A Treasonous Trail

They had hiked through the woods for many long moments of silence, and the blue sun had risen and fallen from the center of the sky twice without nightfall. The world was, as always, reluctant to turn. And, now, it faced a revolution of a different kind.

The whitened child and blackened child were held in their sister's and mother's arms respectively. With uncanny patience, they watched and slept upon untiring shoulders.

Falen wore a tattered robe that had been by her mother's harp at the river's edge. Now, as she walked behind her mother, it seemed to clash quite drastically with all else. She did not like the man before them.

There was never a path before them. Only a semblance of trail that the man, himself, forged seemingly at random.

And throughout their journey, and with help from Sebastien's tracking, they were fortunate enough not to encounter more than one Wildkin. Because it was alone and outnumbered, it chose not to hunt.

And at the forest's edge, much to their surprise, it now seemed as if Sebastien had known exactly where he was going all along. For, where the trees thinned abruptly, was a grassy hillside that descended towards a small village of houses wrought of wood, thatch and red granite.

"Now," said Sebastien, conveying disappointment, "you may speak once again - but only to strangers!"

"We carry no burden of misprision, Sebastien," the harpist informed him, melting her glacial calm with a subtle smile.

"Be you women and children not of this wretched kingdom?"

Falen looked at the man with a baffled look on her face, and glanced quickly at her mother, "Kingdom!? I thought this was an empire."

This disturbed him. Sebastien scoffed, and backed away, "The Great Haejdan Empire was overthrown in my grandfather's day."

"Excuse my daughter," the woman requested. "She has not walked the world of mortals for quite some time. Let alone, intervened."

Falen heard her mother's tone of voice and felt scolded more than ever. She looked shamefully down, pressing her head against her baby brother's soft white skin. Why didn't anyone tell me?

Sebastien frowned, and stepped back almost so far as to lose his footing and roll down below. He had half a mind to reach for the weapons concealed upon him, which would not be so obvious as the ornamental sword at his waist.

The other twin, in his mother's arms, opened his eyes suddenly, and turned his head towards the man.

In those eyes, Sebastien saw empty holes that defied his depth perception. Each one was an abyss that stared into blatant nothingness. Then they both blinked at once, and Sebastien saw dark brown eyes where he had once seen pits of emptiness.

Fingers grazed the end of  a venomed dart in his hair. Then, he thought better of it. And, parting the tension, he urged them onward, "Come, we must press on. The innkeeper is expecting me."

 

The End

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