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Subject: Homecoming and Solace
It had been months since Fintan had been in the Westlands. All to no avail. His journey to the Outer Veil was not as fulfilling as he had hoped it would be. Only two of the three remaining murders of his family had been felled. Though his conscience told him to be happy of this accomplishment, neither of the two were the one he wanted. Neither was the one who he knew had dishonored his mother. It was that one he wanted. But he had escaped, and worse yet back in to the Inner Veil. Though not before he was given a scar over his left eye, leaving it useless. Knowing that the Inner Veil grew larger every day, Fintan decided to end the hunt, and allow fate to guide him. He was thusly riding to his new estate in Erlise.

Arelia's countryside was more beautiful than her cities and castles. Though he was on the road, there was nothing to be seen for miles. Only sweeping grasslands, dotted with trees now and then. There was the occasional farm. They were Gurie's pride, providing food for much of the country, particularly the massive army. Orchards were the primary trees in this part of the country. It was to Fintan's pleasure that when a strong wind blew the smell of an apple orchard was brought to him. Fintan kept on the road, hoping to come to the orchard and purchase fresh apples. They were, with out a doubt, his favorite food. He was guessing it was maybe a mile or two away at the least.

Finally, Fintan could smell the apples without a breeze. He was right in front of the orchard. Though his mouth was watering for one, he continued to find the house so he could pay first. As he rode, he heard a rustle near by. His hand went instinctively to his rapier. Going slowly nearer, his hand pulling the blade out only a few inches, Fintan caught a glimpse of the cause of the sound. It was a young farm maid who was harvesting the apples on one of the trees.

The woman looked no older than maybe eighteen or nineteen. She had locks of brown hair hanging out from her white bonnet. A soft blue dress and white bodice. Her sleeves were rolled up. Her skin was slightly tanned, which only made her soft brown eyes that much more bright. Her lips, which were curved in to a soft smile as she looked at the Cavalier, were a rosy pink. The evening sun graced her shoulders through the branches. She said nothing, waiting to see if Fintan would speak first.

"Good evening, Fair Maiden." He bowed, removing his hat in the process. His ponytail fell over his left shoulder and remained there as he straightened up.

"Good evening, Sir Knight. What has brought you to my humble orchard?" Her voice was like honey. Flowing out softly with the gentleness of a summer breeze.

"I am traveling, to Erlise, I have a meeting with His Grace the Count. You own this entire orchard?" He said surprised, just to make conversation.

"No, it is my family's, combined with my fiancé's family's land. I doubt, sir, that you will make the town of Erlise before dark. I can offer you a bed here, if you like. Our home is always opened to Musketeers who are traveling." She smiled.

Fintan looked to his left side where a musket was in the saddle holster. "How do you know I am a musketeer? Perhaps I am an assassin." He joked.

The girl giggled softly. "My Lord, if you were an assassin, you would not bear the crest of the Governor of Prechan on your right hand, nor the crest of our Dragon ally's on your left."

Fintan glanced at his hands. The right was resting on the saddle horn, and the other on his left leg. "You are attentive to details." He complimented her. She smiled and curtsied.

"And your decision, Musketeer? Will you stay with us, and have a hot meal?" She offered again.

"Only if I may have the name of my beautiful, young, hostess." He conditioned.

"I am Christine Valilia. May I ask your name, Good Sir?"

"I am Marcus Levictic of Stromwall." He replied without blinking at his lie. He hated public attention when he was alone. Further more he did not wish to be treated specially because he was the new count of the very land he stood on. And so he gave the name of his first officer.

"A pleasure Del Levictic. If you come this way, my house is nearby." She gestured behind her, where Fintan could see a small stack of smoke rising from an obvious fireplace. "I am sure mother has supper almost ready."

"Marcus, please, and do you ride?" He extended a hand to Christine. She took a step back slightly.

"I have never been on a horse before, Marcus."

"I shan't let you fall. And it is much quicker than walking."

Christine smiled her gentle smile again, and placed her hand in his. She gasped a squeak as Fintan. pulled her up and sat her in the saddle in front of him. With a click of his tongue the warhorse, Maria, took off at a gallop towards the smoke. Christine soon felt comfortable and let out a woot of excitement.

"Christine!" A voice called from the house as it came in to view. "Christine! Come home!"

Fintan saw a man in the doorway of the house. The house itself was a small cottage. It was made of adobe, with a plank wooden door and window shutters. There was a soft glow coming from inside, clearly from the candles and fireplace. The man's face was hardly lit by the light behind him. But he could tell he was getting on in years.

"Who's that?" The man called, as threatening as he could. The sound was faint, but Fintan heard a pistol cock. His ears trained to know that sound. The click was consistent with that of a wheel lock, being a slight clack-clink.

"I am Marcus Levict, a musketeer of Her Majesty's Army. I mean you and your family no harm, Sir." Fintan called, pulling his horse to a stop at a safe distance.

"It's alright Papa, I invited him." Christine called cheerfully as she climbed down. "Are you coming Marcus?"

"Of course, Miss Valila." Fintan dismounted.

"Well come in then you two. Christine, we have another visitor." Father Valila turned and walked back in to the cottage. Christine and Fintan followed suit, the musketeer removing his hat and cape upon entering. Christine took them both and set them on a chair in the main room. In the kitchen area, Fintan could hear conversation between what he assumed was Christine's mother, father, fiancé, and the other visitor. One of the voices however, sounded familiar. It was gruff, and harsh sounding. He assumed it was another soldier, or maybe a fur trader on the way to the city.

Christine gestured for Fintan to follow and walked towards the kitchen. The kitchen burst in with yelps of surprise. The other visitor had made a sudden loud comment. "It LEPT at me, tearin' through me eye. Damned hawk."

Christine entered the kitchen, with Fintan just inches behind her. Abruptly however, Christine was behind Fintan, who was using himself to shield her, a pistol drawn, and being cocked as he glared at the visitor. He had a bald head, a gruff beard, and a dark demeanor. Along the left side of his face was a long scar, and his left eye was a pearly white, obviously useless.

"YOU BASTARD!" Both Fintan and the visitor called at the same time. The murderer grabbed Christine's mother by the arm and pulled his own pistol. He pressed it under her throat, using her as a shield.

"MOTHER!" Christine tried to get past Fintan, uselessly.

"Clerin is very quick to answer prayers it would seem. Now where do you plan to run? Or do you think I'm that bad of a shot I will hit her?" Fintan sneered.

"You just don't give up do ya, boy? What did we ever do to you? Sneek up on us in tha dead o' naght, and kill Jimmy in 'iz sleep, shoot Robert 'z 'ez gettin' up, an' cut up me eye!"

"You robbed me of my childhood, of my life, of my family. You took my father's life, for a few pieces of gold, and my mother's honor before her life." Fintan said with a glare of hate. His hatred was becoming so strong that the fire was dying out, and the candles slowly turning darker.

Suddenly, all the lights in the cottage went out, and two pistols were fired. Both Christine and her mother screamed. Fintan grunted as there were a loud 'tunk' and a cracking clack of bricks being shot.

"CHRISTINE!" Her betrothed yelled.

"VALERIE!" Christine's father yelled.

Slowly, the lights returned. Fintan was on the ground, his hand over his chest gasping for breath. Valerie was cringing and struggling to stay on her feet. The scared murderer was clinging on to her, he was bleeding from the back, where a bullet had shot him. The corner of the walls had two marks where Fintan's shot hit, ricocheted and changed flight pattern to hit the man. He was gripping on to life, as his heart bled out. Finally, he collapsed, dragging Valerie down with him.

"Valerie!" Her husband rushed over.
"I'm fine, what of the other man?"

"He was hit!" Christine screamed, crawling on her knees to Fintan's side, feeling where he had a large tear in his doublet.

"I', Ma....hurt?" Fintan gasped, feeling the dent in his breastplate worn under his doublet. It was extremely deep, he was lucking that the bullet did not pierce it.

"No, she's fine....what was..."

"A long story....I don't wish...." He slowly was gaining his breath.


"I am sorry for the bloodshed" He apologized, stumbling to his feet. He brought himself to composure, and straightened his doublet. He looked over to where the man lay, where Valerie was getting to her feet as he slipped in to death's cold embrace. He felt a feeling that was new to him; solace. He put his hand to his heart and spoke in Gaelic. ''Mother, may you now rest in peace, in the arms of The Mother Goddess." He looked up to the heavens and Crossed himself, in honor of his father, and spoke in Latin. "Father, may you now rest in peace, in the arms of God"

The family looked at him somewhat strangely, but had the feeling that he was speaking to his late parents. He said nothing as he hefted the dead man over his right shoulder. He walked towards the door, and faced the Valila family. "Thank you for your kindness and hospitality. May Avalon protect you, and may Berthis bless your harvest." With that, after picking up his hat and cape in his left hand, he exited the house feeling that he should not remain. No one ran to stop him, he did not expect them to. He had caused death in their home, an insult in the Arelian culture.
He put the corpse on Maria's back, and tied him down so he would not fall off. Once he was tightly secured, Fintan mounted, He clicked his tongue and started off at a trot. He rode north east, towards Erlise. Unaware that he was being followed.

In the air, a massive beast soared, following his charge. He was tasked by his queen to keep close watch on Fintan. But Fintan was elusive, a trait he boasted at times. The beast had a hard time keeping track of him. But with the death of the last of his parent's murderers, something about Fintan changed. It was darkness that was hiding him, a feeling of un-fulfillment, hate, and misery. Darkness had filled Fintan's heart, darkness of vengeance. With the death of the last man, there was nothing left for Fintan to hate, to cause him grief, he was fulfilled. The darkness had vanished. This gave Leisren the chance to find Fintan, and so he did.

It was only a few miles outside of Erlise that Leisren made himself known. A mighty roar shook the midnight air, and startled Maria. Fintan spurred her in to a gallop, not knowing what caused the roar and wanting to get away. Then, he heard a voice, but there was no sound. The voice was in his head, making him think he was crazy.

"Fintan, do not run. I mean you no harm." Fintan only spurred Maria harder, trying desperately to reach Erlise. "Fintan, Queen Liani Nadia Rose Osiris has sent me to protect you. Do you not remember me? I am Leisren."

Fintan stopped with these words, looking to the sky for the great silver dragon. The dragon had once saved his life in battle, when his horse was wounded and felled. The use of Liani's full name confirmed who it was. But why he could hear the dragon in his mind, made Fintan uneasy.

"I shall make my explanation brief, as I can sense your confusion. We dragons are bound to each other by the mind, and those we choose as our riders. Though I know you may never wish to ride me, for your fear of heights, you and I are eternally bound, by blood as it were. Because of your close friendship with my queen, you shall share a similar bond. Both of us you can hear in your mind, no mater the distance, and we, you. I shall keep you no longer, ride, your journey home is almost at an end. I shall keep watch over you from a distance. What you see, I can see, and what I see so can you see if you will it."

"Why is this happening now?" Fintan was puzzled. The ride where they 'bonded' was months, almost a year, ago. Why it was only now happening, was confusing the soldier.

"You no longer have the darkness in your heart that was preventing you from truly bonding with me. You must rest, go now and we shall speak later." With that, the great beast took off in to the sky, and flew in circles high above Fintan, where human eyes could not see. Fintan pondered what Leisren had said for a moment. It would seem, he needed to return to the Westlands again. He ticked his tongue, and put Maria back in to a gallop towards the city of Erlise.

Time Posted: August 28 2011 09:32 am EDT
Last updated: August 28 2011 09:32 am EDT

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