“You think anything you say right now, means a Saints damned thing to me!”
The fire chewing away at the eves of the hall listened eagerly as they ate, occasionally allowing crumbs of burning timbers to fall down to smash against the floor. This gave the air at ground level a heavy oder of rotting wood, mixed in with the choking aroma of smoke. It did nothing to hide the evidence of the past few hours, or the years of vacancy that had proceeded it. Broken tables lay against the walls where they had been pushed, hidden beneath the fallen and rotted banners of a forgotten family. The flag stones of the floor were scuffed with the marks of sword strikes, and the regular three tiered scars of massive beastial claws.
What had once served as a scene of final battle played host to it again, bringing the house down as only a aging diva could.
“All the long years we’ve known each other, fought beside one another, never once was I included in the life you made for yourself. Always was it I who stepped into your shadow when I walked into a room. And I was content to be that, the witness to your story: the man who saw fit to feed a stray and teach it to beg at his side. And now that I choose to stand apart from it, to bask in the sun you blocked by your self imposed legend, you come to find a death for me? You come to put the mutt down?”
The speaker’s voice rose in pitch, the steady icy calm of before giving way to a rawness that bled more heat than the fires gutting the fallen ruins of the Blackbriar Keep. He was dressed in a mixture of clothing, the majority of it was a modern make you’d find on any regular in the Rishland army. Armourer treated leathers that could turn a blade, with the heavier steel inlays along the ribs and chest that could parry a spear or a gun fired bolt. The boots were the same issue, heavy and well worn, and capped with battle steel fit for kicking and cracking ribs. But it was the cloak he had drenched himself in, tying it about his neck so it hung over his shoulder, that marked him as something peculiar to familiar eyes.
Mildew and time had chewed at the edges of the old banner, but it still held enough of its former pigment and vibrancy that in the fire light it justly glowed: a blue sphere surrounded by a ring of thorns. The seal of the archeologists guild constrained within the heraldry of the Blackbriar. The speaker and his borrowed finery grinned, displaying teeth smeared with spit and blood. His was a gallows mask of joy, his eyes maddened by the fire light and the base betrayal of decades of delusion.
How could you have been so blind? The Old Monster had asked him. How could you have been so foolish, to believe that you could ever be what he claimed you were?
“Y-you don’t-“ His audience took in a pained hiss, his hand clamping down further on the bloody wound across his side. He was the oldest of the two men, would always be is the Saints saw fit to have this night end in a correct and orderly fashion. The drab green garb of martial service matched enough of the speakers to denote some familiarity, but to look at them you see much more. The sharp cheek bones, the dark hair, and that clever glint of mischief in the eye were as much a calling card as they have ever needed.
But now they were separated by only a few scant steps, and yet there was a dark gulf between them now. How had it come to this?
“You don’t have to do this.” Remas McDonald said through clenched teeth, as much for the searing pain of the wound in his flank as for the dry crackling air now burning his throat. He looked up from the floor, into the blood shot eyes of a stranger he had known for years. “We’re McDonalds, brothers dammit! I came here for you!”
“You came to steal from me…” the speaker hissed out, pulling his cloak shrouded arm free to reveal the weapon clutched in his hand. The smooth quick silver hide of the Long Summer weapon barely reflected the fire light, seeming to draw that light deeper into its long barrelled form like a whirlpool. With a flick of his wrist the nearly invisible seams of the ancient weapon began to glow with emerald light, adding a keening note to the sounds of this terrible night. “You came to steal me away from my birthright!”
“I came to save you!” Remas implored, pulling his injured hand free of his side, and holding it out towards the man who was a stranger to him now. “I came to save my brother, because that what McDonald’s do. Thats what we’ve always done for one another!”
Silence for a moment longer than necessary. For the barest hint of a moment something flickered behind those blood shot eyes. In that instant Remas saw the man who had saved his life countless times, who had followed him into battle on faith in his abilities and their combined strengths alone. For a second in time the Brothers Rish, the youngest standing over the elder, were together once more.
And then they were gone, and the ancient sword of a bygone era was raised to point at Remas face.
“I…I am Shamus Blackbriar. And I have returned to my home to settle all scores.”