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The Old Stories

by Jax Tolleson about a month ago in Young Adult · updated about a month ago
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Alane always wanted to be a Knight.

The Old Stories
Photo by Nik Shuliahin 💛💙 on Unsplash

“There weren’t always Dragons in The Valley.”

The wizened old man licked his lips after his withered statement, he had told this story plenty of times, and he would tell it many moreover, so long as there were people to listen he would recall this tale over and over again until he eventually fell asleep in his seat and Ysabelle would drape him in woolen blankets before ushering the little ones off to bed. Alane had heard the story plenty of times, yet, he always leaned forward when he heard that now familiar opening line,

“They once scrabbled over The Mountains, hid in the caves, and warmed the underbellies of the Great Forges of The Deep. There was an alliance, between the beasts and the Mythic races of old, the Dragons would keep the land clean of the Shades, and they would leave them be to hunt and rest.“

“And what were the Shades like?” Alane gripped the edge of his seat eyes wide and focused intently on the old man, Ysabelle waved her hand silencing him as quickly as she could with a stern look, the little girl in her arms just starting to fall asleep after the midday meal.

It didn’t seem to matter anyway, the old man had not cared to notice his interruption, licking his dry lips again he stared with cloudy unseeing eyes, blind after the wars he had fought in,

“The Dwarves had utilized their fire, made the Great Forges, and from those molten pots came riches beyond our understanding. Gold flowed like the veins of rivers across the lands and carved paths of silver and iron were mere decoration to the Dwarves for they had greater things. For a time, there was peace.”

Alane could imagine it, just like the stories, men built as strong as stone with great hammers balled in their fists, beating away at swords and armor that sparked and sputtered with every hit. Stone halls large enough to fit the Giants of legend and Elves with their graceful fingers and arms covered in the carefully made silver imbued with Dragon’s Fire and molded into shape with Dwarven hands,

“That peace was broken though when one Dragon had wandered too far from the nest and came across a mortal child. The two of them formed an unbreakable bond, the closest of friends they were, though no one would allow such a thing. Mortals and Dragons were never meant to meet you see, the Elves had never painted their fates to cross as they had in the stars so,” the old man shifted, raising a shaking hand high, his fingers like twigs made from birch trees, “when they were discovered the first war began. A quick spat between mortals and the Mythic, us mortals unable to withstand the magic that flowed in their veins and so the war had ended after just a year of unwarranted slaughter and the Dragon was pulled back to the nest out of what they believed to be a necessity. The mortal child forever changed by the infinite wisdom that the young Dragon had bestowed upon them.”

Alane tried to lean further, knuckles white against the old wooden chair, he remembered this part, he remembered all of the old man’s stories, having come back day after day to listen to his tired words and fanciful stories that made his head spin with possibility. Ysabelle was able to get the little girl to lay down for a nap while she busied herself in the tiny kitchen, this little cottage as old and weathered as the man that built it,

“That child grew to be King and he lead mortals into a time of great prosperity, spreading the wisdom he had acquired from that young Dragon across the lands and along with it his influence. He became the first Great King of the mortals and his descendants are said to be blessed by the Gods themselves. One year, the King had come forth to speak with the Mythic in hopes to help his citizens, that had been plagued by wandering Shades for many years. He asked ‘Why have the Dragons not come to our aid? Why do they favor the Mythic’s lands and not ours?’ He had asked the Elves only for them to turn away, and when he asked the Dwarves they only talked of the war that had long since passed. So, the King devised a plan, one that would purge the lands of every Shade. He had sent his best Knight deep into the mountains to find that same young Dragon and bid them all to gather in The Valley below as a show of peace and to talk of alliances.”

Alane could hear his older brother stomping around just outside, his boots scraping the worn path with that distinct annoying clack of the metal in the toes, he didn’t want to leave yet, he was just getting to the good part. He wished he could make the old man talk faster, his brother knew exactly where he would be hiding and he squirmed with urgency in his seat, ears straining to listen to everything at once,

“His plan had worked, and within a week all the Dragons had come down from The Mountains and gathered in The Valley awaiting the King to meet them for negotiations. But the King was wise and learned from that war, and with the help of his closest advisors they had created a magic barrier, trapping the Dragons in The Valley and only allowing their freedom if they killed the Shades, it was a fair trade but, the Dragons would not do it, ‘Set us free!’ They yelled, ‘We would sooner die!’ Others bellowed the King, trying to reason with them was unable to and with the growing number of Shades that were pressing in he was unable to find common ground. So, he used force instead, ‘You will help us, or you will die.’ He told them and when they did not relent he raised his sword and struck down the first-“

“Alane!” Gawyn called his head poking into the cabin, his brows already creased with frustration.

Alane groaned loudly, throwing his arms high and rocking in his seat,

“I was just getting to the best part!” He whined, throwing his hands towards the old man, his unseeing attention thrown towards his brother who tilted his head in greeting towards Ysabelle, “Can I please just hear the ending?”

“No.” Gawyn snapped already reaching for him, “You have chores to do and Pa isn’t going to be happy to hear that you’ve been listening to Almecur’s stories again, no ill intentions.”

“Get along boy.” The old man waved his hand dismissively and Alane whined as he was yanked out of his seat and pulled out of the darkened cottage into the bright burn of the late day sun.

As always, the village was bustling with activity, mothers with baskets precariously balanced on their heads and children locked onto hips, fathers with grizzled faces and worn hands, children screaming and playing in the dust of the path running between carriage wheels and horse legs daring the threat of getting kicked. Alane rolled his eyes,

“I don’t have that many chores!”

“You have plenty, you can’t spend all your time listening to those stories anyway,” Gawyn released his arm instead reaching to ruffle his hair roughly causing Alane to stumble as he swatted at his hand, “they’re rotting your head and soon enough you’ll be just as crazy as old Taver!”

“Uh-uh!” Alane was able to get his hand from his head smacking his arm a few times as he protested, “I’m going to be a Knight! And I’m going to slay Dragons and see Giants!”

“Sure you are! And then you’re going to get belly worms and die, there’s no such thing as Dragons and Mythics Alane. They’re all just stores that Almecur likes to tell when the children can’t sleep.”

Alane frowned, anger and determination rising in a strange combination, Almecur wouldn’t lie, he wouldn’t tell silly little stories. No. He was going to prove them all wrong, he was going to become the best Knight these lands had ever seen. He was going to show them all that they were wrong, in this tiny village tucked away in the foothills they would know that Dragons still existed and the Mythic never left their lands and were still hiding behind that barrier.

Gawyn laughed lightly, reaching down to put his hand on Alane’s back,

“Come on, you still have chores to do. You can tell me all about how you’re going to slay a Dragon while we gather wood and set the traps.”

Time had passed, years running by like the flow of water and Alane grew. The stories never changed, Almecur never seemed to age either, still that old withered man that Alane visited every day, even now as he encroached manhood. His wiriness and knobby knees had waned and instead, he started looking more and more like Gawyn, a sharper jawline, broad chest, and his voice deepened into the near baritone of their father. He had almost forgotten about his fantasies when he was younger, still dreaming during the day of Dragons and the Mythic, that was until a stranger had wandered into their secluded village.

It wasn’t uncommon for strangers to pass in, though, they normally blew out the next day but this one was different. They were tall, very tall, taller than even their largest man who could heave logs over his shoulder, and still, they seemingly towered over him and, like a perpetual bad omen, they never removed the hood of their worn green cloak. It only took an hour or two for everyone to start suspecting them,

“Worrisome.” They whispered,

“Trouble” Others called them, but Alane thought nothing of it until their two-hour visit became five until their day became a week and they still hadn’t uttered a word to anyone save for the Inn Keeper who was starting to think they were overstaying their welcome.

TatterShock wasn’t much of a village to begin with, hence why visitors were exceedingly uncommon and at times it was even difficult to find a welcome at all. As soon as someone found reason to suspect the newcomer they were thrown out as swiftly as possible, the superstition of bad luck and misfortune ran deep within the older folks, Alane’s mum certainly one that believed in knocking on copper to ward off beetles for they always brought bad luck.

He didn’t know why this traveler was even allowed their stay for the week, the last time he had seen someone overstay their welcome was when he was still just a boy and didn’t quite understand why the adults were forcing the poor traveler to find shelter elsewhere. He might’ve not known why but, with a swell of determination and a firm clap on his shoulder from Gawyn after demanding that he would handle the stranger he decided to find out that night The stranger always sat at one of the far tables closest to the fire and ate the same thing every day so it wasn’t hard to wander over to their table and fall into one of the empty seats,

“So,” Alane started, leaning on his elbow as he studied the simple array of grilled vegetables he was sure were picked and washed this morning, “What brings you to TatterShock stranger?”

He tried to sound friendly, put a warm smile on his face, and leaned forward to try and entice conversation from them, that ever-present hood still draped over their eyes hiding most of their features though, he could still see a tuft of nutty brown hair. There was a pause, the slowly tensing string of silence that wrapped between them in an already quiet Inn, and Alane waved his hand trying to usher a word from them, perhaps they were deaf? Or blind?

“My business is my own.”

The thread snapped at last and Alane felt as if he could breathe once more and he placed at least one characteristic onto the stranger. Their voice was rich, full of a strength that he could only place as something akin to the wisdom of the older folks and they had an accent, the softer letters of the common language that he had grown up listening to were hardened and sharp on their tongue. He couldn’t place where that sort of accent could possibly come from, he had never heard it before,

“Fair enough, but, one can’t be too curious. Perhaps I could lend a helping hand?” Alane wasn’t about to back down now, he had heard enough whispers, and if he were honest with himself he was interested in the simple newness of it all, “Lived here my whole life, I might know a thing or two that could get you along.”

“Nothing that you would be interested in helping with.”

“Come on now,” Alane leaned back, they certainly weren’t making this any easier, as fun as having something actually happen in this village he knew they would be thrown out soon enough, “I’m offering help, no one wants to be stuck in this place for too long and you seem like a busy person. It’s in your best interest to get the help you need and get out.”

“Are you threatening to kick me out?”

“I’m telling you that you’re at the very edge of getting thrown out by the others if you don’t get along soon.”

“Is this how you people greet all outsiders?”

“It’s how they greet freakishly tall, hooded people who don’t speak to others, stay for a whole week, and, when offered assistance instead of taking it decide to have a little stand-off with the person trying to help them.”

Alane crossed his arms, raising a brow at the stranger who straightened just a touch, their fingers twitching against the table in what he could assume was thought. He waited, watched their lips twist into an unsatisfied frown, they were apparently not used to losing even a minor battle of wits. Alane and Gawyn used to have these sort of spats just to pass the time, this stranger should get used to losing to him and the thought was enough to make a smirk appear on his face,

“So, are you going to accept my help or would you rather get thrown out tomorrow by all the angry mothers and fathers you’ve scared with your secrecy?”

There was another pause, they were obviously turning the thought over like a stone in their palm, inspecting it closely before turning their head to look out towards the sparsely populated room. He caught more of their features, elegantly drawn jawline, almost like a woman’s, fair and marble-esque yet rigid with surety,

“I’m looking for someone.” They turned back, having caught the deep tension that had burrowed into the floorboards and quieted those that wandered in from time to time.

He leaned forward once more, smile plastered back to his face,

“Now we’re getting somewhere,” rubbing his palms together he punctuated his enthusiasm, “I know everyone here, who are you looking for and why?”

“A man you call Almecur.” The name sounded wrong on their tongue and they spoke it slowly as if it wasn’t fit for their mouth, the frown deepening before being wiped away in a flash.

Now it was Alane’s turn to fall silent, why would a stranger be looking for Almecur? For as long as he could remember he hadn’t left the village since he built that little cottage, before Gawyn was even a thought in their parent’s heads, he was the oldest member in the village and rarely left his home,

“What business do you have with him?” He pried, squinting a little as he tried to put the pieces of this oddly shaped puzzle together.

He had never seen this person before, Almecur never mentioned having tall friends, or friends at all really, always repeating the same stories over and over again that the little ones loved and he himself still entertained from time to time,

“My business is my own. Is he here?”

Digging through his mind, Alane couldn’t think of any possible reason why a stranger would want to visit their most prominent storyteller, perhaps they were a fan of the works he cited? There was no shortage of that at least, everyone knew his stories, everyone knew of the old wars, the Mythic, the Dragons in The Valley. With a shrug, he spoke,

“He’s here, just down the way, though, I would suggest waiting till morning to talk with him. He’s old and tires easily.”

With an unfamiliar and shocking swiftness the stranger stood, their chair scraping away loudly silencing the murmured conversations nearby, Alane nearly jumped from his skin,

“Woah, hey,” he scrambled to his feet, holding his hands out to try and quell whatever sense of urgency had taken them by storm, “he’ll be there tomorrow, not leaving any time soon. It's best if you just sit back down and enjoy your meal, hell, I’ll even go with you tomorrow. Just calm down.”

“I thank you for your assistance, I will see him now.”

“Oh no, you won’t!” They started to turn, every person that was gathered inside the Inn was staring at them, Gawyn’s hand hovered over his hunting knife threatening to intervene even after promising he wouldn’t, the glare on his face enough to kill, he swallowed back the rise of panic that took his heart in a tightened fist, “Listen,” lowing his voice he stepped closer keeping his eyes away from their face, “what can I say to make you wait?”

Bargaining wasn’t his strong suit, he had told Gawyn he would handle the stranger, told him that he would have them peacefully out by morning,

“I cannot wait.” They said plainly, staring at him their eyes still frustratingly hidden,

“Then I’ll go with you.” He said it on a whim, what could be the harm in visiting old Almecur late at night, Ysabelle was still there, she probably would shoo them away and then they would be forced to wait until morning to get their business done with and at that point, everything would be resolved int he best possible way.

The stranger stared at him a moment longer, that stretch of silence choking and unbearable before turning and taking long strides towards the door,

“Okay then.” Alane’s hands dropped and he followed them diligently.

The night seemed like a blessing compared to the cloying silence of the Inn, the crisp air of a creeping fall season promising a bountiful harvest and plenty of festivals to come. It was difficult to keep up with the stranger, their legs much longer than Alane’s,

“Hey-hey,” he rushed to walk beside them their urgency was unnecessary and he could already feel the eyes of the others that were tucked into their homes on the two of them, “calm down, he’s not going anywhere. He’s old and more than likely asleep, he won’t even be able to see you tonight.”

“I cannot wait.”

“Work with me here, I’m giving you all this information and helping you find Almecur the least you can do is give me your name.”

They didn’t stop or even slow their stride, he tried to gather more on this stranger, catching only how their skin looked luminescent in the silvery light of the moon,

“It would be best if you didn’t follow me. My name is none of your concern-“

“Oh, it’s plenty my concern. Give me one damn thing at least, come on, this whole secrecy thing has to get boring at some point.”

They laughed then, light and airy, shaking their head a little before casting their smile his way the dull light catching the flash of white teeth just behind those lips,

“You can call me Zaos.”

Alane stopped, knees locking on their own, he had never heard a name like that before, simple yet phonetic, almost like the old warrior names that Almecur talked about. The Hero Paeris and the Hero Luirlan, Zaos didn’t stop, shaking his head free of those thoughts Alane caught up with them easily,

“Where are you from Zaos?”

“A neighboring Kingdom.”

There weren’t that many Kingdoms close by, the only two that one could reach within a week’s worth of travel were Stanad and Laxothen. He never even got the chance to leave TatterShock in all his years, the idea that they hailed from one of those shockingly large swaths of land where houses farms, and paved market squares held hundreds of new faces was enough to send a bolt of excitement through him, a wide smile appearing on his face,

“Really?” His voice pitched, the sudden rush seeming to unearth all of the now old dreams he had seemingly retired, Knighthood, slaying beasts and traveling the lands, all of it seemed possible all at once, perhaps he could worm his way into following Zaos?

The idea of adventure was ripe within him and he saw his opportunity in this person, this tall stranger that had lingered longer than anticipated, maybe the stars were being kind and they were simply waiting for him to grasp at the opportunity,

“What is it like? Do you travel often? Are you a Knight?” Questions flew forth, Alane not bothering to hold them back in the slightest as he continued to let his excitement gather.

Zaos looked back at him, he didn’t need to see their eyes to know that look, obviously the same sort of expression that Gawyn always wore when he started talking like this but he didn’t care, he wanted to know, he wanted out of this little village and he yearned for adventure. His questions went unanswered though, as they reached that homely and worn front door of Almecur’s cottage, the dim warm glow of a fire flickering behind the gaps of the boards,

“It would be best if you didn’t follow me. I thank you for your help.” Zaos bowed their head just slightly, casually but Alane wouldn’t be dismissed so easily,

“Nonsense, you’re going to answer my questions, I have a feeling we’re going to be friends.” He joked, his voice loud and smile bright as he knocked on the door twice, always twice, that was how he told Ysabelle that it was a familiar face and to let him inside without hesitation,

“Open!” She called and Alane simply pushed the door wide for Zaos to step inside.

Ysabelle was stirring the embers in the hearth, the children already all abed, they stepped inside and Alane let the door swing closed with a soft clack,

“What brings you so late-“ her words tapered off the moment she looked away from the fire, already standing tall as her fingers curled into her skirt, knuckles white and eyes wide staring at Zaos.

It was immediate, the once comfortable air inside the familiar home was replaced with a seeping chill that aided the beast of tension to dig its claws into the air, making it thick and hard to breathe. Alane held his hands up, gathering Ysabelle’s attention away from Zaos,

“They’re just here to see Almecur, I’m guessing he’s asleep?”

“You need to leave.” Ysabelle spat, her shock dissipated into a heated cloud of anger that made her words spark, her eyes were locked back onto Zaos,

“Hold on,” Alane held his hands higher stepping in front of Zaos with a nervous smile, he had never once heard her speak like that,

“No.” She spat reaching forward and yanking Alane away from Zaos, “You need to leave. Get out of this house and never return.”

Alane stumbled forward, Ysabelle’s fingers curled so tightly around his wrist it hurt as she pulled him behind her, protecting him,

“I cannot.” Zaos’ voice was low with the weight of duty, he had not heard them sound that way before, “You know I cannot.”

“I don’t care. Leave.”

“I cannot, where is he?”

There was a stand-off between the two of them Ysabelle glaring fiercely at Zaos now, an expression that he had never seen on her soft features,

“I’m right over here you blind devil.” Almecur’s voice echoed from the far corner of the room, right next to the fire where he sat in his old chair as he always had.

The tension had turned to stone, weighing down the entire room with an almost palpable taste that turned his tongue to cotton and his limbs to fill with lead, Almecur’s voice had changed, he had the same accent as Zaos now. As soon as he had spoken Zaos had moved to him with a swiftness that he couldn’t trace,

“You know why I am here.”

“I do.”

“Then you know what this means.” Zaos’ voice lowered to a bare whisper, Alane strained his ears to hear them, Ysabelle keeping him tucked behind her even though he was already much larger than she was,

“I do.”

“I am sorry.”

“No, you’re not. Don’t act like it boy.”

“Very well.” Zaos sighed, their back was turned to Alane but he saw them shift, hovering over Almecur now.

It was as if he were watching two actors play out on stage, speaking in those last few cryptic messages that he wasn’t there for in the first half. His limbs would not move, dread echoed through him as he watched Zaos, the stranger he had led here, pull an ornate knife from their hip and plunge it into Almecur’s neck in one smooth, swift motion. Ysabelle screamed, at least, he was sure she was as she collapsed to her knees, his blood ran cold, his joints locked, the thrumming of his heart so loud he couldn’t even hear the dying, sputtering gurgles of Almecur’s dying breaths as waves of crimson stained the once-white shirt he wore.

It took him time to find his voice, took him time to seemingly come back to his body as his hands moved on their own, his feet propelled him forward and that ice had been replaced with a great rage he didn’t think possible. He tore Zaos away from Almecur but, he had moved too late, the gash in his neck had ripped through the delicate flesh, the cloudy white in his blind eyes somehow even emptier than before as that last wheezing breath echoed through his chest before going completely still.

Shock, rage, betrayal, an entire myriad of emotions were racing through him at a pace he could not keep up with, Ysabelle was wailing, tears flowing down her face as she grieved her great grandfather, and without being able to think he rushed Zaos, grabbing them by the collar and shoving them high against the adjacent wall. He saw their face, or rather, his face, and his raging mind gathered the information as quickly as it deemed necessary. Wild and widened emerald green eyes, sharpened nose, short-cropped brown hair, and a long scar that ran from his temple to the corner of his mouth. None of that mattered though, none of that held any of the weight it had before, he had just killed Almecur, he had just killed the man that helped raise him, he had just killed the man Alane helped him find.

With a sneer he didn’t feel Alane slammed his back against the wall again, watching his head crack against the old wood,

“What have you done!?” His voice didn’t sound like it belonged to him, it was too vicious, too angry, too loud, he did not remember ever yelling like this before, “Why!? Why did you do this!?”

“It was his time.” Zaos choked out, swallowing thickly his hands coming up to Alane’s yet not pulling them away, his fingers only lingering on his burning skin, “He had avoided his inevitable age, he escaped us for far too long.”

“So what!?” Alane’s sneer grew, pressing his knuckled into Zaos’ collarbones, he barred his teeth as a wolf would, “He was old! He was living out his dying days and you ended them! He was kind and a father to all of us and you killed him!”

“He was not going to die naturally. This was the only way to ensure he did not turn to a Shade.”

His anger sputtered, the statement blocking it so suddenly Alane’s mind was reeling from it, grasping at pieces that he could not keep, everything he knew by heart, everything that was so sure and set in stone upturned,



Gawyn’s voice sliced through everything, as cold and as sharp as steel, Zaos utilized his pause, that brief breath of confusion and now interruption to break free from his hold. His fingers dug into Alane’s palms, wrenching them from his collar before darting out of the back door leaving him alone with Ysabelle’s sobs.

Gawyn appeared just as suddenly as Zaos had vanished from sight and there was another flurry of movement that he couldn’t keep up with, his mind too scattered, every comprehensible thought he had slipping through his fingers like grains of sand,

“You brought them here!” His eyes drifted slowly to his brother, the man he knew, yet he wore an expression he had never seen, “You brought him here and let him kill Almecur!?”

All of the air that was in his lungs was forced out as Gawyn’s fist met with his cheek and he was forced to the floor. His head smacked against the floor, another distinct crack that made him see stars as pain bloomed red against his vision, the throb of his cheek like a fire that sparked against the pain in his temple,

“You said you would handle this! You said you would have them gone by the morning and instead you lead them here and let them kill him!” Did Gawyn’s voice always sound like this?

He couldn’t breathe, being forced to his feet as Gawyn’s hands grabbed at his shirt and hauled him up, his brother’s face twisted into the most venomous sneer Alane had ever seen and for the briefest of moments he wondered if that was how he looked when he was sneering,

“How could you!? Why did you think that was a good idea!? What possessed you to believe a stranger that easily!?”

“He said-“ Alane grasped at his brother’s hands, they were pressed into his collarbones, his eyes darted to the open back door, the darkness of night a gaping hole where warmth could not penetrate, “He said that it was his time, that he would turn into a Shade if he didn’t-“

“Bullshit!” Gawyn snapped housing Alane higher, his feet no longer touching the floor, “Shades aren’t real Alane! Shades have never been and never will be real! You believed a lie! You let him lie to you and you believed him and now he’s gone and you let this happen!”

“I didn’t-“

“When will you stop living in fantasy!? When will you ever wake up and see the world as it is!? He killed him! He killed him and you let him and now he’s gone!”

Alane couldn’t breathe, he couldn’t think, Ysabelle was still wailing, the children were awake, and others had poured into the tiny hut mourning their friend, mourning their grandfather and father. Gawyn dropped him suddenly and Alane couldn’t stand anymore, the stiffness of his joints gone, he fell to the floor only able to stare wide-eyed at everyone that so suddenly surrounded him, their faces all twisted into malignant sneers and seething frowns,

“I didn’t-“ Alane sputtered, “I didn’t think- he said-“

“You brought a stranger into Almecur’s home, and you watched him kill him and then you let him go because of some fanciful lie.” Gawyn’s words sounded unreal, untrue as if he weren’t speaking from himself, that was his brother and yet, he couldn’t recognize him,

“I didn’t know- he was just looking for him! He was-“

“Enough.” His father stepped forward, waving his arm out to keep the others at bay, for the briefest of moments Alane thought himself saved, that his father would pull him from this terrible waking nightmare that he was trapped in, and when he woke he would be safe and warm and all the pieces of his mind would be fitted back into place.

But, that moment passed, his father’s face morphed into one of a deep disappointment, one that was unmatched by any of the vicious glares and sneers that surrounded him,

“He should be banished.” One person whispered,

“A disappointment that son of yours is.”

“I always said too trusting.”

“His head too far in the clouds.”

Alane’s throat tightened, his mouth filled with puffs of cotton he could not spit free and the realization dawned on him, they would not believe anything he had to say anyway. His father looked down at him, an all-seeing eye, a respected member of the village he had a voice as sure as the elders,

“Because of what transpired this night. We cannot have this misdeed go unpunished.” Gawyn turned away, the last expression he had seen on his brother a sneer of disgust, “You are hereby banished from TatterShock.” His voice echoed like death, the entire world silent, his father banishing his son, “By daybreak, you are to vanish from this village and never return.”

Alane wept, words dying on his tongue as the cool touch of tears streamed down his burning cheeks and he could take it no longer. He did not plead, he did not beg, there was no use in doing so, everyone left that little cottage, even Ysabelle her face swollen and still wet with tears and Alane was left completely alone with nothing but the corpse of that once beloved old man sitting in his chair covered in blood.

Young Adult

About the author

Jax Tolleson

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