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  • Writer's picturePatrick Deveney

2. Afflicted

Updated: Nov 25, 2021

I


The bar was quiet, too quiet for the sheer number of people crammed into the village's only tavern, something hung in the air, an unspoken tension that gripped the village and its people. Rurik sat alone drinking quietly in a corner of the overcrowded bar watching the people around him. The look on their faces screamed with fear but what it related to, he did not know. He had not been in the village for long, he was just passing through as the sun began to lower and thought it was as good a place as any to stop for the night. What he did not expect was to be needed, a situation he was finding himself in more and more lately. The awkward silence that clutched the townsfolk was suddenly broken by a loud thud as the door swung open letting in an icy breeze and the orange glow from the setting sun, Rurik finally had an answer.

“There's been another attack! The beast has struck again!” a man clamoured as he burst through the door to the bar, drenched in sweat and trying to catch his breath.

Rurik did not move as the people around him began to frantically murmur amongst themselves. Rurik spied a well dressed man, possibly a merchant by the looks of him, approach the panicked man.

“Hush everyone, calm down, please Martin sit down, have a drink. Tell us what happened.” the merchant announced addressing the townsfolk and to Rurik's surprise they were obedient.

“I was passing by the river when I heard a groan, I thought nothing of it at first but as I got closer and it got louder I saw something move right there on the riverbank and there he was just laying there. Henrik, you know the butcher, I went down to help the poor guy, thought he might've had a rough night on the drink but when I got to him I caught sight of something entering the water and as it disappeared I swear it was like the sound of thunder. I tried to help Henrik up but I almost puked, he was missing his left hand, there was blood everywhere, I dragged him onto my cart and we rushed straight to the witch, he's with her right now.” Martin said, his hands grasped tightly around the mug the merchant had given him but in all his efforts he could not stop them from shaking.

A witch, Rurik thought, that's curious. He pushed his own drink away to listen more intently.

“Something has to be done about this!” one man shouted.

“It's gone on long enough, we've lost too many people getting themselves dragged into the river, I pray Henrik makes a recovery, no one has survived yet!” a woman wailed which was seen with much agreement and muffled praise.

Again the merchant stood up straight, taking control of the situation by outstretching his arms as everyone quietened down.

“Please my friends, be reasonable, how are we to deal with such a beast? We are simple farmers, merchants and butchers like our Henrik, surely we would end up like him. I couldn't bear to lose anyone else.” the merchant said in a calm, intelligent voice.

“I can help there.” Rurik finally said as everyone spun around startled to stare at this unknown voice.

“And who might you be sir?” the merchant inquired, Rurik could feel the gaze and intrigue as countless faces stared.

“A mercenary.”

“Our prayers have been answered!” cried the woman.

“But it will cost you, I don't work for free.” Rurik calmly stated, which was met with some grumbled voices.

“Alas nor do I or anyone for that matter, there will be no issue with your pay.” announced the merchant as he began to approach Rurik, shooting daggers at those who grumbled.

The merchant struggled his way through the sea of people that filled the bar before finally arriving at Rurik's table, luckily having managed to steal a stool on the way, he sat down. Although this was futile, the bar remained silent as everyone waited with bated breath to listen to the conversation between Rurik and the merchant, they may as well have continued to shout across the bar. Rurik now had a better view of the merchant, his clothes comparatively speaking were in pristine condition and of fine quality, he wore a purple embroidered tunic with gold trimmings and a black feathered hat. He was quite a young man, maybe in his early twenties with jet black hair cut short and a mischievous mustache he routinely played with.

“Lambert Arbelet, trader of livestock, at your service, and you are?” Lambert said as he gave a respectful nod.

“Rurik. You don't look like a farmer.” Rurik replied not intending to insult.

“It is true I don't do any of the dirty work but I could sell an anorexic pig for triple the price of a healthy one, not that I ever would of course.” Lambert reassured Rurik.

“There's something else, forgive me but you are young yet these people listen to and respect you as if you were a village elder or ealdorman, why is that?” Rurik asked, being direct.

“The truth is sadly no greater a story than the anorexic pig, I have been paying for and collected donations for the funerals of those who have been killed by the beast, not that there is much left to bury, Henrik is the first to be left alive.” Lambert said, almost whispering as he bowed his head.

“Enough of the pleasantries, tell me about this 'beast'.” Rurik whispered as he leaned forward with intrigue.

“It has been plaguing the river just outside the village for three weeks now, the first victims were sadly a group of children, we didn't know until their half eaten remains washed up a couple of days later, since then five others have washed up.”

“Did they have burn marks or abrasions on their palms or legs.”

“Yes but how di…” Lambert began, shocked.

“The water, the remains, the burns and the fact that your butcher is missing a hand. I think you might have a kelpie in your waters or some kind of reptile like a snake, it would have to be a considerable size but in this cold climate I doubt it's reptilian.” Rurik stated remaining calm, which contrasted with the expressions of Lambert and the whole bar listening in.

“A kelpie? Do you really think it could be a kelpie?”

“Kelpies are rare but they are known to live in waters near civilisation, it's easier to coerce humans than animals and it needs to eat. It appears as a black horse usually to tired travellers or children who would want to play with it, but once you touch or ride it your hands or legs become fused with its body and it drags you back into the depths.”

“And Henrik?”

“Must have cut his own hand off as he was being dragged.”

There was a prolonged silence that followed, not that it was unusual here, so far awkward prolonged silences are all this village had to offer, that and anorexic pigs, apparently. The silence was finally broken after what had felt like an eternity for Rurik. Lambert after digesting what Rurik had just described, spoke again.

“So Rurik, sir, what is the going rate for a kelpie?” Lambert asked timidly, Rurik took a moment to study the faces and his surroundings, weighing up a reasonable rate they could afford.

“One-hundred gold pieces and some supplies for the road when I leave here.” Rurik finally spoke, leaning back in his chair to indicate there would be no haggling.

“We'll need some time to prepare all of that.” Lambert replied, still sounding timid.

“Don't worry, I only get paid after I complete the job.” Rurik said as he stood, ready to leave.

“Wait you're going now!” Lambert exclaimed.

“I see no point in waiting for more bodies to turn up.” Rurik stated as he began making for the exit, the crowded bar parted to make room for him as he walked.

“Please allow me to take you, my cart is just outside.” Lambert said as he rushed past him, presumably to ready his cart, before Rurik could protest he was away and Rurik followed.

II


The sun had nearly set when Rurik exited the tavern to see a frantic Lambert tending to his cart and readying his horse. It was a quaint little village with endearing cottages dotted all over the place with no particular indication of a planned layout. Snow covered the roofs of the cottages but the rugged ground had almost turned to slush on all the walkways and paths with churned up mud, ice and snow mixed together and seemed to have frozen and defrosted several times. It didn’t snow here like it did in other parts of Azlaria but much like the rest of Azlaria they were surrounded by thick forests of spruce trees. Rurik casually strolled over to where he had tied his mare Beau just outside the tavern, as she excitedly began to trot on the spot a wave of guilt washed over him for not taking her, he hated to disappoint her. Rurik rested his head against Beau's as he pet her neck before grabbing for his sword which he had left hung at her side, throwing it over his right shoulder and tightening the straps around his torso.

“So are you ready to go?” Lambert said as he walked over, pulling on an expensive looking fur cloak.

“You be good now Beau. Let's go.” Rurik said, giving one last pet as he followed Lambert to his cart, jumping in the passenger seat.

It wasn't far to the river where the attacks had said to have taken place, they had been travelling through a wide path carved straight through the trees which were becoming thicker as they neared the river. The journey felt long and arduous due to Lambert's incessant ramblings and stories, he seemed a decent enough man but Rurik in truth didn't trust him all that much, he seemed to enjoy the power and respect he had gained from the village a little too much for him to do things out of the kindness of his own heart. It was likely more to do with being seen to do the right thing. Rurik doubted he would have gotten an escort if they didn't have an audience.

“You've been quiet.” Lambert said as they travelled through the trees. You haven't, Rurik thought.

“What can I say, I don't talk much.” Rurik finally replied.

“I never asked, what brings you to these parts?”

“Work.”

“I hear there's lots of work available in the free lands of the north, what are you doing here? Mind you with all the stories we've been hearing about the capital I don't blame you, do you have any idea what those creatures could have been in the Battle of Atana? I heard they were fighting on our former king's side, summoned by some sorcerer.” Lambert said curiously.

“I was there.” Rurik replied, instinctively grabbing for the scar on his neck, as Lambert stopped the cart.

“On whose side?” Lambert questioned, his tone shifting to a more unpleasant one.

“Don't worry, I helped our new king take down his corrupt father but that was why I left, he asked me to stay in Atana but after that battle, I just couldn't.”

“Why?”

Rurik remained quiet and Lambert in seeing this didn't want to press any more questions so the last stretch of the journey was in silence much to Rurik’s pleasure. It was getting darker as the last light of the setting sun disappeared behind the trees with the moon rising to greet them, the sound of running water drifted through the air towards them getting louder as if calling to them. Rurik jumped off the side of the cart and began striding towards the sound of the river to Lambert's surprise, he stopped the cart immediately.

“What are you doing?” Lambert called out.

“Stay here, if I'm not back in an hour leave, and take care of Beau.” Rurik said without turning to look back.

It was a short walk to the riverbank where the trees cleared and a wide open space sat alongside the river, it hadn't snowed recently so Rurik could plainly see the remnants of several footsteps and just as he expected, horses hooves. It was most definitely a kelpie. Rurik made his way edging closer to the river where he saw the remnants of Henrik's attack. Where Henrik would have been lying Rurik could make out distinct blood stains seeping into the snow and the markings of hooves going off in the direction of the river. That was where he sat, closing his eyes as he waited. It wasn't long before he heard the sounds of movement, he heard branches snapping and possibly footsteps coming from behind him, from the way he had come.

“I thought I told you to…” he stopped himself as the sound grew closer and he realised they were not human footsteps but animals and it sounded like a horse.

Rurik spun around to see. There it stood maybe twenty feet away from him emerging from the trees, a giant black horse, it was dripping wet as its mane drooped down over its neck, its hooves were reversed compared to that of an ordinary horse, it was indeed a kelpie. It stared blankly at Rurik with large soulless eyes. Rurik returning the glare put his right hand on his sword's hilt as he pulled it from the sheath on his back. It was a beautiful weapon, expertly crafted, its milky white blade shone in the rising moonlight as he held it in both hands, gripping the leather bound handle. This immediately set the beast off, it charged at Rurik as it squealed in aggression. Rurik at the last second jumped to the right and performed a half turn as he gave a diagonal slice across the kelpies shoulder. It managed to turn its back legs giving a hard kick knocking Rurik back as he stumbled, before he could react appropriately it was back on him. Rurik saw it coming but there was nothing he could do, it bit down hard on his left arm where there was little protection from his armour, Rurik used this opportunity to swipe across the side of the kelpie as he groaned in pain, it loosened its grip on his arm. Rurik quickly followed this up by several strikes, all of them landing which only seemed to anger the kelpie more as it jumped up on its hind legs kicking Rurik to the ground. As it came crashing down on top of Rurik he gave one last ditch attempt as he stabbed at the exposed stomach of the beast, his sword pierced straight through the belly of the beast, killing the kelpie in one blow, it came toppling down on top of him. Just as it began to fall it seemed to melt into a strange black liquid completely covering Rurik as he lay there. A deep black smoke and strong fumes emerged from this black substance filling Rurik's lungs, the fumes mixed with the extreme pain became too much, he passed out.


III


Rurik drifted in and out of consciousness but he had woken long enough to realise he was no longer lying down by the riverbank, however, he was definitely lying on something solid and the constant rocking and bumps led him to think he was on the back of a cart. Just as he began to drift off again he heard the familiar voice of Lambert call out to him.

“You stay with me, you hear me, I'm taking you to the witch.” Lambert said as Rurik lost consciousness. Rurik lay on the back of Lambert's cart, his mind drifted through dreams.

He stood in the palace of Atana, a battle raged outside as Rurik followed the prince and future king through the pristine palace. Its high ceilings and pillars sprang near one-hundred feet into the air, the walls and floor were made from gorgeous black and white marble. Elaborate statues of warriors and beautiful women marked the throne room as they stood still guarding the carpet of red and black with gold woven through the designs that lead from the front entrance all the way to the throne where a lone figure sat. The prince shouted orders at Rurik and he separated from the group with four men, tearing off down a corridor as the prince continued towards the throne. The castle had emptied, most of the king's men had either retreated, surrendered or joined the prince but there was one who still remained... Rurik ran through the castle checking every room, chamber and broom closet to no avail while the four men accompanying him struggled to keep up, until finally they found him. They had made their way to what appeared to be a large council or meeting chamber and there waiting at the centre of the room stood the sorcerer. Rurik and his men never hesitated to attack, they immediately threw themselves at the sorcerer who had caused so much chaos but as they neared him with their weapons drawn, ready to strike, the sorcerer slammed his staff into the ground as a wave of energy almost like water burst through the room overwhelming and encapsulating Rurik and his men for a second before it incapacitated them.

Rurik awoke in a panic, sweating and confused. The scents of various flowers, herbs and spices hung in the air and a warmth fed by a fire welcomed him in an unfamiliar place. He sat up and realised he was in a bed, what's more he noticed there were three other beds all directly beside each other taking up an entire wall which all lay empty save for the one at the end which was taken up by a man who seemed completely out cold. He appeared almost dead, his left arm where his hand should have been was wrapped tightly and put in a sling. Rurik assumed that he must be Henrik, the butcher, the victim from the day before or for however long Rurik had been there. He studied his surroundings, his bed stood beside an opened window, as the midday sun shone through the window it carried a cold gentle breeze accompanied by the sound of birds singing, they were surrounded by spruce trees with a light sprinkling of snow covering them, he spied his gear and armour packed neatly in a corner having the appearance that they had been cleaned very recently. The room itself was long and narrow, aside from the four beds and a fireplace, the room was empty. Several windows lined the walls leaving a very airy and bright atmosphere, a single door stood on the wall opposite the beds leading to the unknown. Rurik sat confused, as he tried to move he felt a pain in his chest and a sharp pain in his left arm and he noticed it was expertly wrapped in cloth or linen, his head hurt as he tried to remember the events leading up until now as he tried to deduce where he was. He thought of the kelpie and the fight he endured, he remembered defeating it and that the beast began to melt before he passed out. His mind grew foggy as he only saw flashes, there was a cart and a voice speaking to him, the voice of Lambert. Rurik tried to concentrate on what he was saying until he remembered one word which was all he needed, 'witch'. Rurik was cautious, he had met those with the inclination of magic to variable degrees of skill and power and he had seen what people were capable of. It wouldn't be long before Rurik had answers to his questions as he heard soft footsteps approaching the only door.

A young woman, maybe in her early to mid twenties, slowly opened the door as she casually made her way towards Rurik. She carried some parchment with some hastily scrawled notes which she couldn't tear her eyes away from. She was definitely younger than Rurik expected, her hair was tied back in a bun and was mostly black save for the front which had been dyed a light shade of turquoise, she wore a white gown or tunic which was lightly decorated with splashes of colour and intricate patterns though Rurik's sight was too blurry to discern any detail. She wore a small black coat over her tunic and gorgeous black earrings in the shape of a crescent moon with little silver stars hanging to the side and a necklace to match.

“I see that you're up, how are you feeling Rurik?” she asked, bright eyed and curious as she placed her hand on Rurik's forehead.

“I’m fine,” Rurik growled in response. “Where am I?”

“Don't worry, you're just outside the village, Lambert brought you here last night, he seemed awfully worried, he told me what happened. I can't thank you enough for dealing with the beast, you have no idea how much you've helped these people and me, I'm Elara by the way.” she said, sounding genuine as she gave Rurik a smile.

“I was just doing my job.” Rurik replied as he groaned in pain.

“Yes, a mercenary as I've heard, are you not a little old for that kind of profession.” Elara said, giving a small chuckle.

“I was actually thinking about retiring but lately I've felt younger and fitter than ever, it's ever since…” Rurik stopped himself as if he had made some sudden realisations, both good and bad.

“What? What is it?” Elara questioned.

“I'll tell you my secret, if you tell me yours.” Rurik suddenly said, sounding proud of himself.

“I don't know what you mean.” Elara laughed it off.

“You're not a witch.”

“Excuse me?”

“The kelpie. Any witch could have dealt with the kelpie and probably better than I could and I'm surprised you had no desire to at least study it or get a sample, you haven't even asked me about it yet, you just thanked me for taking care of it.”

“Is it that obvious?” Elara said, sounding concerned.

“No. Don't worry your secret's safe with me, but I'm curious, why lie?”

“I thought it'd be easier. I've always been curious about the world, the stars and all the unexplained things in our lives and I wanted to study them. I've tried to get into every major university on the continent but I have a certain predisposition and no one took me seriously.”

“Predisposition?”

“I’m a young woman.”

“So let me guess, you pretend to be a witch and help these people and use the money to fund your own research.”

“You are good, Lambert was right about you. Except business isn't exactly booming at the moment because of that kelpie. Don't get me wrong this was by choice but I offered to deal with the bodies and funerals of all those killed by the kelpie for free, Lambert has been helping me.”

A rage filled Rurik, he knew he never trusted Lambert. Rurik immediately tried to get up but as soon as he tried his body gave way and he fell back down into his bed.

“What are you doing? You've been poisoned, you need to rest.” Elara exclaimed as she helped Rurik lie back down.

“Poisoned? No, that's not important, Lambert has been lying to you, I need to speak with him.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Lambert has been taking donations for the funerals but he's been keeping the money for himself, that son of a...”

“Be careful, you'll hurt yourself, calm down. You're mistaken, that can't be true. Here is what we're going to do. You are going to rest, you are in no state to move yet, something from that kelpie affected you and you need to sleep it off, then we'll go and talk to Lambert, get to the bottom of this. Here take this, it will put you to sleep.” Elara said with command as she grabbed a small vial from her pocket.

Rurik reluctantly agreed as he took the vial from Elara and drinking it down, he tried to see if he could determine the ingredients from the taste but to no avail as he slowly drifted off back into a deep dreamless sleep.


IV


Rurik was unsure how much time had passed when he finally opened his eyes, the sun appeared to be setting as beautiful shades of orange and red mixed with a darkening blue filled the sky but he wasn't able to tell if it was the same day or the next, for all he knew he could have been out for a few days. Rurik dreaded to think this, he hated staying in any one place for long, he felt as if there was lost time or that he wasn't being productive enough. Rurik again sat up in his bed and like before noticed the scents of various flowers, herbs and spices and the warmth fed by the fire. He looked around to notice that this time he was indeed alone, Henrik who had recently been sleeping or unconscious on the far bed was gone. Rurik found himself hoping that his condition had improved and was free to go home rather than a more morbid outcome. Rurik swiftly jumped out of his bed feeling like himself again, which is to be said that he felt a strange sense of youthfulness as if he were in his twenties and not his late forties which was a recent development and one Rurik was anxious to look into. He walked to the corner where all his gear was still waiting for him as he took his time strapping on his armour, sighing at the new scars and tears he found in the leather. The last thing he put on was his sword which he threw over his right shoulder and tightened all the straps around his torso, he was finally himself again. Rurik made his way over to the only door, gripping the wooden handle, pulling it open and walking into perhaps one of the most impressive rooms he had ever seen. It was a fair size with a low hanging ceiling and seemed to be the living area. The walls were covered by large bookshelves stacked with books and scrolls of varying sizes, workbenches were scattered through the room with various notes and jars containing an assortment of specimens or various mysterious liquids, in one corner there were vials and cauldrons bubbling away with crates of various plants and herbs and other apothecary supplies used for medicinal and other purposes, in another corner stood rickety stairs which led to a second floor. At the centre of the room stood a single chair and low table, this was where Rurik found Elara. She was far too engrossed in whatever book she was reading to notice Rurik entering the room, so he gave a small cough to get her attention and she spun round.

“I hope I'm not interrupting.” Rurik said apologetically.

“No, no, not at all, I was just brushing up on some chemistry, did you know some metals are so reactive they can explode on contact with water.” Elara said, standing up with excitement.

“I did not, that could be quite useful if I'm ever taking care of another water creature, I will keep that in mind.” Rurik said, giving a smirk.

“I'm curious, your accent, you're not from Azlaria are you? Are you from one of the other two kingdoms or one of the free territories across the continent?”

“It doesn't matter.” Rurik replied, sounding dismissive.

“Oh I see, Celtia then is it? Azlaria and Celtia have been at each other's throats for forever, don't worry your secret's safe with me.”

“I appreciate that.”

“So how are you feeling anyway?” Elara said, sounding concerned.

“Like myself, thank you.”

“Like a twenty year old?”

“I'm not complaining.” Rurik laughed it off as if trying to hide something.

“Rurik, I did some tests with your blood.” Elara said, sounding serious.

“You what? I don't remember agreeing to anything like that.”

“I needed to find out what poison was affecting you but I found something else, something I can't explain. I don't want to sing my own praises here but if I can't explain it that means it has one likely origin, magic. What happened to you? Is this your 'secret'?”

“Yes.” Rurik sighed.

“For how long?”

“Since the Battle of Atana.”

“You were in the battle? What happened?” Elara asked curiously but there was concern in her voice. Rurik took a moment before giving a huge sigh and he began.

“I helped the prince gather an army and we attacked the capital. His father as you know was corrupt and cruel but when we attacked all hell broke loose. His 'sorcerer' Zharis met us on the field outside the city, we thought it was to discuss terms but that was when everything changed. He shot a bolt of lightning into the sky and a storm appeared from nowhere but it wasn't like any storm I've ever seen. It began to rain between us and the city but the rain was black, what came out from that rain will haunt me forever. Tall, thin creatures formed from the rain as black as night and attacked us, that's how I got these scars on my neck, I have no idea how we managed to beat them but I suppose they were few in number, relatively speaking. By that time most of the king's men either joined us or retreated and we pushed our way to the palace, the prince went after his father and he tasked me to find Zharis and I did. Me and four others found him in one of the meeting chambers but when we tried to attack him he hit us with something, I don't know what, but it felt like I was drowning. When I finally woke I found out we had won but Zharis was gone, the prince was our new king but I felt strange, almost powerful and I was frightened Zharis had affected me in some way, so I ran and I've been on the move ever since.”

“I had no idea, I mean I had heard the stories but. You need help, like proper help from an actual witch.”

“I know.”

“What about the four men that were with you?”

“I don't know, I haven't seen them since the incident, I would assume they're going through the same thing.”

“So what are you going to do?”

“For now I need to forget all of that, I'm going to have a nice chat with Lambert.”

Without any further word Rurik rushed out the door without waiting to see if Elara was joining him. His mind was focused on Lambert as he strode through the thick trees of spruce and light layers of snow he couldn't afford to be distracted, he followed the path that was immediately outside Elara's hut assuming it would indeed take him back to the village, his question was soon answered when he finally arrived back at the village. He slowed his pace as he began searching his surroundings, looking for the signs of the pompous and elaborate colours he expected Lambert to be wearing, signs of the expensive clothing Lambert was enjoying with stolen money. Rurik made his way to the village centre where the tavern was located as he spotted Beau still tied up waiting outside the bar, she spotted him but she didn't trot on the spot like she usually did and Rurik immediately felt guilty but there was someone tending to her and as he neared he could make out the bright green doublet Lambert was sporting that day, along with his black feathered hat.

“Rurik! I must say you are looking swell, you had me worried for a moment th…” Lambert was interrupted by a swift punch in the face executed beautifully by Rurik.

“Tell me the truth about your sudden wealth, now!” Rurik threatened as he reeled back for another swing at Lambert’s face.

“I don’t know what yo…” Lambert squealed as his face took another beating as blood poured from his nose into his mischievous mustache.

By this point a significant crowd was beginning to form as half the village poured out from the bar hearing the commotion coming from outside, the other half were soon on their way but Rurik decided to use this to his advantage.

“You would take advantage of Elara and take these good people's money for a good cause and keep it all for yourself as you get rich off the back of other people's suffering, tell them the truth.”

“I can expla…” Lambert started as he was hit again by Rurik, this time to ensure he would indeed tell the truth.

“That would explain what you said in the bar before I offered my help, that no one should go after it, you were afraid you would lose your income.”

“I'm not that much of a monster, I'll admit I kept the donations but I truly wanted the kelpie dead, I was afraid if it went on any longer people would get suspicious or find out.” Lambert said as he hung his head low, the crowd that had gathered gave shocked gasps as they began muttering amongst themselves.

“There we have a confession.” Rurik said as he moved in to grab Lambert.

“Stop!” a voice cried from somewhere in the crowd.

The crowd parted and there stood Elara looking exhausted and out of breath having tried to keep up with Rurik.

“He confessed, Elara.” Rurik said as he let Lambert go.

“He is ours to deal with, Rurik I think you should move on from here before it goes too far, please.”

Rurik took a moment to look at himself, he had never gotten angry like that, his hands were shaking, as he stood he felt uneasy and dizzy almost as if his legs were ready to give way any second. He gave a wary and knowing nod to Elara as the crowd looked on in silence while Lambert still squirmed on the ground, he slowly made his way over to Beau and he quickly checked her over, everything was in order but he noticed what Lambert had been doing when he saw him with Beau. Lambert had loaded one-hundred gold pieces and supplies for the road for taking care of the kelpie into Beau's saddlebags. As he clambered onto his horse and began setting off he threw the bag that the gold pieces were in into the snow and never looked back.


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