The Orphan at the Gates

Jorzen Rhyffawr staggered down from his quarters and collapsed at the table in the stone room, his piercing blue eyes dulled with sleep, his thick black hair in disarray. His fiancée, a 19 year old called Leanna, smiled to herself as she bustled about preparing breakfast.


“What is it this morning?”


Leanna tried to keep a straight face as she advanced on him with the pot.


“It’s your favourite, darling. Porridge.”


Jorzen groaned deeply.


“Don’t tell me. I’d better eat it all up or else…”


“Or else you’ll be having it three times a day” interrupted Leanna, before putting a huge dollop into his bowl with sadistic delight. “Now come on, eat it up. Just because you’re a hero now it doesn’t mean you can let yourself go. You’ve got to keep your strength up.”


“Yes mother dear” muttered Jorzen, ducking her playful swipe before beginning to eat. He knew she was right. Also, he had grown to like her porridge, but he felt that to tell her that would deny her some of the satisfaction she gained from serving it to him.


“So where was it this week then?” asked Leanna. “You’re absolutely exhausted. It’s not good for you”


Jorzen looked quickly around before beckoning her closer.


“It was a demonoid,” he whispered, “By the time I’d caught up with the damn thing it had already killed several sheep. Nearly got me too.”


Leanna looked horrified. “But they’re…they’re all back in the Peak pits aren’t they?”


“I wish that were true. But we’ve heard reports something big is happening there. Some even say that they’re trying to resurrect The Pitiless One. Then again, that’s gutter rumours. They can’t really be trusted.”


“I hope they’re wrong. But…but what if they aren’t? What if that thing really does walk again?”


“We’ve still got hope. The prophecy, remember?”


At this point, there was a knocking on the door. A voice cried “Sir Rhyffawr, there is a young lad who wishes to see you. He has a letter addressed to you, but he won’t speak. He’s been standing outside the city gates since dawn, so we eventually decided to bring him to you.”


“Let him in.” replied Jorzen, overcome with curiosity.


The door creaked open and a young man, about fifteen years of age, shuffled in. He was wearing a woollen shirt and trousers, and face and blond hair were smudged with dirt.


“What’s your name, and why have you come to see me?” asked Jorzen gently.


The youth merely turned to him and silently held out a scroll sealed with candle wax. On the scroll, Jorzen’s name was written in an untidy scrawl. He took the proffered scroll, and peeled off the seal, unrolling the short scroll.

The End

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