A bit of History
the door to the tavern slammed open, and sylverstone the traveler came striding in. without taking notice of anyone in the room, he took a great war axe, hefted it, and threw it into the wall above the fireplace. the axe remained embedded in the wall;
sylverstone paused for a moment, staring at it, then turned around and left the way he came, the door shuddering behind him.
from the doorway, laurin looked at the axe wide-eyed, her face a little pale in the gloom. james came from around her to inspect the axe, touching it gingerly to see if it would remain in place.
oct’avian spoke first, quietly, “isn’t that…”?
“i’m sure there is a story there”, laurin interrupted. staring at the outside door, she said musingly, “but i really don’t think that now is a good time to ask”.
and probably not tonight…
“we’ll leave it be for now”, james decided. “but laurin, if by chance you hear of what happened…”
“of course”, laurin answered.
the noise of the tavern had settled down to a dull roar, and people were starting to leave for the night. there was a face she was looking for.
sylverstone had left earlier… his corner was empty but the axe still hung embedded in the wall above the fireplace.
ooooh, my. quite a story there.
and yes, she noted as she turned away, kane was still here. and talking to, hmmmm… caraine and oct’avian. and there was rose obsidian …i wonder if she’d mind being called rose, or rosie. humph.
laurin set to work, starting to clear and clean off tables that were emptying. the last tablero game was ending. kane left. caraine and rose left together. busy, busy, busy.
james finally caught her attention as he washed, dried, and put away goblets and tankards. “laurin”, he called out.
“yes, dear”? and she flashed a tired smile at him.
“any time you want to use the tavern for an hour or two, feel free”. “you did that well this evening”? she was startled. “it felt busy, but i’ve been away, and now that i’m back, i’m still catching up”.
“well”, he said in a pleased voice, “feel free to catch up here any time”!
“really”? and she straightened from wiping up the last table. “oh, my”!
“don’t stay up too late”. he walked up and slipped a friendly arm around her waist, squeezing briefly. “unless i miss my guess, there’s a young man that wants to talk to you”.
she sagged briefly with fatigue before watching oct’avian unfold from a chair where he’d sat, half-hidden, watching. her shoulders straightened, and she absent-mindedly hugged james good night before walking over to where he had been sitting.
she reached over and snagged the cup that was sitting there, and had it half-way to the bar before oct’avian said, “i thought you’d like a drink of water, so i saved you some”.
“oh”, she said casually, while rinsing out the cup–noting the residue at the bottom–and putting it aside. “you know, i’m really thirsty, and, (snagging a tankard from the back shelf), i’d rather not get up again”. she snagged some dried mint and added it to her tankard before filling it with fresh water. oct’avian’s eyes gleamed suddenly in the dimness while he watched her, then he stared at the fire.
“you needed to talk to me”? oct’avian’s eyes regarded her steadily.
laurin sat there, very quiet, the firelight flickering across her face. “tell me about school. how goes it”?
startled, oct’avian murmured, “it goes well. after classes, i’m involved with a group that meets together and discusses philosophy”.
laurin closed her eyes and inwardly shuddered, then opened them and smiled up at oct’avian. “you attended twelfth night and were apprehended as an enemy of the crown”.
“what?” oct’avian stared back at her. blinked. “it wasn’t just a rumor, then? seriously?”
“it wasn’t just a rumor”. she sipped from her cup. “your name has caught the attention of quite a few”.
he sat there, absorbing the news. drank deeply from his tankard. then sat forward, elbows on knees, head bent, quietly chuckling.
calmly, she set her tankard aside. she didn’t like the way the mint tasted against her tongue, and she needed her wits about her. watching the laughing young man, she finally murmured, “while amusement is doubtless indicated, the repercussions could affect your lady”.
oct’avian sat upright suddenly, laughter gone from his face, and his eyes sharp and direct. “what do you mean”?
just that. laurin stood up, walked around, and leaned against the back of the chair, her arms resting against the headrest. “oct’avian, i’m home”. “i’m a mommy once again”. she paused, “i’m not in the game any more, remember”? her glasses reflected the firelight, hiding her eyes. “by way of warning, i would be careful of the players still involved”.
“who”, he breathed, his gaze intent.
“you tell me”, she said mildly. she walked to the fireplace mantle. reached up a hand, and held it a scant inch above the axe handle. the air crackled with sudden energy and light played across the surface of her hand; she dropped it before turning back to him. “but these people don’t know you, and their weapons are not yours, and i would take the greatest care before trying to play with them”.
“where did he get that axe anyway”?
“well this one used to belong to astaroth… till he won it from him in a game of chance, then he gave it to doom-elf, who reforged it in the fires of algon-ensti, deep in the wastes of icewind dale. quenched in tasty, it is truly a blade of heroes”.
“so how did he get it back”?
“owing sylverstone a life debt, he traded it back to him for a horn full of blue bane…”
“that figures… and the lady who has carried it for years”?
“… ah.. that one.. ’tis a long story indeed… and best saved for another time…”
the silver and blue clad figure sleeping… curled up by the fire..
he awakens, alert, razor sharp steel in his hand… eyes still closed, he reaches out with his senses… finding no evil of note nearby, sylverstone puts the blade back from whence it came…
the man sits up… his right hand reaches up to comb his fingers through his long blonde hair, as his eyes scan the tavern, looking for faces he knows…
seeing a few remembered faces he smiles a little and nods at each of them in turn… scarlet, and the twins. the one they call thunk.
a little further on his eyes rest on a dark table in the corner..
ah, so there is some loyalty there after all he thinks with a wry smile..
scanning the room his eyes finally come to rest upon his most valued possession…
embedded in the wall of the tavern…
with a deep sigh, sylverstone the traveller stands, and swaggers across the room, still compensating for the swaying deck of the sylver hammer..
blue runes are quite visible in the dim light of the tavern as they crackle across the finely crafted battle axe.
sylverstone says hello to his old friend, the axe starts to hum slightly as he touches it… he runs his hand down the handle like a lovers caress.. and with sad smile he pulls it from the tavern wall.
inverting it, he pulls a blood red stone the size of a baby’s fist from around his neck, and presses it to the base of the handle..
an audible click, a pulse of red, and the fine runes that form the patterns etched into the handle softly glow red.. the red of arterial blood.. the hum deepens…
“shhh … go back to sleep my friend”… it’s been a long time… he thinks to himself as he slings the axe across his back.. with a slight bounce the axe falls into it’s accustomed spot from so many years ago.. the runes fade moments later..
… i feel whole again” he thinks to himself.. not missing any of the irony.
a short discussion with the barkeep and a handful of silver, and the two loaded packs change hands…
a beautiful young woman in black silk harem pants and a white silk shirt approaches him, the katana plainly visible on her left hip.
as she approaches the question is plainly written on her face…
“no my friend, you and the others shall winter here. i have something i need to do, and the sylver hammer should be safe here. i have arranged food and lodging for all of you until i return”..
it is time for a much needed rest…
“try not destroy anything while i am gone” he said with a grin.. “in spite of the temptation”..
the young woman nods her head, and rejoins the rest of the crew at the dark table in the back…
an old woman, the weight of many moons in her eyes, blocks sylverstone’s path as he heads for the door.
“my good lady”, he says with a slight bow of his head “how may i be of service?”
“the path you travel is a long one young man…”
“i know m’lady, but it must be done.”
“wrought with perils and lurking evil… is there no way to talk you out of it?”
” ’tis written, destined, that i should leave on this day. i would not have chosen today, for the weather is bad and i dislike the cold, but i must… i have waited long enough, and can wait no longer”
the crone then puts forth a staff. odd how he hadn’t noticed it in her hand as she approached… intricately carved from a wood black as night.. “this shall aid you in your journeys friend, may they be swift indeed.”
unseen to the rest of the tavern, she also hands him a small, very heavy, pouch.
“thank you my good lady, i shall treasure the gift..”
and with that, sylverstone walks t’ward the door.
as he opens it to the howling wind, a huge wolf appears out of the dark corner where his crew has a rather loud party starting…
sylverstone and the wolf exchange a long gaze…
sylverstone nods, whispers “thank you my friend” and they both step out the door.
as the door closes behind them, he can hear the old woman’s reply to the question of a barmaid..
“he heads north.. to the frozen wastes…”
and the door closes with a solid thunk….
— end of line —