The Fireside Tales - Chapter Fifty
Chapter Fifty: Memory

"There is nothing stronger."

Valtyra just stared at the bird of fire. It was a beautiful creature. The wingspan was something out of birds of legend and the victory screech that came from its mouth was one that came from a time where people were near the bottom of the food chain. It inspired fear while sending the message that it was willing to fight again. From below, she could hear screams from the cultists. The half-elf had no idea if they could see the bird or the corpse of their leader but there was definitely something that scared them to death.

Not that she could blame them. Her legs shook and threatened to buckle under her.

The bird ascended high into the air and curved back down. Valtyra thought that it was about to make her its next conquest. She gripped her rapier tight and prepared to parry a blazing beak or sharp talons. Yet, it flew right over her head and into the tower. It had to shrink down to a smaller size to do so, but the transition was smooth. Valtyra followed its flight and her eyes widened.

The creature hovered over Bubnug's shoulder for a couple of seconds before it shrunk to land. The goblin was surprised as well yet he raised a hand to pet it. Valtyra was about to let out a warning but the creature only cawed quietly and bowed its head. Bubnug rubbed its head and it let out a coo of pleasure.

"Bubnug." Valtyra whispered, "What is that?"

He looked up at her with shocked eyes and shrugged, "No idea." The creature forced his hand under its neck to scratch, "Just... called for help."

She blinked, "Called for help?"

He nodded, "Yeah. Wanted to help missus. Could not reach on own."

The half-elf shook her head, "I thought you said you couldn't use magic."

The bird, seeing that Bubnug was done giving it attention, floated off of his shoulder to land on his head. At the strange looks from both Valtyra and Bubnug it cawed as if saying 'what?' With a small smile, she started looking through the room. At the far wall were seven chests. She tried all of them, but all of them were locked. The goblin immediately went to work on the chests as she continued to scan the room.

Her eyes almost missed a small piece of parchment at the corner of the room. She had to do a double take to make sure she actually saw it. It was folded twice and she unfolded it to start reading.

"My sister--

I trust your little band of murderers is doing well, gathering the greedy souls for our Lord's rise? Has Magnimar proven to be as sinful as you had hoped? It may interest you to know that my plan to nurture greed here in this backwater has blossomed--the quality of greed in a soul is so much more refined when it is given the proper care. Are you still simply carving the Sihedron on them as they expire?"

Memories of the sawmill surfaced and Valtyra had to really fight to keep them back down. When she returned to reality, her jaw hurt from clenching so hard. She shook her head and continued to read.

"How crude! My method of marking is so much more elegant. In any event, I'm sure that your plans for harvesting greed where and when you can find it 'in the wild' are progressing well enough-- I just hope that your raw, ungroomed, and likely inferior victims don't interact poorly when mixed with the purity of my own subjects. If you tire of your little project there, know that you're always welcome to come to Turtleback Ferry and serve as my assistant, little sister! Fort Rannick should be in our control by the time you receive this letter, in any event, so there'll be plenty of room for you if you wish to take me up on my generous offer."

Valtyra could not finish the rest of the letter. Fort Rannick and Turtleback Ferry. Two names she never wanted to hear again.

Shadows deepened and grew into the shapes of giants. Red eyes opened where their heads would have been and they all looked down at Valtyra. In her hands were two rapiers, one broken and the other worn. She took step after step backwards, holding the weapons out in a feeble guard. Breaths came out heavy. Snow crunched and stone crumbled. Screams echoed throughout the night and all over the grounds blood stained the pure white of snow.

Her back hit a stone wall and the sensation sent a jolt up her spine. She was cornered. If they got the chance, they would crack those clubs and slash those blades into her body. There would be no way to survive. She had to get out. In between their legs. Slice their elbows. SOMETHING!

A green hand appeared out of nowhere and stung Valtyra's cheek. Her mind reeled and it took her a second to figure out what was going on. The hand came back and cracked against her other cheek. Something in her head clicked and she remembered. She was not in that damned courtyard. The tower under her feet creaked and groaned.


Valtyra looked down to see Bubnug, with the bird still on his head, ready to smack her again. She raised a hand and straightened herself.

"I am fine. Let's just get what we can and go."

As they grabbed the massive load of gold, weapons and magical items and stuffed them in whatever bags they had Valtyra thought she could hear distant screams in the night.

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Next Chapter Coming On December 23rd!
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