Decisions

Brand sat in another man’s home, warming his feet at another man’s hearth. The accusation he leveled at the man was not a light one. If one spouse was guilty of consorting with the red-horned god, the other’s guilt proved true like a cock crowing at the sun. Brand could have ran the watchman through just off his wife’s culpability. As he had investigated the man, Arndt, things did not add up as they had in his other investigations. Brand smirked at the thought of being proven wrong for the first time in his career as a paladin. He noticed that Arndt had not moved since he had spoken. Were it not for the lack of a thump, Brand would have assumed the main had fainted.

“You’re here to kill me,” Arndt said. His words fell out with the trepidation of a child.

“No,” replied Brand.

“You killed my wife?” Arndt said. Brand sensed the anger building up in the other man. He stood up, marveling at aches he had not experienced a decade ago. With stiff knees he turned to face the disheveled and disgraced watchman.

“Also no,” he said.

“Then why? Why come here?” Arndt asked, his voice straining and cracking.

“Your wife was a cultist, Arndt. And she disappeared,” Brand paused before adding, “Without you. I’ve been dealing with followers of pagan gods for a long time now. Never seen a pair of spouses who weren’t in it together. You’re a damned curiosity. That’s why I’m here.”

“You’re not sure.” The watchman did not elaborate. Instead, he staggered over to the wash basin and bent over to splash the week old water onto his face.

“I’m not, and the way I see it you’ve got two options. First you can help me find your wife.” Brand resisted the urge to rub his knee.  He assumed there must be a terrible storm rolling in from the throbbing of it. The watchman turned and regarded him with blurry eyes. The ‘or’ hung unspoken in the room. Silence gathered in pregnant expectation. Brand stared at Arndt’s dripping countenance, willing him to speak. Arndt let loose a long, low breath. Brand slowly inched his hand toward the hilt of his sword.

“I guess that settles it,” the watchman said. Brand clenched his sword and prepared to cut the man down as he attacked.

“When do we start?” asked Arndt. The only sign of surprise Brand showed was a slight uptick of his brow. He slid his hand off the sword as casually as a child played in a puddle after a summer storm. He gave the watchman a once over.

“In the morning. You’re no use drunk.” He said before turning and heading out the door. Any further questions Arndt may have asked were ignored. As Brand walked back to his commandeered room, he glowered darkly. The watchman had proven him wrong twice in one day. The thought that he may be growing two old to perform field duty as a paladin briefly flitted into his mind accompanied by a twinge in his knee. Brand ignored the thought and the twinge.


Apropos of: Arathania

-Crouse

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