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Lunchtime for you and me (open)

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Ful took directions from the Dedicated directing traffic at the road junction, and left the main thoroughfare by a flight of steps that led him down onto a walled path by the creek. The deep green creek surged through a deep, man-made channel. 


He made his way to an archway overlooking the make-shift canal further along the wall. It was one of two side entrances to one of the farm’s kitchens and tired, hungry looking locals hung around the entrance.


Soldiers and civilians alike were fed here, side by side.


Earlier on, this soup kitchen had been started by one of the more sympathetic asha’aman who could not bare to see the misery of civilians and hanger-ons that populated the surrounding countryside. He converted his house on the farm into a charity with an irrigated garden in the back.


Ful adjusted his satchel of herbs and berries he foraged from the woods this morning. “Uhm, I have some fresh ingredients - where should I take this?” He asked, striding into the sun-lit space and finding some men scrubbing the tables and setting out clean bowls.


“In the back there,” came the reply from one of the harried looking volunteers. People were coming into the long, arched eating hall all the time, mostly locals who needed a meal, and it was hard to keep track of faces and names. 


Ful Haert ~ another pair of hands

Edited by Lih-Lyh
added tags for easy ref

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                Merdyn hadn’t had an easy time acclimating to the Tower, although the same could be said for many men that had sought the Dragon’s Amnesty. He had come here thinking it to be the twin of the White Tower. Ajahs, Warders, Oaths, the lot of it. Nothing could be further from the truth.


                In a few short months, he had managed to anger quite a few Asha’men and Dedicated. How was he to know that Soldiers were not allowed to “befriend” those of higher rank? His whole life, Merdyn had outranked almost everyone in the room. Now he was at the bottom of the chamber pot, and it was terrible.


                Mother had taught him long ago that one should find pleasure in life whenever and wherever possible. Being a noble meant heaps and heaps of responsibilities that commoners just never understood. He had been trained to replace his father as the High Lord of House Gilyard, and that meant having zero personal time.


                A few years ago, when the rigors of study were just too much to bear, Merdyn wandered into the kitchens of his father’s estates. There he found his Grandmother preparing an apple pie. She brought Merdyn over and showed him how to make his own. Mixing the dough, rolling it out, stirring up a delicious filling, and figuring out the perfect baking time. He had never had a pie as good as that one. Ever since then, whenever life got to be too much to bear, Merdyn would just find the nearest oven and start creating something delicious.


                The Black Tower was no different. After his first week of running laps and mucking out stables, he had found the soup kitchen. He knew he wasn’t allowed to use it without permission, but he just couldn’t help himself. Merdyn had waited for nightfall to sneak into the kitchen. He had made four pies that night, and the smell of the fruits and bread had woken half of the Tower.


                An Asha’man, Merdyn couldn’t recall his name, was very upset upon discovering a mere Soldier out of bed and making liberal use of ingredients that did not belong to him. The Asha’man was going to punish Merdyn, but then he had a bite of the pie. That was the first time Merdyn had seen one of the Asha’men smile.


                The next day, Merdyn was assigned to cook in the soup kitchen as his daily chore.


                Today at the kitchen was a bit more hectic than usual. Merdyn wasn’t in charge of the kitchens by any measure, but he knew his way around it like no other. Most of the other volunteers deferred to him (as long as there was no Dedicated or Asha’man around to see!)


                “In the back there,” Merdyn heard a volunteer say.


                Must be another pair of hands to help… Too many cooks in the kitchen today! I’ll have to shoo a few of them off before long.


                Merdyn looked up from the pile of dough he was kneading and saw a familiar face amidst the chaos. It was Ful! Merdyn kept running into the young man. He was a cute little thing with dark hair and dark eyes, but Merdyn didn’t know much more about him other than his physical features. Wiping his hands on his apron, Merdyn rushed through the crowd to meet Ful.


                “Well, well! Fancy seeing you here, Ful. How’s the day treating you? Did you get relegated to kitchen duty too?”


                Ful was more slender than any man Merdyn had seen before. He had figured Ful hadn’t matured physically yet. Still. Merdyn couldn’t help getting the urge to feed the child every time he saw him. Anything to put some meat on those bones.


                “I shouldn’t assume such things… You’re here to eat, aren’t you? Well, we’ve got plenty to go around, and not just soup! Don’t touch the crusty bread, today. Ardent made it, and he can’t tell the difference between salt and sugar,” Merdyn said all of this with a warm smile on his lips.

Edited by Oddpositions

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Merdyn had intercepted him at once. Not to demand, ‘where were you’ but to greet Ful and then offer him food. It was awkward for Ful to see the taller nobleman, Merdyn in a flour covered apron. Also, had he seen Merdyn kneading? The idea of a male soldier doing domestic chores should no longer be surprising to Ful. But it was. Regardless of titles and status everybody did their share of work. That was why he stood, small and short here in this kitchen. Maybe a life of kaf and boring rations had stunted his growth a bit. Or maybe he’d be one of those boys who’d suddenly become a young man in an adolescent explosion. He grinned. If he played up the childlike effect, it got him treats and favors. Every man became his big brother or uncle. For a moment he considered just to leave after eating; it was so busy nobody would notice -but it seemed wrong to shirk his duty.


Ful shook his head. “No, I got assigned kitchen duty today.” 


From the other side of the room both men and women were tucking into the soup with smiles on their faces. Ful stared at them with half a smile on his face. “That soup looks good. Wait, are you in charge here?"


“Oh yes,” said Ful, bright-eyed. He took the small folds of herbs and golden berries out of his satchel pocket. Those were gathered from Isha’s garden and the woods near his house earlier. “Look at this.” He said quietly, “are these edible?”


Handing the ingredients to Merdyn, Ful ran to the basin at the back to clean up first. Ful washed his face and hands, then slipped an oversized apron on and turned to Merdyn.


“Right, what can I do? Do you need anything chopped?” He was handy with air razor, if so. And he was familiar with the appearance and properties of salt - unlike the unfortunate Ardent.

Edited by Lih-Lyh

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                Merdyn’s smile grew wider as Ful went on. The child could appear meek, but all of that disappeared as soon as he was given purpose or the promise of purpose.


                “In all but name, Ful. One of the Dedicated was supposed to be running things around here, but he only pops in for a few minutes a day… I think he might be sneaking off the Farm to meet up with a woman from the village, but I shouldn’t say that where prying ears can hear,” Mischief danced in Merdyn’s gaze. He had thought about turning the Dedicated in, but where would that get Merdyn? He was quite content with how things in the Kitchen were. Forcing the Dedicated back would only cause trouble for Merdyn.


               Merdyn went on, “If I’m not drinking, learning, or doing chores, you can usually find me here. Most of the volunteers know that,  so they defer to me when there’s no one of higher rank around… The last time that happened… Well, I still have the welts on my backside to show you what happens when an Asha’man thinks a Solider is calling themselves Asha’man. I wasn’t, by the way.”


                With a quick hand, Merdyn grabbed the packet of herbs and berries from Ful, “And thanks for coming to help. If one Dedicated is skipping out, you can be sure others have followed suit. Apparently, feeding one’s Brothers-in-Arms is beneath a lot of our Tower fellows. Come to the table, let’s see what you brought us.”


                After Ful slipped the apron on, which was comically too big, Merdyn lead the boy over to a high table in the middle of the kitchen. There were bowls of spices and vegetables, knives of various lengths, a few tattered cookbooks, and one very haggard looking old man. Merdyn nodded to the old man and murmured, “Take a break, Ardent. You’ve made enough bread for the day. Go grab some stew.”


                Ardent nodded eagerly at Merdyn and hobbled off towards the front of the building. Clearing a small space and grabbing a bowl, Merdyn emptied the contents and began sifting through them. Without lifting his eyes from the berries and herbs, Merdyn went on, “If you’re going to stick around and help regularly, I’ll have to find a smaller apron. You look adorable in that one, but I don’t want you falling into an oven because you tripped on the thing. As for what you brought me… Ful you are the greatest. I wasn’t sure what we should serve for the dinner rush, but you may have just solved our problem… Where did you say you got this? Unless I am incredibly mistaken, it looks like you brought me mustard seeds, rosemary, paprika, and some black cherries. We haven’t had seasonings like these in a while, oh we’ve made do, but I haven’t had anything spicy since I came to the Farm.”


                Merdyn looked around the kitchen, almost conspiratorially, “Tell me, Ful, have you ever roasted a pig before? The stuff you brought me would make a fantastic rub for the skin, and we just so happen to have a few pigs waiting to be slaughtered… It’s not pretty work. We have to split the pig open completely and then lather it full of spices and other delicious things. Normally I’d use a knife, but if you feel comfortable using flows of air, we could have it all prepped in less than an hour.”

Edited by Oddpositions

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Ful fixed Merdyn with a big smile.


“No, never. We’ve had precious little fresh meat this is exciting. I would be happy to assist.” Ful looked on. He liked Merdyn already. He waved casually at his fellow volunteer also part of the supply detail as supervised by Merdyn. The other volunteer helped shifted crates of perishables to their appointed stacks.


There was another area allocated for slaughtering the pig and splitting it accordingly. 


Adjusting his apron strings so not to trip, Ful paced around the back of the supply stacks, moving through the darkness and checking the sturdy rear wall for holes.


A noise to the right.


Ful paused and swung around to where he heard the sound. Rats?


There was no further movement. Ful edged forward, but didn’t notice any crumbs or shreds of chewed away crate. He hefted his dagger and slide around the edge of the next stack of crates. 


Nothing. Putting his dagger away, he shuffled past the supply crates to the staging area where the pigs were. Ful and the other volunteer seized saidin, and drew out a thin thread of air. Air razor, letting out the blood, then cleaning with water flows. Slicing the pig was easy, but the parts were heavy. He was careful to stand a distance away and stay clear of any debris or blood. As he worked, deftly and quickly, Ful’s mind was lingered on the scurrying sound he heard in supply area. 


If not already they should lay traps - not poison - just in case of rodents. There might be also a weave to stop rodents from infiltrating the warehouse. He would check with Nox if that was possible.


Finally he lifted some fresh cuts of pork with air to Merdyn who already prepared the spice rub. “What next?"

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                Ful smiled at Merdyn. It was a beautiful smile, one that should have been shown to the world more often. Some volunteers raised their hands or nodded in acknowledgment to Ful. Merdyn wasn’t surprised. The young man had made a good impression on him, and judging by the volunteers, Ful had made the same impact elsewhere.


                The kid’s got heart, I’ll give him that. Hopefully, this cruel world does not erode that quality.


                “I was surprised myself. Luckily, one of the volunteers brought a few pigs this morning. His farm was torched, sadly. The man hasn’t enough coin to rebuild, so it was either send the pigs into the forest to starve or curry favor with the Black Tower. The man made a smart choice,” Merdyn said, giving a satisfied nod.


                Merdyn directed Ful towards the back. There was a chamber there for slaughtering, which was the one part of cooking that Merdyn could not stand. Oh, he adored cooking. Every dish he completed was a work of art. He had always wondered why more people did not practice a craft. There were so many to choose from. If you had no skill in one, you tried another, and then you practiced your breeches off. In Merdyn’s opinion, being an artist was the closest thing to Godhood. Artists created wonders from nothing. God was named The Creator, and they also created wonders from nothing.


                Back at Father’s Estates, Merdyn only had to ask for something, and it would be in his hands by day’s end. At the Tower, he may not have access to exquisite dishes made of Sea Folk porcelain, nor did he have a pantry packed with the most exceptional ingredients this side of the Aryth Ocean. Somehow all of that made his cooking that much more exciting and fulfilling. Every meal was a new puzzle.


               The day before he had actually managed to make a fantastic dish utilizing only a handful of ingredients. They had no rice, so he used the One Power to shred cauliflower. They had little meat, so he used potatoes, carrots, and a few other vegetables to make a lovely stir-fry. Little meat on hand, also meant no gravy. His solution? Lots of melted butter and garlic. It was an unusual dish, but everyone seemed happy after eating it.


                Despite all of this passion for the craft, Merdyn never wished to be a chef or a baker. He enjoyed the finer things in life far too much to abandon it all. Cooking and baking was just art to him. A hobby. A hobby crucial to his mental health, to be sure, but nothing to make a career out of.


                Deep down, he knew he could never go back to his old life… Still. Part of him wished for his Father to ride up to the Tower one day, proclaiming he accepted Merdyn for what he was, and yes, of course, Father would like nothing better than for Merdyn to return home and take his rightful place as the Heir to the mighty House of Gilyard. Father would find a nice man, noble of course, for Merdyn to wed and the two would join their houses to become that much more powerful. Merdyn even fantasized about taking in young ones to raise as his own. He would never have children of his own blood, but that didn’t matter. There were so many children out there that needed a home and love and…


                That was all pure fancy, of course.


                Merdyn looked down at his hands. He had been mindlessly preparing the herbs and berries that Ful had brought. That happened a lot. Whenever Merdyn got lost in thought, his hands started to move on their own, grabbing for something to busy themselves with. Grandmother had noticed this at a young age and tried to teach Merdyn needlepoint, but he had no patience for that. You also pricked your fingers a lot when working with needles, and Merdyn hated the sight of his own blood. Dusting his hands once more, Merdyn went to the backroom to check on Ful.


                The pig was cut, gutted, and cleaned. Ful had even cut a few slices of pork from the carcass. The kid was efficient. Merdyn couldn’t help but to gasp. It hadn’t been more than a few moments, yet Ful had made quick work of the pig.


                “Oh, my… Ful, I just don’t believe you. My family’s butcher couldn’t prepare a pig quite as fast as you can. I hope Nox and the other Asha’men know how talented you are. Flows of air I assume? I’m still learning to handle those, myself. I’m no master at it, but I have better luck at air than water and earth. I’ve got more strength in fire, but you’ll see that in a few moments once we get all this meat ready to cook. Do you know which elements you have strength in yet?”


                Merdyn inspected the pork, just to be sure.


                It was perfect. The cuts were clean, and there was not a drop of blood or innards to be seen. Except on the floor. Merdyn rushed from the room, grabbed his spice mix, and ran back in. Taking a bottle of oil, he began to rub the liquid into the pig’s skin.


                “So, we keep running into each other, but I don’t know anything about you. Where are you from? What brought you here? The Dedicated and Asha’men hate it when I ask too many questions, but we are both Soldiers. So none of that should matter.”


                Merdyn looked up from his work to smile at Ful, but as his head was half-way up, he heard an odd scratching noise.


                Oh no…


                “Ful… Did you just hear that? Oh, I hope it’s not vermin… We have such little food the way it is… We’ll have to stop cooking for the moment and seek the noise out. If rats are allowed to breed in our stores, the Tower is doomed to famine. Luckily, there’s plenty of salt in my spice mix, so the pork should keep for a few hours… It shouldn't even take that long... Unless we find a hive of the beasts... Ick.”


                Merdyn took his apron off and looked to Ful, “Ready, friend?”


[[OOC: I'm sorry I'm so long winded!]]

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Ooc: I enjoyed your post! sorry for the delay :)

Ful said, “Just air, I’m weak with the elements men are suppose to be strong in, like fire and earth.” It made sense Merdyn was strong in fire; he was handy at starting fires even without saidin. Ful smiled at the remembrance. He could see why Merdyn rubbed some of the higher ranked men the wrong way. As a noble he never learn to keep his head down or keep silent, probably. “Hum, I was in Tear and got recruited here. But I’m from a simple merchant family originally."


At Merdyn’s suggestion to hunt vermin, Ful sighed and let the weight of his dagger play in his hands. He nodded. Quietly, the two soldiers picked their way past the corridor of the storeroom, moving through from rack to rack. They checked each rack and section they came to. Over the sacks of grains there were tied off weaves to preserve food and stop weevils from infesting. Ful could hear the scurrying back and forth as they searched. 


He slid back into cover and made a hand gesture that the other could read. Both men retreated into the shadow. Ful summoned a globe of light to illuminate the wall and began to examine it warily.   

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                “Of course you were in Tear, how long ago was that? We must have just missed each other… Air? I’m struggling with that, myself. Spirit and Fire come much easier. Earth too… Perhaps the last time the Wheel spun you out you were a woman,” Merdyn mused aloud, “I don’t mean any offense by that, mind… The same has been said about me, but for very different reasons. When it was said to me, it was meant to be hurtful, but I can assure you I mean no malice by it. For all intents and purposes, Women rule this world… I’ve often thought it would’ve been easier had I been born female… Bah. Don’t let me get philosophical on you otherwise, I’ll never shut my mouth.”


                Merdyn offered Ful another one of his characteristic smirks before going on, “I’m sure you’ve already heard my story. A disgraced noble fleeing his Father and his duties… Everyone had a real laugh over that when I got to the Farm. Seems like everyone here has had a laugh at my expense at one point or another…” Merdyn shook his head, still smirking despite his thoughts, “Oh I know they didn’t mean anything by it. You get a large group of men together, and you can be sure there will be banter. No one says anything anymore. I’m not sure if they’ve forgotten my history or if they’ve grown bored with the taunts… Anyway, you probably don’t want to hear about my woes. I’m sure you’ve your own problems to deal with, and I don’t want to bog you down with mine.”


                The two searched through the racks, amidst the odd scurrying noise. Ful gave Merdyn a gesture, and they both fell silently into the shadows. Ful’s orb of light winked into existence and spilled its self over the walls. The scratching and scurrying seemed to grow closer.


                “You know, Ful… That noise sounds bigger than a weevil…” Merdyn whispered before looking over his shoulder.


                Standing just beyond Ful’s light was a silhouette the size of a lap dog. Merdyn’s breath caught in his throat as the shape stepped into the light.


                It was a weevil all right, except this weevil was much, much larger than it had any right to be. Six insectoid legs strode towards them, two antennae sweeping across the floor making a scratching sound. The beast did not appear to notice the fact that Ful and Merdyn were mere paces from it. Its shiny body glistened as it wove its way towards them.


                “Uh…. Ful? You might want to grab Saidin.”


                Merdyn reached for the source, it’s light pouring into his body. The force threatened to crush him, much as a mountain falling on him from the skies. With an effort, he took hold of the source and steered it towards his will. With a quick motion of his right hand, Merdyn wove fire. Three flaming balls erupted into existence before Merdyn. The fireballs rushed towards the weevil but missed the mark each time. The beast took no notice of it and kept making its way towards them.


                It’s just a big bug… Can it even hurt us? I don’t know if I want to take that chance… Still, it's not that big... Maybe we should just step on it?


[[OOC: no worries about any delays. real life happens lol. and I figure the weevil can be a mini-bubble of evil thing... unless you wanna take that in a different direction. I'm flexible! just wanted to spice things up a bit.]]

Edited by Oddpositions

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Ooc: That's cool. this will be Ful's 2nd bubble of evil haha :laugh: Pls let me know if the end needs to be edited thanks!


Merdyn smiled. The smile seemed genuine, despite the aristocratic languor of the face. Ful thought it would not be impossible to like Merdyn. 


Ful was quietly astonished. Like all merchant class, he had dealt with nobles, who loathed commoners. He could never have believed he would hear such comradeship from one of them, especially one senior to him. Still this type of thing happened at the farm, where the only ranks that mattered came in dragon pins and black coats. 


Ful had already seen fighting in Tear and was actually glad of the calm and quiet down here in the southern side of the city. But still, waiting was sometimes hard.


“See anything?” He shifted uncomfortably, unwilling to be drawn into his fear of the dark. He sensed Merdyn’s shuddered breath, as saidin poured into the other. Fireballs followed, one, the other, then again. He’d missed. Light, the bugger was fast!


Ful saw movement again in the dark, the man sized weevil charging, and cursed. Didn’t he pull the best duty here? He checked his weapon, then reached for saidin.


He summoned a sword of light, realized his hands were shaking. This annoyance would have to be dealt with quickly. A smell of decay filled his nose, “No, this . . . bug would hurt us. It’s not normal, not of this world."


He struggled to explain, even as he breathed, squared, and swung his sword. The light whipped down and the black figure of the weevil was thrown up and flung backwards. It toppled back and slumped into the rubble on the floor.


Ful immediately took a new position behind one of the racks. Move, move, and re-aim! Ful willed silently, as Merdyn fired again.


This chore just got interesting.

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                A sword of light!? Why didn’t I think of that? There are so many possibilities when wielding the One Power! I am sure that sword wouldn’t even be that impressive to the Channelers of the Age of Legends, yet it is everything to me! We know nothing. Humanity has so far to go before we see another Golden Age…


                “Light, Ful! That is a useful weave! You’ll have to show it to me once we deal with this- ugh – pest!” Merdyn wove fire and air. The fireballs came easier. The more you did something, the quicker it happened. Depending on how long this weevil fought, Merdyn might be a fireball master by the end of the day! “And whaddya mean this is different!? Have you seen giant bugs before!?”


                Five flaming orbs shot forth from the air around Merdyn. Two of the balls collided with the weevil’s carapace, black smoke leaked up from the wounds made on impact. A rancid smell permeated the air as the smoke swirled. The weevil seemed only to grow enraged and charged at Merdyn.


                The monstrous thing was on him in seconds. Down onto the foul ground Merdyn went, a sick, thrashing thing writhing on top of him, snapping and snarling at Merdyn’s throat. He clung to Saidin with an effort, feeling as if he were dancing upon a knife’s edge.


                A scream erupted from Merdyn’s throat as a weave fell into place. It was the same one he had done just moments before, yet different. Fire formed along one of the weevil’s many legs. The monstrous beast shrieked as the flames grew hotter. It’s leg grew blackened and weak. Flames licked at Merdyn’s clothing as the beast thrashed atop him.


                Merdyn set another weave, this one much weaker than the last. He didn’t need much power. Just a little skill…


                “Get! Off!” Merdyn yelled as his weave settled and a breeze swept through the room. It wasn’t a powerful gust, but it held enough force to rip the blackened leg off of the weevil. The shock took hold of the beast and distracted it as Merdyn was finally able to shove it off.


                Looking down, Merdyn frowned.


                My lucky coat! That cursed fiend made me singe my lucky coat!


                “Let’s end this, Ful,” Merdyn called out with cold rage in his voice.


                No one was permitted to ruin Merdyn’s clothing. Not Father, not this weevil, not the Dark One himself could be allowed to destroy a piece of Merdyn’s wardrobe.


                Especially his lucky coat.


                Merdyn wove more fire, and thirteen fireballs burst into existence, spinning around Merdyn’s form. He looked over to Ful and said, “I’m ready when you are. Just say the word!”



[[OOC: no worries! That was perfect!]]

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Cursing viciously, Ful stumbled through what felt like a firestorm, trying to regroup behind the thick walls near the passageway a level down. The stone walls were sweating as the heat of Merdyn’s latest series of fireballs leeched into them. Plaster facings shriveled and wilted, and the air was oven-hot and hurt his lungs. The super heated air was also dusty to the point where he had trouble seeing.


Kneeling - alright, hiding- behind a rack, Ful reeled off a colorful and descriptive tirade outlining what he would do to the dedicated who assigned this kitchen detail to him and the said dedicated’s spectacles in four-letter words.


When he grew wary of this activity, and because of the other’s increased levels of shouting, he rose once more and met with Merdyn, who was uncharacteristically frightful and disheveled with his singed, torn coat. But unharmed.


Summoning his elemental sword, Ful nodded, “yes, I know let’s do this. Nox taught me this weave in our first lesson together . . . Blood and bloody ashes! How the hell did they get in?"

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                Merdyn stumbled.


                Did Ful just…?


                The young man had let off a string of obscenities. When Merdyn met Ful, he had assumed the young man was an innocent young thing, but the words out of his mouth proved differently. Merdyn hadn’t even heard half of the words Ful was now mumbling.


                The child could teach some sailors a few new words… Light. Where did he even hear such language!? He’s young enough to be my little brother, he has no business talking that way… I’ll have to poke him later, find out more about his past… I can’t imagine it was a good one with that vocabulary!


                “Now, now, Ful! This is a learning experience. Don’t let this thing frighten you away from the kitchens,” Merdyn called out to Ful, “Believe it or not, I actually enjoy your company. It would be a shame if you left me with all these no-name volunteers!”


                Ful emerged from behind a rack and Merdyn rushed over to him, still maintaining a few weaves he had readied. The weevil was closer now. Merdyn had to focus on his breathing, lest he lose control of his emotions, and thus Saidin.


                “Regardless, you shall have to show the weave to me. Nox did not, and I would know it if I could..." It was an impressive weave, no matter how simple, but they had bigger things to deal with, "How did they get in!? Ful, the way you were talking earlier, I thought you knew what this bloody thing was!” Merdyn responded to Ful’s question, a touch of exasperation escaping Merdyn’s lips, “It does not matter. We shall have plenty of time to talk about this once we take care of this—thing!”


                The thirteen fireballs that surrounded Merdyn now shot towards the over-grown weevil. At that same moment, a wall of air solidified above the weevil and came crashing down into the thing.


                Thank god for those Trollocs! Had I not had to deal with them, I might not have any control over air!


                The wall of air enclosed the weevil, preventing it from moving another inch. Thirteen fireballs came crashing down into the thing’s carapace. It was not enough to kill the beast, but it was enough to rend the flesh.


                With a loud screech, the weevil was now thrashing against its bonds. Spittle and blood flying every which way. Merdyn thought he might sick up from the sight of innards, but he forced the bile back down.


                “Light, this thing is tough… Shouldn’t be much trouble now…” Merdyn said. He looked to Ful and then down to the sword of light in his hands. Merdyn cocked an eyebrow at the younger man and asked, “Would you care to do the honors, Ful? I think it only fair, friend.”

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Ful was breathing hard and shaking. His jacket was torn and he was splattered with blood. An almost painful adrenaline high ran through him like electricity glowing through fuse-wire. He’d never been pushed to such an extremity in his life, this battle high. Everything had become distant. For a moment, he couldn’t even remember what he needed to do.


“Thanks." Ful wheeled around, swung in and stuck the blade through the screeching weevil, its razor edge punched through exoskeleton and flesh. The weevil fell, face down, soaking the floor with its dark pumping blood. He walked on through the supplies rack, smelling the burnt corpse - thick and rancid in his nose. He forced himself to look at the weevil they’d killed. The stink of blood and - something else - hung about the cadaverous bug. The visage was non-human and meat like, with the shell scraped off, and shiny black claws. It turned his stomach.


Ful turned away, deep in thought. The idea that had occurred to him reformed in his mind. He had seen its like before, glimpsed its kind distantly then seen several corpses closer after the battle. But Isha and his household had protected Ful then.


“I’m working with the idea we’re facing something from the shadow,” he told Merdyn, trying not to shudder. “Some unnatural mistake which should not have occurred in the pattern, a bubble of evil. Last time this happened attack leader Isha’s house got destroyed and had to be rebuilt. I pray to the Creator there’s not more of these falling from the ceiling or something."

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                Before Ful made his final swing, he was glowing. Merdyn was still getting used to channeling, and he hadn’t seen the glow often, but Ful burned bright like a beacon. It was wonderful. With one fatal swing, Ful finished the thing. He then began explaining the weevil and his theories behind its origin, as casually as if he were describing how to walk. Merdyn listened, fascinated. Eventually, that fascination grew to horror.


                Merdyn shuddered, “Wait. You mean to tell me that you think there are more of these – things!?”


                Glancing down at the carapace was almost enough to make Merdyn wish that he had never come to the Tower in the first place. Oh, he had no fear of insects. They were a natural part of life. A spider here, the occasional mosquito there… But they were never bigger than a thumbnail… This weevil was almost the size of a man.


                A shiver was sent down Merdyn’s spine. This thing went down quickly enough with Ful and himself, but what would happen if the Dark One sent an army of these things over? Merdyn had faced two Trollocs, well, Nox had faced two Trollocs, but Merdyn was there to witness the event!


                He wasn’t sure if he could handle this, but he didn’t have much of a choice.


                “I think if there were more, they would have shown up during this little bout of ours… For now, we should be safe. Is there nothing we can do? Perhaps one of the Asha’men know a weave we can set; one that will detect Shadowspawn?” Merdyn asked, almost breathlessly. It was a longshot. If such a weave were possible, Merdyn was sure the Tower would have been caked with the thing.


                Then it occurred to him, “Oh Light, I didn’t hear you right… Even a weave wouldn’t be able to detect these things… They aren’t even Shadowspawn, are they? Something unnatural, as you said. This is bad… Very bad… These things may turn up anywhere, can’t they? Oh Light, we have to figure out a way to help! We cannot allow these things to multiply!”

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