Kinslayer Chronicle Part 13
Good News Everyone!
Today marks the end of Derek’s semester. So if you were bored with my dry quibbling and boring story, then look forward to exciting content from him in the coming days. And don’t accept any other excuses. I know I won’t. To mark this monumental moment, I present more Kinslayer Chronicle.
Chapter 9 – End of Days
The Chronicler’s quill fell quiet. He cracked sore fingers and shuffled the papers together. His eyes briefly scanned the passages and he turned to regard the innkeeper.
Koudi sat motionless on the bench, his gaze locked on a single sword hanging on the wall. Following his gaze, the Chronicler saw it was a simple blade with a slight curve to its design and its edge the most worn and rusted. The only thing remarkable about it was its seeming lack of black colouration. It was a standard issued sword of mediocre quality. The sort of thing a merchant would issue to a hired hand – sturdy enough to withstand some use but cheap enough that it was no great loss with its inevitable disappearance either through battle or abandonment.
He looked over the last of his recount, turning back to the innkeeper. But he didn’t seem waiting for a response. A silence had been unleashed. A silence long kept buried and locked away. There was nothing that could be said to drive it away. There was nothing that could be done to mend the hole it rent. The Chronicler sat in its uncomfortable presence. He turned from the innkeeper, finding himself unable to regard the man anymore. In his distraction, he didn’t catch the sudden burst from the man, or his hand catching at the mug and sending it tumbling across the room to clatter against the floor.
The explosive passage of the mug sliced through the heart of that silence and stirred the listeners from their fugue. The innkeeper was on his feet, kicking the bench noisily away as he stomped towards the stairs. The Chronicler cried out, but his response was simply to pound a post as he passed.
His boots crashed against each step as he retreated from view. The Chronicler turned to Lafnis still sitting at the bar. But gone were her dreary doldrums as she watched the passing of her master with passive eyes. When she turned to the Chronicler, she merely shook her head. She got to her feet, crossing over and gathering the mug and wiping up the spilled contents with her cloth.
“I suppose you have your account then?”
“I suppose I do.”
She went to the door, easing it closed. The sky was still bright with the sun but the first veins of its setting began to beat behind the clouds. As the heavy mechanism latched into place, she wiped her hands against her clothes and gave a weak smile.
“I suppose you’ll be leaving in the morning then?”
“I suppose I will be.”
She nodded her head.
“It’s for the best. Definitely for the best.”
She breathed a slow sigh, looking about the various weapons on the walls.
“Some histories you never really expect, do you?”
“No, I suppose not,” the Chronicler sighed. He turned to his satchel and began to pack his supplies. “Perhaps it’s true what they say.”
“And what’s that?”
“The Kinslayer never really existed.”
Lafnis looked at him curiously.
“What do you mean?”
The Chronicler chuckled to himself. Her simpleness never seemed so obvious. But he didn’t feel frustrated, just weary. All that coin and all that time spent for nothing. He snapped his satchel closed.
“For one, the story didn’t even make sense. Second, there was no claim to kin that could be slain. There was nothing there that suggested he was the Scarlet Heather – just a man, no more and no less.”
“You think he lied?” Lafnis asked.
“I think he’d like to believe himself a hero,” the Chronicler said with a laugh. “Wouldn’t we all?”
“I’m not so certain.”
The Chronicler raised a brow. “Oh?”
Lafnis looked at the mug in her hands, turning it slowly in her fingers as she watched the lone drop of ale crawl slowly across its surface.
“I have seen my fair share of heroes and adventurers. I have heard their stories and tales.” She looked up, an emotion the Chronicler couldn’t quite place reflected in her eyes. “So many come through these doors. So many lips are loosed by a kindly ear and a little drink. So few of them have nought but pain and suffering to share. The road is an unforgiving life. Those that take up arms to serve unknown masters and seek unknown places seem more to be fleeing than searching. And there’s only so much world they can try to hide from.
“Perhaps that is the morale of his story. Even the greatest hero is, as you said, just a man – nothing more and nothing less.”
She crossed the hall, pausing at the door as a thought occurred to her.
“But I suppose if they didn’t suffer then we wouldn’t have our tales. I wouldn’t have my evening entertainment and you wouldn’t have your chronicles.”
“What do you mean?”
“Nothing,” Lafnis said with a shake of her auburn hair. “I’m just a silly woman. But it’s something to consider, merchant of pain.”
She disappeared into the kitchen.