Rise of the Thrall Lord
The Road to Lukescros - Part 4
Brum was able to sit up enough to console the forlorn child in the blood splattered and tattered dress. She was quietly singing some other song that Ral didn’t recognize, and this one sounded even sadder than when she thought Brum was dead.
Ral wandered back over slowly while rummaging through the saddle bags.
“I don’t suppose you can also cure diseases?” he asked hopefully.
She shook her head sadly, sniffing and unable to answer. At least she had temporarily stopped her wailing and unsettling dirge.
He handed both her and Brum cups and poured in some greenish liquid from a large vial.
“Here, drink this,” he commanded gruffly thinking of the cost of replacing the extra droughts.
Maya sniffed it, made a disgusted face and held the cup as far from her as she could reach. “That’s nasty!” She looked at Ral suspiciously.
“Better than ghoul fever,” he commented as he drank the foul tasting elixir trying to pretend it tasted good just to be contrary.
“Unless you think you are immune to that too?” he asked, suddenly wondering if it would be alright to pour her portion of the expensive elixir back in the vial.
“Best to be safe,” Brum said looking at her concernedly. He downed his drink in one gulp and made a face at the small girl that could have curdled the magical drink by itself.
She managed a weak smile towards the big barbarian, and drank the little bit of potion like it was the most horrible torture imaginable.
Ral also felt her pain as he thought of the cost to replace the drought being drunk by a creature that, despite her dainty girlish appearance, probably had a stronger constitution than Brum. She hadn’t bothered healing herself he noticed.
“Shame you can’t just use your magic to heal the dress,” he commented sarcastically.
With a sudden small squeal, Maya sprang to her feet. “You don’t think…” she began, and then “…maybe”. Her small brows frowned in concentration for a second. “Yes, mending,” she said to herself excitedly, “Ves uses it all the time to fix stuff and she made me learn it. And prestidigitations for cleaning!”
She cast a pair of quick spells in rapid succession, and the dress seemed to knit itself back together and the grime fell off it. She spun around doing a little jig and giggling happily, and then pounced on Ral with a happy hug.
He stood stricken with no idea what to do with his hands and no defense against her sudden assault of affection.
Ral was spared having to extract himself from the kid’s embrace by a flock of birds flying overhead. Maya stepped back and stared up at the sky intently, a slight frown marring her doll-like face.
“Birds can’t count,” she murmured almost to herself, “but they know big and little, and they say this was a little group.”
“We should get moving.” Ral said looking around at the two dozen stinking corpses strewn around the road. He’d rather burn them, but somehow didn’t think they had the time or wanted the attention it would draw.
As Brum stood, stretching the paralytic stiffness from his muscles, Maya handed the dagger back to Ral, with a small smile and a thanks.
Then she hefted Brum’s greatsword from the ground. Ral found it interesting that the child staggered a little clumsily under the length of the blade that was nearly twice her height. With what he’d seen so far, he wouldn’t have been surprised to see her swing the blade like a swordsage. But Maya propped the greatsword as best she could with one hand, and with a word and a wave of her other the battle-gore fell away from the blade leaving cold iron gleaming in the late afternoon sun. She touched the blade almost gently, tracing her fingers down the fuller and a small smile crossed her lips.
“The mark of Renish”, she said smiling up at Brum. The towering, grizzled barbarian looked down quizzically at the strange, beautiful child cradling the war blade.
“During the final days of the empire, when the Silver Alliance drove near to the imperial capital, the mad emperor made pact with the Demon Prince of Hatred for an abysmal host to break the alliance.” Maya spoke almost dreamily as she carefully handed the sword hilt-first to Brum.
“Finglaive, the Knight Commander of the Order of the Manticore commissioned two score demon slaying swords crafted by the mastersmith Renish. They were the first blades formed on the Barroth Forge since the loss of the Hammer of Solinartir. Crafted of the purest cold iron, and blessed by the Priests of the Winds, it is said that the blades are imbued with the power of pure good.”
Maya looked meaningfully at Brum as he took the weapon. “An evil heart could never hold such a weapon.”
“So, a weapons expert too?” Ral asked. “And a healer, and a warrior,” he motioned at the trail of destruction she had made through the ghoul pack. “And the spirits know what else! I think its time you came clean, who are you?”
“Oh, my Mom has a collection of greatswords, and Dad’s a stickler for history.” Maya said brightly, ignoring his later question. She made an attempt at a man’s deep voice, “’There is a power in the knowledge of things’ he would always say.” Maya grew wistful for a moment. “And mom would always laugh and say ‘all you need to know is that it cuts demons well’.”
“Your mom is a wise woman.” Brum commented as he sheathed his sword.
Maya looked to the west with a sad longing look and said quietly, “I wonder where they are now.”
Ral didn’t like the melancholy look growing in her eyes, or the worried one reflected in Brum’s. So he gave them both gentle pushes down the trail.
“Don’t you know any happy traveling songs?” he asked the little girl with a smile.
“Do I ever!” she exclaimed with a clap.
Without realizing it, Ral found himself grinning and singing along with the bouncing tune of “Old Farmer Mel and his Three-Headed Goat” even though he somehow got the part of the grumpy goat head.