Tragedy of the Raven Part 2, Chapter 8
By Prince Nightmare
Glenn lay on the floor of the cabin, his right shoulder bleeding profusely. A few bodies, including that of Baluf, were also scattered on the floor. Glenn had beaten the barbarian leader and then was attacked by several other warriors. He defeated them, too, but not before he had taken serious injuries. Not long after the battle he had passed out from blood loss. Not even Arias cries of fear woke him.
Glenn dreamed. He saw himself and Lucca traveling with Crono and Marle, just like the old days. Except the land was bleak and burned. Nothing grew in the dreary landscape, and the smell of blood filled the air. He turned to express his concern to his friends, but they were gone disappeared into thin air. The howling wind blasted across the wastelands. He was alone. In the distance he could hear someone laughing at him in a mocking way. The voice sounded vaguely familiar
The Masamune was stuck into a pile of burning rubble, its beautiful blade covered in blood. Glenn shuddered and backed away from it the laughter grew louder. A whisper in the wind filled the knight with terror. Vengeance the voice laughed over and over until Glenn thought hed go mad. A cry of fear tore from his lips and he turned and ran from the Masamune. But the voice followed until Glenn could run no more. He fell unto the blackened earth, looking up at the dark, stormy sky. Was there no salvation? Was he dead and in Hell? A small beam of light burst through the clouds, blinding Glenn. The light spread and grew until the whole sky was illuminated. Someone was talking to him from beyond the light whose voice was that? He knew it so well but couldnt place it. The voice grew louder and Glenn found himself hurtling upward towards the light at an incredible speed
Glenn ? Is it really you? the voice asked.
Glenn blinked hard. He couldnt make out the face, for it had grown dark in the cottage. It was night? How long had he been unconscious? He heard Aria whimpering from somewhere behind him. It must be Raven standing over him!
Raven! You didnt get caught! You made it! Glenns voice was barely a whisper, he was so weak. He frowned a bit as the figure shook his head.
I dont know who you think I am but Im no raven. Glenn, dont you recognize me? You should. You wanted to kill me so badly I didnt think youd ever forget my face.
Glenns eyes went wide. Mother Light! he gasped. Glenn tried to sit up but a wave of dizziness overcame him and he slumped back to the floor. His body felt numb. There was something wet drenching his right arm and his chest it was his own blood. He glanced at his wound and winced, then turned his attention back to the figure who stood above him. Magus but youre dead. Thats it I must have died and gone to the Land of Light. I am dead, arent I?
Magus smiled bitterly. No, but you will be if you dont get your injuries tended to. He kneeled down and pushed back the hood that shadowed his face. The years hadnt touched him, he looked no different than the day when they had parted ways. Glenn, Ive finally found you after all this time. I hope you dont still want to fight, because right now I think Id win he chuckled.
Glenn just shook his head in disbelief. No you died ten years ago. I.. changed back to a human! The Einderesch had visions of your death The knight closed his eyes and trembled. Ive just lost too much blood this is some sort of hallucination brought on by the pain He had almost convinced himself when he felt a hand on his forehead. It was real, there was nothing illusionary about it. Glenn opened his eyes slowly and looked at his one time foe. But how?
It is a very long story, Glenn. Lets just say the Magus you knew is dead. He died ten years ago, just as everyone believes. Ive been searching for you a long time, though Ive had to travel across the world to get back here. And then I find you lying on the floor half dead always living dangerously I suppose some things never change. Magus put an arm behind Glenn and helped him into a sitting position, watching the knight swoon with weakness. The wizards red eyes narrowed a bit. I have to heal you, or else youre done for.
Glenn was on the verge of passing out. He felt so weak and feverish he just wanted to sleep. He was blinking hard to stay awake when he felt Magus pick him up and carry him to a bed. Nothing seemed real. Where was Raven? Mother Light, Magus! Where is Raven at? He should have been back he couldnt have been
Magus was sorting through a pouch he wore at his side, trying to find the appropriate potions to use. He looked up, confused. Who is this person you keep mentioning? Is it your child or a friend?
You mean he isnt here? Glenn looked around, his head swimming with pain and weakness. He turned his gaze back to Magus. He is gone?
There was only you and the girl here the whole time, Glenn. I didnt find anyone else at all, besides those dead men. I thought you had died as well. You have to rest now, and drink this, or else youll join those savages that are lying stiff on the floor.
Magus shoved a potion towards Glenn, who could only mumble weakly, No you dont understand Raven, he is
Magus shook his head and brought the healing medicine to Glenns lips. Not now. There will be time to explain in the morning and no, Im not trying to poison you either. For once, trust me.
Dont have much choice, do I? Glenn mumbled, sniffing the concoction Magus had made. He lifted the bottle to his lips and drained it, making a face as the bitter medicine stung his mouth. He handed the small flask back the mage, who smiled slightly. Theres something different about him Glenn thought sleepily to himself. This has to be a dream. In the morning, Ill wake up and know I hallucinated the whole thing His eyelids fluttered as the medicines sleep inducing tendencies began to work.
Magus watched the knight sleep. It had been ten long years since he had last seen Glenn. Time seemed to have mellowed his hatred, or was it just because he was so dangerously close to dying? The last time Magus had spoken to him, it was to beg for forgiveness for killing Cyrus. Glenn had turned his back on the kneeling wizard, but not before he made it clear he would never forgive Magus for what hed done.
But ten years was enough time for nearly anything to happen Magus himself knew that better than anyone.
His search for Schala had been a failure, but in his defeat the burning anger had been forcefully purged from his soul. He had been lost in strange lands for years, his life depending on the good will of strangers. His dark powers had failed him in his search for his sister, but hed learned other things that served him better.
His rage and hatred for the world had reached its peak when he realized he would never see Schala again while he was alive. On impulse, he summoned the forces of death to take him, not caring if he went to Hell for all eternity. Magus feared no Hell, for hed already lived through it once. His body gave out on him, his soul leaving the cold shell behind. But instead of being shot down into the Burning Lake, he had traveled through his own memories. Magus saw himself as a boy, playing with Alfador and Schala. He saw his mother the way she was before Lavos corrupted her soul.
She had been beautiful, Magus realized, though he had been blind to that for many years. He had only thought of her actions after Lavos had destroyed her mind. A sinking feeling filled him as he realized the torture his mother must have endured as Lavos slowly ate away at her sanity, leaving only a power hungry monster that turned on her own children unknowingly. He forgave her in that instant, and hoped she had found peace in death.
He saw Crono and the others, all sharing a laugh while he stood apart, glowering hatefully because they could find joy when he could not. They were trying to include him in the laughter, but he sneered at them and called them fools. Why had he rejected their friendship when he needed it the most?
Then there was Cyrus, who had tried to save him by purging the darkness from his soul with the mythical sword, but the knight had failed. Magus killed him for being so arrogant as to think one man could change a world of shadow and he had laughed as Cyrus fell in a pool of blood. Glenn had charged him, screaming in rage. Death, Magus thought, would be too easy for him. Instead he changed his shape to that of an ugly frog man, so everyone would taunt him the way Magus had been taunted. Watching this, Magus had felt his heart breaking what right had he to do that? Had he been so cruel as to ruin lives without a thought? He felt a burning urge to plead for forgiveness again, to prove he was sorry.
The last thing he envisioned on his soul flight hurt him most of all. It was Desmona, crying because Magus was going to leave her. Stay with me, we can be happy. Her blue eyes begged, but Magus pushed her away. Nothing could make him happy, he had said as the girl fell to her knees, shaking. She made him promise to come back after he found Schala, a promise Magus never intended to keep. She had been nothing to him, but Desmona had loved him. She had saved his life and he had used her and thrown her away, as if she were no more important than a mongrel dog.
He had fought Death then. He couldnt die yet! He had to make things right, he had to amend for all the lives he had ruined! How many men had he killed and thought nothing of it? Schala may be lost to him in this life, but there were others who were not Magus pleaded to any higher power that might be listening to let him live so he might tell all he had hurt that he had been wrong.
It was then that Magus woke, his body felt stiff like it had been lying there cold for hours. It had been mere seconds he had been dead, but Magus knew he wasnt ready to die. Not yet. Hed see Schala again someday, when it was his time to die, but his life wasnt finished. He cried as he walked to the nearest town, and had forced himself to beg for a place to sleep. That was the beginning of his journey that lasted years.
Fate had led him on this lonely forest path to come across a small cabin in the woods. There were dead bodies lying everywhere and a child cried from inside the cottage. Magus had nearly fainted to find Glenn lying unconscious on the floor inside the cabin. He had whispered to himself then as he did now, still watching the knight sleep, The winds blow us in strange directions, my friend, but we always end up where we wanted to be.
The journey back to Lenstahn was a quiet one. Liegh hung her head in dejection. Rennard refused to look at her.
After her encounter with Raven and the two barbarians, Liegh had raced back to the town and cried a warning to everyone in the market square. There had been a panic then, people rushing to get home and hide, guards shouting orders but then no attack came. The town had waited until nightfall, the streets empty and silent. The next morning still saw no invasion and the finger of blame was pointed at the young Hunter.
If this was your idea of a prank, Liegh, it was a very poor one! Rennard had growled. Not only did we bring the news that the Einderesch would not aid Guardia, you add to the fire by shouting wolf. We look like fools. Your uncle is not going to be happy at all.
I saw them though! They took the wizard boy and were trying to get me! She said desperately, but Rennard had just shaken his head in disgust.
Wizard boy really Liegh, Im getting sick of all your stories. Just be quiet. Ill hear no more about it.
Liegh had been hurt, for she considered Rennard a friend. Now he scolded her as if she were some commoners child with no shred of decency. Plus, there was no telling what Krischtiahn would do when he found out. He would never listen to her explanation, only punish her in some terrible way. He might even take Alheid from her and give him to another Hunter. The thought made Lieghs face red with anger. She wouldnt let him do that! She had only done what was right!
They reached Lenstahn the next afternoon. Strangely enough, none of the villagers ran to greet them. Everything was quiet. The mourning bell tolled, and Liegh shivered. She wondered who had died. Rennard grimly led them to the Temple, ignoring the bell. His mind was on more important matters than the death of a commoner.
Inside the Temple, the Hunters were dressed in black and had spread ashes over their faces in the way of those who mourn a lost loved one. Liegh blinked. One of the Hunters must have died! The Einderesch never mourned in this way unless another of their Order fell Branahn approached the weary travelers. Liegh noticed he was wearing the amulet her uncle always adorned for ceremonies. Her heart skipped a beat. It couldnt have been her uncle Krischtiahn that had died! He was old, but he was not ill nor prone to accidents!
Rennard, we are happy to see our brother has come back safely. Branahn nodded to the Hunter while ignoring Liegh like she were nothing more than an annoying kid. It made her angry, but she was too anxious to say it out loud.
Who has passed, Branahn which of our brothers has fallen this day? Rennard asked, looking around confusedly. It must have been some accident, for the Hunters had no foes that would kill them. Not since Magus the Black had died years ago
Branahn hung his head. It is our beloved leader, Krischtiahn. He had the falling sickness* that strikes without warning. Before he died, he named me leader and he told me of his sins, which is our custom. Rennard nodded sadly. My heart bleeds this day, my brothers. I will adorn my mourning attire right away, and join you in preparing the last feast we hold in Krischtiahns honor.
Liegh felt strange as she listened to them discussing her uncles death. She was not exactly sad because she had never loved her uncle. He had been demanding, harsh, and made her pretend she was a boy as though being a girl wasnt good enough for him or the Einderesch. The feeling Liegh had was one of foreboding, not grief. She shivered slightly as Branahn turned a cold gaze her way.
Rennard, Branahn began in a deadly tone, That child is to be exiled immediately. As he died, Krischtiahn confessed to me his greatest sin Liegh can never be one of the Einderesch.
Rennards eyes went wide as he looked from Liegh to the new Priest. Why is that? Certainly he makes mistakes, but he is a good fighter and would be of value to us! He glanced at Liegh again, who was trembling violently. Branahn shook his head. No, Rennard, you do not understand. Liegh can not ever be a Hunter. It doesnt matter if Liegh can shoot, fight, or ride as well as any of us because Liegh is a girl.
Everyone was stunned into silence for a moment. The other Einderesch looked at Liegh with a mixture of contempt and surprise on their faces. How could they have been fooled for so long? How could a girl learn to fight and ride like that? More than one of the Hunters felt himself a fool.
Rennard himself stared at Liegh with a strange look on his face, which slowly turned to a sort detached coldness. I see, he said to Branahn. What is to be done? Shall we take her to the Inn and have one of the servant maids take her in and teach her to serve guests?
Branahn shook his head. That is not the way of the Einderesch, Rennard. Her uncle demanded she be exiled in the old way. She will be given her horse, two days worth of food and water, her weapons, and sent on her way. And of course, she must wear the Blackskull as a mark of her exile.
Rennard almost choked. Wrong as what has happened, Liegh is only a child. She will not survive for a week alone in the wilderness. We must reconsider this, my brothers!
Branahn was about to say something, but Liegh broke in. Her voice was proud and she was amazed at herself that she hid her fear and anger so well. I will be exiled in the old way, Rennard. I am not afraid to wear the Blackskull. She turned to face all of the Hunters, looking at them one by one. You all called me a brother until this day. It is true, I am a girl, but how many ride or fight as well as I can? Even though I am young and may die in the wilderness, I will not be a commoner and live my life as a serving maid. I promise you all that I will come back someday, and you will all know it was wrong to exile me just because I am a girl! Lieghs gray eyes darkened. I will be the last true Hunter, while you all grow old and useless! she spat on the ground at Branahns feet.
A few of the Hunters swore angrily and started towards her, but Branahn lifted his hand to stay their rage. No, let the girl go unharmed. The Blackskull will be shame enough. Bring it here, Rennard.
Rennard nodded stiffly and slowly pushed past the other paladins to fetch the helm they called the Blackskull. It was the most humiliating thing a Hunter could be forced to wear, its demons horns curved up over the helmet in a menacing way. For a Hunter, wearing the helm met he had not been strong enough to overcome the forces of darkness and his soul had been stolen by the Devil. No one had disgraced the Einderesch enough to wear the Blackskull in over 200 years. It was more like a mythical relic than a reality, kept locked in a small box in the Priests chambers. None of them had ever even seen it
Rennard came back, carrying the wooden box. Branahn muttered a prayer that would keep them safe from demons that lived in the box with the helmet, and then slowly unlatched the hinges. The lid opened with a rusty creak, and several of the Hunters made the sign of the cross as Branahn drew forth the Blackskull. It was designed to fit over the wearers face and looked exactly like a real human skull, save for the curving horns. Its eyes were nothing more than empty holes so the wearer could see from behind the helmet. It was said in the legend that the Blackskull had been taken after the demon Vederah had fallen. Supposedly the first Hunter, Liegh the White (for whom Liegh had been named for) had killed the demon and forged his skull into a helmet to remind them all of what evil looked like.
Liegh did not flinch as the helm was placed over her head. It was too large and very heavy, but she wore it out of the Temple and into the yard without giving hint of how uncomfortable it was. Her emotions were numbed, it had all happened too fast to cry about.
The bronze breast plate that she wore was replaced by a plain iron one. One of the Hunters gave her a small sack containing food and water, enough for three days at the most. He tried to nod to her, but instead looked down at the ground. Most of the Hunters would not look her in the eyes anymore not even Rennard.
Alheid was still where she had left him tied to a post. Liegh had a hard time mounting him with the heavy helmet on, but managed to keep her balance and not fall off. She wheeled Alheid around to face the Einderesch. It wouldnt do any good to say anything, for her voice would be too muffled behind the Blackskull. Instead, Liegh rode past them, wondering if shed ever see any of them again. She vowed to herself that she wouldnt come back to Lenstahn unless she had killed the son of Magus. Let them exile her while she displayed the head of that wizard and they were still reading stories of the dark mages that no longer existed. When that day came, the Einderesch would know they had been wrong, and Liegh would be the greatest Hunter of them all.
Go To Part 2, Chapter 9
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