Cast Away

Cast Away


The air was thick and warm as he lay in the damp grass barely breathing. Dried blood, in thick mottled chunks, covered his abdomen and face. His shield lay strapped to his open palm, and a dagger lay loosely in his lifeless right hand. His eyes stared unblinking, past the old oak tree that rose from the ground near his head, the decaying corpse and half dozen worn and weathered nooses that hung from its boughs, the swarm of Ravens perched about them, the rich fog that shrouded them, and the slowly drifting clouds high in the morning sky. He gazed into the face of Brothellad hanging ghostly and frail against the brilliant light of her father, Tephes. Behind her, little bastard brother Sandum was running off again, as he often did, leaving her to face the blazing rage of their father alone. He wanted to run to her. He wanted to grab that vile little brat and toss him out into the dark of night. He wanted to stand with her against the light of Tephes and snuff him out, to plunge the world into darkness, that it may see her beauty.  

“Yess, Goddesss.” He replied through a silent, open maw of sharp yellow teeth, “I am coming to you.” 



Nazire woke up on the floor, with a start. His clothes were wet from the sea-soaked floorboards and his head Ached. He felt the back of his head to find a rather tender goose egg where he’d been struck from behind. He pulled himself up onto his knees and looked out the iron bars of his cage. There were two other cages down here on the lowest deck. Both were empty and where a fourth would have been, sat a table chair, presumably for a guard. Nazire’s bag lay on the table but the axe, Storm Caller, was neither on his person or with his bag on the table. The Drakona understood he’d been confined to the ship's brig. Though for what reason, he did not know. 

Nazire straightened himself up, took a few long, deep breaths and listened. Above him, the deck was busy with the heavy sounds of labour. Men shouted back and forth amid the constant thumping of boots, barrels, and boxes being moved about. Beneath the commotion, the creaking of the boards against the strength of the ocean, the noise of the waves lazily lapping at the hull, was a new sound. An occasional bump followed by a slow creak. Nazire felt the ship tilt awkwardly shortly after each of these, too far to the starboard side before righting itself. He gathered, from this, that they were docked. He calmed his breathing and meditated, as he did after each battle. He searched his memory for areas where he could have fought better, ways he could have anticipated and avoided injury, ways he could have conserved movement energy for stronger, more efficient blows; ways he could have better protected his Captain. Though Nazire found no actions on his part that could justify his imprisonment, he understood that laws and cultures were different outside of the stone walls of Bacot. Wayward thoughts interrupted him as searched his memories. Flashes of nightmares broke his concentration like memories from another life fighting to be seen in this one, a girl with grey skin standing against a hoard of zombies, guttural screams amid the furious flapping of feathers, a frozen skeletal beast charging him through a snowstorm.

The heavy thud of boots descended the stairs and crossed the room to stop before him. Nazire waited a moment before he opened his eyes. Captain Tahi stood before him, a bandage about his head peeking out from under his leather sou’wester. He looked haggard, having been grabbed by the throat and slammed into the ship's deck several times. “Captain! I am happy to see you on your feet!” Nazire said calmly, remaining on his knees. The Captain smiled the polite, crooked smile of one bearing bad news. He had seen this look before. It was the same look his Butcher had the day he learned his wife was pregnant, the day he killed her. 

The Captain took a deep breath, like one with much to say and began by thanking Nazire for his help in battle, explaining that, while there were injured, no one had died in the battle. “We receive’ some news on our ‘rival, in Du-linor,” The Captain pulled a folded piece of parchment from his pocket and read it slowly, intentionally enunciating the words like a man still learning. Nazire listened patiently and attentively, remembering the anxiety of learning a new language and the patience that Garkilm had shown him then.                

A Jailed, shirtless man w the head of a dragon

“The Win’er Champeen o’ Bad Omen kill’a member of teh Counc’l durin’ ‘is Armin’ Cer’mony.” The Captain looked to the kneeling Drakona, perhaps looking to gauge his reaction.

“Den you are right to cage me,” Nazire sighed, lowering his head in shame. The few vague, violent memories he had of that afternoon were confirmed, “You should return me to Bacot to face justice.” There was a moment of silence and Nazire, almost sheepishly, fetched a glance at his Captain. He did not find the stern look of disapproval he had expected. Tahi stood over him still bearing that sad, crooked smile as the fresh clunk of halfling boots came down the stairs. Asukun carried the axe, StormCaller, carefully in both hands, gathered Nazire’s other belongings from the table and stood next to the Captain. Tahi held up the creased parchment and continued reading.

“... Innan unix … unispeck …” The captain leaned down to the halfling, holding the parchment for Asukune to inspect.

“Un-ex-pec-ted.” Asukune responded quietly. 

“Inna un-ecks-pect-ed de-si-shun, “ The captain continued with slow, deliberate  purpose, “De Win’er Champeen, o’ Bad Omen ‘as been stripped o ‘is ty-tul an’ banish’ from Bad Omen.” Asuckun tugged on his captain’s arm to whisper something in his ear and Tahi corrected himself, holding the parchment up again “Oh! Sorry, ah … an’ banish’ from Bacot!”

Nazire lowered his eyes as a sensation of cold shame washed through him. He let out a sigh, allowing his shoulders and back to take the weight of this news. Nazire was, once again, a man with no family; a Drakona with no clan. He took a deep breath and the memory of driving his axe into the Baker’s collarbone flashed through his mind. Except it wasn’t the half-Elven baker, it was a well-dressed human, and hadn’t he been holding a crowbar? Nazire had not been able to make sense of his memories since the ceremony and for a moment he believed he might be going mad. 

“Me in-stink tell me yer a goodly man, Nazire.” The Captain took a step forward and a tone of parental disappointment, “Moreso’n the folk ‘board this’ere ship o’ discontent.” He shook a thumb toward the ongoing chink of boots above them. “‘Teh crew ain’t learn-ed men, likes us’ I”, He continued, “Em’r a superstitious lot, an’ a bunch of ‘em thinks a dragon on a ship be a bad omen.” The Captain lowered his eyes, as if ashamed to look the Drakona in his. 

The men on the deck and the dock stopped working to watch as Nazire was escorted from the ship by the Captain and The halfling gunner. Having seen the dragon fight, the crew insisted that his hands remained bound until he was ashore. As they descended the plank Nazire walked with his head high, in spite of his dejected heart, and watched as the men who passed before him lowered their eyes in shame. “Yer not wanted here, Dragon!” A voice called from the back of the ship. Nazire didn’t bother to look, he’d recognized the hostility in Ratcley’s voice since they’d met. 

“GET BACK TA WERK, YA LAZY CUNTS!” The captain barked back in anger. The man jumped at the outburst and hurriedly returned to their tasks as the three continued ashore. The broad wooden docks were a bustling hive of activity as men and women loaded or unloaded at least four other ships.  When they were a hundred feet down the wide wooden dock Tahi stopped and cut Nazire’s hands free. He apologized again for failing to deliver the Gladiator to his destination and shook the Gladiator’s hand, pulling him in close, as if conveying a secret, “I dunno what happen’n Bacot, but I sugges’ ye keeps a low profile fer a’ time bein’.” Nazire thanked the Captain who returned to the Perdrix shouting aggressively at the crew.  

“The Captain didn’t feel right about any of this,” Asukune explained, offering to buy the Dragon a drink. He returned Nazire’s belongings, including a small purse of gold. As they walked, Asukune explained that Ratcley had riled the men up, claiming that the dragon’s presence aboard the ship had caused the Giant Octopus attack. When the captain had regained consciousness the Skipper demanded they leave Nazire in Barad Faneli, “He said the crew would not man the ship as long as you were aboard.” The Captain had negotiated delivery to Caer Dulionor on the condition that you remain in the brig and they continued straight on rather than stay the night in Barad Faneli. “He insisted every man aboard refund a gold coin for failing to deliver you to your contracted destination.” 

The afternoon skies were clear, the sunlight was bright and warm, and the breeze coming off of the Opal Sea was refreshing and cool on his skin. A pair of main cobble streets called The Mirrored Route, ran along either side of Sudnora Canal, used to ferry imported and exported goods to and from the docks at Crow’s Wharf through the town to the Southern lands. Following Ferier Way along the winding southeast side, the streets rang with the song of commerce. Nazire found the wooden Shops and houses of Caer Dulinor, with their brightly coloured linen awnings and thatch-covered balconies to be quite beautiful compared to the utilitarian stonework of Bacot. The shops that lined the canal were stacked two stories high and trade to the second floors was negotiated through shouting and sign language, with customers putting their coin in ribbon-decorated baskets hoisted up in exchange for goods that were tossed down to them on the street. High arching, ornately carved bridges covered in thatch awnings adorned with linen and wildflowers crossed the canal at regular intervals, allowing access to the other side of the Mirrored Route, Trader’s Walk. 

“There’s plenty of work here in Duilionore but be careful,” Asukune warned as he led them from the edge of Crows Wharf over one of the covered bridges into Rogue’s Market. The strange-looking duo of a six-foot blue dragon in a kilt accompanied by a halfling pirate drew stares from the, mostly human female passersby along the paired main thoroughfares. “The council that governs this town is terribly strict and nearly all crimes are punishable by death.” As they reached the centre of the bridge Nazire got a look over the rail to see vendors in skiffs and canoes sitting low in the water, heavily laden with merchandise imported from the docks. Pedestrians along the canal's edge shouted down the stone walls into the canal to haggle and goods were exchanged by children. Kids as young as eight scaled the ladders to make these deliveries while the older kids used small footholds in the canal walls to leap up to street level to make the deliveries with bold acrobatic flips. From the apex of the bridge, the city looked to be in the midst of a strange carnival “The reports about your arming ceremony never mention you by name, but you should probably keep a low profile,” the Halfling recommended, “Just to keep more guys like Ratcley off your ass.”

Trader’s Walk, along the Rogues Market side of the canal, was a slightly less well-kept reflection of its sister across the Sudnora. The main street was bright, sociable, and alive with the sounds of haggling; though similarly decorated, she lacked the care and polish of her eastern sister. The decorative linens and tapestries showed their age from years under the sun, the carefully tended potted flowers were in fact hand made and equally aged. None of this, however, seemed to hinder trade on this side of the waterway.  Several blocks from the canal’s edge the streets of unkept or run-down two-storey homes and shops quickly devolved into a shanty town of dilapidated shacks with the occasional burned-out building. They rounded a corner onto an alleyway shrouded from the sun by the buildings on either side. These were adorned with three rows of monstrous skulls impaled upon spears. On the ground at their feet lay cast-off spears and pieces of crushed skulls as old trophies were replaced with newer ones. At the end of the alley, this makeshift fence framed a grand stone-walled building with a slate-shingled roof. Large and small stones made up most of the building's outer structure and intricate stone carvings of Basilisk’ held her corners. It's near impossible to see through the iron bar-covered stained glass windows, but the entertained voices from within can be felt outside.



As they entered the Crossed Swords through the decorated wooden door, they were welcomed by amazing, but unknown scents and a sense of home. The Elven bartender was handling some customers, but he still managed to welcome them with a nod. It's even more jovial inside than first thought. Rounded, wooden beams supported the upper floor and the braziers hanging from them. The walls are packed with rows of painted portraits, the last of which appears to be a Gold scaled Drakona. Nazire recognized the bartender in one of them, so the others must be friends, family, or previous owners. The tavern was packed, predominantly with women; passing traders made up the primary clientele. Several long tables were occupied by what seemed to be entire families, all enjoying the food, drinks and company of each other. The other, smaller tables are likewise occupied by people who clearly enjoy each other's company, though they seem to be strangers who have met here. Even most of the stools at the bar are occupied, though nobody seems to mind more company.

They found seats at the end of a long wooden table occupied by several other sailors. 

“Hey Burga, is Ardigg around?” Asukune asked when the tavern keeper approached with two flagons of ale, “ I was hoping to introduce him to my friend here.”

“‘Aven’t seen ‘im in t’ree days!” The elderly Elven woman declared, exasperated. Burga had long black hair, large green eyes and a wide mouth. She wore a white dish towel slung over the shoulder of a long green work dress under a stained apron. She whipped her hands on a dish towel with the sigh of someone who has been working for a while without a break. “Musta fooked off widd’a rest of ‘em.” 

Asukune ordered lunch and a night’s stay but as Burga turned to leave, he stopped her. “Wait! What do you mean three days?!” The woman raised a finger to him, suggesting that she needed a minute, but continued to the next table and then on to the kitchen. Nazire looked about at some of the patrons occupying the large common room. To his left, a halfling with short brown hair and green eyes, wearing the robes of a priest sits with an aristocrat named McArthur who seeks to hire a company of adventurers. Behind his companion, Nazire spotted a female Dwarf with long grey hair, striking blue eyes, and a distinctive mark on her face. She wore well-made black robes with accents in blue and purple with a sling tucked into her belt and a quarterstaff propped against the table. Her hand rests on a sphere of water that she rolls about as she talks; inside of which is a small octopus. She speaks with an auburn-haired Dwarf in plate mail and a  female Halfling with matted silver hair and large green eyes about finding someone. 

“I’m starn’a worry ‘bout the fookin’ o-range bastard.” Burga returned with two plates of shellfish roasted in garlic and seared wood pear and continued their conversation as if no time had passed. She explained that she had arrived for work several days ago to find the tavern still locked and no sign of the gold-scaled Drakona. “I don’ know where he went an’ he ‘asn’t returned since.” Crunching on the tail of a clawfish Nazire’s ears perked at this, he had never met or even seen another Drakona

Daga, the Illusionist

“Your Dragon-friend is missing?” Nazire asked, a shelled claw hanging from the corner of his mouth. He thought for a moment and turned to look about the room again.  “You, pretty Dwarf girl,” He leaned forward and pointed to the grey-haired dwarf with the scar on her face, drawing the attention of those about her. The woman looked up in shock and embarrassment, her fingers reaching for the scar as a reflex, like she was used to it commanding attention, but she withdrew them, nervously looking about. “You have missing friend, yes?”

“Un, y-yeah!” She stammered, caught off guard by the stranger, “I mean friend is probably the wrong …” She looked nervously to her companions at the table for support as the blue Dragon continued. 

“How long he is missing?” 

“Five days!” The silver-haired halfling replied as her eyes danced between admiring the shirtless gladiator and glaring at her embarrassed friend. “He said he was off to make some coin.” 

“Who else?” Nazire asked Burga, swallowing the food in his mouth. When she looked at him confused, he turned to the table of women, who also exchanged confused looks. He turned to the Hafling Gunner, “At de docks, is two girl for ewery man,” Nazire jammed another clawfish into his mouth and passed a pointed clawed finger over the heads of the tavern patrons as he crunched on the crustacean, “here, is five girl to ewery man,” He continued directing his attention to his plate as he spoke through a mouthful of food. “so, Where all de men? Who else missing?”  There were a few murmurs among the group as they gawked around, checking his math. 

Over another ale and some discussion, they established the names of a few other missing men and some rough details about when and where they were last seen. Asukune paid for dinner and a room for the Dragon to retire to and left him with a reminder to keep a low profile before returning to the docks and Captain Tahi. 

“Pretty Dwarf girl, What is your name?” Nazire took too large of a gulp of Ale, spilling some down the side of his cheeks before wiping his face with the back of his other hand. She stammered, and her auburn halfling friend responded on her behalf, seemingly eager to get the two of them acquainted. “You join me for breakfast, Daga, we find your men together.”

“They’re not my …”

“She’ll be here!” The halfling woman interrupted with a sly smile. 



He lay on the cold ground, a thin film of frost forming on his smooth skin. He marvelled at the process and the gentle tickling sensation it left him with, like the delicate touch of a lover.  The night had grown unusually cold so he placed another log on the fire. His companion slept only a few feet away and he pulled her thin blankets about her with uncommonly dexterous fingers. Then, leaning back, he relaxed into his crystalline massage and watched a figure approaching through the early morning fog. He was cloaked in furs and walked with a slight limp. As the man approached he secured his grip on his weapon, but the man looked upon him with amazement. retrieving a small stick from nearby, the man shook off the snow and, stepping close, began gently prodding him. The end of the stick was jagged against the skin but the man did not push with malice, instead, he had the demeanour of a curious child.

“What the Fuck!” 

Nazire exploded out of bed with a splash, searing pain dribbling down his chest and arm to the dagger in his hand. He stood between the bed and the wall as his eyes adjusted to the darkened room; he made out a vaguely humanoid silhouette standing on the opposite side of the wooden framed bed. The jolt awake and the burning on his skin sent the gladiator into a rage and he leapt across the bed to thrust his drawn dagger into the assailant. The blade sunk into the figure to the hilt with minimal resistance and the Drakona drew it across the creature as he moved around to the other side of it for more room to maneuver. As he drew the dagger back for the next strike he picked up on the subtle metallic scent of garlic or allum. 

Figures fighting in the dark

The creature retaliated, extending an arm to uncanny lengths and thrusting it at his head like a spear. Nazire ducked under the attack and responded with his dagger again, dragging it across the creature's abdomen.  This attack felt different from the first, the blade tearing through the creature as opposed to cutting, and as he drew the blade back to defend, that metallic garlic smell strengthened, this time with a hint of burning leather. 

The creature attacked again, transforming the spear into a sword,  but Nazire deftly rolled under the weapon to avoid being backed into the corner. The creature’s sword slammed into the small wooden table as the Dragon thrust his dagger into its back.  There was a quiet rattle of something small tumbling across the floor. The creature let out a gurgling noise, like the squishy sound Nazire used to make when, as a child, he had forced a mouthful of milk through his teeth. The form collapsed into a mass on the floor that slunk toward the shuttered window to escape. The Gladiator used the opportunity to drive the dagger into it with both hands in an effort to pin it in place. The blade tip snapped off on the hardwood floor but the creature stopped moving. 

“Mister Nazire?” There was a heavy banging on the door, The dragon, still enraged, rolled back toward the table, where StormCaller lay waiting and hurled the axe at the door, but in his hastened rage he misjudged the distance and the weapon bounced off the door frame and sailed back, forcing him to duck his own attack as the axe clattered into the corner. 

“Mister Nazire? It’s Burga, from downstairs?” The voice sounded further away this time like she was calling from the far side of the hallway. The dragon took a few deep breaths to calm himself as he gathered up the tomahawk again, and with his anger softened he opened the door with the weapon drawn. Burga stood with her back against the opposite wall, an elderly Elven man Nazire recognized from the bar poking his head curiously out the door to her left. “Uhnn … we got a complaint about the noise?” The woman’s cheeks turned bright red as her eyes danced up and down the Drakona and he quickly realized he was naked save for the acid burn across his chest and the axe in his hand. 

Nazire dressed, leaving the door open as he wrapped his leather kilt about his waist and fastened it. He explained that he was attacked in his sleep and invited Burga in so the two could investigate the puddle of acid eating into the floorboards. The elven man, who introduced himself as McArthur Postlewight lingered about in the doorway asking questions, like an over-curious neighbour as they investigated. 

“Been seein’ more an’ more o’ them Oozes around here lately!” Mr. Postlewight declared from the doorway. Nazire was on edge and distrusting, ignoring the man entirely, though Burga seemed familiar with the gentleman. The creature appeared to have climbed up the side of the building and come in between the slats in the shutter, as they found a clean swath on the widow sill where the ooze had absorbed the dust as they passed. The acid had stopped eating into the floor, leaving a large black scar, in the middle of which lay a dagger. The blade was heavily corroded and a full inch of the tip had snapped into several smaller shards.  Beneath the table, Nazire found a single six-sided die carved and polished from bone, but with a single dot carved and painted onto each face. 



Nazire was awoken by the jingling of a small bell suspended above the bed. His eyes flickered open, adjusting to the darkness to see the string tugged through the wall, ringing the bell again. He reached up to the loop in the string and secured it on a small hook to prevent the tugging from reaching the bell. He sat on the edge of the down-filled bed rubbing the sleep from his eyes. After the attack, Burga had discretely moved Nazire to a nicer room at the end of the hall so that he could get proper rest, light and easily interrupted though it was. Wishing to clear his head, and following directions from The barkeep, the gladiator made his way to a small park next to the Sudnora Canal. 

It was a simple twenty-foot patch of grass with a large willow tree, a few large rocks and leafy shrubs, and a small wooden bench. Though a good ten feet above the canal, the ground was soft and marshy, He spent an hour working through the Ludus Forms from his training. Squaring off against the Willow, he executed them unarmed and unshielded, a Paso Doble of long romantic defensive blocks and parries, mixed with bold yet precise offensive strikes. These combat movements his body knew as though he were born to them, requiring no thought to execute, and were an excellent means of meditation.  

As he moved through the forms he worked backward through the past several days. He thought about his imprisonment aboard the Perdrix and the hatred behind it. He thought about the fight with the giant octopus’, and the hiring of Captain Tahi. He thought about meeting Skellan and the few flashes he could remember from riding out of Bacot, but mostly he thought about his arming ceremony. He worked backward through each moment, and then forward again until he understood the events more clearly. When he was satisfied he ended with a forward roll landing on his knees, and bowed to his opponent. 

Nazire remained there beneath those great weeping boughs for a few more moments, allowing his heartbeat to calm. When he rose the Dragon did so to a modest round of applause from a small audience that had gathered to observe his training. The Dragon, remembering the recommendation from Captain Tahi to remain discreet, nodded his modest acceptance and went on his way.  He returned to the Crossed Swords to find his breakfast date already sitting at a long table, chatting with Burga. The barkeep welcomed the Dragon and introduced him to Daga, officially.

“Mr Nazire! I hope the rest of your evening was less eventful!” McArthur Postlewight, sitting alone at the bar, greeted him with a big smile. “None the worse for wear I see!” he turned to Daga, motioning to the discoloration on Nazire’s arm and chest, “can’t even kill this one in his sleep!”

Over a breakfast of pan-fried fish and eggs, they discussed the two missing men, probing Burga for additional details about the tavern owner. She shared that he had been anxious about a deal he was negotiating with the Council of Bells, the town's governing body, but she was not familiar with the details. Beyond that, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. 

When they were finished eating, Burga led them to Ardigg’s office to begin their investigation. They spent close to an hour searching through the tavern office as well as the owner's belongings but discovered only that his space was well kept and his business records were very detailed. “That’s not surprising,” Daga declared, “You don’t want to mess with the Bell’s Toll.” Nazire gave her a quizzical look and explained that they were tax collectors for the city’s governing body, the Council of Bells. Finding nothing else of note Nazire asked about The Dwarven woman’s friend. “To be clear, Kuona isn't my friend,” She began, as they headed several blocks west, toward the missing man’s home apartment, “He owes me money, that’s why I’m looking for him.”



“Hey, Kuonan!” Daga called, rapping hard on the door, “Open up!” Kounan lived in a run-down apartment above an abandoned jewellers shop. They’d climbed a wooden staircase at the back of the building to find the door locked. She shrugged to the dragon when there was no response after several attempts. Nazire motioned for the Dwarf to stand back and he lunged forward with a strong kick near the door handle  There was a loud crack as the door split beneath his blow, another shoulder check and the door folded, loosening the wooden latch from the doorframe. The one-room apartment was scorched by fire along the west and north walls and there was a large hole in the wall where the window had burned out. The room was sunlit through a hole in the roof through which they could hear the caw of crows or ravens on the roof. The Drakona looked at Daga with concern, “It’s been like this for a while,” Daga stated, shaking her head. “He works cheap, that’s why I hired him.” As they searched the apartment for clues to Kuonan’s whereabouts Nazire asked her about the job he had been hired for.

“He was supposed to escort a caravan of exotic goods safely to Gamor,” She began, “The shipment never arrived and he returned without my money or my shit.” She said with a hint of disgust, kicking some burned boards out of the way as they looked about.  Through the hole in the roof, Nazire could see the birds getting agitated by something. “He claims my Guy in Gamor met him at the edge of town and gave him a receipt and a hundred silver as proof that the money was sent with another courier.”  She raised her voice over the noise of the ravens, and raised two fingers in a ‘V’, curling them sharply twice as she finished the sentence. Nazire was unfamiliar with the gesture’s meaning, but he knew the rolled eyes meant she was speaking sarcastically. 

It was moments like this, since leaving home, that The Drakona felt homesick. He struggled with the complexities of communicating outside of combat situations. The interrupted arming ceremony was not the completion of his training, but a graduation. The fighting pits were meant to teach him to fight, first for survival, then for his home, and finally for his people. In those caves he learned how to support his team, to rely on them. “This is the foundation of living in a community” The Butcher had taught them. On Graduating, The Gladiators would be moved above ground to the city, where they would apprentice in a trade and receive an education in the liberal arts and sciences. This included lessons in social discourse and diplomacy, as resolving conflict without casualty was always preferred, over combat. It was training he wished he now had.

Swarm of Ravens

“Paid in full. - Daga ” Nazire picked the receipt off the floor and turned the paper over but that appeared to be the end of the message.  “Yeah,” Daga nodded, acknowledging Nazire’s confusion as she shooed several ravens from the window sill. The birds circled noisily outside and soon returned to the windowsill with a few companions. “He told me three days ago he’d taken on another job to pay me back for the lost goods an’ was headed to the old, abandoned Iron Mine.” Her voice got louder as she spoke, in an effort to talk over the increasingly loud ravens. 

Looking up to the noise, Nazire, saw nearly a dozen ravens had gathered about the hole in the roof to watch them; a sideways glance to the windowsill found nearly a dozen more gathered there, with many more flying about outside of his view. Loose feathers and blood from his morning nightmare flashed through his thoughts, the wind of beating of wings, the gurgling croak of swarming ravens, the blood and gore of a massacre. Feeling increasingly uneasy, Nazire drew his dagger and reached out for his companion's arm as he backed toward the door. “I think is time to go,” 



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