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A Past Whisper

by Emilio Diaz 11 months ago in literature

Adventure never dies

The rapid, almost non-stop pattering of the rain hitting the old barn's roof stopped at nothing in its vicious assault. Jerit paused only for a brief moment to look out his window from his small cabin to look outside as a stray crack from a not-so-distant thunderbolt lit up the night sky as bright as morning sunrise. As the crack hit the distance, he could almost swear to hear a voice, far-off and hoarse it seemed. “Remember yourself”, it seemed to say. As if the lightning was angry at the earth and each hit from the storm would elicit a curse from the ancient element. Could lightning speak? Or was it a whisper from his mind? An internal word of protest brought almost to his lips, perhaps, for the brash audacity of the thunder and rain.

The old farmer had been through countless storms, blizzards, squalls and light showers that could barely be called rain at all. This to him was nothing like anything he recalled from the past few years. No, this storm was different and his bones knew it. Almost as if a raging water elemental had been loosed from a lake by an umbrageous wizard, mad perhaps at the world for some reason. ‘Mayhap his goblet went and got stolen.’ Jerit mused, a smile escaping from his tired frown.

But he knew better. Wizards never ventured this far South. Their lot almost exclusively remained in that crystalline, walled city of Vero. All those well-to-do types would call that place home, he knew. Was a time, he remembered, I lived in a place like that. Living in a room that more resembled a palace. His walls, mantle and even the bed side table lavishly decorated with various trappings and artifacts from his many adventures. And the owl. The damned owl. Why did he remember that blasted thing now, of all times?

“Jerit, you forgot to shut the barn door again, ya blasted idiot!” Meriam’s berating cut through all the reminiscing fog in his mind and Jerit shot her a look that he hoped would come across as annoyed. A quick amused ‘harrumph’ from his wife of 35 years showed him otherwise.

“Quit yer squakin’, woman. I can see the barn from here. The doors are closed!”

“Not the front ones, the back ones! Go shut them already, the storm will tear through there and ruin all your pelts and our grain!” she countered, furiously drying her hair from the tempest it sustained from her brief jaunt outside. The clothes she had brought in from the drying rope had all been soaked through, almost as if nature herself was mocking Meriam and her attempt at a decent clean clothing cycle. “The cursed weather. Came out of nowhere, didn’t it now?” she grumbled, wringing out the wet towel into their sink.

“Aye, it ain’t normal. Were the clothes that important? Could have left ‘em out there and gotten ‘em later. Were to get wet anyhow in this gale.” Meriam simply leveled a glare at him and slapped down her towel on the cooking counter in protest. The fading, stomping footsteps of his wife trudging up their stairs to the bedroom were enough of an argument that Jerit knew better than to pursue. Those doors had to get closed, after all. And Meriam surely wasn’t about to go back outside and do it. Perhaps, he mused, it was time for a brief adventure.

The rain had not abated a trickle. Even after Jerit put on his heavy weather wear, thick leather coat and fat rain britches, his work gloves, heavy boots and sturdy windbreak hat that was known to keep out even the most offending cold wind could not keep all the streams of peppering rain from his face. The barn that was merely a short hop from his house’s back door seemed miles away now. Each battering gust pushed him back a little each time, the rain a fitting companion for the almost-constant barrage. What seemed an eternity passed until finally he was at the barn. The front doors were closed, as he argued and he grabbed the wooden handle and heaved it up to unlock it. The wind fought him but he relented, bringing the door to enough of a state that he was able to enter the barn. The door slammed shut like a wolf, quickening in its lunge upon an unsuspecting rabbit.

The loud thud jarred Jerit, made him look back in a startle. Is it normal for even the hardest wind to slam so heavy a door shut so quickly, he wondered? Perhaps he was over-thinking. The pounding of the storm outside could be heard rather vividly, even in this barn, built by hand by him and Meriam some 10 years back. They used only the sturdiest wood, strongest steel to support the beams and made sure it could hold up to all manner of weather. But against this storm? The cross beams and ceiling struts shook slightly with each roaring thunderclap and Jerit wondered again. Against this storm? With a glance, he looked and had to rub his eyes in surprise. The back doors were closed.

Could she have been mistaken? Looking around the barn, the farmer made a mental note of all his equipment. He wanted to be sure nothing was damaged or tossed. A family of field mice skittered under the hay as he moved the pitchforks and shovels towards the wall to secure them further. If they could see this place as safe then…Jerit paused suddenly as a sound like a whisper invaded his thoughts again. “Forget and be lost”. This time it was much clearer and closer. “Who…who goes there?” he stifled to ask. Was he going mad? He couldn’t have been hearing things. Not in this roaring tempest! “Forget and be lost, Jerit” Now it said his name!

“Meriam?” No, this voice had a masculine quality to it. Slowly, he grabbed the pitchfork he had just propped against the wall and took the stance of ‘Defend the Castle’, the pitchfork held firm against his side, the sharp tongs positioned outwards, ready for any attack. A basic swordsman stance he had learned from his Battle Master Loren so many years ago. And he still remembered every part of it. Even how tight to stretch his leg muscles, the amount of tension needed to grip the pommel of his weapon.

“Here, you make your presence known! I’ll not have intruders! If you want shelter from the storm, all is well, but make yourself known!” The wood grain in the pitchfork groaned from his grip. It wasn’t meant to be used as a weapon, after all. He loosed his grip ever so slightly, making sure to keep a sharp eye for any movement. ‘Look to the stars, old friend.’ This time he could tell the direction of the voice. There, on the rafters, he spied a dark shape hiding behind one of the beams.

“Come down! I know how to throw this and my aim will be true! Show yourself!” With a flap of its wings, the shape bounded down to a beam just above Jerit. It was a barn owl. The magnificent creature had bristly brown and white feathers covering the outer parts of its body, coming to a soft, almost cushioned look the closer they were to its skin. The head of the Wings that, when spread, were almost 40 inches in length. Its command of even the seemingly still air inside the barn made it quite apparent to Jerit who was the real master of the elements here. As it relaxed its wings, Jerit detected an almost subtle change in the wind strength.

“Do you remember your oath, knight?” Jerit almost staggered, at a loss for the very real fact that the voice was indeed coming from this animal.

“Who be ye? What knight?” he responded, positioning the pitchfork to a point towards the owl. Its eyes glazed in the now waning light of the approaching sunset that was hidden during the storm. Was it judging him?

“All the years we were together, Jerit. All the battles we fought. The evil vanquished. Is this the culmination of your life?” it posited, turning to look at the barn.

“My life? We were never together! I never knew any owl!”, he replied, looking instead at the floor, the walls, anything but this impossible sight of a talking owl in front of him.

“Now there you are correct. You never had an owl. But you did have a partner. Or will you, in one breath, deny the existence of Brand? Of the young squire you took under your wing? All those years in apprenticeship to you, carrying your burdens, listening to your stories, do none of those memories persist in your aging mind?”

“I do not trouble myself with thoughts of the past! I have a wife to take care of. A farm! Adventures, bah! Those are for the youth, owl.”

“You did not always think so. Now, come. We have work to do.”

“Work? What work?”

“It is time for you to finish the work we began so long ago. Do you not feel the pull of fate, my friend? Are you not tired?”

Slowly, with an almost practiced patience of a skilled paladin, Jerit put his pitchfork down. Still holding it to the side, in the basic ready stance, he was prepared for anything. “See, you remember. Now you shall help me with this storm. For it is not of this world.” In a flash of lightning, the owl’s eyes sparked with power and the two disappeared in the suddenness of a thunderclap. It was time, after all, for the old warrior to be called for another adventure. His last one

literature

Emilio Diaz

I've been writing most of my life and have had three novels published professionally. I am currently looking to improve my writing talent/skill and also look to be successful in this new digital and technologically-driven time we live in.

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Emilio Diaz
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