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Unread 20th of October, 2010, 01:34
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Refusing to Sow [Epic GM]

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Cadrius sighs and runs a hand across his head. His eyes light upon the congealed blood that is dark and still by the blades of grass sheathed in scabbards of frost. This man has, had, a name. He had a family. He had a life. He had a story. These have all been snatched up and scattered simply because he had the misfortune of traveling in their company. Cadrius fancies that his life, and the lives of his companions, must suffer from some cruel curse for them to bring so much death and misery to the world around. Perhaps it would be better if they were to simply die and bring no more sorrow to the world.

That will not happen. He cannot relinquish his hold on life. Duty has been his master for lo these many years and it is not about to strike down his bonds yet. The others are bound to it as well, though they are not so obviously shackled as Cadrius. He would urge them, Shade, Nicos, Blarth, and Juni, to buy horses and ride south until their steeds could carry them no further, and then buy another set of horses and do the same again. The fallen paladin would see them fade far beyond the horizon, somewhere perhaps across the southern sea, where the black-eyed dead could not menace them.

But they would refuse, of course. Nicos would make a quip, Shade would simmer with quiet indignation, and they would remain. Perhaps it was due to Isac’s sacrifice. The Morning Lord had given his very life to purge the evil from Shade’s body. Perhaps they accompany Cadrius out of obligation, or out of guilt. Or perhaps they simply are simply living proof that there are still good men in this world with stout hearts and the will to stand against the dark.

He wishes he could say the same for himself.

“Aye,” he says, meeting Shade’s steel gaze. “It will be no boon to know of the dead that stalk us, and it is wise to hold watch in pairs.”

Nicos cocks an eyebrow. “But?”

Cadrius lets his breath slowly stream out through his nose, sending steam jetting through the chill morning air. He often forgets that before the bard had made his days traveling with these unlikely companions, he had kept his belly full with the skill to read his audience. The fallen paladin makes a vow to not underestimate him again. It is one of many on a never-ending list that spirals onward in an ethereal scroll in his mind.

He looks down at the corpse for a moment before looking back at Nicos. “But a man is dead because of us.”

The bard bites back a pithy retort showing restraint that Cadrius appreciates. “Yes, he is.”

Shade’s voice is quiet but hard. “What would you do about it?”

“I do not know,” Cadrius says. “Gods help me. I don’t know.”

“What is this then?” The wagoner’s thick voice calls out. He is flanked by two of his men and bears a half-moon axe with a haft that has been well-worn through time. Gregor is dressed warmly, with fur poking out from the neck of his fastened cloak. His thick moustache bears a hint of frost.

Cadrius says nothing but nods his head toward the body. Gregor brushes past him while the two men mutter prayers to the gods for safe passage of the soul and to not plague the living. They have no idea how close they are to the truth.

Gregor kneels next to the corpse, ignoring the browning blood crusting against his knee. He pulls one of his woolen gloves off and reaches out to brush a few strands of errant hair from the corpse’s face. The fatherly gesture catches Cadrius off-guard, reminding him of days long since past.

“It was strong,” Cadrius says, “to overpower him so. Though we know naught of what it was.”

“And why are they here?” Gregor says, looking back over his shoulder.

“Shade is an expert huntress and knows the tracks of every beast while Nicos possesses a keen mind and a sharp eye. I asked for them to attend should there be any details that I have missed.”

“And what have they found?”

Cadrius sighs. “That if this was a man that did this he was strong to kill Branden, vicious to do it so, and cunning to disguise his tracks.”

“So you have learned nothing then?”

Cadrius remains silent.

“What will you do, Gregor?” Nicos asks.

“We will take care of his body, as in the old ways,” he says, his voice stony and hard like the mountains of his homeland. “Then we will be away from this evil place and we will speak of it nevermore.”