The Adventures of Rothus, page 47 [D-828]

Outside the camp of the oracle, three days later:

Travis leads us up to some forest that we start to recognize. We must be close to camp. Joachim’s going to be really glad to see these bracers. Then maybe we can go back to Tarenvale and see Mother.

Evan stops the party, “Hey guys, I hear the sounds of battle. Rothus, go check it out, okay?”

I drop down and move closer to the clearing. I can hear the noises now and I peek out to see … Dalton and Roran are fighting! Each other! I jump up and run up, “Hey, what the heck is going on?!”

Roran pushes me away with his free hand, “Get out of here, boy!” He then gets a solid grip on his sword and charges at Dalton yelling, “Traitor!” What is going on here? Does this have something to do with Iregor’s warning? The silver dragon said that he doesn’t trust Dalton, that he threatens the whole world. Is it possible that Iregor was right and that Roran knows it too now? I hope Dalton’s not evil.

Travis fires a shot into the melee, but misses them both. Who was he aiming for?!

Then, the battle slows down as our attention moves to something else. Some sort of shadow is taking shape. I would almost say it is alive, but that’s absurd. Then what is clearly an arm extends out of the mass of darkness and a mouth forms the words, “This ends now.” The hand forms a glowing sphere and throws it at Roran. He is knocked away from Dalton and lands a little ways from our party. I run up to help him. He’s unconscious, but I think he’s still alive. I hope Aeryn can do something!

“Master, I have it for you.” The words seem to be coming from Dalton’s mouth, but that’s clearly impossible. He’d never serve such a being. Without any regard for possibility, he stumbles over to the shadow and hands it a stone. The peculiar rock shifts colors from red to orange to yellow and back to red. That’s not something you see everyday! Is it a stone of power? I don’t know what they look like, but it must be something really important to convince Dalton to strike down Roran!

The shadow grabs the stone, “Ha ha ha!” Then the stone glows into a solid flame. The shadow wields it uncertainly for a moment, but then looks right at Dalton. A heart-beat later Dalton bursts into flame! It consumes him whole! Then the shadow flows back to where ever it came from, running like a common criminal.

I suddenly realize that Aeryn is by my side checking on Roran. “He’ll survive, but he needs rest,” she says.

Travis runs up to where Dalton once stood. All that remains are ashes and his prized sword. Dalton was always protecting Tarenvale, even when we didn’t know it. He sacrificed himself so that we could get out safely when the beasts swarmed the town. He and Roran were our guardians, the ones we could depend on, and now his final act was to serve some terrible shadow from the void. There is no justice in this.

Travis collects Dalton’s sword. “You have no right to that!” Lily yells. She stares Travis in the face and we all argue about what must happen with the blade. We’ll have to keep it. We can’t just leave it here.

“You can hold onto it, but you can’t sell it without telling me, okay?” I say. Tavis then wraps it up in a blanket (no point telling the whole world we have it).

Lily bends down and collects Dalton’s ashes and puts them into a bag where they mix with her tears. She then takes the bag and wanders off into the woods by herself. No one is brave enough to tell her to stay.

The rest of us carry Roran to the camp on Evan’s re-purposed tent. From here it looks quiet. Honestly, if Roran and Dalton were fighting, I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone hid out of sheer terror. Carrying Roran keeps our pace pretty slow.

When we finally reach the tents and wagons we see why no one was down in the clearing. There are bodies everywhere. Their corpses are strewn about left for the survivors to move. We bring Roran into his tent and make sure he is stable.

Aeryn and Lotech immediately move about the camp to heal the injured. There are a lot of them, but some of the people have already organized a space outside the healer’s tent.

Evan, Travis and I don’t have any healing skills, we’d only get in the way. I try and think how we can help, and it suddenly hits me. If I were an enemy of the camp, like a lizardman or something, right now would be the perfect time to attack. Dalton weakened us, I can’t let someone else finish us. Wandering around the camp there are a lot of people who are just sitting, despondent. They don’t know what to do and so they do nothing. I get as many of them as I can to stand up and follow me around. We just walk the perimeter of the camp, watching for threats. Well, they’re pretty out of it, I might be the only one keeping an eye out.

Evan and Travis go to Joachim’s tent. They find the spot where it was, but the burnt remains leave nothing ti find. The Oracle’s wagon is the same. They go to see what they can find in Dalton’s tent. It, of course, is totally unharmed. There isn’t anything particularly shocking.

After a while, all of us (except Lily) find ourselves outside the healer’s tent moving stuff, setting stuff up and what not. Aeryn gets worried about her and goes off to find her. When she doesn’t come back, Travis goes off to look as well. They both come back saying that Lily just wants to be alone.

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