the entrance and exit of the gap leading up to the northern coast. He’s calling it Avendyr’s Pass, signifying the journey we take through life..”

                    Kole started up again, flailing his arms around, “Why does he keep stealing all of Mother’s stuff. That stupid speech he gave after the battle was just a bunch of stuff I remember Mother saying all the time. He steals her ideas, her thoughts, and she never gets any credit.”

                    “I know, boy,” Allistan said.  The truth was, Allistan despised it, too.  Carinna frequently related life to a trip through a winding mountain pass.  Every time he heard these stories, it made him miss her more, and hate Avendyr more.  He moved out here south of Havensong in the plains to get away from the Sanctum and all the folk that were still settled up around there until the King returned from battle.  He wanted to be as far from the mix as possible. It didn’t help that even now, he had members of the council requesting his aid with different problems. So far, he had been able to elude doing any more official work for anyone.  And Kole wanted nothing to do with Avendyr after using him and discarding him the way he had at the battle.

                    “The good news is that the remaining Revenant have fled now, so the war is basically over everywhere.  Lorn said he met some crazy dwarves and drew you some pictures for when he’s back. Also, the fish folk left the council and he hasn’t seen any since but he’ll describe them to you personally.  That’s interesting, right?” Allistan looked over at Kole.

                    Kole had his head down, dropping his father’s knife into a block of firewood on the floor.  Allistan walked over and put his hand around him.

                     “It doesn’t seem fair, Allistan.  We lost everything, and he gets everything.  It’s not fair.”

                     Allistan turned him around by his shoulders and sat him down in a chair. “Let me tell you a story, Kole.”

     Living in a little den, Right down a little hole,

     Lived a little orphan fox, A little sad and low.

      Little did he venture out, For big were dangers nigh,

     And just a little danger can, And will make foxes die.

      As he gathered food nearby, Not too far from his home,

     Did stray a large and handsome wolf, Looking for a bone.

      “Ho, there,” said the mighty wolf, The fox turned ‘round in fear.

     “I’ll not hurt you little one,Pray, come and lend an ear.”

      “I am looking for a little snack, “Not knowing this wood at all,

     “I fear my nose is much too big, “To sniff a snack that small”

      “T’would be so kind if you assistA poor lost, hungry mutt,

     “And help me get a little snack, To satisfy my gut?”

     “I am afraid,” said little fox.  I really am too small,

     “To wander in the scary wood, Without my Maw and Paw.”

      “Pish and posh,” replied the wolf, “You’re very safe with me.”

     “What creature would make war against, A wolf and fox party?”

      And so the fox went right along, His new friend out in front,

     He sniffed out prey until they spied, An angry elephant.

      He did not see the little fox, While huffing down the trail,

     Wolf saved the fox from angry stomps, But one stomp got his tail.

      “Oh, thank you, Wolf,” said the fox, “You really are too kind,

     “Tis nothing,” winced the injured wolf, While tending his behind.

      Next came a vicious hissing snake; A boa on the hunt;

     The fox looked mighty tasty, yes; A mighty tasty lunch;

      He swooped down low to grab the fox, But wolf was too alert;

     He charged the snake with his long nose, And now it, too, was hurt.

      With aching face and throbbing tail The wolf adventured more;

     The little fox was thankful so, For all he’d done before;

      The fox now smelled a great new scent A goose was close at hand;

     “Follow me!, said Fox with glee And Wolf stayed close at hand;

      The little fox chased down the scent; It came from in a cave;

     So strange a goose would venture here, Now this would be its grave.;

      He found the goose already dead, Cleaned and on a plate;

     “Ah, you found it. Good for you; “And not one minute late.”

      “Wait, this is your dinner, sir? “Why take all this abuse?”

      “I always have a side of fox, “Whenever I have goose.”

     -gulp

                     Kole stared at Allistan for a second.  Allistan finally spoke up, “Do you know what this parable means, Kole? It means that when we live in a world full of violence and fear, no deceipt goes unrewarded, and no good deed goes unpunished. So if you can’t live in a peaceful world, at least never trust anyone looking for something to kill.”

                     Kole thought back to his time with Avendyr.  He understood a little bit what Allistan was saying, how he had been led away by enticing things that were beyond his comprehension to begin with.

                     “I don’t want to get fooled by anyone ever again, Allistan.  I swear, I’m never gonna let anyone lie to me again,” Kole got up and grabbed his knife and began fiddling with it again.  He headed out to take care of his chores.

                     Allistan felt bad for him.  He had been through more than any child should and the scars may never go away.  All Allistan could do is teach him about the real world and how to maneuver it. He came from good stock.  He’d be alright.

                     “Hey, Kole, just got to be a more sly fox is all,” Allistan quipped trying to lighten his mood.

                     Kole heard as he shuffled outside.  He tossed his knife around in his left hand for a second, then grabbed it by the end if the grip, and threw it the length of their cottage into a fencepost, square in the middle.

                     Kole mumbled to himself, “Or just be a wolf…”

                    ~End~

     


    This post was edited by benonal at April 1, 2020 8:41 AM PDT
    • 276 posts
    March 30, 2020 2:46 PM PDT

    Incredible! Having watched this tale develop over time, and from our conversations, I know this is a major accomplishment. Well done, and congratulations! You contribution to the Pantheon community is one of great significance. 

    • 50 posts
    March 30, 2020 4:35 PM PDT
    Well thanks for the kind words. I recently reread the available lore on Avendyr and it made me smile each time it mentioned how great he was and how everyone liked him. There may only be a few of us, but we know the real story... Nah but it has been so fun. The Amensol's Shadow series is still going but this Fox and Wolf story has been a great exercise and I hope whoever reads this can go back to the lore and enjoy it on another level, having an alternate context to the events.
    • 50 posts
    March 30, 2020 4:35 PM PDT
    Well thanks for the kind words. I recently reread the available lore on Avendyr and it made me smile each time it mentioned how great he was and how everyone liked him. There may only be a few of us, but we know the real story... Nah but it has been so fun. The Amensol's Shadow series is still going but this Fox and Wolf story has been a great exercise and I hope whoever reads this can go back to the lore and enjoy it on another level, having an alternate context to the events.