Caeth leaned up against the polished granite pillar, listening to Kir finish his tale. He truly was worthless, peddling half-truths and gross exaggerations and for what, a few coins and maybe a night of pleasure? She wanted nothing more than to grab the bard by the scruff and throw him off the nearest balcony, but she had more important business to attend to.
“Gather round my lords and ladies, for I have a tale to tell! A tale of adventure, daring, and deadly consequences! Gather round for another tale from Faulkir, Fortune’s Favored Fool!”
The stout wooden door slammed shut as the last of them arrived. It was Harrick. He was always the last one to arrive, Renmar silently noted once again. As the elderly hunter hung up his cloak, Renmar stood up to call the weekly gathering of the Aubenglade Watchers to order.
A sermon for the congregation of Aubenglade
16th of Agnath 816, Written by Leylinia, Abbess of the Mother
Blessing onto you, for the Mother’s bounty is ripe, her children are hale, and her song is with you.
Litany of the Mother’s Bounty
As the harvest approaches, let us come together in thanks and forgiveness. Long gone now are the hardships of the summer, the strife over water, the fire at the granary, and the agonizing heat. The months of toil, laboring under a relentless sun, have borne fruit. Do not let those summer rivalries sour Her bounty. Let us rejoice in the cool autumn evenings, finding fellowship in our shared burden, understanding in our shared weariness, and peace in our shared sacrifice.
The summer has been long, but the people of Aubenglade have endured. You have lived. You have prospered. Now go in peace and with the Mother’s blessing.
Written in the margin of the sermon are a series of notes. Written in flowing elven script, they read as follows:
Remember to put emphasis on the troubles of the summer.
I am sure that Ren will see right through the symbolism, but he could certainly use the reminder. He spends more and more time out at the lodge these days. Father was right, humans spend far too much time dwelling on the past when they should be living today. It’s probably harmless, but it does not seem to be helping his mood, which seems to grow fouler by the day. It’s not surprising really. The anniversary is just a few weeks away and Valtirus is coming home.
It will be good to see him and the rest of the company, it has been far too long. By the mother’s grace, this might just put an end to over fifteen years of strife. I doubt Ren can ever truly put those dark days behind him, but maybe after one last adventure, he can finally forgive himself. If not for himself, then maybe for our daughter.
15th of Agnath, 816
I had that nightmare again.
It comes unbidden every year, growing in frequency as the anniversary approaches. He dies every time. And every time it is my fault. This year is no different, but I take solace in the fact that it will be the last year.
Soon, I’ll be leaving for the gathering. We certainly stand a better chance together, but I cannot help but hope that Leylinia stays away. I am not sure I can face her.
Or her husband.
I wonder if his rage has subsided? I would not be surprised if he still seethed. He suffered for my failings more than anyone. I should prepare a protective ward just in case.
No point in trying to get back to sleep. I might as well take Axiptris for a hunt before I continue my studies. There is so little time remaining.
Will I be ready?