Chapter 1 part 4 A Walk in the Woods

It was still dark when Vrabin’s eyes opened and he felt a trickle of sweat slide across his forehead. Beside him he heard Jessica breathing deeply in peaceful sleep. Wiping away his sweat Vrabin took a moment to collect himself. He thought back to the dream that had awoken him and tried to push the unease that accompanied it to the back of his mind. Dreams were all too common for him and Jessica sometimes joked that he took on her share of dreams as well. As usual the dream faded faster than his conscious mind could focus and soon all that remained were snippets of moments. Vrabin sighed quietly to himself.

With practiced stealth Vrabin slid out of bed. The predawn air was cold and he quickly donned his thick woollen trousers and socks. He lit a lamp before donning his tunic and leather vest. Carrying the lamp in one hand and his boots in the other Vrabin padded silently through the drowsing cottage. He left the guest annex, passed through the back room where Elise and Lotte slept. Bear pelt door covers whispered with his passing. The front room was full of sleeping relatives forcing Vrabin to weave with quiet grace amongst their unconscious forms. Vrabin caught the hint of his father’s tobacco in the air as he approached the front door.

Outside the cottage was dark, the torches, braziers, and bonfires that had been so bright earlier had been put out or allowed to die down to faintly glowing embers. Only a few oil lamps remained fully lit illuminating closed tent flaps.

A light flared at Vrabin’s side as Yosef lit a pipe and offered it to his son. Vrabin dropped wearily onto the bench next to his father before accepting the pipe. He took a long pull from the pipe and blew out letting the smoke drift lazily into the night.

“Your up early,” Vrabin remarked.

“Only time the farm’s quiet,” Yosef murmured around his pipe, “what about you?”

“The usual,” Vrabin said not needing to elaborate.

“Dreams,” Yosef finished Vrabin’s thought. Then he raised an eyebrow dimly lit by the light from his pipe, “anything new?”

Vrabin’s shrug was nearly invisible in the pre-dawn dark, “mists of gold and amethyst, a crone. Anything else is a blur.”

“odd dreams indeed. What do you think it means,” Yosef’s inquired.

Vrabin chewed on his pipe absently, lost in thought, “Riddles and puzzles,” he paused, “That’s all of it, I’ll be bound in torment if I can understand it. Sometimes I wonder if the goddess is trying to drive me mad or if some of Shirak rubbed off on me.”

“You are not your master Vrabin,” Yosef said firmly, “your dreams are important, Shirak believed it and so do I.”

“Perhaps,” Vrabin sighed unconvinced, “since fall the dreams have grown in intensity, I used to wake with images as my only memory now unease and confusion joined them when I wake.”

The two men fell silent each alone in their thoughts. A short time later new light broke out of the forest across the green. It bobbed rhythmically as it grew closer, resolving itself into a torch carried by a soldier riding a strange armored animal. The man drew to a halt in front of Vrabin and Yosef, light from the torch reflected off a brooch bearing the sigil of house Goldwind .

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