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Chapter 22

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Chapter XXII

The Truth Revealed

 

That evening, after Barca returned with his reports from the debate that was still raging on in the throne room. The group sit around the table discussing the appearance of Eugene at the mountain and the odds of them being allowed to remain in this place of safety as Eugene’s warning to bring destruction to the north.

“Do you think he’ll eject us then Vernon?” Codsworth asked, the butler knew that he was referring to Fierhand, but didn’t need to use his name.

“No, but it depends on how easily he is swayed by some of his advisors.” Vernon responded, from what Barca had told them, which was little to none in the grand scheme of things, the decision was split about fifty-fifty as to whether they would obey the demands in exchange for a lasting peace. Whilst most of the dwarves had been clamouring for a fight ever since the Shadow had re-emerged. Vernon knew that most did not have the king’s ear, and that most of Fierhand’s advisors desired peace at any cost, no matter who would suffer in the long run because of that decision.

“It was only going to be a matter of time before the enemy found us here.” Barca said in a disheartened tone. “We’ve had a good run, I wouldn’t have even hoped to have lasted this long.” Barca finished, he would have expected them to have been booted out of the mountain a long time ago, they had made no secret of their desire to continue the fight, and not all had been open to that opinion.

At the other end of the room, sitting by the fire, Martin was sitting his hand over his head, whilst it was not hurting so bad, it was still painful to even keep his eyes open. So instead, he kept looking downwards towards the floor, trying not to throw up, his head had started acting up again since he had seen Eugene again. As he was doing this, Jack looked over at Martin who was massaging his forehead.

“You alright little bro?” Jack asked, he suspected that this was something to do with what had happened whilst he had been away, and his desire to find out what that was, had not been abated.

“Can I leave?” Martin asked looking at Vernon a pained expression on his face. “Please.” Martin added trying his best not to throw up in front of the group, and that was taking everything he had.

“Course lad.” Vernon said and Martin leaves the living area, still clutching his forehead and walking into his own room, closing the door behind him.

“What’s wrong with him?” Jack asked, at this Codsworth looked over at Vernon a dark look crossed his face. The pair had agreed to try and hide what had happened to Martin from Jack, Vernon had insisted on that when he had had his discussion on the lad’s first night here. For the simple reason that what had happened to Martin during his time at the prison, was directly connected as to why Jack had been forced to return. And whilst Codsworth didn’t know the full details he had agreed to the deal. But now that Jack was getting suspicious the commander decided that the illusion could no longer be sustained.

“The lad’s been having visions of some kind for a while now. Ever since we got him out of that prison, he and his friends were in.” Codsworth said, wanting to trad very carefully round the subject.

“Visions?” Jack asked looking towards the room Martin had disappeared into then back at Codsworth and Vernon, his eyebrow raised in confusion. “Like what dad had before he went off?” Jack asked Vernon who shook his head but did not meet his gaze.

“No lad, your father was a willing participant of those visions, your brother was not. But Eugene’s still has a hold over your brother unfortunately. Kept asking him questions.” Vernon said. If they were going to tell the lad about the visions, they may as well tell him all of it.

“What questions?” Jack asked. Vernon and Codsworth look at each for a moment before the aged commander answers cautiously, he was slowly starting to put the pieces together and he didn’t like what they seemed to be leading to.

“About you lad. Where you were, what you were doing. Martin tried to hold out, but he was tortured for any information about you. It was nothing short of a miracle that your brother survived the ordeal.” Codsworth said, wanting to give Martin an out to this situation if at all possible. As the commander was speaking, Jack looks between Codsworth and Vernon for a moment after he had finished speaking, before a look of horror comes over his face, the face of someone who had just mentally putting two and two together. ‘Well, he’s figured it out’ Codsworth thought, readying himself for the storm.

“Y-You mean. Eugene found out where I was. When the group separated.” Jack said, a look of pure terror on his face, that seemed to be trying to keep his anger at bay. He needed to calm down, so got up and was a few steps from leaving the room when Charlie calls him back.

“Wait lad.” Charlie said, wishing that she hadn’t spoken, as the whole group, including Charlie knew that was the wrong thing to say in that moment. There was a silence when Jack turned around to face them, a tear streaking down his left cheek.

“W-Wait.” Jack said looking horrified at Charlie. “That information, cost me everything I had.” Jack said looking around the room. “My wife… My DAUGHTER!” Jack shouted the last word before he leaves the living area in a cold silence and goes into his own room. Directly opposite to Martin’s, slamming the door shut as he walks through, causing the room to almost shake with the sudden force. Codsworth turns to Vernon who didn’t look surprised at this latest outburst.

“So that’s what he has been hiding. It explains a lot, including why he was so quick to nominate himself to remain behind.” Codsworth said finally now hearing the truth and realising that the butler had been right to try and keep the information of what had happened to Martin a secret. Barca turns to Vernon who had just nodded silently, confirming what Codsworth had just said.

“You knew?” Barca said, wondering what else the old butler was going to keep secret from the group. But Vernon shook his head at the question.

“No. I guessed what had happened, that first night when Jack came back to us, and the lad confirmed my theories, later on in the evening.” Vernon said thinking back to that first night and how hard it had been for Jack to tell him what had happened after the rest of the group had left Bergskort.

“What do you think he’ll do?” Bruce asked, his hand had gone to the gun on his side at the sound of the slamming door and hadn’t left it since.

“Odds are, nothing. He may blame Martin for what happened, but I don’t think he’ll go so far as to act upon that blame.” Vernon said, hoping to the gods that it was true. Jack, for all his problems with his anger was never the one to fly of the rails and do something rash that he would later regret. Dave and Nick were the one who had that quality in spades, and even they wouldn’t turn that anger against their family. But the news that the lad had been hit with was a lot more devastating than anything else that the old butler could think off, they had all suffered these past few years, but off all of them, Vernon thought that Jack had suffered the most.

“Are you sure?” Barca said giving voice to Vernon’s doubts as he thought on them. “The lad is grief stricken as it is. It wouldn’t be the first time that someone goes too far in their quest to get revenge.” Barca finished eying the two doors at the end of the corridor with unease. It would take a miracle for the two brothers not to fight over this.

“Do you think we should put a guard on Martin’s door?” Abi asked, wondering what the eldest brother would do to the youngest with this new information.

“No.” Vernon said quickly, as the group looked at him. “If we do that it would do much more harm than good. It will prove to Jack that we are hiding more from him. And it will most likely make Martin feel like a prisoner again. No, we just have to let this take its natural cause.” Vernon finished and leaned back in his chair, wondering if he had just given Martin a death sentence with that order.

 

Inside Martins room, the boy slept restlessly, unable to remain still as the pressure in his head increases to unbearable levels, he would deal with what he had overheard the others talking about at a later point, once his head wasn’t trying to rip itself apart. After a few more moments of this unbearable pain, it suddenly stopped, and Martin was finally able to close his eyes.

Once again Martin finds himself no longer in his present location. The Hall of Hero’s, although it seemed more dimly lit than he had previously seen it. He looked around at the large cavern with its rows of white marble tombs spaced out evenly being lit only by torch light, like in the real world, but these lights felt darker, and less inviting than the ones that really inhabited the tomb, this also had the side effect of making it difficult for Martin to see. But he still sensed the presence of his tormentor coming out of the darkness behind him. He turns around to see Eugene standing between two tombs perfectly placed so each one is an equal distance from him.

“Leave.” Martin said. As Eugene sighs.

“I wanted to offer you one last chance to join the winning side, Mr Wolfrick.” Eugene said his hands floating by his sides.

“What kind of sick bastard are you.” Martin said, wondering in what upside-down world this creature was living in, that made him think that he would ever accept that offer. At this however, Eugene’s lip curled.

“I see you have grown braver since our last proper encounter.” Eugene said, his mouth pulled into a terrible smile, but his tone was almost proud. This does nothing but enrage Martin further, he doesn’t respond but continues to stare angrily at Eugene. “If only you could see what your friends can clearly not. You would have made a great ally in the wars to come.” Eugene finished, but Martin was no longer listening.

The eight-year-old’s attention had been drawn to one of the tombs that had begun to flicker like a candle, to reveal a large black pillar in its place. The room around the two started to fade away to reveal a long dark room with pillars every few meters or so. At which Eugene also fades away. Martin got the briefest look at the completely strange room before his eyes opened, and he was back in his own room.

 

Martin wakes up, not sweating like the past few times when Eugene had invaded his head but completely normal, or what felt like normalcy as Martin couldn’t entirely remember what that felt like. He felt his head, expecting to feel the ache, or at very least the beads of sweat. But his head to his surprise no longer aced and he could locate no sweat. He wondered what had happened, but before he could think too long on the subject Jack enters the room and he remembered all about the exchange of words that had happened after he had left.

“How you doing little bro?” Jack said, a grimace on his face, he wasn’t wearing his eye patch, and the black hole in the right side of his head was it full grisly display.

“Good. I guess.” Martin said looking tired, but surprising even himself, realised he was speaking the truth.

“Had another vision?” Jack said, looking as bad as Martin had thought he would be feeling.

“How’d you know about that?” Martin asked, he had wanted to keep that part of his new life as private as possible. But Jack shrugs and walks closer.

“Codsworth told me what’s been happening. Whilst I was away.” Jack said, that hadn’t been all he had told him, but he was willing to put that to one side for now at least.

“It was different this time. I need to talk with the others.” Martin said quickly thinking about what had happened in his vision this time around. “Something weird happened.” Martin finished that was the truth he thought, he had never experienced something like that before. Normally the dreams only ended when his tormentor wanted them to, but this time he seemed to have some level of control over it as well.

“Well then. Let’s go and tell the others.” Jack said and made towards the door before Martin calls him back.

“Jack.” Martin said. He had, probably despite the group’s desires, overheard the talk they had had after he had left the room, and he had heard most of it. Meaning that there was something he needed to get of his chest, before going out to meet with them.

“Yes little bro.” Jack said, already being able to take a good guess about what this was about.

“I’m sorry.” Martin said, his timid voice had returned which struck Jack as odd after the certainty that had been there when he had been talking about his vision.

“For what?” Jack said, He could guess what but wasn’t going to stop Martin from talking if that’s what he felt like he needed to do.

“I… I told that creature about you and the town t-that you were in. W-When I was in the prison.” Martin said choking back the tears now, he couldn’t help it. Jack looks at Martin for a few moments, his own hands trembling, before looking down at his youngest brother as anger quickly set in, looking at the person that had given up the information on his whereabouts, his hand twitched to the axe at his side. But was gone just as quick, and he immediately felt ashamed for his thought of getting revenge, no matter how fleeting it had been, he managed to gain control of himself. He walks over to the bed and sits down on it and looks directly at Martin, his youngest brother seeming smaller than he had ever seen him before.
“It wasn’t your fault…” Jack starts before he is interrupted by Martin, although as Martin spoke the winds outside started to pick up speed.

“It was though. Dmitri… Your wife… Your daughter… Everyone in that town. They’re all dead… Because of me.” Martin said no longer trying to control his tears. Jack looked at his brother for a few moments allowing him to confess everything that was on his mind before speaking.

“Martin. I want you to listen to me very carefully.” Jack said sternly, looking down at his youngest brother with pity. Vernon might have thought that he had suffered the most. But Jack thought that that terrible honour went to Martin. After all he still had his mind. “None of this is your fault. You are as much a victim in this as the people you claim to have killed. From what Codsworth said, they tortured you to the verge of insanity to get you to talk” Jack continued, but Martin started up again.

“But…” Martin said but this time Jack interrupted, he would not have his youngest brother go through the shit of putting the blame on himself.

“No Martin. The fault lies with Eugene, and Eugene alone.” Jack said looking directly into his brother’s blue eyes, seemingly magnified by the tears that ran down his face. “You understand.” Jack said, wanting no debate on the matter anymore. Martin looks up at his brother’s green eye and nods. “Now I believe you have information to tell the others.” Jack said getting back to business after the little confession. As Jack and Martin walk out of the room, the winds calm down at a pace with Martin’s emotions.

 

Back outside in the living area Martin finishes telling his story about the latest vision he had had. Once he was finished Vernon was the first to speak after taking in what had just been said.

“So, the scenery just disappeared?” Vernon asked questioningly, this was new, as every time that the kid had had these experiences it had only ended when Eugene wanted it to and not before.

“Yeah, it just faded away, so I could start to see where Eugene was.” Martin said, wondering whether the old butler believed him, he wasn’t sure, as the look was one that Martin had never seen before on Vernon’s face.

“Right?” Codsworth said slowly, trying to wrap his head around what was happening, not entirely sure about what was being said. he wished that things would return to normal, where the enemy was right where he could see them, that was easy, but this.

“I’m not lying.” Martin said pleadingly, looking at Codsworth.

“I know you aren’t kid.” Codsworth said looking concerned that his emotions were so easy to read that an eight-year-old could guess what he was thinking so quickly just from him saying one word.

“I just wish I knew more, to help me end these visions.” Martin said, whilst he wasn’t sure what they were, he was almost certain that they were doing real damage to his mind as, with the exception of this time, he had felt weaker every time he had exited the visions.

“Is that even possible?” Jimmy asked, curious he had never heard of visions being real before, until Martin had had them.

“Your Uncle Gerrard would know; he was into all this kind of stuff. Only problem is of course is…” Vernon trailed off and Barca took up the slack.

“He’s dead.” Barca said dejectedly. Vernon only nods in response. Martin sighed, he barely remembered his uncle, he had only been two when the massacre happened, and had never understood why.

“So that is it. There is nothing we can do?” Dave said, speaking for the first time. At that moment Jack mouths something under his breath.

“What was that kid?” Vernon said looking at Jack, wondering what the lad had been thinking, as anything now would be of help.

“Doraghek. It was just something that he was talking about during the last time we went hunting. He said there was a place where you could go to ask dead ancestors for advice.” Jack said, remembering the conversation he had had with the dwarf whilst travelling through the landscape early on in the day.

“I’ve heard stories about that place. It’s got close ties to blood magic. People are said to have gone mad after leaving.” Jimmy said as a silence falls over the group, all knew why, of all the experiments and discoveries that had been done by anyone, none had dared deal with that. Blood magic was and always had been an accursed artform, never to be practiced under penalty of death.

“Blood magic.” Codsworth said looking at Jack. “That a… A dodgy area their lad. Leave the dead be I say.” Codsworth said shuddering, he too had heard about the rituals that happened when trying to contact the dead and wanted no part in them.

“Aye. The dead are at peace, let them stay that way.” Barca said agreeing with Codsworth on the matter. Mostly because of what he had faced back at in the manor trenches that night when the dead had come. Jack puts his hand through his already messy hair, so it starts to stick up on end, if it was possible then they had to try, however Dave spoke up speaking the thought that Jack had just been thinking.

“If this helps Martin, surely anything is worth a try.” Dave said coming to the aid of his brothers. Personally, Dave would rather stay away from that artform as well, but he at least saw that they needed it now to help.

“I’m up for it.” Martin said as the group turns around to look at him. “I mean it can’t be worse than having that man continuously enter my head.” Martin finished looking around at the group. None of them could argue with that he hoped, although both Codsworth and Barca looked uncertain. But neither raised an objection to his statement.

“I’ll take Martin with Doraghek.” Jack said, not knowing whether the dwarf would even consent after his warning not to go near to the old ruins. But he hoped that he might be able to persuade him to at least accompany them there.

“Don’t mind if I tag along.” Jimmy asked, not entirely sure as to why he was volunteering himself for this task. He feared the dead and the artform, but he was still interested to see those ruins. Jack looks at Vernon at this question and the old butler nods.

“More the merrier. I’ll speak with Doraghek in the morning.” Jack said. He guessed rightly that no one else would want to come along on the mission and couldn’t blame then in all honestly, as he himself was starting to have doubts on it as well.

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