The Warden woke me just as the sun rose. I had fallen asleep in the main room of the inn. As I stood I realized that he and I were not alone: Dermond, Geor, and Alarca, these two buried in each other’s arms, were standing behind The Warden. Dermond had finally recovered and he was dressed for battle, one hand tightly clutching the hilt of his sword. Anxiety played across his face. After a moment, Geor let go of his wife and crossed over to me. He handed me a short blade and looked into my eyes for a time before moving away. No one spoke a word.
This silence continued as we made our way across the great fields towards the town. During the journey the Warden seemed to change. He became fearsome. It was strange that, despite his large stature and obvious strength, until now I had never though of him as dangerous. He had, before my eyes, become a predator. Dermond followed a few paces behind, breathing deeply, dreading what was to come. I couldn’t keep my hands from shaking. As we approached the hill that overlooked the town I could smell the burned buildings. I felt a pit grow in my stomach as images of the tragedy that had befallen these people flashed through my mind.
We crossed over the hill. Nothing will ever match the horror made in our own minds, yet even in the light of day this town, or what remained of it, seemed eerie in the light of morning. There were many tents of dark cloth staked in the town center and smoldering camp fires from the night prior. The Warden moved out ahead and motioned for us to stop.
As he approached the tents I could sense the energy growing in him, like the feeling one’s body gets when you stand outside during a lightning storm. It made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. The Warden let out a great shout. It was a terrible, inhuman sound like the clap of thunder. And then it was all violence and noise.
Raiders began to spill from the tents, bleary eyed but with their weapons drawn. The Warden dashed toward them, moving faster then a person ought to be able. In another moment, a heartbeat, three of the raiders closest to the Warden were down on the ground. The Warden whirled around and moved to another group of men, their weapons now raised high above their heads and black teeth bared. With unseen blows he bested yet another pack of men, dispatching every warrior that dared to challenge him. I feared for a moment they would overwhelm him but the Warden was untouchable. Then as soon as it had started the fight was over. The Warden stood in the center of a wide ring of corpses. His body quivered.
The Warden beckoned Dermond and I over. He turned to look at me.
“Are any of these men the one who wielded that blade you told me of?”
I looked around. The man I had seen was not among the bodies. The answer must have been plain on my face, for without speaking he knew.
“We will rest here for a time, and perhaps we will be able to learn where this man went”
I nodded, not knowing what to say.
As night descends I am writing by the light of small fire in an abandoned building of the town. Everyone, it seems, has fled or was taken by the bandits. Tomorrow the Warden wants to continue the search for the man wielding that strange sword. I am unsure why he needs us here.