“Here now sister, that’s not doing any good.” Surprisingly it was Cronos that was wiping tears away and pressing a warm drink into her hands. “I’m sure we can find something to help. If one man can concoct a bit of healing magic what’s to say another cannot duplicate it? Pierce’s apprentice mayhap or myself or even Vilhylm might be able to give some insight.”
She took the mug of steaming tea in shaking hands and looked at her brother through tear blurred vision. “But my sword. My precious Brightfang, the blade that I bound to my life and my magic with a piece of my soul. I have broken him and there isn’t anyone in the world who can make another because there can be no other.”
“If there is a sword, there was a smith.” Vilhylm said, coming to join them. “If there is a smith, the sword can be forged once again.”
“You would venture to the glaciers of the north?” Callindra asked, turning her tear streaked face towards them, “To the great mountain with the heart of fire where the demon of war Majiera sits chained to pillars of ice and the smith Beliach forges weapons for the gods?”
Cronos stared at her in shock and Vilhylm opened and closed his mouth in an attempt to form words. Callindra wiped tears from her eyes and took her whetstone from her belt pouch. “I will not allow him to break. I won’t allow him to weaken. I will fix this. I can fix this.”
“It appeared to me that it was your last attack that caused the blade to fracture.” Cronos said, “When it scraped along the portal’s edge as the magic was being unraveled I think it was weakened.”
Callindra smoothed out the sharp piece of metal so that it was no longer a sliver that would cut into her hand and only then noticed how she had sliced herself on Brightfang’s razor sharp blade. The vines and tendrils that grew around the wounds quickly made any motions requiring dexterity difficult and she put her whetstone back into its pouch reluctantly.
“What will we do about Tryst?” She asked, “We don’t have the amulet that the traitor Pierce claimed to need in order to complete whatever spell he was going to use to revive him.”
“I have an idea that perhaps the death of the Ravenger will serve to help revive him.” Vilhylm said, “After all, it was that creature’s foul magic that laid him low to begin with. We have to have hope Callindra.”
Hope. What an elusive and tenuous thing. But as she thought about it, she realized that she did feel hope. It was all she could do, but it went beyond that. She had seen folk brought back from the very brink of death by her brother Tryst and she felt certain that the Gods he revered would not allow him to die when he had saved so many.
Tryst stirred, trying to remember where he was. The scent of wet peat moss and antiseptic filled his nostrils. With an effort of will he opened his eyes and saw a ring of worried faces staring down at him. A soft golden-green glow lit the room and he realized it was coming from him.
“How long was I out?” He managed to ask, and at his words the folk of The Drunken Thief let out a collective breath of relief. Tryst realized that they had all been holding weapons ready to hack and smash and that they’d all been terrified anyway.
“It has been nearly a fortnight.” Mili said, “We were beginning to lose hope. This must mean your companions were able to reach Pierce.”
“What would that have to do with my recovery?” He asked, “Was this a curse?”
“You fell under the influence of the Abyss.” She replied, “We had lost all hope, but your friends refused to give in. Especially the young girl. They went to find my old training master as he has made a study of such things. If anyone has the ability to remove the curse of Abyssal Spawn it is he.”
“He can cure the Abyssal sickness?” Tryst asked, incredulous. “If he can, that is… I must find him! That knowledge must be shared before it’s too late!”
Tryst tried to sit up and found his muscles too stiff to move properly. With a groan of effort he managed to roll to one side and Mili helped him to a sitting position. His head spun and he was desperately hungry. One of the huge twins who served as bouncers at the Inn brought him a bowl of broth and it was all he could do not to bolt it down.
As he took careful sips, Tryst tried to martial his thoughts. Was he finally free of it? Could this Pierce have the key to truly fixing the infestation?
“I there was someone who was looking for these pieces your – uh – sister Callindra was talking about.” Said a man with bandages on his chest. He was honing a dagger where he lay in a bed convalescing from near mortal wounds.
“I’m Gabriel. Callindra sat with me around the fire before the Ravenger attacked.” He sighed, “I had invited her to join me after seeing her fight the bog creatures. She turned me down of course; I had no way of knowing how far out of my league she was. I’ve never seen anyone do anything like that before. Running into the face of certain death with a smile on her face and fire in her heart.”