Debts and Tragedy (Part 1)
“We may be able to slip back into the Grand Abbey unnoticed,” said Father Mazeon to Pratt, who was trotting his Pony alongside the Councilman.
“I thought that we were supposed to be back before the start of the conclave,” responded the Councilman’s student as he scratched at an itch on the tip of his nose.
Father Mazeon grunted in the affirmative while he looked at the fading sunlight in the sky over Evermist Valley. He grumbled inwardly for a few moments as he revisited the foolishness of his plan to attempt hiding Tinaca away in the city of Blackcloud. “Yes, we were supposed to be back before the onset of the conclave. We were supposed to accomplish a number of things but as you know things have changed,” said the Councilman as he subtlety nodded his head towards the horse and wagon that Sir Liam was driving. Father Mazeon glanced back at the veteran warrior he had acquired in Blackcloud and the orphaned girl sleeping in the wagon. He felt a sense of comfort ease his spirit as he took in the sight of the indomitable Rayward knight sitting close to child. Father Mazeon knew that for all Sir Liam’s past troubles, hiring the man to protect Tinaca was one of the wiser decisions that he had made since last departing the Grand Abbey.
“Will there be trouble for you when we return?” Pratt asked with and empathetic measure of concern for his teacher.
“Perhaps, but I can not say for certain. We may not even be the last to show up. The red rains could very well have slowed any number of brother councilmen on their way to the Grand Abbey, just the same as us,” Father Mazeon said with a nonchalant shrug of his shoulders. “If there is a tongue lashing to be had from the Father Abbot, it would not be my first.”
“I wish that I could be so calm,” Pratt said as he wiped a few beads of sweat away from his weary brow.
“How do you mean?” Father Mazeon queried with a tilt of his head.
“Well if I had most of the senior brothers and ranking Father Councilmen waiting on me…” Pratt started but quickly lost his thoughts amid a jumble of inner nerves and apprehension. The boy realized that he was about to inadvertently insult his caretaker were he to continue speaking his mind. The fear Pratt felt sealed his lips tightly.
Father Mazeon gave a good natured chuckle as Pratt tripped over his own thoughts and words. “While I admit the situation is grave and any delays in producing a remedy to the red rains is undesirable, I do not think that my tardiness will incur a large amount of wrath from my brethren. We are united in our desire to put an end to the threat of the chimera.” Father Mazeon continued before thinking a few moments and giving a lamenting sigh. “Though, I have no doubt that there will be a fair amount of the usual blame, finger pointing and general bickering among the rest of the council to go around after the red rains have been forgotten.”
“I see…I did not mean to…” Pratt tried to find words that were beyond his reach.
“I know you did not mean to imply anything unsavory about my character. Do not worry it is an uncertain time,” said the Councilman in a paternal fashion. He forced a smile at his young companion and spared the boy form the common games, leading questions and theory that he frequently imposed upon the lad. A similarly forced smile was returned to the Councilman from his pupil.
Father Mazeon and Pratt continued to ride the travelers path below the setting sun. After a long uneasy silence passed between master and student Father Mazeon slowed the pace of his mount and brought it alongside the wagon that Sir Liam was driving. The Councilman looked at Tinaca tucked into the rear of the cart and felt a brief moment of levity take him. For all the dangers about, the girl was safe, at least for the moment. The Councilman noted the sideways glace from the knight at the reins of the cart.
“I know, and I will ensure that you are paid what I have promised to you,” Said Father Mazeon to The Helm Breaker.
Sir Liam kept his eyes fixed on the road ahead as he responded in his gruff and guttural voice. “What made you feel the need to remind me? Were you starting to think that I doubted your word?”
“No but I should think that any man about to come into a great sum of coin would fret at the possibility of things failing to go as planned. I have always welcomed reassurance when it is offered,” said the man adorned in red as his horse trotted next to the wagon.
“Reassurance…” Sir Liam said before grunting and scoffing. “I tend to think reassurance is of greater worth when it comes from a trusted source. Need I remind you that we hardly know each other?”
“And yet in out short tenure together we have both save each other from death. You mean to tell me you do not feel such a thing is a bond between us?” masterfully retorted Father Mazeon.
“Fair…” Trailed The Helm Breaker with a reluctant nod of his head. “…As for things failing to go to plan. I have been in enough battles and fought enough wars to know full well that plans are rarely executed on the field as they are in the mind. I would be surprised if our journey made it to the end without some further complications,” Sir Liam continued with a sour and matter-of-fact tone.
“We are nearly back to the Grand Abbey. If any more complications befall us then it will have to be soon,” retorted the Councilman.
The party continued down the travelers path as the sunset. Father Mazeon and Sir Liam kept on exchanging words with each other. Each was mutually curios about the other and both made an attempt to learn the history of their traveling companion without seeming to overly eager. Tinaca remained fast asleep in the wagon. She had not slept so well since the day she first met Father Mazeon and Pratt. Even the bumpy road failed to rouse her from her dreams.
“In his beloved name!” Pratt yelled in alarm.
The boy’s words brought on the rapid attention of his teacher and the veteran Rayward warrior. The sight that lay up the path was ghastly and mind breaking. Both Sir Liam and Father Mazeon had thought that the light on the horizon was the setting sun but that was not the case. The eerie illumination that pushed back the darkness of the night sky was this silhouette of the Grand Abbey in flames.
“Pratt, stay with them,” barked the Vermillion Councilman as he heeled his mount into a gallop and charged towards the blaze in the distance.
Silently Sir Liam and Pratt looked at Father Mazeon rushing off towards the horrid spectacle. Both the boy and the knight were lost for words.
“What is going on?” came the soft sounding voice of Tinaca.
Sir Liam looked back into the wagon and saw the little girl rubbing her eyes as she woke. He tried to think of something comforting to say to the child but nothing came to mind.
“It will be all right,” Pratt said to Tinaca. The boy could see that his words did little to convince her. Father Mazeon’s apprentice saw the sparkle of dancing flames reflected in Tinaca’s dark and piercing eyes as she looked at the Grand Abbey burning in the distance.