Cinder’s eyes fluttered open and I greeted her with a grin. Once Berkhilda had robbed her of consciousness, the vampire woman spent the rest of the day unconscious. Vampires had to push themselves hard to stay awake during daylight, even if not exposed to sunlight.
We were in an ruined old watchtower just outside of the city. The stone walls afforded protection against all but the most determined assault, although the broken roof and wooden door of the tower did not inspire confidence. Berkhilda was sleeping nearby. Murith and Bull watched the setting sun through well-worn arrow-slits. Git and Renoit sat close to the fire. The alchemist was mixing a potion of some sort, while the swordsman was oiling his blade.
“You’re all going to die…” muttered Cinder. I saw nothing of Zavra in her now; she was a superb actress.
No one even bothered to look her way.
“You seem out of sorts Cinder, and here I was hoping some rest would improve your disposition.”
“I will skin you alive Nordan,” snarled Cinder. “I will make you wish that you had stayed dead the first time.”
“Exactly how did you fall the first time, Ragnar?” asked Berkhilda, eyes on me as she sat up.
“We were ambushed. It is a place called the Spearmarch, deep in Nordan lands. We thought it safe. We were escorting the High King, however, and so we came in numbers. The enemy though… I don’t know how so many of them came unseen into the heart of our lands. They were an army. We held them for a time, might even have broken them through sheer audacity and valour, but the king, my king was struck down. Our lines broke. I was dragged down and hacked to pieces. I came up, whole and spitting dirt, long after the King was buried.”
“Is it true that they never found his sword?”
“To the best of my knowledge it remains lost. There is quite a reward.”
“Did you see the Wight King that killed him?”
And for a moment I was there once more, on the Spearmarch, Thyra at my side, the battle raging. I saw the Wight King, a force of withering hate so potent that good, courageous men wilted before it. I saw my king, a man who had faced the Devout on the field and beaten them, stall tall and meet this thing, blade to blade. My vision trembled then, the memory shattering, but I saw him strike it down and then a shadow fall across him. I tried to grasp that memory. I strained. I saw a blade then. It was not a wight’s blade. I saw a hand. My vision blurred. I strained. Pain swept over me. The vision shattered.”
“Are you alright Ragnar?” asked Git.
I opened my mouth to respond, but the taste of blood dripping down from my nose, forestalled me.
“I… I don’t think it was a wight.” I said to Berkhilda.
Cinder laughed. “Someone has put a spell on you Ragnar. How interesting. Why would they do that to a dead man, I wonder?”
“What do you–”
“I see movement. A dozen men at least,” hissed Bull.
“Confirmed. They’re all around us,” said Murith.
“Time’s up,” said Cinder.