A strange compulsion drew him north. Through the woods, towards that single mountain where beyond that was only an icy sea and nothing. There was nothing there, so why should I go there? He looked back. Duty. He looked to the Ice Crown, Vengeance. Finally he looked to the mountain. Compulsion? Was the only word that he could assign to it. Curiosity made him step towards it. He took another step, and another one before he could stop himself.
                Life seemed to return to the land then, it almost seemed loud, offensive to his ears.
                When he looked to Corrlan’s Pass, this time it was on fire, but it’s coming from the south!
                Avalanches fell from the Crown and gathered to travel impossible distances, right towards him. Still that mountain stood, taunting. He stopped at the foot of the woods, barely realising he was moving when a noise he could not describe woke him.
                It took him some time to realise that the noise had been in his dream, longer still till the feel of sweat and cold faded and his breathing went back to normal.
                What was that, what on Lifra happened? He slipped back the furs, careful not to wake her, and went back to the window. Once there he squinted through the still dark.
                Somewhere beyond the Veil is that Mountain. But what was the dream trying to tell me. Am I going to shirk my duty, even revenge, on some curiosity? And what does the avalanche and the Southern fire mean? For a time, he considered waking her, asking for her opinion. No, I won’t trouble her on some strange fancy I dreamt up. It was just a dream. Still, he could not shrug it off, and he certainly did not want to sleep now. He thrust away the thought of speaking to Khellum about it before it even came.
                A quiet knock at the door broke through his thoughts, Aulric shrugged on a gown hanging next to the frame and opened it just barely. The face of Arren peered back at him.
                He slipped through the crack and closed it, quietly.
                “I thought you would still be up, My Lord.” He mused.
                “I am no Lord yet.” He grunted.
                Arren chortled, “Yes, of course you would focus on that.” He shook his head, and then thought better of it. “Er, My Lord, it could not wait, I felt. Please forgive this late intrusion—“
                “—what is it.” He pushed. A strange feeling stirred in his gut, not quite fear, yet just as urgent, it seemed.
                “Well you see, they did not go so far as to say in the letter, only, well...” he stuttered, then brandished the scroll.
                The seal was broken, though he could tell it was the black obelisk of Corrlan’s Pass. He unrolled it and let out a low growl.
                “The messenger they sent expressed a wish to see you, as soon as you saw fit to accept him. He was understanding that this may be some time, given the late hour of his arrival, but my—“
                “I shall see him right away.” He stated. “I have an inkling.”
                Arren raised an eyebrow, “As you say, if My  Lord—I mean if you would follow me once you are ready to receive him, Sir Aulric.” He bowed, then nodded towards his gown.
                Aulric had forgotten his current state of dress. He rushed back inside to put on his travel clothes with a tough leather jerkin and a long, brown cloak as quietly as he could, then set off down the tower.
                “As you saw, the note was signed by Sir Gelden, and the rider seemed in some distress. I think something is amiss, if you would permit an old man his ponderings—“
                “Arren, when I leave, I want my wife to run the castle, but I wish you to council her when necessary, see that she is safe, keep a guard on her at all times. At the first sign of any trouble, see that you take her below.”
                “—my Lord, what are you saying?” He seemed truly surprised now, so much so that he almost stopped until Aulric pushed him onwards.
                “Swear to me.” Was all he gave in response.
                “By Magora’s Sword I swear it, I do.” He breathed. “But I highly doubt it will come to that.”
                They reached the entrance to the castle, where paced a young man with dark hair tied back and a fuzz of beard on his chin. He still wore his armour, which looked like it hadn’t been taken off in days.
                “Name and rank.” He called out.
                “Lieutenant Raillen Sir Aulric, right hand to Sir Gelden. My Lord, I have pressing news from the Pass.”

The End

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