Tragedy of the Raven Part 1, Chapter 4
By Prince Nightmare
He didnt trust the Glenn at all. Glenn had said that he was going to be taking care of him from now on... and thats when Raven got suspicious. After the Priest had thrown Raven a dank dungeon cell beneath the Temple, he had been scared. Rats crawled in the straw in the corner and the guards made fun of him when he jumped back from one of the rodents. Another Paladin had brought down food for him, but the guards ate it while Raven watched. He was too afraid to lay in the straw on the floor because of the rats, and it was damp and very chilly. It wasnt an hour before he began to sneeze. The guards laughed at him again.
Getting a little chill, are we boy? The bigger one with the mustache grinned at him.
Raven glared at him as he crouched in a corner, shivering. No one had explained why he had been locked up like an animal, and he had not the voice to ask. His eyes stung with tears, but he would release them. He made himself promise not to cry in front of anyone, because that was showing weakness. Crying brought kicks and curses, and that wasnt something he wanted. In Lenstahn, the weak were not nurtured, they were beaten. A few hours went by and Raven began to feel feverish. He hated how he always got sick after getting cold or being out in the rain...
Finally a paladin stomped down the stairs into the hold. He motioned the two guards to open the cell. Krischtiahn wants him now, he said stiffly.
Yes Sir Branahn! Right away. The big guard unlocked the cell and yanked Raven out by his hair. Raven bared his teeth and kicked at him. The guard thrust the small boy to the paladin, who gripped him tightly by the shoulders and began to push him toward the stairwell.
Branahn had taken him into the big room Raven had seen briefly when Krischtiahn had drug him in. Other paladins were sitting around a table, starring at him. Krischtiahn stood near the head of the table. The look he gave Raven made the boys blood cold. He began to struggle harder against Sir Branahns strong grip.
And then he heard Krischtiahn tell one of the men at the table to kill him. Raven closed his eyes and hoped the man would simply lop off his head quickly. He had seen a dog get gutted once by a sword... it had been caught stealing chickens... the dog had lived for hours afterward, howling in pain far into the night. The stench that came from his torn bowels made Raven sick for days afterward. He hoped he wouldnt have to die like that, with his bowels hanging in shreds as the flies ate him alive...
Raven waited for the blow of the sword, but none came. He heard the knight talking to Krischtiahn in angry tones. Raven opened his eyes and jerked hard against Branahn. The paladin had been absorbed in the heated argument and loosened his grip. The sudden movement from Raven made his fingers slip from the boys collar.
Shit! Branahn swore as Raven broke away from him. Raven looked around in a panic. The paladins were already getting to their feet to chase him, and there was no where to hide and no doors to run out. He backed against a wall and grabbed a sword that hung there. It was far to heavy and he almost dropped it, but he managed to raise it a few inches off the ground... if he was going to die, hed do it fighting! One of the paladins unsheathed his sword and held it out only a few inches from Ravens throat. Raven bared his teeth at him, refusing to show his fear.
He heard the knight who had defied the Priest yell out in a loud voice. Hes only a BOY! Then the knight was pushing aside the paladins, who looked at him angrily. He turned to face them. You really want to kill someone here, then be honorable and kill a Knight of Guardia, not some child!
Ravens arms trembled as he struggled to hold up the heavy sword. He couldnt do it. The sword slipped from his fingers and fell. It clanged against the stone floor, the sharp sound making him wince. The knight turned to him and smiled. Dont worry, I am not going to let them kill you. His voice sounded almost cheerful, and if he was afraid, he hid it well. The knight unsheathed the sword he wore at his side... Raven gazed at the blade in awe. It seemed the sword was almost... glowing... even though there was scant light in the dim hall. The knight held it ready.
Any of you care to try to take the child now? he said as the paladins backed away. Krischtiahn hissed.
Youd use the Masamune to defend the very creature it was forged to kill? Glenn... your sanity has gone from you. Think now Glenn... I know this seems harsh to kill a child... but that child is the spawn of a wizard some say was the Devil Himself! Do you want to see the countryside in flames again? To hear the crying of women and children as they sent their husbands and fathers out to die? Glenn, for the good of mankind, that boy has to DIE!
No. Youre wrong Krischtiahn. Magus wasnt the Devil. He was only a man like you or I, a man who had felt much pain and became twisted by the need for revenge. Yes, he did do terrible things and many died by his hand... for many years I longed to kill him. The bitter hatred ate away at my soul and I realized I was becoming just like him! I... forgive him... for what he did. May his soul find rest now! Krischtiahn sneered at Glenn, who tightened his grip on the Masamune. The sword seemed to fill the space around him with a pale, blue aura. I will NOT let you kill his son!
Raven watched without blinking or moving a muscle. This was the first time he had ever heard who his father really was. Most people said he was just the riffraff of some dark elf or Mystic scum. But he had never imagined he was the bastard son of Magus the Wizard! He knew that name... people still whispered it in terror, as if saying it out loud would bring Magus back from the dead like some wrathful demon. He began to tremble a little as it all sank in. Magus was his father! Magus the Black... Magus the Savior of Demons! The Blood Wizard who had waged a war against the humans and had almost won! Raven didnt know if he should be afraid, proud, or angry. He felt all three at that instant..
Im taking the boy. Glenn said loudly so that all might hear him. If any of you try to stop me... Mother Light help me, I will kill you.
Young Rennard spoke up then, his voice trembling. Sir Glenn... you know not what you say! If you take the child, we will be forced to hunt you down and... he swallowed hard.
Do what you must. Glenn said, sneering. But its a coward who kills a boy because he could not defeat the childs father! With that he turned to Raven and beckoned to him. Come here. Youll be safe with me, Raven tilted his head to the side a little and sized up his situation for a moment. If he went with this Glenn person, he might have a chance to slip away later... if he stayed here, he was as good as dead. Cautious in case it was a trick, he moved to Glenns side. The knight smiled down at him but Raven paid no heed. He was looking at the Masamune. He knew that story too, people in Lenstahn gathered in front of the Meeting Hall sometimes to tell stories. Raven had often climbed up in the big oak above the Hall and listened. He realized that Glenn was the hero that had defeated Magus with the Masamune... he was considered the best swordsman in all of Guardia.
Raven scrutinized him carefully. Glenn wore simple armor that wasnt decorated with rubies or diamonds. His face was good looking but not any more handsome than a hundred other knights in the kingdom. He wasnt exceptionally tall or muscular, and didnt exactly fit the description of a dashing hero. But Raven had learned that what you see on the outside often masked the truth. He glanced at the sword again, which was still glowing slightly.
No one stopped them as Glenn led Raven out the door. The knight held the magic sword tight in his hands, ready for any attack. The paladins were silent, each glaring at Glenn in a hateful way. Even Rennard gave him a cold look as they passed.
Outside, Glenn picked up Raven and set him on his mare. Then he mounted the horse quickly himself and urged her into a fast gallop. They sped by the villagers, who all stared wide eyed in shock at the knight riding away with the boy.
Glenn whispered in Ravens ear Dont be afraid my little friend... I wont let you fall. Raven scowled. He hadnt been afraid of falling off the horse. What was concerning him was how to run away from the famous knight unseen... and how to avoid getting lost and running into the Hunters in the meanwhile.
The mare was getting tired, but Glenn kept her at a steady canter. He had already caught the sounds of the Einderesch catching up. They were deep into the woods now, and it was hard going... the horse slowed despite Glenns effort to keep moving quickly. It was impossible for the mare to gallop through the thick underbrush.
Raven was beginning to feel more feverish, the slight chill he caught in the jail cell took made him shiver even though the day was not cold. He coughed, the effort made his frail body shake. Glenn looked at him askew.
Are you sick?
Raven shook his head, angry with himself. The illness was going to make running away that much more difficult.
You dont talk much, do you? Whats your name? Glenn asked. After Raven didnt answer, Glenn shrugged. Well all right, if you dont want to speak, thats fine with me.
They continued to make their way slowly through the dense foliage. Feeling more and more ill, Raven fell into a kind of stupor that was somewhere between waking and sleeping. His eyes drifted in and out of focus. He didnt realize it when Glenn put a hand to his forehead.
This isnt good, little one. You have a bad fever... Glenn was about to say more when his horse suddenly whinnied sharply and bucked hard. She pitched him off the side, Raven going with him. Glenn hit the ground hard. He covered the boy with his body so the horse wouldnt accidentally trample him. The horse bucked again for a moment, then crashed to the ground, breathing hard. Glenn stood up quickly, swearing. He saw right away what had made his horse go down. There was an arrow stuck in her side. Glenn grabbed Raven and unsheathed his blade. When he turned around slowly he saw Krischtiahn and four Hunters standing behind a tall shrub. They had been waiting for him to pass so they could shoot him!
Krischtiahn... seems you caught up to me faster than I thought you would.
So it seems, Glenn of Guardia. Hand me the boy now, and I wont kill you.
Glenn gritted his teeth and glared at the Hunters. I cant do that. I cant have you kill an innocent child just because of who his father was. What proof have you that hell turn out to be a wizard? My father was a drunkard, yet I am not one. Krischtiahn... I thought you a man of honor!
Krischtiahn was silent for a moment. He looked to the boy and then back at Glenn, who stood ready for a fight. The Masamune shined in the dappled forest light. He pointed toward the paladin who had shot Glenns horse with the bow and arrow. The Hunter raised the bow and knocked an arrow, waiting for the command to shoot. Krischtiahn kept his eyes on Glenn.
You know I could kill you right this very second, Glenn. And the boy too... he is a bad omen already Glenn. He is called Raven. He cannot talk. He had hair as black as pitch and he was born in the mid of October... all the Devils marks are upon him. Yet you want to save him... tell me, how would you keep him from becoming his father?
Glenns voice didnt falter as he answered the grim Priest. I will raise him to be a good man. I will show him love, which is far stronger than any foolish superstitions you and the other Hunters may have. I owe it to Magus, and to this child.
Krischtiahn snorted in annoyance. You say you owe it to that Wizard who slew the man who was as a brother to you... are you a fool, Glenn, or just insane?
Glenn shook his head. Magus begged me once to forgive him for killing Cyrus. I turned away and told him to go to Hell. I shouldnt have done that. But now I have the chance to redeem myself... and I dont intend to turn away this time.
Krischtiahn motioned the Hunter to lower his bow. The paladin did so reluctantly. Sir Glenn of Guardia... if you make an oath to me I will allow you to take the boy. All I ask is that if he turns the way of his father, that you yourself kill him. The Einderesch will not be responsible for whatever havoc he wrecks. If he kills innocent people, the guilt will be yours Glenn. Will you do this thing I ask?
Glenn lowered his sword and pulled Raven closer to him. Raven was too ill and afraid to move, so he didnt try to break free or run. He leaned against the knight to keep from falling over. He had hurt his ribs in the when the horse had pitched him off, and felt worse than ever.
Glenn? Krischtiahn was growing impatient. Do you swear by this oath or not?
Glenn nodded I swear it.
Go To Part 1, Chapter 5
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