The Fate of a Hero
Miltos ran up the steps into the citadel. The flickering of the torch waved erratically in the night, casting his shadow over the pathways, the inner walls, rooms, and armors within the citadel. He found Adelard alive, but in remorse. Next to him was the remains of Sohnelun,pierced through the chest by a pillar of earth. Along his arms were cavities of blind eyes that were becoming pus-filled.
“Adelard!”Miltos rushed to his side, maintaining his eyes on Sohnelun.
“It was him. That’s what attacked you here. Gods,” he stammered. “He tried to kill me, too. I didn’t mean to but he—” Tears welled up in his eyes as he tried to explain to Miltos. “Did you atleast find the damn cause for everything?”
“I did. Its gone.”
“So is everything.” Adelard tried to compose himself. “What was it?”
“An old god.”
“A what?” Adelard wiped his tears off on the sleeve of his coat.
“That’s…what it called itself. Osinis.”
Adelard laughed. “So what, we have gods fighting other gods? And yours sent you here to find it? I guess the old tales aren’t so far off about things.” He removed the pocket watch, listening to its silence. “Sohnelun said it was because of this.”
“Osinis…thought I was this ‘vessel of Andyr.'” Miltos examined Adelard and the pocket watch. “Who is Andyr?”
“I’ve heard that name mentioned from visiting Bookleggers of the east,though I’m not really sure. Voids if I know,” He muttered beneath his breath. “Gods damn it. If I never found it, none of this would have happened.”
“No,I don’t think so. It would have happened regardless, in time.”
The two remained in silence for a time. Adelard brooded over the death of his friend, and Miltos watched over him. He walked over to Sohnelun’s body, placing his hand over the spiked earth, retracting it.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m burying your friend.”
As the pillar of earth sank into the ground carrying Sohnelun’s body, a shallow hole was formed, entombing it. Earth raised itself over his body.
“I think we’ll need a bigger grave.” Adelard flicked the pocket watch with his thumb. His face distraught and weary.
“A bigger grave?”
“Yes.For the kingdom. There is nothing left. Everything is dead and gone.All of it. At least,” he stammered, trying to compose himself.”I want to at least make sure this doesn’t spread again. That’s all I can do for my mistakes.”
The morning sun rose from the horizon. Its golden hue embraced the land,warming it. The two rationed the grown food from the garden,splitting it among themselves. Leaving by the broken gate, Adelard and Miltos turned to see the kingdom one last time. The decrepit stone architecture was grey and barren, and the bone creatures and wild animals wailed within its walls.
At the outskirts, they laid their hands on the earth. The brown crystal of the pocket watch glowed as Miltos focused his Karas beneath the kingdom. The underlying caverns collapsed, causing a sinkhole that consumed the kingdom. Decayed buildings of stone crashed into each other, accumulating into a pseudo-tombstone. Osinis would remain buried for several millenniums, long forgotten and crushed by the weight of the dead kingdom.
“What will you do now?” Miltos held his right hand in his pocket,grasping dirt between his fingers. The indentation on his index finger had grown.
“I think I will cross the Obyn Sea.” Adelard gazed towards the east, imagining what lands he would encounter, what dangers he would face carrying the pocket watch. “I’m just as curious as you are about ‘Andyr.’ And you, friend?” His words were uncomfortable to say.
“I will go where I am needed.” The dirt in his pocket became somewhat like mud from the sweat of his hands. “Where that is, I will find out in time.”
“I won’t forget you., nor what happened here. I swear on it. I’ll come find you again, and we’ll sort out this whole mess.”
Adelard paced along the old trade route. It would take him several days to reach a local port, and even perhaps even more effort to reach his destination beyond the Obyn sea. He looked back, hoping to see the red face of Miltos before he was out of view.
The sun faded beyond the horizon as Miltos walked. At the start of his journey, his body felt strong; there was no longer any weakness in his legs. Now his body felt weary. He lifted his hand from his pocket, finding two fingers and a thumb remaining. There was no pain nor any blood from the missing fingers.
He stretched his arm out, reaching to the coming night sky. Cracks in the skin formed along back of his hand, stemming from his missing fingers. The fissures ran up his scarlet arm.
He walked for two days; he needed a rest.
Miltos prostrated himself on the earth, arms and legs outstretched in all directions. Lifting his right hand to the sky, he tried reaching for the darkness that would soon envelop the sky. Small lights gazed back at him from the night sky, as though they caressed his face. Dyrda the Alotter, an Abyss Walker, would give him his next task soon.
Miltos sensed the world coming to its own rest. Various animals headed to their homes to sleep. Foxes scurried into their holes, and insect scrawled along grass and branches. The birds were absent from the sky now. However a large animal trotted its way along towards him. Behind it, wheels rolled along the earth from the weight of a man who was grumbling to himself.
A wagon drawn by a horse crept up to Miltos as he lay prostrate on the ground. The broad, tall man who drove it stepped down from the wagon. The clink of metal rang from his mail suit as he helped an elderly woman down from the back of the wagon. Her blind eye gazed at Miltos. He could not sense her presence where she stood; rather, it seemed as though she stretched towards all things in all places. Her hands coveted everything she touched.
Miltos tried to speak, but he found himself weary.
“Hush, child. Nothing needs be said.”
His right arm crumbled to dirt, inching its way to his shoulder. The old woman knelt beside him, touching his shoulder. His body no longer deteriorated beyond that point.
Miltos was quiet and tranquil. His eyes peered into the darkness above, where the faint glimmer of lights shone. The old woman saw him with her blind eye that he moved farther and farther away, deeper into the darkness.
“We’ll be taking him back to Roshka with us, sir knight.” She gazed back towards the man, eyeing him like a mother would with a stubborn child.
“Who is he?” The man laid out a thick cloth, pulling Miltos’ body over it. He rolled him in it with care, trying to show reverence.
“In time, some will call him a half-brother, but he is your brother nonetheless.”