The next four or so days passed, and me and Aids were still recovering at the house of Fenrir. We also showed no sign of any special powers whatsoever, and were beginning to wonder whether Fenrir was just a crazy old fool. Nevertheless, he was a crazy old fool who had saved our lives, just out of the kindness of his heart.
The first awful stabs of agony hit, and my vision was tainted with red. ’The pain is awful- surely it can’t go on! I just want to die-‘
I bolted upright again, after the now usual nightly dream. I staggered outside, dressed in nothing but a long threadbare fur robe towards the toilet in the outhouse. After freshening up, and came back into the house and got dressed in my borrowed sturdy, working clothes.
“Hey, Marsh?” It was Fenrir. “Do you want to learn how to fight?”
“What, you mean with fists?”
“No, no. With swords-“
I laughed disbelievingly. With swords? Then again, this place still used carts and didn’t seem to have cars, or even electricity...
“Yes, with swords. It comes in handy around here, I’m telling you.”
As a matter of fact, I had already done a bit of sword fighting. My parents, the deluded fools that they were, had several years in a row signed me up to some crappy summer school at the Royal Armouries, and there I had learnt a bit. It hadn’t been exactly the best experience of my life. All I could remember was lurching around in the hot, stuffy midsummer weather for a few weeks. Still, it had apparently paid off. How bizarre.
Fenrir gave me the sword, which was surprisingly light in my hand, but still heavy enough to overbalance me. It was a sturdy, scratched, working blade.
“Keep it” said Fenrir. “I’m too old for playing around with swords” he laughed, “But I’ll get the spare to see how good you are.” He went back inside. I was left standing there rather pointlessly. He came out again with the spare, and so began the daily hell I knew as training sessions. Fenrir was way better than he let on, and never considered himself satisfied in a training session until he had left me with at least three bruises. Aids at first laughed at me, but then had to join in too, and learnt the extreme pain of it. However, it did work, as we were soon to find out.
About two and a half weeks after we were found by Fenrir, the inevitable happened. A cloud of dust appeared on the horizon. Me and Aids, who had been relaxing in the yard, stood up and were joined by Fenrir and Inge standing next to the gate entrance to Fenrir’s house, which was a couple of miles outside Fellemor itself. As the men gradually got closer, Fenrir paled.
“I knew this was going to happen” he said, and started wringing his hands in the same peculiar way as he had when he found out about the Wytchfire. As the riders got closer, I could see the details on their dusty, black enamelled armour, with dull brass straps, and their tired horses. I felt a sense of grim foreboding, and curled my feet in the choking dust under my bare feet. As the horses drew closer, a pair of twins burst into the yard.
“Quick, get out of the way-“
“Hide, they’ll find us, and you-“
They seemed demented, were covered in dust and mud and their clothes were ragged. They looked like a pair of demons.
“Oi! What’s happening? Who’s that coming?” I shouted, grabbing one of the twins and shaking him, hard, but he just stared at me, glassy eyed. “Fenrir? Seriously, who is it?” I asked, a note of panic creeping into my voice. I looked at Aids helplessly, and he shrugged, his eyes wide.
Slowly, Fenrir lifted his head to look at me and Aids standing there, nonplussed, and the twins, who were huddled together and shaking.
“Those men are the Inquisition. They hunt down rogue warlocks, bind them, torture them in the most horrific ways and anyone associated with them, then leave them to die. They are the secret police of the government, the most feared.”
Me and Aids simultaneously turned to look towards the gate. It slowly creaked open. The first horse slowly clipped through the gate. It, and the rider in their black armour, came closer. The rider’s head slowly turned, the brushed black visor showing no emotion. He slowly raised a curved bow, and drew back the bowstring. I was rooted to the spot.
“How is this my fault? I was born like this! Please, listen! I don’t want to die...”
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