Antes

It was almost dawn when Roland got back to the village with the moon as his bearing.  Brim normally did the navigating, but the thing was now almost completely useless and hung shuddering in Roland’s arms as he halted at the village’s tall, wooden gate. It was built years ago on the command of his father and constructed specially for his craft. He touched the gate and felt the comfort of his father’s magic, still strong and pulsing with purpose. He gave the silent command and the huge, timber gate swung open before him. The awaiting guards waved him in but twitched their spears at the sporadic jerking of Brim’s wrecked body. They weren’t used to Roland bringing in his servants. A quick glare put them back in their place and Roland moved along.

 It took an effort to hide his limp but he bit his lip through the pain nonetheless; it was imperative that he not show any weakness to the village-folk. He smiled as he strolled past the people who lowered their heads in respect and children who scattered in fright and clergymen who hissed proverbial insults in his ear. It wasn’t until he opened the door of his tenement that he let the smile droop into a scowl.

“Roland. You’re back awfully early.”

Roland chose not to reply. Instead, he tossed the disfigured Brim across the room to crash at the crippled feet of his brother. His brother Antes, normally stoic and reserved, let out a strangled cry at the sight.

“I broke it.” Roland said apologetically.

“H-how is this, how did you even manage this?” Antes stammered distressfully, “This is almost pure Gilmer’s brimstone and has got to be overlaid with- with thousands of different safeguards! By the gods, Roland, father made this himself. I mean, you would have to have thrown it off a cliff to inflict this amount of damage…“

“I kicked it down Gorge’s Trail. Antes look, I’m really sorry-“

“Sorry?! If you’re so sorry, why don’t you stop doing it?! This is the fifth time, Roland, and sooner or later you’re going to destroy something essential to its function, and then it’s done for.”

Roland raised his eyes from the floor to meet Antes’.

“Can you fix it?”

The End

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