Kesree’s cottage slept as Damrin approached on foot, thankful to finally feel his feet and legs strong and not aching after a day of walking. To the west, the great cliffs, the Brutes, split by the waterfall called the Silent Mother’s Tears roared. Snowfall had been generous in recent months for the stream to be so high while he crossed over the foot bridge built by Kesree himself.
Inside the cottage there was nothing. Hints of Kesree remained. Touches of his brilliance when it came to his ability to trap the power of his Shoal, Temzda, and contain its affect on things both living and not. Damrin did not mean to begin rummaging so freely and disrespectfully but in minutes, the floor and every other surface was soiled by his angered search. Books and papers rained while writing apparatus spilled and stained.
The Shoalway opened outside and Damrin had little time to react, reaching but not touching Qorum. At the window, he looked out to find an armor wearing Wielder just as their Shoalway closed, swirl of glass forever left on the ground. Damrin recognized but did know the gray-haired man whose hatchet nose hooked down and beard was cut into a sharp square.
“Come out, Damrin Graeves,” the older man called.
Unblinking, dumb-founded like a small boy seeing a Wielder for the first time, Damrin stopped in the doorway until waved forward by the legend that is Barat Bladeveil. “Sir?”
Bladeveil, the living legend among all the Holds, did not smile, jaw set in the most-earnest of manners. He was the last living Shoal Sword, the knights of old—long gone from the world. “Set aside whatever allegiances clasp your wrist. Our oaths bind more than the feeble war tantrums made by the Hold Kings currently engaged in. Our duty is to this world, to protect those who face threats they cannot hope to counter.”
The speech was delivered in such a way that Damrin found himself on his knees before the hero of old, forgetting why and what he came for in Kesree’s refuge. “You want me?” he asked.
Crouching with ease, body not touched by time’s sting, Bladeveil reached out and touched Damrin’s shoulder. “A Shoalway breach took place days ago and I need your help. I know you by your reputation.” His gray eyes looked past him at Kesree’s cottage. “Kesree confided in me not two months ago. You, he said, were one who could aid in dire times.”
The swell of pride in the words and request took the slightest cut as the threat registered in Damrin’s mind. A breach? If true, and he had no reason to question Barat Bladeveil, then his fury at Kesree did indeed not matter. This war between the Holds grew small in his mind. He had a duty to the Holds and he was going to stand alongside Barat Bladeveil, the last of the Shoal Swords, to see it through.