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Vol.3, Ch.6, P.6


“…uu… hic… auu…”


Up on a great, big beech tree, I cry and cry. Further and further up is my handkerchief, a white and pretty little thing. My very favourite, but now ‘tis stuck on a twig behind many, many leaves.

A blow of the wind has whisked it there, and I thought to go after it. And so after it I’ve went, up and up the sky-high tree. But a look down along the way has left me dizzied and scared too asudden and too much to move a mite further. And so have I stayed sat upon a big, beechen bough, clinging to the trunk and crying on and on.

“…aau… hic… hhau…”

I’m frozen where I am. I can’t climb, nor come back down. I can’t even stand to look anywhere below. But the sun is setting; night is nearing. What am I to do…?

I’m scared.

Oh so scared.

And so very alone.

So very, very…


…I hear someone.

Just as my tears are beginning to tire, my ears take in a voice from far below.

The same voice I’ve been wishing and wanting to hear.

“Don’t cry, Felicia,” the boy below says. “I’m here for you now.”

Up and up the trunk he flies, the bearer of that voice, swift and sure as a squirrel. Soon enough, he’s beside me, patting my pate and casting a quiet smile.

“Be good and wait here,” he says, calm and secure. “I’ll be right back with your handkerchief.”

Then, reaching aloft, he lifts himself up to a higher bough and climbs through the canopy. Keeping watch, I spot him easily plucking the handkerchief free, and before long, he’s back by my side. With the cloth returned, he then softly caresses my crown.

How big and warm, his hand. A touch of sunlight, just as always.

A mere year apart we are. But he’s to me a guardian angel—just as always.

And so about my angel I throw my arms and embrace him as tightly as I can. All the fear, all the loneliness then seem to fly away. Far, far away.

“Brother…! Oh, Brother…!” I cry into his breast.

“Now, now,” he says softly. “No more worrying. You did well. All’s fine now.”

“I’m… I’m sorry, Brother,” I snivel. “The wind blew, and… and…!”

But with the fear gone, I find myself flushing from shyness and shame. The little lady of a lord’s house, climbing a tree? A silly story. Yet ‘twasn’t so silly to have got trapped on high, to have troubled my dear brother with yet another chore.

I weave one excuse after another, making little sense or none at all. But, smiling, Brother heeds them all till the end, before bidding me thus:

“Felicia,” he says. “Look there.”

Yonder where his eyes stare, framed and festooned by the trees of our wood, is a portrait of ridges, high and far in the horizon. There the sun is sat, half-aslumber above the hills. The rays shimmering through the limbs and leaves, the skies blushing between glow and gloam—a world as rich and warm as the oranges we enjoyed last summer. Taking in the picture book vista, I can’t help but be left in wordless wonder.

“Today’s treat—and the treasure at the end of our little adventure,” so says my brother, caressing my head again. “Thank you, Felicia. It’s a fine place you’ve found. But next time, don’t go it alone, you hear?”

“Yes… dear Brother,” I answer, squinting ticklishly and relishing in his touch.

My Brother, ever and always there to protect me.

Ever and always there to save me.

My beloved Brother.





…My eyes lifted open.

‘Twas quiet.

Water whispered. Creatures chirped. The sunken sun sighed.

I was lying amidst grass and gravel. Anear ran a river. Above spanned a bridge. About slumbered the city.

‘Twould seem I had been sleeping fast… or had fallen afaint. I knew not for certain, only, ‘twas likely that—spent of all odyl, forworn by many woes… and broken from battle—I had failed and for hours was passed from all thought.


Yes. I had fled from battle. Fled from the concentration camp. Fled to these outskirts under cover of commotion—namely, the wretched retreat of the Zaharte remnants, their lives each owed to the mercy of the Nafílim victors.

The battle was lost, then. A battle wherein my hard-learnt and years-honed spells were severed and silenced. A battle wherein I was foiled at every effort, brought to the very last brink, and made to bleed… by Brother’s own blade.

I sat still under the stonework, hid from all sight, reminiscing on the misery that came before…


…and there, remembered the dream.

A nostalgic dream. A dream of when Brother was yet strong and sheltered under his wings his little sister.

Today, too, was he strong. Though I scarce thought him so at the start. Why, I’d even belittled him, slighted him sore, and boasted brazenly of how my mettle stood a mountain over his. But amidst the battle did the mists part, and there was revealed his higher summits.

How handily he had defeated me.

And how strongly.

That such strength was in him, I never knew.

That ever and always had it remained in him, fast and unfaded… never had I known.

But now was his path parted from ours, from Emilie’s and mine, that never again would he suffer us by his side.


‘Twas winters ago that our parts had parted. But now did they intertwine once more…


‘…Nay, Felicia…
We must forge ahead…
We must fight…

We’re foes, now…
You and I…!’




Yet again was I crying. Down my cheeks trickled bitter warmth. From my voice trickled broken sobs.

“…aah… hic… auu…”



Why will you not stay by our side?

Was pushing you away once…

…any reason to push us away forever?

Is that the way of it?


…then what of it…!?

What matter!?

We’re family, after all!

You and I!

My brother…!

My dear, dear Brother!


“…au… hic… aau…”


On and on, I cried and cried. But no matter how many tears I shed, never did Brother come to wipe them away.



Through the concentration camp I walked.

Evenlight was fallen. From noon till gloam had we fought, and only now was the battle full-silenced. Gone were the screams and roars, the clamour of weapons and armour. Filling the vesper instead was another commotion: from here, there, everywhere, much cheer and merriment was made, that we might’ve seemed fete-goers were this any other day.

A gentle chill fluttered through the air, but little it did to cool the glow of victory. Tidings, too, of the captives’ rescue were soon broken to us all. Twenty and more, safe and sound—what a gladness to our ears, that happy and happier still danced our long-forgotten joy.

“Hurra, Fräulein! Hurra!” rejoiced a brave, his face ashine with tears. “It is done! The day is ours!”

“‘Tis indeed,” I answered him. “Thank you. And thank you all!”

On and on, many more alike to him offered me their mirth and humour as they revelled and frolicked in each other’s arms.

A victory. A fruitful, sore-deserved victory. One that the chroniclers would be no less teary-eyed in documenting, as they sit and struggle to put to words what we participants could not: the sheer elation we felt for this momentous achievement.

That said, gaiety would come later for myself and Volker. Much drudgery lies in wait after a battle; today was no different, and the shoulders to bear that burden were whose but ours. To this moment was Volker making terms with the defeated; to wit, a middle commander representing the remnant Fiefguard. And whilst that brew was simmering away, ‘twas my duty to make the rounds, verifying our casualties and dictating the mending of our wounded.

“Mm… Where’s that Man gone off to?” I wondered aloud.

Searching out Rolf, too, was another duty of mine. ‘Twas after laying the Östbergs low that he’d made his return to us. But in such a state of injury had we found him: riddling his body were slits and gashes without number, from all of which coursed a grim sum of blood. Most gruesome of them was his flank, gouged asunder by some evil spear.

Straightway I had him seen to by our lǣċas and barbers. Much mending was needed, and much more rest besides. ‘Twas only once the battle had settled that I’d thought to pay him a visit. But arriving at the beds, I was stunned to find him absent.

His treatment had been done with, for true, yet convalescence required respite. This his wisdom ought know. Whatever could he be up to, then?

‘Twas my mission to find out.

And as well…

…to indulge in a bit of bragging.

‘Twere my blades that felled Ulrik, after all, the very same worm that had so wriggled out of Rolf’s grasp. What would he think of it, I wonder? If he would have the ears for it, I should like to regale him of the feat in great detail, and mayhaps tease out of him a word of praise or three.

“Hmm… here? Or…?” To the very rear of the bastille have I gone. Turning the bend, I spotted at last his towering figure. “Ah! There you… are…”



Silence took my words.

This… was no occasion for high voices.

Alone he stood, Rolf. All alone against the blazing twilight, making not a stir. Most grave were his eyes as they but stared and stared at the ground afore him. ‘Twas slight-raised and round, that patch of earth, as if piled by spades. But from the look of Rolf’s mien, I guessed it at once.

‘Twas a barrow.

Once a pit, but now a mound, with not a headstone to mark it. And sleeping in droves beneath were those vain-lost to the evils of this place. Of this, I had no doubt.

To this barrow did Rolf give his full mind. On and on, he looked at it. On and on, he stood as still as stone.

Hitherto have I never asked him of such, but seeing him so morose, the thought grew in me louder than ever.


That Rolf walked with no god.

That prayers were naught to him.

Whether in their meaning, or their doing.


And so not even could he have closed his eyes in vigil. Not even could he recite some dirge, or lay candles for a wake. All he could do was look upon the earth. On and on and on. And mayhaps speak with his heart to the silent dead. To soothe them. To remember them.

Just as Rolf looked long upon the barrow, so did I give him long my eyes. In all that time, his brows furrowed not a bit. Dusk was deepened by now, and still he remained on his feet, unmoving. The stars began to blink, painting him blue in their light. Yet still he stared down at the barren earth.

Seeing the side of his soot-stained face, I found him both tranquil and troubled as skies over a tired battlefield. Unable to turn my eyes away from him, I felt more and more his infinite regard for the dear departed.



Chapter 6 ─ End



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Comment (1)

  1. howardplaza2

    Thanks for the chapter.

    Felicia is absolutely delusional. Even at a generous reading of the facts, she helped exile her brother to the frontiers on charges that at best were suspect (And even a person with a basic level of intelligence would have questioned before accepting.), was consistently ungrateful of her brother’s efforts at SAVING HER LIFE and dealing with something she nor anyone else could, refused to treat him as an actual human being or family for the longest time…And TRIED to kill him…Yet somehow it is his fault and she has no responsibility? Seriously?

    I have to wonder how Felicia and Emilie are going to have any growth and fully accept that they really screwed up and perhaps, there are some mistakes that no amounts of apologies or recompense can ever be enough to forgive and forget. Of all the narcissistic characters in the story, they are easily the worst two.

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