Alyxandra nodded, and relayed, in a brief manner, all she had told Alceren the night before. As she finished, an uncontrollable tear rolling down her left cheek, the others nodded understandingly, Aveyna flashing her a warm smile, as though she knew something of Alyxandra’s pain.
Alceren asked for the next willing Blade to speak, and the usually smiling Yvellen appeared suddenly, unfittingly somber.
“I am not sure how many of you know of the invasion of Goldhollow, although I am certain it is not widely known, as Goldhollow is only a small village to the south of here.”
“I have heard it, Yvellen,” Aranaytha replied softly, her usual bite vanished from her voice out of respect, “I live only slightly to the west of that.” Yvellen nodded.
“Then you will have heard of the utter destruction that took place there, only six months ago. The Stygians killed everyone there, my parents and my friends, destroying every building with their evil magic, fires from the depths of the world Below. I myself only survived because I was rescued.”
Yvellen turned and stroked the top of his lion’s head; he purred gently, closing his dark feline eyes and a shadow of smile appearing at his mouth. “I had no weapon, and no way of defending myself. As I fled from the village I had always called home, I was pursued by one Stygian, brandishing a sword. In my panic, I collided with another of the Stygians and fell to the ground. Trapped, and about to die, I uttered a plea to Terakane, when lo and behold, I heard a great roar, and gnashing of teeth. The Stygians cried as they were mauled; I closed my eyes, fearing that whatever had killed them would take me too. I was approached by the creature, and I dared to open my eyes. He stalked and slinked about on his four gentle feet, nuzzling me with his nose, trying to decipher my scent. He then began to lick my hands and to purr, and I knew that his intentions were good. I placed a tentative hand on his head and gently rubbed it. He closed his eyes, comforted by this, confirming for me that I had a friend in the world, and from there, having buried my parents, we traveled southwards until we reached The School of the Golden Circlet, where, with our bond strong at the beginning, we completed our training. I only received my blessing of leave two weeks, so my real combat experience is very limited. However, I do have a desire to bring peace to Yalandir, that Goldhollow might be rebuilt and happiness restored.”
The others smiled, glad to see a more serious side to the previously flippant Yvellen and, having scolded themselves inwardly for their judgmental natures, Aranaytha raised her hand.
“I wish to speak.” The others nodded, and she began, “I am the second eldest of six children, second only to my elder brother Josephus. Currently, they are all trapped in Valston, but I know that they are safe, for beneath our house we have a large cellar. I was not there at the time of the siege’s beginning, as I was training with the Westbridge Swordshakers with Aveyna.”
Aveyna forced a smile at this, nodding to confirm her words. “I came at the age of fifteen, having been told by my father that I have-”Aranaytha coughed, “a violent disposition. My family believed that sending me there would help me channel my anger into something worthwhile, and although I disagreed at the time, I feel that they were right. Although it is not polite to ask a lady her age, I will say this - I finished my training three years ago, at the age of seventeen, but Aveyna left a year before me, the talented fighter she is.” Aveyna smiled at this, and turned to see if Telthar’rion would speak; his response was cold - he stood up in silence and left the inn, leaving Aveyna in silent confusion. She too, stood up, announcing to those left that she felt tired, and would like to rest. The others nodded, and she stood up, ascended the stairs and took the room at the furthest end of the corridor. Aranaytha followed suit, as did Yvellen, leaving only Alyxandra and Alceren by the fire once more.