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Chapter 19

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Chapter XIX

Brother's Trial

 

That night Jack lay awake in his bed, he was waiting for the rest of the quarters to fall to sleep, he had intended to do what he was going to do at some point anyway. He thought to himself. The incident in the throne room however, had forced him to speed up his plans. As the sound of Bruce’s snores finally faded away, the translator having gotten back to the quarters and therefore back to bed last, Jack gets up and puts on a cloak over his tattered shirt and leaves his room. Once outside he walks across the room and exits the quarters. A few moments later Nick follows hanging back somewhat but making sure to keep his older brother in his sights.

Once out in the main hall of the mountain, Nick see’s Jack walk out of the still open main doors, after having had a word with the guard on the door, after Nick makes to follow once he too reaches the great doors, the dwarf at the gates stops him in his tracks, however.

“Sorry lad, can’t let you out.” The dwarf said looking grimly at the kid. “The gates will be closing soon.” The guard finished as he leaned heavily on his electrified spear.

“Listen I’ve got to go out.” Nick said looking exasperated, trying to make it sound as urgent as possible. “How long do I have?” Nick asked looking down at the dwarf, who grunted in exasperation but answered the question.

“Half an hour I expect.” The dwarf responded, looking weary at this drama that was unfolding, and wondering how he had managed to get wrapped up in it.

“That’s all I need.” Nick said and quick as a snake he darted past the dwarf and through the great double doors and down into the valley below, before the guard could call him back.

 

Already outside the gates, Jack walked a few hundred meters from the mountain entrance wanting to do the deed somewhere that he would remember, deciding that the spot he was in, a small rise near to the forest was good enough. He knelt in the dirt and began to dig with only his hands for tools, after five minutes he was satisfied, and hoping to the gods that the guard had managed to delay his brother or even better convinced him to return to his room. He took the band of his wrist, kissed the green gem. Before placing it into the hole he had dug.

When he heard a sound of a twig snapping behind him. He puts his hand on his gun and gets up looking around at the brush, before taking his hand of the gun.

“Alright Nick. Come out.” Jack said looking at the nearby bush, thinking that he should have given the guard another hundred creds.

“How long did you know?” Nick said stepping from out from behind the bush, brushing a few twigs of his arms and looking up at his eldest brother, not that he resembled him in any way that he remembered.

“Since about two seconds after I left.” Jack said, he had noticed Nick’s door standing ajar when he first left the room but had hoped that the guard would have done his fucking job and kept Nick from leaving. “What are you doing out here?” Jack asked, wondering why nobody would leave him in peace.

“I was going to ask you the same question.” Nick replied as he looked down at the freshly dug hole in the ground.

“That is none of your business.” Jack said as he turned around and knelt back down to continue his job. But before he could finish it Nick once more spoke up.

“Then why are you burying that bracelet?” Nick said walking up and looking down into the small hole, seeing the bright green gem coming through the thin layer of dirt that Jack had managed to cover it with.

“You wouldn’t understand.” Jack said as he finished covering it up, not looking at his younger brother, he was right, nobody would understand why he was doing what he was doing, but they hadn’t seen what came to him every night, and he hoped that burying this last part of his past would stop the nightmares from returning.

“Try me. Considering the fact that I got you with that girl.” Nick said haughtily and with as much anger as a ten-year-old can muster. Jack looked up at this, and whilst he couldn’t deny this fact, it was still clear that his younger brother didn’t understand the full story. Before Jack could say anything else however, Nick continued on “So she left you.” Nick continued, hoping to anger his brother into action. “Who cares. So, stop this whole moody thing with the rest of us.” This got said reaction at least, as Jack pulled out his gun with his shaking hand and takes aim right between Nick’s eyes, with nothing less than fury in his own, but Nick simply stands still, holding his ground whilst silently hoping to the gods that his plan would work. It took a few moments, but Jack drops the gun, and falls to the ground and begins to cry. “That was something you didn’t tell us. That you married that girl. Why?” Nick asked. He had known his comment might touch a nerve but had not expected this reaction.

“Because it was the right thing to after…” Jack said breaking up slightly, trying to get the words out into the open, the lump had returned to his throat once more and was making it difficult to speak.

“After what?” Nick asked, Jack stuttered slightly before getting the words out. But Nick was now intrigued as he was going to get the answers to everything.

“After our daughter was born.” Jack said. Nick stands still for a moment his mouth slightly open taking in this most recent piece of news.

“Wait. What?” Nick said still gaping slightly at the fact that he had been an uncle without ever knowing.

“You heard me.” Jack said, he wasn’t going to repeat himself either. It had been as shocking to him when he had first found out, but it had been half of the reason why he had chosen to stay behind.

“Where are they?” Nick asked. But deep down he was able to take a pretty good guess, his eldest brother would never have willingly left the town after all. And as if on cue Jack confirmed his suspicions.
“They’re dead, both of them. As is the entire town.” Jack said breaking up again. Whilst Nick had been correct about Jack’s new family. He hadn’t guested about the town, thinking that some oaf had killed them, it was no secret that they had enemies in the town, which was one of the reasons that they had to leave in the first place.

“What happened?” Nick asked, whilst the town was further south than their current position, it was still in the north and under the king’s protection.

“The town was attacked. Bout ten months after you lot left.” Jack said slowly gaining control of his voice. “I was out hunting, and when I returned the entire town was being slaughtered.” Jack finished covering up the wristband and stood up. “And I did nothing. I ran. Because I’m a coward.” Jack finished, looking like the most desperate man Nick had ever seen.

“Who lead the raid?” Nick asked, although if what he had heard after Martin had had his vision, he had a pretty good idea.

“There were two hooded figures.” Jack answered, wiping the tear streak away from his left cheek. “My guess was that it was the two ravens that didn’t enter Bartazer after us.” Jack finished.

“Are you sure?” Nick said. Jack only nods his head and kneels back down in the dirt, picking up his gun, before putting his hand over the mound of earth as Nick comes over and puts his hand on Jack’s shoulder. “You should tell the rest of the group. At least get it of your chest.” Nick finished looking down towards the dirt.

“I will tell them. At some point.” Jack answered. Standing up and holstering his gun. He moved a few paces before Nick’s voice brought him back.

“Aren’t you going to take it out?” Nick asked looking down at the freshly dug pile of earth. Jack follows his gaze, before answering.

“No.” Jack answered, he knelt down and took a stone from his pocket and jammed it into the freshly dug earth, marking the site of the burial. “Not yet.” Jack finished before turning around and heading back towards the mountain, he would not retrieve the band until he had gained mastery over his nightmares. With Nick close on his heals, the pair returned back to mountain.

 

By the time the two brothers return back to the quarters they find Vernon sitting in a chair waiting for them, his face not angry by any means just with a tired expression on it. He had known about Jack’s mission this evening, and although he didn’t agree with it, he supported Jack nonetheless

“I thought I told you Nick.” Vernon said as they walked through the doors. “Not to pester your brother.” Vernon finished looking at the boy, who to his credit did not look away from his gaze.

“Yeah, but. I wanted to help.” Nick said, his hands in his pockets. He knew that the answer sounded weak, but it was the both the best that he had and also the truth. Vernon looked over at Jack who stood in the doorway not saying anything, after a moment he shrugged and left, heading for his own room, closing the door behind him.

“Did he tell you anything?” Vernon asked looking towards the closed door. Nick looked around nervously not wanting to betray his oldest brothers’ confidence. “I’m not trying to trick you lad.” Vernon said simply, although the lad had passed the silent test, he had just now realised that he had set for him. “I already know what happened, at any rate.” The old butler continued, getting up and walking away before turning back. “Just make sure you remain as tight lipped as you are now, elsewise you’ll have me to deal with, as well as Jack.” Vernon finished before leaving the room. With Nick following after a short while.

 

As Vernon talks to Nick and Jack settles inside his own room, across the hallway in the room directly opposite, Martin’s head had once more lit up with visions of a familiar place, the grounds outside Wolfrick Manor, before it’s destruction.

Martin finds himself running through the main gates heading towards a small tree that he had used to lie under when he was younger, but when he begins to lean up against the tree, he notices a figure in a white grey cloak walking through the family graveyard.

“Hey!” Martin yelled at the figure, but gets no response from the stranger, and as the figure continued to walk through the graveyard, Martin looked around, realising that he and the figure were alone. He sighed and got up before walking towards the small cemetery to uncover the identity of who ever this intruder was.

By the time Martin reached the graveyard, the figure was already heading down the stairs towards the crypts. Which causes Martin to stop, he had never gone down there alone before, he had always had his brothers or Echo with him whenever they had ventured below into those tombs. He closed his eyes and sighed, either hoping he wouldn’t have to go down the steps or that he would wake up. When the latter didn’t happen, he made to turn away and return to his spot underneath the tree but when he made to walk away a voice calls out.

“Martin.” The voice of Alan Wolfrick said. Martin turned back around at the voice, it had been his father’s and had come from the crypts, he was sure of it.

“Dad?” Martin asked, but got no response, he remembered his previous dream about this place and how Eugene had tried to trick him, but this time felt different to before, so going on nothing but that gut instinct, Martin headed down into the crypts beneath the graveyard.

 

The Wolfrick crypts were a long-abandoned structure, that housed the remains of the oldest Wolfrick ancestors, the latest occupant had died some two hundred years before either Martin or any of his brothers had been born with those that dies later on being buried in the cemetery above. The boy walks down through the tombs, in the real world the tombs were so dark that it was impossible to navigate them without a torch, but now a faint light followed Martin as he walked between the tombs, illuminating his way ahead.

Halfway down the crypts he once again locates the stranger, standing looking at one of the tombs, facing away from the boy.

“You, what are you doing here?” Martin said staring at the figure, who turned around to reveal he was an old man with long grey hair that ran from the sides of his head and reached his belt, but the top of his head was completely bald. His grey cloak reached the dusty floor of the crypts, as the old man stared down at Martin, the young boy took a few steps back, wondering who this stranger was.

“Martin Wolfrick.” Igradust said, it wasn’t a question, the stranger apparently knew who he was, not that this any comfort for Martin. As it hadn’t been to Dmitri when he had been visited by the old man.

“Who are you and what are you doing here?” Martin asked, still unnerved by the presence of this stranger, and was now starting to get tired of the amount of people invading his head these days.

“I am Igradust. Former guardian of the wind gem.” Igradust said, bowing slightly. “And I am here to give you a warning.” Igradust finished looking down, despite his advanced age, he was still able to tower over Martin.

“What warning?” Martin asked looking at the old man with trepidation.

“That your time of peace is soon about to come to an end.” Igradust said. Martin looked at him in astonishment, he didn’t know about this old fool, but his most recent times had been anything but peaceful. But what came out of Igradust mouth next was even worse. “I have been admiring your tomb.” Igradust said stepping aside, Martin walked next to the old man and looked at the tomb which stated that a Martin Wolfrick was buried here almost five hundred years ago.

“It’s not mine.” Martin said stepping away, wondering whether the man was blind as even he had been able to read the date of death listed right beneath his apparent name’s sake.

“It will be though, if you fail to master your new gifts.” Igradust said, looking solemnly at Martin.

“Gifts.” Martin said. “Would you call it a gift to have your mind invaded every single night by freaking dead people.” Martin finished looking angry and feeling it for the first time since Eugene’s recent invasion, he hadn’t chosen for any of this to happen, he hadn’t chosen for that psychopath to come into his mind when he least wanted him to.

“You, Martin Wolfrick, are right now are an engine without any of the limitations that Eugene put on his other projects.” Igradust said, but before Martin could ask what the hell he meant by that load of verbal nonsense, the old man disappeared right in front of him.

 

“What the hell.” Martin said to himself, before walking out of the crypts to find himself in an entirely different landscape to the one he had left when he had entered the crypts.

Martin found himself once again in a destroyed and barren wasteland, but he once again knew that it was the ruins of his former home, half knowing what to expect, he turned around slowly to see Eugene gliding towards him. Knowing this, however, didn’t stop him from taking a few paces back.

“Mr Wolfrick, you have been meeting with someone who you shouldn’t have. Someone who will take you away from the light.” Eugene said, not even bothering with pretences as he had before. “It is a pity that you still have not seen the light, Mr Wolfrick, but you will, you will be a great asset in our master’s army.” Eugene finished and before Martin could retort. Eugene and the scenery faded away, and Martin woke up sweating in his own bed, almost five hundred miles to the north-west.

He got up quickly and walked over to the window trying to get to grips with what had just happened and what had been said to him. At least this time it wasn’t raining as heavily so he was able to think, but after staring out of the window for a good half an hour he had made no further headway, so he decided to try and at least get some sleep.

 

Inside his own room, Jack lay down on the bed, once again looking up at the ceiling, before he closed his eyes, mercifully the trick seemed to have worked, as the scenes of destruction did not return to him. However, he was still kept from sleep when a noise from the door caused them to open again, he sat bolt upright in his bed and saw a shadow creep around. For no apparent reason, the image of the hoard that had attack his home came into his head and thinking this intruder was one of them, he launched himself at it his hand going to the axe on his side, but instead of the dull groan coming from the intruder a muffled cry came out. Jack paused before getting up and turning on the light, lying against a nearby wall was Martin.

“What are you doing here little bro?” Jack asked exasperatedly. Looking down at his youngest brother who looked more exhausted than he felt, he continued. “I could have killed you.” Jack finished. Although this wasn’t true, he had leapt without drawing his weapon, the worst he would have done would have been knocking Martin out, not that that situation would have been great as well.

“I couldn’t sleep.” Martin said, he knew it was childish thing to say but he didn’t know what else to do and to hell with that Martin thought, he was after all still a child, despite how those people at the prison had treated him.

“Bad dream?” Jack asked, straitening himself out, before sitting on his bed, that had been the main reason for why Martin had wanted to share a bed in the days before the manor had fallen.

“Something like that.” Martin said, he wasn’t comfortable sharing his visions with Jack, not yet anyways, his techy brother had never, at least in front of his brothers, subscribed to all of this magic weirdness before all of this happened and Martin wasn’t sure how Jack would take the news that his youngest brother was getting visions from a couple of reanimated corpses. “Can I stay with you tonight?” Martin asked looking up at his eldest brother and speaking quickly. Jack looked at Martin for a second, remembering what Nick had said about dropping the moody act with everyone.

“Sure, but I’m not great company.” Jack said getting into his own bed and with some trepidation, Martin got in to and eventually fell asleep, unlike Jack, who couldn’t sleep, whilst the visions of Bergskort in flames kept coming back to him, they were certainly reduced in their intensity. Eventually his mind would need to sleep, but until then, he lay awake, trying and failing to see the images that repeated in his head.

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