Dal Riata Short Story Chapter Three – The Scout returns

Lord MacLir stood at the parapet, a frantic Captain Grun hurried towards him with flying papers trailing behind.

Snow fell heavy this year, and blanketed Castle Farcrag with a lingering cold that could not be dispelled by hearth.

He felt frost pierced at the core of his existence. He believed he had finally found peace when he attained Lordship. It was one fleeting moment of satisfaction, and now the emptiness inside him resonated with the winter.

Lord MacLir cursed silently, the horizon that used to stretch across Lir’s Reach to the Northern Peninsula where the mighty Rockbelly once stood, was now hidden by the unyielding snow fall.

He hated to be blind. The scouts are gone unusually long, and worry began to grip him with its cold wet fingers.

Castle farcrag
Winter fell on Castle Farcrag

“Where is Warden Oisin?” Lord MacLir thundered, as he stormed across the pebble path, towards the leystone in the castle grounds.

“Milord! Warden Oisin sent word….” Captain Grun stammered, “the warden heroes are fighting among themselves!”

“WHA…..what of the scouts?” Lord MacLir stared at the Captain, and tried to mask his expression: the situation is bleak, and hope was in scarcity.

“One have returned… and he is gravely injured….” the Captain continued to stammer.

“Only one!” Lord Maclir exclaimed.

“The scouts traced the origin of the dark magic to the murky vaults beyond the sewers. There …. the scout said the dead walks milord!”

“The other scouts were cut down by the dead… And when the last one was fleeing, he saw his team coming back to life, and they pursued him to the central cistern where he lost them, but his back was riddled by …..”, Captain Grun paused, and bit his lower lip to force the words out, “…our own ranger arrows.”

“Vile magics! Blasphemous wizard! ….The necromancer was in the sewers?” Lord MacLir’s eyes gazed downwards, at the pebble stones, as if he could see through the castle grounds, into the sewers.

“Gather all the guards, and send for all our allies.” Lord MacLir muttered, as he tried to regain his composure.

“We are going to war Milord?”

“No, my Captain,” Lord MacLir turned and placed his hands squarely on the Captains shoulders, “war has come to us!”

Lord MacLir knew they had no chance against such dark magics, and they needed the wardens more than ever before. What could possibly have caused a civil war among the mightiest warden heroes?

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“Who burned my notices!”

Berla the Great bellowed, his tattooed chest heaved with excitement. Angry as he is, Berla’s voice was drowned by the other arguments exploding simultaneously across the tavern.

A midget was lynched by a mob for harassing a druid. A ranger in a top hat was shouting to garner supporters to throw a drunk group out of the tavern, for burning his notices. A druid was laughing while he claimed credit for the arson. A far table was shouting about not being invited to certain events, and another was questioning why they had to send the invitations in the first place.

A fight broke out over a dice game. A warrior was lynched and fled the tavern. Some vowed to leave Dal Riata forever, never to return. And then promptly returned to their seats.

Warden Oisin, caught in the chaos, shook his head violently. Utterly hopeless, the words of an ancient phrase came to him.

“Thy hand, great Anarchy! lets the curtain fall; And universal darkness buries all.”

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