The Searcher

Chapter 5: Into the Storm

Keter awoke early. Bird song had barely begun and the sun’s kiss had just reached the lowest horizon, when he opened his eyes. He slipped out of Stravor’s embrace; the other man turning over with a groan. The lad sat frozen until his lover settled back down to sleep. Then from under his corner of the blanket he pulled his few supplies. They had been hidden the night before. 

He was on his feet then and he ran with the lightness of a spring hopper. He made his way through the woods, far enough away from camp that Stravor would not see, unless he came walking. Keter found a flat hefty rock, and he sat on the grass next to it to work. 

Removing his amulet, he carefully took the blue stone from its bindings and placed it on the rock. It was pretty, with multiple facets. With his knife he sliced through it. Sliced, because it was not truly stone, nor was it inanimate. 

Keter winced as he cut it, but the pain lasted only a moment, and he whispered, “I am this stone, as Stravor is his blade. I want him to have something of me when he does this deed. May it protect him as it does me.” 

Using thin strips of leather, Keter wrapped the Fathril—for that was the stone’s true name—carefully, weaving a basket of sorts around it. The pieces of the Fathril had healed and reshaped themselves. Each were now oval faceted stones once more. 

With the wrapping finished, Keter put his amulet around his neck, and pushed the other into an inner pocket in his rough trousers. 

He rose then and walked a bit farther, hoping to find additional edibles to add to their meager breakfast. Hope blossomed as he neared a gurgling stream. He grinned as he spied a bush of Tarinda berries. Pulling up his shirt, he quickly picked several handfuls of the pink fruit. He straightened when he heard Stravor calling. 

“I am coming.” The boy ran back to his master. 

Stravor was shirtless and was bringing their fire back to life when Keter walked into camp. He stopped to watch his lover. I should never tire of his body … or him, given the chance. 

Stravor turned as he squatted by the fire. “Where have you been?” 

“Morning ablutions, master.” Keter smiled and bent to kiss the Searcher. “And I found these!” He opened the pouch he’d made with the bottom of his shirt to show Stravor the contents. 

“Tarinda berries! God’s teeth, it’s been years since I’ve eaten them.” Stravor rose and swiped at Keter’s bottom. “How do you find these things, lad?” 

Keter grinned. “You have to leave the path, master and then only look.” 

“Bold-mouthed boy!” Stravor was laughing. “Let us eat. There is still much travel before us.” 

“Yes, Sir.” 

The sun continued its slow rise in the west. The pair sat near their fire for the morning air was cool. They were eating their meager rations, when suddenly Shade moved closer to them. 

The pony’s head was up, ears rotating but returning to forward. 

Stravor, still chewing, rose, moved to the pony and grasped its halter. “What do you hear, pony?” 

Keter joined them a moment later. “I see nothing.” 

“No, but he can hear …” 

Then into view came a small herd of Stone Hill ponies. They stopped and whinnied. 

Shade answered. He tossed his head and pulled at the halter. Stravor released the animal, and it trotted out of camp toward its own kind. 

Keter stood open-mouthed. “Master! Why … what are you … why did you let him go?” 

“He will return, boy.” Stravor sat by the fire again, and picked up his plate to finish eating. 

The boy stared at his master and then back at the retreating pony. “Stravor! He is gone. How will we manage … I don’t understand why?” 

“Boy …” Stravor picked the meat off the bones of a hopper. “Shut up now and sit. The hellion will return. He simply wants to see his kind, but he is of our fellowship and will return to us.” 

While his face held disbelief, Keter sat, as he was told. 

Stravor grinned at the lad. “Boy, the pony is male. There are females; perhaps in a year there will be a small one, eh?” 

Keter’s eyes widened. “Oh … Oh! You mean he went to … oh, I see.” 

“Do you need showing the ways of men again, boy?” 

The lad grinned. “Well, I forget easily, master.” 

Stravor rose and undid his belt. “On your hands and knees. I’ll show you exactly what your innocent little pony is doing.” 

Shade wandered back into camp several hours later. The fire was now only coals and the two men slept wrapped in only each other. 

The pony snorted and went off in search of grass. 

Stravor opened his eyes and sat up. “So, you’ve come back, eh? Well, I hope you had your fill. This day is near past, yet I do not feel the compulsion to move on. Though we must, let it be tomorrow.” 

Now on his feet, Stravor pulled on his trousers and boots. Then he left the camp to wash. He decided to put on his hat as well. It’s a good vessel in case I find food. Onto his hip he strapped the Sword. 

Once he’d washed, Stravor used the tip of his weapon to turn rocks in the stream. He bent now and again to pluck a snapping long-claw from the water. “These are a good size.” He held up the small crustacean and then dropped it into his hat. The Searcher continued until he had twenty of the ornery creatures. He stopped every so often to tap them with the blue blade. “It will keep you calm, and in my hat.” 

 

“Boy!” Stravor shouted as he returned to camp. “Boy, do we still have water?” 

Keter had awoken and busied himself trying to make their meager rations appear plentiful. He stood as Stravor approached. “Aye, but why?” 

“I bring meat. Long-claw but they need cooking.” 

“Sir, what a treat! I’ll put the water on to boil now.” The lad grinned, delighted. “I love those.” 

It wasn’t long until they sat to eat. The pair tossed the shells of the long-claw into the fire. 

Stravor sucked the juices from his fingers and leaned back against a rock. “That was a good meal, boy!” 

“Aye, Sir. Thank you for bringing the long-claw. They were delicious.” 

“They were.” Stravor rummaged through his pouch for a slim cigar. Then pulling a twig from the pile of kindling, he held it in the fire until it caught. Holding the burning wood to the tip, he drew breath through the cigar, lighting it. The Searcher tossed the match into the fire and leaned back once again. 

Keter watched quietly as his master smoked. He pushed a piece of long-claw shell into the fire. I love this. The smell of his smoke-weed. These times he is quiet and relaxed. It should be this way forever. Keter wiped away his tears. 

Stravor opened his arms. “Come here, boy. The smoke will not bring tears from here.” 

And Keter did. He moved over and settled against his master’s side. He closed his eyes and drew in the scent of the man he loved so well. Cuddled in Stravor’s warmth, the boy drifted off to sleep. 

Again, his dreams gave pictures of the future and his past. Keter would wake somewhat comforted by what he’d seen. Though the dreams frightened him, he knew where his duty lay. 

 

For the next two days they walked and foraged for food and water. Shade was always able to locate the latter for them. On the second night, they made camp, ate nuts, berries and several good sized long-claw. Then they settled together, watching the fire burn down. 

“Sir, tomorrow is it? My last day?” Keter whispered it as a small pocket of gas exploded in the fire’s dying heat. 

Stravor held his boy tight. He closed his eyes and paused before answering, “Tomorrow we enter the Crystal Streams caves. The place we seek is there.” 

“I do not seek it, Sir.” 

“Aye, lad, nor do I, if all truth is told.” 

“I am afraid.” Keter’s eyes were glassy. 

“Boy …” 

“Only once before have I been so afraid, Stravor. The day the Stone Men came. I still see it and hear it. Do you know they were not always as we saw them? Once, before this god, before he came, they were peaceful. They lived in the mountains and raised cattle and woolies.” 

Stravor wrapped both arms around the quivering boy. “Aye, my father told me the old tales.” 

“They came though and the Witches could not stop them … so many were they. And they smashed them down, killing all. They tied us younger ones and put us in a barred wagon. Then we watched as they roasted our family and friends … my own mother and others roasted and eaten before us.” 

Keter wept openly now as he relived the past. “Then … and then … and then they …” 

“Shhh, boy you do not need to.” 

“I do … I must. Don’t you see? You must know what this god is. What he does, Stravor.” Keter stopped and drew in a quavering breath. His voice was soft as he spoke again. “And then having eaten the flesh of our loved ones, they walked around the wagon, holding their leg bones. They snapped them like twigs and then from them sucked the marrow. And they laughed while we wept.” 

Stravor could say nothing. He closed his eyes and knew the truth of his boy’s words. The Searcher held Keter until finally the tears stopped. 

The fire crackled and popped and they each sat quietly by it, together. 

Keter reached for his amulet. He held it tightly. With his left hand he reached into the waistband of his trousers and withdrew the amulet he made for Stravor. 

“Sir, I have a gift for you.” 

Stravor gaped at the boy. “A gift.” 

“Yes, will you wear it? I took it from my amulet and fashioned it for you.” Keter held it out 

The Searcher reached out and gently took the offering. His eyes flew to Keter as he realized what he held. “This is Fathril—” 

“Yes. I made this for you from my own, to remember me. It is the living stone … wear it to keep my memory with you.” The boy’s eyes beseeched Stravor. “Please leave mine around my neck, for it belongs with me even in death. Please, Stravor … please promise me this.” 

“Aye, lad.” The man sat quietly for a moment, and then slowly nodded. “Aye. I will do as you ask of me.” He slipped the amulet over his head. 

The blackness around them was punctuated overhead by a myriad of stars. The last of the fire warmed them little, and they drew nearer each other. Shade, as was his way, moved closer to their fraternity. 

Stravor, emotion thickening his voice, managed to whisper, “Boy.” He opened his arms. 

Keter answered with a soft cry and moved to be close to the man he loved and shared his body with. They made love then slowly and slept wrapped in each other as the fire moved to embers. 

In the morning they moved leisurely. Stravor took Keter’s hand and they walked to a nearby pool to wash. Here they made love once more, and as the Searcher thrust home his seed, he whispered his boy’s name. 

With his master still deep within him, Keter clung on, his legs around Stravor’s waist and head on his left shoulder. It was a moment before he realized, “Master, you said my name.” 

Stravor fought to hold his tears and feelings but could not. “Naming you or not, does not make losing you easier. For you are deep within my heart, boy.” 

Keter could do nothing but cry as he held on. “I love you too, Stravor.” 

Shade tossed his head as they drew near the cave. It was beautiful here, but the pony could sense the wrongness of this place. 

The cave mouth was tall enough to allow an upright man entrance. From it flowed a stream with water so clear it drew one to it: so clear it had to be refreshing. Shade knew it was anything but, and danced to keep away. 

Keter walked behind dragging his feet, yet Stravor had not scolded him for it. The boy gazed into the crystal water and at the pretty stones it held. All colours of crystalline rocks lay there like a deadly rainbow. 

As they neared the mouth, Shade became more and more unruly. Stravor stopped near a tree and tied the little animal to it, leaving him enough space to stand beneath its cooling canopy. 

The Searcher then reached out to his lover. “Boy … Keter, it … it is time, lad.” 

Keter stood shaking, as fear overtook him and he wept openly. Stravor bent and picked him up and carried him into the cave. 

Inside was a wonderland of glittering reflection. Light bounced through the transparent crystals that lined the walls and ceiling of the cave. The floor was dark red with ancient blood. 

Keter clung to Stravor as he walked through the place. When they came to the altar and the Searcher sat the boy on it, he noticed the patch on his shirt, damp from Keter’s tears. 

Gently, Stravor kissed the boy. “If there was another wa—” 

“I know.” Keter interrupted. He stared deeply into Stravor’s eyes, like pools of molten tar they were. “I know.” 

The Searcher stared for a moment and then blinked. He nodded and reached to undo the ribbons that held Keter’s shirt closed. His large fingers fumbled with the knots until the lad pushed them away, finishing the job himself. 

The boy pulled the shirt off. 

Stravor reached down to touch the Sword of Harman. 

Keter drew a deep breath. “Please do not take my amulet off.” He let the air from his lungs. “May I have a moment to pray?” 

Nodding, Stravor backed up several steps. He watched the lad grip his amulet and heard, “Though I am gone …” 

Stravor strained to hear as the boy’s whisper grew softer. He felt ill, knowing what would come. 

“I am … ready.” 

Lifting his eyes from the rusty coloured floor, Stravor drew the weapon. It hummed softly. 

Stepping forward Stravor lay the tip of the blade on the boy’s chest. 

Keter was panting now. 

Still, Stravor’s hand was unmoved. He watched Keter’s eyes, and whispered, “Boy … I would forfeit both of our lives, should I not do this … should I not take your life. But now, here in this moment if you ask it of me … I will, and we shall run.” 

“You would, wouldn’t you?” 

“Aye.” 

Keter stared at his man. He reached forward and gripped Stravor’s left hand and pulled. 

The Sword of Harman slid easily into the boy’s chest. 

Stravor gasped and stared at the boy’s grip; his eyes wide with shock. 

Keter blinked. His hand dropped from the hilt. 

Stravor grabbed the small hand and held it. 

The blade found its prize and sent the newly released soul into its Master. 

Tears streamed from Stravor as he felt Keter’s soul enter. He pulled the blade from the nearly lifeless body. Laying it down on the stone altar, he held the boy’s body close. Kissing the sweet lips once as his lad lay dying. 

The big man stroked the boy’s blond hair and leaned over him. 

“I am sorry, boy. I will not leave you here. For you are mine and I will take you home with me.” Stravor whispered to the now dead and empty body. “I am sorry. But I will bury you with my family, as you are all I will ever love.” 

With a sigh, Stravor wiped the tears from his face. He left the weapon leaning against the altar and walked to the pony. 

Shade snorted and tried to bite as his master drew close.

Stravor grabbed the halter. “Stop it now, horse, though I deserve your anger. I will wrap him and you shall carry our precious cargo.” He rubbed the broad forehead. “You need not waste your hatred, for I have enough self-loathing for the world.” 

The pony then dropped its head and stood quietly as the man dug through the baskets. 

Tears began again as the Searcher found the sheeting and the ties he had brought for this job. He tucked the water skin under his arm. 

Returning to the cave, he washed the blood from Keter’s body and dressed him once more in his shirt. He wrapped Keter in the clean linen, then carried him out of the cave and placed his body on Shade. He secured it well. 

Stravor returned once more to retrieve the Sword. He wiped it clean with a rag. After sheathing the weapon, he walked back to the pony. 

“Come now, little one. Let us away from this place.” Stravor untied the animal and led it back the way they had come. 

The duo’s pace was not fast, as neither felt like moving more quickly. They set camp early and left it late. Each night Stravor lay Keter’s body beside him, and spoke to it for hours, until unrestful sleep came. 

Shade stood over them or lay beside them each night. 

On the fourth morning, Stravor left camp to relieve himself and had just finished retying his trousers when the voice-of-voices slammed into his head. He dropped like a stone to his knees. He grabbed at his skull and squeezed as Hemothracene’s voice filled it. 

“You tarry, Searcher.” The voices were loud. “Do you hope the soul will wither?” 

“No, Master … I … I …” 

“You? You are nothing. You will give all to me as you have sworn. From this day you will walk all day and night. I will give you light in the darkness, and you will walk!” 

Stravor groaned and bent forward over his knees. “Yes, yes, yes. As you wish it, I shall do. Please Master ….” 

“Please, master, please master … get up and walk,” a childlike whiny voice chastised, but reverted a moment later. “You will return that soul to my Hall, I care not how, or what it costs. Do you understand?” 

“Yes, my lord.” Stravor rocked. His head ached mightily, and a trickle of blood dripped from his left ear. 

The voices left him as abruptly as they had come. Stravor’s head throbbed so violently he vomited. He crawled to the nearby stream and drew water from it with cupped hands. He sipped the cold liquid and splashed the rest over his face. Sitting back on his heels, Stravor closed his eyes. 

Normally, he did not allow himself to listen to the murmurings from the souls he carried, but this was not normal. Keter’s soul was not as most. It did not curse; it did not cry out in anger; it was as gentle as the lad had been in life. Fight not, Stravor. Beloved. Deliver me. 

“I should have run.” 

Do not waiver in this … deliver me. 

“Aye, lad.” Comforted somehow, Stravor got slowly to his feet. “I will.” 

 

From that moment, Stravor and Shade walked until late, their way made bright as promised by Hemothracene. Food and water were supplied by the god. 

As the eighth night drew close, Stravor knew the pony’s strength was flagging. “We will camp and rest, for tomorrow a half-day’s walk will bring us … all … home.” He glanced at the wrapped body. 

Stravor built a fire, and the pair huddled around it. Shade had grazed and then lay down. 

“We will return to Nabrook tomorrow, horse,” Stravor whispered to the little animal. “You have been a brave companion … nay, a brave friend. You can stay in Dayson’s stable, but then what?” 

The pony’s long ears swiveled to listen. He snorted. 

“I could return you to the seller, but I think you would be unhappy there.” Stravor leaned against a tree. His dark eyes regarded the small creature. “No, best I bring you home with me. Tomorrow, I will visit the Hall and say farewell to my sweet lad for the last time.” 

Stravor paused, he swallowed as emotions swept over him. He reached out to stroke Shade’s broad head and soft nose. “I think then, I will have need of home.” 

 

The morning dawned bright and clear. Stravor and the pony completed their final morning routine and began to walk into Nabrook. After two hours, the Searcher could see the smoke from the houses there. 

“Horse, I long for home, but not the loneliness of it.” 

Stravor … you must deliver me. 

“I will, lad.” The man walked on and wiped away his tears. “I will, but I do not have to like it.” 

 

Their arrival in Nabrook was quiet. Though he wished for a tankard of ale, Stravor walked with Shade first to the Hall. After securing the pony to a tree, Stravor begged entrance and he walked on the shining, living floors of glass. The Ones Who Watched stood silently as he passed them. He drew the weapon and placed the tip on the stone, and hesitated. 

Do it, Stravor. You must. 

Stravor’s black eyes again filled with tears, and he whispered, “Then you shall be gone.” 

Stravor, there is much more to this than you see. Press it in … please. 

As he heaved a great sigh, he pushed the Sword of Harman into the monolith. Dropping to his knees, he held the grip and felt the boy’s sweet soul travel from him, into the steel and then into the walls. 

With his eyes on the wall, Stravor saw a flash of a face, which lasted only a moment. “Keter ….” 

It was gone, or maybe had never been there. 

Stravor still knelt, still gripped the hilt of his weapon. He closed his eyes as the emptiness inside hit him. “Boy … what am I to do?” 

The question hung in the air. There was no answer and no comfort. 

After several long minutes, he rose. He bowed to Hemothracene and left the Hall quickly. 

This time the Ones Who Watched pivoted their heads at a creeper’s pace, to follow his progress. 

 

Outside, Stravor’s heart pounded in his chest. He wished to scream and cry out his anguish. Pull yourself together, man. Gods! I want to drink until I cannot see. 

Before him people walked to-and-fro; sitting, praying, and enjoying the warmth of the bright sun. The Searcher cast his gaze over the peaceful scene, while inside his pain and anger built. He closed his eyes and drew fresh air deep into his lungs. I will take Keter to the crypt, bed the pony, and greet my parents. Then I would return to the Silverhide and drink myself into oblivion. 

The decision made, Stravor moved forward and untied the pony. “Come now, just a bit farther and then you can rest.” 

Shade snorted and tossed his head, as the rope was gently pulled, and he followed his master. 

They walked the path towards Stravor’s family home. Shade’s broad hooves thudded pleasantly, birds sang and flitted through the sun-dappled canopy; it was beautiful. 

“I am sorry, boy, that you never saw this in life; that all you will know is the cool of the crypt.” Stravor’s voice wavered. He stopped and spun around. The Searcher stroked Shade’s solid neck, and then ran his hand over the wrapped corpse. He whispered, “I am so sorry, boy.” 

The Searcher pulled back his shoulders, and led the pony forward. 

 

Turning off the path, the pair walked up the small hill, which was behind the house, to the crypt. It was from the outside a simple square building, with a solid iron gate. 

From a trouser pocket, Stravor drew a ring which held several keys. Selecting one, he pushed it into the lock on the gate and opened it. 

Shade snorted, tossed his head and reared a little. He did not like the smell of death. 

“Shhh, tis all right, horse.” Stravor grabbed the rope and tied the little animal securely. He patted the solid neck firmly. “No one here will hurt you.” 

Stravor untied the body and lifted it from Shade’s back. “I will return, pony, once I lay the boy down to rest.” 

The Searcher carried Keter’s body into the crypt and then down the stairs that led to the burial chambers. It offered damp coolness and it always made Stravor shiver. The Sword moaned softly. 

Once at the bottom, Stravor lay the body on one of the stone altars. He stood there with his hand on the corpse’s chest and stared down at it. “Boy … Keter … forgive me. I am sorry. I had not planned to care for you. I regret so much. Especially that I did not say the words … I hope my body did. I do not love easily; there will not be another that I feel for.” The Searcher sighed and said finally, “Be at peace here, and soon I will lay you to rest, as I would if you had been my wedded one.” 

Stravor pulled the door closed and climbed the stairs. He shut and locked the iron gate. 

Shade was waiting and ready to move on. The little animal could feel the ghosts that haunted this place. 

After untying the beast, Stravor grabbed the halter and led the animal back along to the main path. “Let us go home, pony.” 

As they entered the yard, Stravor was both surprised and not to see his parents standing on the porch. Once they drew close enough, his mother flew to him. 

“Son … Stravor, you are alive!” She threw her arms around her grown child. 

Shade pulled back and snorted at the woman who arrived in such a hurry. 

After releasing her boy, Elinor smiled as she reached out to touch the pony. “Oh, he is a beauty!” Stravor’s mother walked around Shade. “He is a bit thin, son.” 

“We have come back from a long journey. He is in need of food and rest. As am I.” 

“You will both stay and rest here, of course.” Elinor pushed her arm through Stravor’s, leaning against him. 

Stravor’s father, who moved somewhat slowly, arrived. He grasped his son by the shoulders then pulled away; his smile fading. “What have you done?” 

Elinor glanced from father to son. “What does your father mean?” 

“Nothing.” Stravor shook his head. “I need to rest. The journey was a trial. Let me bed the pony …” 

“Yes, do that son, and then come inside. I will prepare food.” Elinor handed the rope to her boy. 

“Come on, horse.” He led the animal across the yard to the stable. 

Elinor pulled on the Elder’s arm to turn him towards the house. “Stravor, let us go. Leave it, whatever it is, for the moment. He will tell you in his own time.” 

Stravor the Elder walked arm-in-arm with his wife. “I hope that by then it is not too late.” 

 

“You will be company for Lesha. She is the only horse now and pulls their cart.” Stravor spoke to the pony as he led him by the empty stalls to a box next to the resident horse. 

“You’ll be comfortable here, pony.” Stravor led Shade into the stall. He removed the halter and rubbed the broad head and ears. “I’ll bring hay for you. Eat and rest my brave friend.” 

Stravor left the box and brought both hay and a bucket of fresh water. He also checked to confirm that Lesha had food and water. 

“I will return to you, Shade. Until then my mother, no doubt, will come to rub your ears.” 

The pony snorted and dipped his head to eat. 

Stravor fastened the stall door closed and leaned against it. His loss and weariness were almost palpable. Beside him, the Sword was quiet and colourless. “Let me face them, and eat.” 

He walked to the house. After entering, the Searcher removed his weapon and placed it against the wall. It moaned softly. Stravor comforted it. “Shhh, it is only for a short time.” With that he joined his parents in the kitchen. 

Elinor jumped to her feet as he entered. “Sit. I’ll get you a bowl of stew.” 

Stravor smiled at his mother. “Thank you.” He sat opposite his father. 

The Elder glanced up from his plate of food as his son sat. Though a thousand questions were on his tongue, he asked nothing, and bent to eat his dinner. 

Elinor placed a bowl of thick meaty stew before her son and also a plate of buttered fresh bread. She smiled. “Here. Eat.” 

If the truth be known, in that moment, Stravor felt more like sleeping, but he picked up his spoon and dipped it into the fragrant food. 

Elinor sat down to finish her meal. 

For some minutes there was no speaking, only the sounds of eating. 

“What have you done, Stravor?” The Elder broke the quiet with the question that burned most within him. “I cannot feel the boy any longer.” 

Stravor peered up at his Father. At first no words passed between them. He only chewed and swallowed. He lay down his spoon carefully, then found his father’s eyes. “The boy is dead. His body is in the crypt.” 

“Here?” The Elder raised his voice. “Ours? It is for our family.” 

“Yes, ours … mine.” 

“Why? Why here?” 

Stravor rolled his head back to look up at the beamed ceiling. He closed his eyes, heedless of the tears that ran from them. He whispered, “Here because he was mine. He was mine and I loved him. I wish him here and to be beside him when my time is nigh.” 

The Elder got to his feet and slammed his hands on the table. “Stravor! What have you done?” 

The Younger rose also. He wiped away his tears. “Done? I have done my duty to my God. I completed the task set me.” 

“What task?” 

Stravor walked away from the table and paused in the doorway. “I killed the boy I loved, that is what I have done.” 

He walked to the front door and picked up his Sword and strapped it on. 

“Where are you going, Stravor?” Elinor ran to her son. “Please, you do not have to leave. We can help … we can—” 

“No!” Stravor yanked the door open. He reached out to touch his mother’s face. His voice was gentle now. “I will return to bury Keter. He was … as my wedded one.” 

“I do understand, son.” Elinor noticed the Elder was standing in the kitchen doorway. “Of course, you must have him here. Where are you going?” 

“Mother, I am going to see Dayson and drink until I feel no more.” 

“You cannot run from what you have done, boy!” The Elder said. 

“Do you think I do not know that, old man?” Stravor stepped out onto the porch. He walked down the two steps and started toward town. 

Elinor and Stravor the Elder watched their only child walk away. 

Wife turned to husband as she slowly closed the door. “What will happen now, Stravor?” 

The elder Searcher embraced her. “I do not know, my love. I will away to my room and meditate on it but I fear it will not be good.” 

 

Stravor strode along the path. He slowed once he was passed the town’s border. He also took a wide berth around the Hall. The Searcher walked on to the Silverhide Inn. 

He pushed open the doors and called, “Dayson!” 

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tim