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Hero's Song - Chapter One

Author: 
Avariel
Old Vault Category: 
fanfiction
Old Vault ID: 
309

I sat happily in the mud as a virtual torrent of rain battered the forest around us. Water sluiced off the hood and shoulders of my oilskin cloak, so at least the important bits of me were dry. I didn't care, either way. For the first few moments since Bevil's panicked voice had broken my conciousness that fateful night weeks ago, I was just...not doing anything. The rain had been beating us so badly that Bishop had finally conceded we'd have to stop, or else we'd be sinking in mud. So we found a reasonably dry spot to stop and huddle up in; although with reasonably dry meaning any spot that didn't have fish swimming in the puddles yet, we were soaked to the bone within minutes. It was glorious.



Khelgar sat close by, muttering profanities under his breath, and Casavir was beyond him, silent as stone. Everyone was huddled in the universal I-don't-want-to-get-wet pose; except for me. With my legs stretched out as far as they would across the ground (which is damn far...for a female elf at least. I very nearly met Casavir's shoulder, and that man was tall. ), I was definately taking most of the mud with me when we finally got back to moving again. I sighed contentedly, feeling the growing knot of tension that had seemed to settle permanently between my shoulder blades ease somewhat, and leaned back against my tree trunk, letting water trickle down over my face. Maybe if I looked dirty and disreputable enough, the world would decide I just wasn't important enough for all this fuss, and let me alone?



Huh. Of course I knew it wouldn't happen, but damn it all if I hadn't had some sort of pleasant future ahead of me before all...this...happened. I mean, I could play a mean fiddle; the kind that could make your eyes stream rivers one moment and then your feet start dancing as if flames were snapping at them the next. And the heart-rending tales I could weave would have you sighing for your lost first lover in no time; you know the one I'm talking about. And if you didn't have one? You'd be wishing it was me.



But now people were dead. A lot of them. I'd killed a lot myself over the past few weeks, true; I was getting pretty good at it. And I wasn't quite sure how I felt about that, but put a scimitar in each of my hands, and there's wasn't much that could keep you alive past that. Unless you were on my side, of course. Although this time it hadn't quite worked out that way...someone on my side was about to get hurt, pretty badly, if we didn't get to her first.



I opened my eyes to make a check on the weather, only to find Bishop watching me from under his hood. He didn't say anything or move when he caught my eye; just watched, like a wolf when they know you've realized they're there, but they haven't decided to kill you yet. We just looked at each other for a few long moments, and when I finally felt like I had to say something (bards usually do) he glanced at the sky and stood up.



"Weather's clearing. Come on, we have to make up for lost time, and the trail's going to be harder to see after the rain."



I stood up, shrugging my pack (oilskin-lined, thankfully; otherwise my fiddle would have drowned by now) onto my shoulders, and fully realized the consequences of sitting straight-legged in the mud as my clothing clung to me in a wet, sticky mess. I braced myself for miles of dirty water running down my legs with grim determination. That knot between my shoulders was tightening again.



As we began moving, Neeshka said to me, "Is this a new ploy to keep my fingers out of your pockets, Harper? Filling them with mud?"



I grinned at her, wanting desperately to lighten the mood. "Maybe. If it works I'll start doing it more often."



She grimaced. "Then you and Elanee can finally have something in common!"



Khlegar snorted with ill-supressed laughter in front of us, and I rolled my eyes. Casavir glanced back at Neeshka dissapprovingly; the paladin had a lot of respect for Elanee and didn't like it when we teased her. Which was often. I caught the worried crease of his brow before he turned away. I knew what he was thinking almost automatically; Shandra. He seemed a little sweet on her before the githyanki snagged her, but maybe it was just a paladin thing. They got so emotional when people were in danger, all that smiting and fighting for righteousness.



Not that I was much different. I liked Shandra, and I felt pretty rotten about all the trouble we'd brought into her life. In all fairness, the githyanki probably would have happened to her whether we had ever met her or not, but the other stuff...well, we didn't techincally burn her barn or house down, but we didn't help matters either. I'd felt more than a little obligated when she'd been taken; just throw out the nonsense about us needing her help for a second, because saving her was the right thing to do. And despite usually thumbing my nose at the law, I knew what was right and what wasn't.



A few miles of walking brought us abruptly to an extremely tiny village. West Harbor was Neverwinter in comparison. The rain had stopped half an hour before and there was a stuffy, claustrophobic stillness in the damp air that was beginning to make my spine crawl. I shut the door on my other thoughts and looked around at the village, paying attention.



"This doesn't feel right," said Bishop softly, to my right. Khelgar moved closer to me so that he had our reaguard fairly well covered, and I was slightly amused to see Neeshka and Casavir move closer together.



We were silent for a moment, and then it hit me, like Daeghun's forefinger thumping me across the forehead when I wasn't listening to his teachings. "There's no villagers, you're right. Or animals," I whispered. "What kind of farming village like this doesn't have a damn cow in it?"



Bishop blinked, and stared at me for a moment. "You're right. Good eyes. "



And good memory, I thought to myself, almost feeling the phantom throb of pain across my forehead. Bishop glanced out across the town. "This doesn't bode well for us, I'd gamble on it. We can't just rush in there."



They all looked at me. Bishop had been leading us thus far, but just as I had been enjoying the temorary lack of responsibility, the reins had been thrust at me again. I could feel the weight of their gazes, and instantly wished I was back in the mud. Right, I thought grimly; sometimes you just have to bite down and yank the arrow out, don't you? "We go carefully," I said quietly. "Just follow my lead and do not stray from me. We'll take this slow."



And very delicately, I gripped both handles of my twin scimitars and unsheathed them.





Hero's Song - Chapter 1 © Avariel

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