Chapter Two: Dreams and Destiny
It was all…over.
The world around Korbal was a kaleidoscope of death. Animals turned were brittle by unfathomable cold, choking fumes replaced the final words of the townsfolk around him, lightning storms arced across the infinite horizon, waves of acid horribly distorted and destroyed the local plant life, and horrible fire envelope the houses and shops all who called this world home. Korbal felt empty, powerless. So much destruction, so much suffering…
He looked around for the source of this death and decay. He spun about wildly, his glaive at the ready. At last his gaze came to rest on an infinite darkness behind him. The evil he felt there was…overwhelming. Korbal felt nausea take over his stomach as the vile cascading presence of evil washed over him from the inky black veil.
“Tyr …please, give me the power to destroy this darkness!” he shouted in agony. But he felt nothing. No divine energy, no godly touch upon his being, no force of good to guide him. He realized numbly that Tyr…wasn’t there. He was gone. Korbal was alone.
Then from the darkness came a deep, reverberating growl. Ten glowing, powerful eyes opened and narrowed the slits at the helpless Paladin of Tyr. Korbal readied his weapon, but he know it was fruitless.
It was all…over. _____________________________________________________________________________________
Korbal jolted awake in his sweat soaked sheets. His breathing was heavy and his heart beat relentlessly in his chest as he gained his bearing. In the back of his mind, like and distant echo from another world he faintly heard “You must go to Greenest…”
He placed a trembling hand on his tableside, clutching his talisman of Tyr. It was that blasted dream again! He began to breathe more slowly, attempting to settle his nerves. Every five nights -Twice a tenday!!-he had this nightmare. It haunted him, it plagued him and he didn’t know why or what it meant. He only knew that it felt incredibly real. That was nonsense, of course. It was only a dream. A persistent one, sure, but a dream none-the-less.
But why did he keep having it?
He sighed and reached over to grab a waterskin off the wall. He pressed it to his lips and felt the lukewarm water trickle down his throat. It felt good and he had desperately needed it. Dreams or no, the stress and anxiety they caused as he slept was very real. Korbal was by no means a small man, his body was battle tested and built for rigorous challenges. Yet even his considerable endurance was not enough to stop the aching in his muscles after these dreams. If they didn’t stop soon, he may need to see the local apothecary about some sleeping powder…
Suddenly there was a knock the door. Korbal stiffened, his heart quickening again. He waited and was indeed met with another, insistent knock at his door. He looked around for his sword, found it against the wall, and grabbed. He was shirtless, sleep deprived, and taking no chances. If something wanted to cause him trouble this night, it was going to regret it. He made his way the door and leaned against it cautiously.
“Who is at my door at this late hour?” he demanded. There was a brief moment of silence. Then a voice spoke up.
“Korbal, let us in. We need to speak with you.” The voice was feminine and hushed. It was also…familiar. Korbal furrowed his brow and considered. Whoever it was had said “us”. So there were at least two people at his step. Korbal leaned his sword against the wall next to the door within easy reach, then cracked the door open to peer outside. Two figures stood huddled in the rain, cloaks drawn over their faces. Rain? Korbal hadn’t even realized it was raining over the storm that had been in his head. He looked at the cowled figures with suspicion.
“Show yourselves. I do not open my door to strangers in the night.” He advised, his face still barely peering through the cracked door.
“Korbal…it’s us.” The left figure said, pulling back her cloak. When the scarlet hair emerged from underneath, Krobal knew who he was dealing with before the moonlight even graced her face. He groaned.
“Melonie….” He muttered, irritation evident in his voice. Then he opening his door and looking to the other, “Maven. What in the nine hells are you two doing here at this hour? It isn’t enough that I have to fetch you and take you home in the day hours, you have to make me earn my keep at the 13th hour as well?” He started to lay into them some more, but Melonie interrupted.
“Korbal…would it be alright if you scolded us inside? It’s a might bit wet out here and it’s raining cats and dogs.” She said softly, her green eyes looking pitifully into his. He set his jaw as if to tell her to turn around and go home…but then sighed, knowing it was useless to even go through the motions. She would not relent until she got her way and he knew it. He then felt something lapping wetly at his feet and looked down to see a drenched Oliver, Melonie and Maven’s faithful mastiff, excitedly “cleaning” his already perfectly clean foot. Speaking of rain and dogs…
“Fine, come in before you catch a cold and I get reprimanded for that as well.” He said defeatedly. The twins started in, but he caught Melonie’s arm and nodded toward the dog. “He stays outside.”
“Aw, c’mon Korbal. We can’t just-“
“He’ll get soaked and catch a fever.”
“Please, Korbal?” She said, deploying her saddened, green eyes with to dizzying effect.
“Ugh, fine.” She said, her pity ploy discarded and forgotten. She stepped back outside to comfort the little beast. “Oliver, you stay here under the sill, you hear?” As she coaxed the wet dog, Maven awkwardly stepped into the small home, pulling his own hood back. He looked at Korbal briefly and the quickly darted his eyes away to observe his surroundings. He was lanky, his clothes didn’t sit right…well, anywhere…and his skin was even paler and more freckled than Melonie’s if that were possible.
And he was dripping rainwater on Korbal’s floor.
“Maven, please wipe your feet on the mat. And hang up your soaked robes. You are making tracks everywhere.” Korbal muttered. Maven seemed taken aback and clumsily started to do as he was asked. Melonie came back in, completely ignoring Korbal’s protests as she plopped down on his bed. Korbal felt his blood pressure rise another notch.
“Now…will one of you explain why you are here in the middle of the night, tracking across my floors, and sodding up my bed?” he said irritably. The twins exchanged glances, something unspoken passing between them. It was something they did quite often. At first it had annoyed him to no end, but over time he had simply gotten used to it. He raised an eyebrow expectantly. “Well?”
“We’re going on a bit of an adventure, Korbal.” Melonie said, finally looking at him. She leaned forward a bit, almost conspiratorially. “And we need you to not tell ma and pa. We…also need your to come with us.” She said this with a straight face. Korbal looked at her like she had lost her mind.
“Absolutely not!” he said incredulously. “I am not going to lie to Lord and Lady Mirkana so you can go on some silly adventure!”
“Please Korbal, I’ve gotten us into a bit of a mess. We re-“ she started, but Korbal interrupted.
“You are always getting into a mess. How is that something new?” he scoffed, “The only adventure I’m taking you on is a forced march back to your parents.” He pointed to the door towards the invisible parents that weren’t there.
“That ain’t even the right direction.” Melonie said, rolling her eyes and crossing her arms defiantly.
“We’ll see how smart your words are when Ms. Mirkana is in the room. Now get off my bed and let-“ Korbal stopped when he felt a gentle hand lay on his arm. He turned to see Maven grasping him and looking him directly in the eyes.
“We need your help, Korbal.” He said quietly, brushing his long red hair from his face so Korbal could see his expression. It was scared, worried. “This isn’t something we are off to do for fun. Something bad is happening and people might be in trouble.” Korbal studied Maven’s face for a moment, contemplatining his concern. Melonie seized the opportunity to jump in.
“It ain’t far, Korbal. We just need to go to Greenest. If everything is fine, everyone is safe…then you can march use right back home, no questions asked. You can even say you had to come after us-“
“What did you say?” Korbal interrupted, the steel gone from his voice.
“Huh? Oh, I was just saying we’ll take the blame. You could-“
“No, before that. Where am I to take you?” he said, already knowing the answer but needing to hear it again. She tilted her head and looked at him strangely.
“Greenest.” She repeated. Korbal took a step back, turned away from her and moved to the window sill. He looked out into the rain a feeling of ice running through him. The twins were still talking but he couldn’t hear a word of it. All he could hear were the whispered words echoing in his head.
“You must go to Greenest….”
Korbal didn’t understand it, he didn’t know why, but his course was already set. He turned, interrupting whatever it was Melonie was saying to convince him with a raise of his hand.
“Okay.” He said quietly, “Okay. We go to Greenest in the morning.” Melonie’s eyes lit up and Maven’s face was a picture of shock.
“Really?” She breathed excitedly.
“Yes. But you will not sleep on my bed tonight, the dog stays outside, and if nothing is there we are marching straight home.” He said sternly.
She responded with an excited squeal and by squeezing him in an unwelcome, sopping wet hug.