|Children of Naaram Part 2|
|Written by RKP Hunt|
Ariane helped pick up bodies that night, despite Mitsos' objections that she should sleep. It would do her no good, as she knew sleep would not come to her. It was however worse that the only bodies she could carry where that of the children that had been slaughtered. Who possibly could kill children was an answer far beyond her grasp.
Each child was a familiar face, and each body she couldn't help move was another. She tried to hold back her tears, which at first was difficult, but the more she saw of the horror of the massacre the easier it was. The shock of what had occurred set in her mind, and she felt numb. Searching the city, she came across the small body of a child she knew very well. At first she swore it couldn't of been her, but as she turned the body she looked into the sweet face.
Inoa, was the daughter of the town blacksmith, she was only five years old. The little girl idolized Ariane, and every time she left the temple, Inoa was by her side. She spent much of her time with the little girl. Her father never objected he thought it was the best thing for her. Better to idolize a paladin, then one of the bar maids, he often told her. Anytime Ariane had to make a quick errand to one of the many houses around Moonglow, she took the Inoa with her. They both would ride together on one of the temple horses, and Ariane would tell her tales that she had heard from the priests growing up.
And now the loving little girl laid lifeless in her arms. Her blonde hair stained with her own blood, but her face was at peace. Ariane prayed she didn't know what had happened, and hadn't lived her last few moments in complete horror. Picking her up, she couldn't bring herself to take the girl over to the carts. Instead, she walked past them to the blacksmith shop. Using her foot, she knocked on the door.
"Inoa." He cried, touching her face, and then relieving Ariane of the little girl's weight. "Oh, Inoa. Not you, this isn't fair." He kneeled down to the ground with the little girl's body in his hands, "Why? She was so innocent, so pure. Who would want to do such a thing, she is only five years old." He cried, Ariane knew he wasn't talking to her.
She squeezed the man's shoulder, knowing nothing she could say would ease his pain. She walked back to the town center, and began helping with the bodies again. Her outlook was more somber and she could feel the tears pressing against her eyes again. Realizing then that it wasn't just her that lost someone she loved, but like many events that had happened in the past, the entire town was feeling the emotions of that evening. Everyone in the town was in pain, their hearts scarred, and their questions unanswered.
When the last body was placed on the cart, Mitsos sent everyone to wash off and sleep, the order was more directed at her then anyone else. She looked at the group of guards that had been assisting in the 'clean up' as Mitsos had so heartlessly called it, they all looked as she felt. There eyes wide with the horror of what they had seen, thoughts unable to become words. Mitsos squeezed her shoulder, as she stumbled over to the temple doors.
Ariane made her way down the hallway, she stopped in front of her father's bedroom. She wanted to go in, the desire told her she must, she wanted to lay down in his bed and cry into the pillow covered in his mucky scent. Wrap herself up in the blankets, and close her eyes, pretending that she was a little girl who had a nightmare and wanted to sleep with daddy. But she knew that there would be no solid, large form laying in bed with her, when she became frightened. It would be just her alone in a room, she had never been alone in before.
It seemed to startle him and he looked up at her, "What… what has happened?" Jumping up he walked halfway to her, and opened his arms at his hip. His eyes looked at the bloody streak on her face, the blood on her chest, and her hands. At first he thought she was injured, but logic told him she wouldn't be in her bedroom if that were so.
"My father... my father.." She couldn't say it, she looked over at him with wide eyes. "I've got blood all over me." If she had been in a more rational state of mind, she might of found that statement a little off, but she didn't want to think about what had happened.
Hearing what she had said, Jabin ran over to her basin and filled the rag with water. With large strides, he came to her side wiping the blood from her face and hands, "Are you alright, you aren't hurt are you?"
"They killed him." She managed to say, "They killed men, woman, children, and. and. and my father, Jabin."
The words she spoke came as a shock to him, at first he was not sure if she had said what he thought he heard. Then the thought began to take shape in his mind, he didn't understand who 'they' were, but it was not the time or place to ask. Though his thoughts were clear enough on what had happened, he couldn't come up with anything to say but his eyes did and they looked into her own. He wrapped his arm around her shoulders and lead her to the bed to sit down. It was strange that in those moments, she couldn't cry for her father. She just remain quiet and Jabin held her close in his arms.
Exhaustion came over her and she laid her head down, and he laid beside her rubbing her arm, allowing her to fall asleep. She scooted closer to him, and they laid together in the silence. When the candle finally went out, Jabin wondered if he should leave as he could hear the heavy breathes of his sleeping friend. If not leave then perhaps move off the bed, in case one of the priests entered her room. He decided he had to stay, as he didn't want her to wake up alone. He stood from the bed and went to the large chair in the corner where he curled himself up, where he would await the morning sun.
Two days past since the massacre and it was the day of Decimus Kafele's funeral. All the survivors and others who hadn't been in town gathered in the cemetery to say their farewells to the man. There had been many funerals held in the past couple of days. Even some held in the dead of night. What had been the saddest sight for Ariane, was the mounds of fresh dirt over all the graves. The graveyard had to be extended, and there was unmarked mass graves for those unable to pay for a proper funeral of their loved one.
Ariane broke through the crowd to look upon her father's body. It was wrapped in a white transparent silk, he wore his armor and metals that he had been given over the years. In his hand was his sword, that he had used throughout his life to fight for Placidia. The city mourned the loss of one of it's greatest hero's, and what Ariane didn't know was the world mourned for one of it's greatest, as well. Walking over to the outside alter that his body laid upon, Ariane ran her hand over his forehead and rested it on the top of his head, reaching down she kissed his forehead.
"Rest in peace, father. I will do as you asked of me." She whispered, then walked over to stand next to Mitsos and Jabin.
"We gather here today to mourn the loss of one of Placidia's greatest disciples and Arywan's greatest hero. His bravery was only matched by his humbleness. His life was lived to bring happiness and peace to others that had to share the same world around him. Decimus Kafele was no stranger to danger, but he never allowed that to stop him from doing what was needed, and what he had been summoned to do."
Ariane tried to hold back her tears, and Jabin took her hand when he heard a slight sniffle coming from her direction. She looked over at the man beside her, but he kept his eyes firmly on Decimus' body.
"Through fame, battle, and death, Decimus' greatest pride was held in his daughter. A man that seemed to have everything, and wanted none of it. His happiest moments were in the presence of his friends and family. His death a loss for all of Arywan, may he be blessed in the after life. May Placidia give him his due reward for all the good he had accomplished, and may he find true peace in the calming afterlife."
She stood firm as she watched some of the paladins she knew lower her father's body into a grave, this would be the last time she would ever look upon his face. When others left she stood silently watching the men bury the only man she had ever loved.
Mitsos and Jabin stayed by her side for sometime after the grave was completely filled. They watched her standing in the same position, unwavering, seeming to be concentrating on the dirt at her feet. Her eyes unblinking, seeming to hold no emotion at all. It made them wonder what the girl was thinking, but more importantly what she was feeling. Two hours pasted like seconds in her mind, as she looked down to where her father now lay. The man who had loved her and worried for her, the only man that wanted to know what she thought about anything, and actually cared what she had to say. She knew what she had to do for the man that had done so much, he only had one wish as life left his heart. He wanted her to find out the truth of her real father, and that was something she would not fail him on.
"Where are you going?" Jabin asked trailing behind her.
"I have to find a wizard named Vidan, father made it his dying wish that I speak to the man about my true origins."
Jabin looked over at the guard that walked next to him, "Do we just let her go?"
"Of course not." Mitsos sped up, following her towards the temple with Jabin right at his heels.
"Ariane." He grabbed her arm, turning her to look at him.
She looked into Mitsos' eyes, "Let me go. I have to do this."
He nodded, "Yes, but there is much you have to do to prepare for a journey such as this."
"Go tell the priests what you are doing, while I let the guards know I have to leave. We have responsibilities, we have to attend to, we can't just leave them behind without them knowing what has become of us."
Ariane stood silent for a moment, "And who said you were coming?"
"Your father told me to protect you if anything should happen, besides I happen to know where Vidan is." For a moment their eyes waged war.
"Very well. I'll meet you by the front gates." Ariane pulled her arm from his grasp and headed towards the temple.
Jabin stood watching her leave, then turned his eyes to the giant man in front of him.
"And you, go tell your thief buddies that you won't be competition for a while." Mitsos said as he stormed off towards the barracks.
Ariane walked into the temple and went directly into the infirmary where she knew there was always one priest. It was the only sure place to find one, Oved was sitting on his chair writing something down in what seemed to be a journal. It was then that she remembered Baran, who still laid unconscious on what could very well be his death bed.
The older priest looked up, "Hello, my dear. If you have come to see Baran, I'm afraid he still hasn't woken up. Death is still his foe." The old man looked over at him.
"I wanted to tell you that I am leaving for a while, and I don't know when I will be back." She said walking over the Baran's bed, she stroked his hand.
"May I ask why?"
"My father asked me to do something before he past."
Oved nodded his old head, "I will tell the others. If Baran awakes I will let him know that you gave your goodbyes to him as well."
"I'll be back."
He smiled, "Somehow, I don't see that."
Turning around she looked at the old man, "You know what the wizard is going to tell me, don't you?"
"Perhaps. I may know a little but not all, but I think you should hear from him. That is what your father wanted, is it not?"
Ariane nodded, and before anymore words could be exchanged she left the room, heading for the front gates. Waiting for her was Jabin, who carried a small sack.
"You are coming to?" She asked.
"Can not allow you to go anywhere without me. Besides, who will keep me out of trouble, if you are not there to stop me from doing wrong?"
Ariane smiled, "I am glad that you come with, when you don't even know what I am doing just yet."
"Friends do not ask why, but simply follow and trust."
Mitsos coughed from behind them, "Ready then?"
They both nodded. Mitsos reached out his hand and took Jabin's sack, throwing it to the ground, "You won't need that." He said to the thief's who jaw had dropped. "You can't be carrying around useless items. Only what you can strap to your body, and nothing more." He looked over Ariane's ceremonial armor, "Come with me." He said leading her towards the smith shop.
Helak, the smith, sat eating a bowl of stew when they entered he gave a smile, though behind it you could tell his sadness. Having his only child killed in the attacks, most expected he would shut down shop for a couple of months, but he insisted on working. He didn't want her memory to haunt him, and by just sitting around doing nothing that is exactly what it would do.
"What can I do for you?" he asked Mitsos.
"I believe Decimus ordered something, and I would like to pick it up."
Looking over at Ariane he gave another half grin, "I am sorry to hear about your father, he was a great man."
Her eyes shifted to her feet, "Yes, he was, and I as well am sorry about your daughter. She was far to young, and most probably the sweetest girl I ever knew."
He gave a short nod, "Too sweet for this earth I think."
The group nodded in agreement, and for a moment there was a silence for the fallen loved ones.
Helak's old voice broke the silence, "Before your father past, he ordered you some armor. He told me how you didn't like the male armor, so he had me specially make something for you. I was suppose to hold it until your birthday, but since. well."
Ariane gave a deep frown, "Yes."
"I'll give it to you now, it'll protect you much better then that formal armor you are wearing now." The old man stood from his chair and limped his way across the floor to the door that led to his back room.
He came out pulling a bag on the floor, it was obviously to heavy for him to carry. She wondered how it was possibly that he could still make armor. "This is some of my finest work, milady. I didn't think it was possible, but I managed somehow." He said as he untied the knots and unbundled the armor.
Slowly he placed the armor together so she could look upon it. The leggings opened on one side and could be buckled on the other and stopped below above her knee, while the boots pulled up above the knee where she could easily walk without showing her legs as vulnerable. The arm pieces also buckled on and the gloves were leather with plates attached to the back. The helmet was open faced, except for the part that covered her nose, and an almost claw like feature would wrap around her chin.
But the most glorious piece was the chest piece, it could be pulled apart to lay flat and there was belts on both side that would allow her to pull it over her head and snap it on. The chest was open to show cleavage, however the same claw like features the helmet had only larger sprang up over the rest of her chest. Only a well trained archer could get through such armor.
She smiled at Helak, "It's very lovely."
The old man gave a grin, "I worked hard on it, and I am most pleased you like it."
"May she change in your back room?"
The old man nodded, "Of course."
Picking up the bag she slipped into the back room to dress herself in her new armor. It took her a few tries to figure out the hinges and belts, but when it was finally completely she was surprised at how truly light weight it was.
Walking out she smiled at Helak, "Thank you."
"It's sad to hear you are leaving." He said.
She looked up at Mitsos, figuring he had been the one to tell Helak. "I am sad to go but it is something I must do."
As they walked out the door he stopped them for a moment, "Ariane?"
"Thank you for carrying my daughter here the other night. I didn't want her body thrown into those carts, she deserved better."
Giving a quick nod, she left the man alone with his lunch and his memories.
They stood outside and for a moment the silence crept over them, before Mitsos decided it was time to journey on. "Then let us journey to Githeth. It's only a day's walk from here, we should be there by tomorrow afternoon if we don't break to often." He said the end look at Jabin, who he was sure would slow them down.