Chapter III: 13. A matter of Details

… Previously                    ¦             The Beginning of the Story



The observations of the young Traladaran   

“Immortals are in the details” is an old Traladaran saying that my poor mother repeated often to me and my brothers, like a mantra, to draw the indispensable strength to carry on and make a living, at least for another day. But she was a woman of faith, unlike me, and she put her confidence in the mercy and in the work of the gods. I have always lived hand to mouth, relying solely on my strength and wits. And in time, I learned to recognize, hidden in details, opportunities that can change our lives, for better or for worse.

For this reason, searching for detail, I look at the young man sitting before us, sunk in a high-backed chair that reminds me of the throne of a king. Despite heavy stare and austere clothes of mourning making him look much older, he is at most a few years older than me. He is taller than I am by at least one foot, and with a tonic and muscular body. Dark brown eyes and hair betray its membership, at least in part, to my people. The bearing, though, denotes all the arrogance of the Thyatians conquerors. I watch him while his eyes quickly browse the letter that we delivered. He keeps it in his left trembling hand. It might not be his sword hand and it is equally likely that he has recently missed the right arm, cut at the base of the shoulder, given his uneasiness with the only hand that he still possesses. The parchment, or what remains of it, is still soaked in the dried blood of the poor fellow, killed by the hands of Petreides. The enigmatic letter speaks of a mysterious woman, a queen, eager to reap a harvest of blood and death on the lands of Penhaligon. Moreover, for this purpose she is willing to seal a pact with dark forces and to gather under her command the humanoid tribes of the Black Mountains. The call for help, in the letter, was for Kavorquian, the greatest wizard of the Penhaligon area and probably the entire northern Karameikos but … Yeah, the old man had well thought to kick the bucket ten days ago making, in fact, our trip useless!

Kaerin Penhaligon“I’m really upset by the content of this letter, I must confess.” My impression that Kaerin Penhaligon, son of Kavorquian, was dismayed, is correct, then. “Surely my father would know what to do, how to best handle this matter of which, alas, I completely ignore everything. I will definitely inform my cousin, Lady Arteris [1], as soon as possible, and the other lords of the north too.” The concern of the young is palpable. “If you want, my lord, I can take care of it tomorrow.” It is the voice of that hairless and bald man, all the time motionless, staring at me from behind his master. His eyes, even when he pronounces the words, are fixed upon me. People like me, of a certain “profession”, have an unerring nose regarding their fellows. Our body, our inquiring eyes, our unspoken words, scream loud and clear of who we really are. We both know the truth of each other. I know that he saw my eyes weighing each item of value in the house, from the first moment I set foot in the sumptuous villa located on a hill in the extreme outskirts of the town of Penhaligon. And be sure that, was it not for the good people that was with me, I would take away even the foundations of the house!

“No, Boris, I’ve got to manage it personally.” I feel the disappointment in the eyes of the servant at the words of the master. “When is it planned to arrive at the villa of Sherlane?” “From the information we have in two days, my lord.” And this time I see disappointment portrayed in the face of the young man. “These days seem interminable.” Kaerin whispers while caressing his missing arm, as if moved by an uncontrollable impulse and instinct. “We will wait then! Two more nights and another endless day. But “- he says suddenly shooting up – “I want you to know that my appreciation for what you did is great. I want you to remain here at the villa, at least for this evening and tonight.” Then, he signs to follow him out of the room, and continues. “My father was a great lover of theater. Today there would have been a party in his honor, with a performance here in the villa, the old play of “The Battle of Volaga River [2].” Honestly his sudden demise threw me into despair. I canceled the party but I had not courage to cancel the performance. My intention would be to make a final tribute, to put an end to the mourning period with something that made him happy in life. It is clearly fate that brought you here this very evening, and who am I, other than  an humble and devoted son, to counter this fate?” My companions and I exchanged fleeting glances, looking for an answer, which soon the same Kaerin gave. “As I said you will be my guests for dinner and for the night to come and honor me this evening, in attending with me to the performance!”

[SoB]POV13-BoarHeadWhen we moved away from the hall in which the son of Kavorquian received us, we hear the familiar voice of the butler, with barely contained anger. “Nine… Ten… Eleven … Ten… Eleven …” I observe with a grin the precious twelfth silver spoon, spinning it around with satisfaction between the fingers. The first round is mine, I think to myself, putting my trophy into the gaping mouth of the boar’s head hanging as a trophy on the wall of the corridor. Search, search, Thyatians’ lackey.

– – –

[1] Lady Arteris Penhaligon, governor of the namesake town.

[2] “The Battle of the Volaga River” is a popular epic of the traladaran tradition, which narrates the mortal exploits of three traladaran heroes, Halav, Petra and Zirchev and their subsequent ascension to the Pantheon of the Immortals.

to be continued…

Cast of Characters




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