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“I’ve seen sandstorms that are less dangerous than her,” Ineni said as I burst through the door of the Crimson Snowfall.

“I’ll be fine.” I bounded up the stairs and into our room.

Wyanet stood over her bed, stuffing her rucksack.

“Wy, are you okay?”

“They are a terrible people. They break hearts, and damage lives, then run off like nothing ever happened.”

“You’re still going to help them though, aren’t you?”

Wyanet threw her rucksack on the floor. She leapt across the room and stared up into my face. “We have to.” She balled her fists and thudded one into my chest. “If those… those… Wasi’chu are telling the truth.” Her other fist pounded my chest. “We have to try to help them.” Tears lined Wyanet’s eyes. She punched me a few more times, and fell into me, sobbing. “Why did he leave? Was I not good enough? Did I not love him enough? Why did he abandon me?”

I wrapped my arms around Wyanet. She put her full weight into me, and we fell to the floor. “I don’t know. I don’t know why anyone does what they do to others.”

The door clicked open. Phebes walked in carrying a long narrow box of dark polished wood. “Ope! Sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt anything, but this box is kind of heavy, and I didn’t hear any voices, so I thought you guys had left, and…”

Wyanet wiped her eyes and sat up. “ You are not interrupting anything.”

“What’s in the box?”

“Oh, yeah, this.” She slid the box on one of the beds. “I don’t know. That old woman gave it to me.” Phebes adopted a faux voice of authority. “When you learn its secrets, it will be a powerful blessing for you and your friends.” She rubbed her muscles. “I don’t know though. It’s kind of heavy, and awkward to carry. I wonder if it’s worth anything, or if it’s going to be one of those ‘the power was inside of you’ deals?”

Wyanet ran her fingers along the smooth wood. “Have you not opened it yet?”

“Not yet. She gave it to me after you two ran out, and after she gave it to me she pushed me out the door. I didn’t know what to do, so I came…”

“It could be something useful.” I interrupted. “Open it.”

Phebes thumbed open the three brass latches. She grabbed the corners of the lid and started to lift, but jumped back, dropping the lid. “Maybe we should check to see if it’s trapped? I’ve heard that people like to do that to keep things safe.”

“It was a gift, given to you freely.” Wyanet put her hand on Phebes’s forearm. “Why would someone give you a gift if they wanted to kill you?”

“Maybe, you’re right.” Phebes grabbed the lid and tossed it open, throwing her hands in front of her face afterwards.

Rich violet silk lined the inside of the padded box. Letters of silver leaf painted on the inside of the lid read ‘Passion burns as fire’. Inside the box rested a long, slender, sword with a cruciform guard. Mounted in the pommel of the sword, a heart-shaped ruby glittered in the light.

Phebes lifted the sword out of the box. “This isn’t what I expected.” She pulled the sword from its scabbard. “It’s a little longer than the sword I learned with but better than the scimitar I was using.”

“It is a beautiful weapon,” Wyanet assured her.

Phebes resheathed the sword. “When are we leaving?”

Wyanet and I looked at each other.

“If you wish to come with us, pack your things. We will leave once you have packed.”

“I kind of wanted to see the show tonight. We never get things like that up in Last Oasis.”

Wyanet snatched up her things and stomped out of the room.

I started collecting my things. “Time is important, we need to go as soon as we can.” I slid my sword into my belt and stuffed my other belongings into my rucksack. “Meet us downstairs when you’re done.” I left and went down to the common room.

After ten minutes, Phebes descended the stairs. She wore the armour she took from a Dark Elf Captain. The tip of her new sword thumped against every step. “I’m ready to go.”

Wyanet nodded. “Let us go.” 

We started toward the door. 

Ineni stepped out from behind the bar, a bulging waxy canvas bag in his hand. “Wait just a minute.” He handed the satchel to Wyanet. “A little food for the road.” He stepped back and looked us all over, pride in his eyes. “You kids take care of yourselves out there. The roads and forest can be dangerous. You can all come back anytime you like. Travellers are rare around here, but they always bring a nice change of pace.” Ineni extended his hand to Wyanet.

Wyanet, unsure what to do, grasped Ineni’s hand.

“Good luck and safe travels. May the Father of Understanding guide you, and keep you all safe.”

We left the Crimson Snowfall and walked in silence to the edge of town. Half a mile outside of town, a group of people worked cutting down trees and digging a narrow ditch. Phebes studied the entire group as we passed.

“I have to say goodbye to someone.” Phebes jogged off the road toward the workers.

Wyanet and I stopped and watched. Phebes ran up to Dwarf bellowing orders. The Dwarf grinned and laughed from his chest. He clapped Phebes on the back and sat down on a stump while she spoke. The Dwarf pulled his hat off and clutched it to his chest. The Dwarf looked at the ground then back up at Phebes and gave a slight nod of his head. 

Phebes walked back to us. She looked back to the Dwarf and sniffed. “I’m all set.”

Wyanet pivoted on her heel and continued down the road. I fell in beside Phebes. “Did you know that Dwarf?” 

“Whurbin? Not very well. We were in the same workgroup in Delara, but we never really talked.”

“Why did you need to tell him goodbye?”

“Whurbin’s clan are allied with Ulfgar’s. I asked him to tell Ulfgar’s clan how he died.”

“Ulfgar is the Dwarf you travelled with?” Wyanet asked.

Tears glistened on the edge of Phebes’ eyes. “Yeah. Ulfgar found me after I left Last Oasis.” Phebes dabbed at her eyes with her hand and sniffed. “The night the Goblins found us, Ulfgar died trying to protect me.”

Wyanet tugged the rag from her belt and offered it to Phebes. “We have all lost loved ones. We keep moving forward, so their memory does not die with us.”

The story will continue, October 17th.

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Written by: Sweeney

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