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Unread 4th of December, 2007, 13:17
Cadrius's Avatar
Refusing to Sow [Epic GM]

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Join Date: Jan 2002
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Location: The Emerald City
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The first few days out of Tradeholm were liberating. His lungs appreciated the clean air and his throat the clear water found in the hills and streams outside of the settlement. Chill air fogged his breath at night when he slept beneath the branches of the pines and firs that lay within the vacant dells. The autumn nights being what they were, he kept the fire burning hot and slept as close to it as he dared. Mornings were crisp and a few deep breaths were as sure a way to wake him up as a bucket of water.

His conscience felt lighter too. The burden of responsibility was lifted from his shoulders and he found his mood elated. Walking the faint paths and game trails that cut back and forth through the landscape, he felt more cheer than he had in months. The work left undone would be grim, and blood would be shed before it was done, but he no longer needed to track the movements and safety of each of his companions. He did not have to concern himself with Nicos being killed for cuckolding some merchant or nobleman. He did not need to worry about the townsfolk’s reaction to Blarth’s skin. And he certainly didn’t need to worry about Shade and the fact that death seemed to follow her everywhere.

On the fourth day he found a fishing village. It rested on the banks of a broad river that Cadrius didn’t recognize. The water was quick and cool and as Cadrius walked along the stony shore he could see the trout and other fish swimming within its deep currents. A small dock jutted out into the water and the current splashed against the wooden beams.

He had hoped to barter, or outright buy, some provisions to replenish what he carried in his satchel. But as Cadrius drew near, he did not see any smoke billowing out from the chimneys. His pace slowed and the old wariness that had been banished amidst his solitude in the wilderness returned. Without thinking, the bastard sword was in his hand and the shield strapped onto his arm.

Advancing further into the village showed no signs of struggle or conquest. Nothing was burned and there were no signs of blood or struggle. Clothes hung on lines and fishing nets were laid out. The sense of disquiet grew. Cadrius avoided the center, unwilling to stray too far into a trap. Instead he nudged open an already loose door on one of the small thatch roofed houses on the outskirts of the village.

The light from the doorway threw back the shadows and displayed the wooden floor. It was hardly more than a shack, containing no more than two or three rooms that he could see. A small hearth lay opposite the door and a black kettle hung over the remnants of a fire burned out. Cadrius did not call out. He advanced across the floor, his boots thudding against the wooden floor. Moving to the hearth he grabbed the piece of metal that the inhabitant used as a poker. Cadrius brushed the top most layer of ash and soot from the fireplace and revealed some very faint, but still glowing, coals.

He felt his hackles rise and heartbeat quicken. Looking over to the remaining door, he swallowed his doubt, and advanced. The metal latch creaked as it popped up and the door swung open slowly.

The room was dark and Cadrius waited a moment for his eyes to adjust to the thick shadows draping everything within. The single curtain was drawn across the small window. A bed was in the center and two forms lay beneath thick blankets. They were still and there was no rise and fall of chests. Cadrius swallowed and stepped forward. Taking the tip of his sword, he speared the corner of a blanket and cast it off the bed with a flick of his arm.

A man and a woman lied beneath in an embrace. Cadrius sighed. He pulled off a gauntlet and put a hand to the man’s forehead, but flinched back at the touch. Their skin was tepid. They had died recently.

All manner of possibilities swirled within his mind. In his journeys he had seen all manner of deaths. It seemed there were as many ways to have one’s life ended as there were ways to live it. Yet it wasn’t the threat of the supernatural or arcane that worried him. It was the fear of disease. He no longer possessed the divine protection borne by the Order. Disease could fell him as easily as an arrow or sword. Worse yet, he would die alone in the wilderness and never know what had happened.

Cadrius fled from the home and did not stop running until the hamlet was far in the distance.