It was nearing the end of the evening. The sun’s warm embrace had faded to a dim touch which could no longer caress the man’s face with a snug heat; which was a rather pleasant feeling that now feels him with sorrow since in its absence. He tore his eyes from the sky, and glanced over at a small fawn straining for an acorn nestled between two rocks. He wondered where the youngling’s father was. Her mother stood a few yards away; a thick brown fur covered her body with a small white patch pasted to her breast. She was carelessly rummaging through fallen leaves, but that quickly changed when she became aware of his presence. Hurriedly, she nudged her youngling with her nose and took off towards the wood. Startled, the fawn cried a small shriek and then chased after its mother who was nearly to the tree line.
When the deer had gone, the man stared back up into the sky which was beginning to turn a milky shade of grey. Soon, he had forgotten about the mother deer and its child. Instead, his attention was now focused on a deep oblivion speckled with thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, of tiny motionless fireflies stuck in a slowly changing oil painting. One constellation in particular always attracted his bright, hazel eyes; it always sat to the left and was shaped like a sword. It was impossible for him to keep track of time when he became lost within this serene sight, and, so, minutes passed, at least that is how it seemed, and the moon began to slowly make its way across the canvas. The only distraction that tore his eyes away was a small owl, who sat high in one of the hickory trees, but it didn’t keep his attention long and, soon, his eyes turned back to the sky. Meager dots speckled its surface, but in actuality the minuscule dots were massive in luminosity and size.
He almost missed it, a star shot through the vast abyss. It streaked the sky with a beautiful light blue. He imagined what it would be like to be riding upon its back, his elven friend clamping tightly to his chest while the cold air wrapped itself across his face with the wind gliding through his hair. The deafening roar from the flaming thrust would tear at his ear drums as it muscled its way toward an unknown destination. But, hastily he came back to reality and he noticed sweat pulling on the hairs of his arm and slowly he released his grip on the blade of his sword. The hot blood rolled through his clenched fingers but he paid no speck of attention instead, oscillated his attention back to the sounds and sights of the night.
In the end, there will be nothing. No light or darkness, no creatures or children, and no sounds to be heard; a complete picture of nothingness filling the canvas with clean, blank strokes. But, he will lie upon the soil; his back pressed against soft blades of grass, and watch the painting slowly blend together. Soon the blackness will fade and there will be light again. It will flood from the heavens to caress his shivering body, and he will watch from below as the blank picture becomes whole once again.
A crow flew by the window, silhouetted by the moon that sat high in the midnight sky. The sound awoke the young boy who lie troubled upon his bed. Intrigued by the noise, he lifted his weary head from his pillow to gaze into the ongoing darkness.
“Beautiful, don’t’ you think?” The boy did not return an answer to the man who had just creaked through the two oak doors behind him nor did the familiar voice arouse him to reply. His only gesture to the man who now stood by his side staring down intently upon him is a slight nod. No one, not even himself he felt, deserved actual words. “Listen Erik, your father was a great man and a magnificent king. You do not have to be afraid of your feelings nor do you need to indulge them so much so. This pondering is dangerous. If you continue to let your emotions overwhelm you then you might as well join him for you will be lost, even to yourself.” The boy’s eyes scanned the darkness that resided beyond the window as if searching for something to say or possibly an answer that would explain to his friend the agony that wrought inside of him, clamoring at his soul, and tearing him apart. “Please understand that your father was a good man...” The man hesitated. “The way he died is shameful, awful at the least. Yes, I do know that honor nor glory clouds your mind with poor judgments. It is vengeance that does so.” The boy stood motionless his eyes still fixed on the shadows of the night. Only the distant cry of a crow interrupted the silence between the two. “Don’t’ be foolish though boy, I beg of you. Do not be foolish enough to chase them down. The vengeance that is boiling in your heart needs to be shackled or the taint will corrupt you and have you killed before one fortnight has passed. The day will come when together, me and you face the cowards and stand victorious upon the scorched battlefields with the woeful yet sweet taste of revenge wet upon our lips. Only then will your father, my king rest easy as he watches over us with the Makers. Now Erik, will you join me for a drink in my quarters? I’ve already ordered Learkin to fetch two hot cups.”
“Jake, I understand why you try to comfort me.” Erik hesitated for a moment while the sorrow inside of him began to boil into a fiery rage. Yet he was not mad at the man that stood in front of him. “Why though… Why should I rise in the morning when my father can never do so?” His mouth began to pour out the emotions his heart could no longer contain. “Jake, my father, your best friend, shall never rise to see another sunrise, or feel the dew freshly wet upon his bare feet. So I ask, why must I? Today I watched as my father died. Today, I stared hopelessly at my father and stood idle as the life fled from his now limp body, and as his hot blood poured onto the ground next to my feet.” The moon reflected off Erik’s watery cheeks. “So I ask, why must I?”
“Erik, your feelings are understandable, but I beg you to not let them control. One day, we will seek out these murderers, and together we will see to it that your father’s, my friend’s, death is rectified.”
For a moment, they stared at each other. Their eyes intently locked, transfixed in a hazy cloud of emotions, but with only one singular thought shared by both. Neither wished to be the first to break the contact, nor did either truly want to. Jake stood motionless, with his arms resting in a formal fashion and his hands gently cradled together. He did not stir until Erik, with a pronounced sigh, lowered his gaze from him and peered towards the cobblestone floor. “Forgive me.” Erik fell on his knees and covered his face. The rage that befell him did not reside, but he cast it out reach. In its absence swarmed a hungry sorrow. Tears streamed down the boy’s face much like a waterfall would gush the freshly poured rain off the mountainside. Erik felt a hand slide down his back. It wasn’t an intimate touch, but he could tell it was a caring gesture that was rejuvenating to his composure. “Have I brought shame to my house? I’m weeping like a child, and I disgrace my name by raising my voice at an old family friend.” The hand rested upon his shoulder now. Slowly, the callused fingers gripped even tighter than before, and Erik watched as a single tear smeared the hand’s darkened skin.
“No, my young prince you disgrace no one for mourning your father. Just look outside. Look past the Harverk where Faroak lies.” Erik swiveled his head towards the window. From the cobblestone, Erik could only see the all so familiar darkness that shrouded his view. “We are all filled with tribulations, even if not as notably as yours. Yet we all cry even me, especially myself. But, we all have our own ways of showing our grief. Faroak with their bonfires and song, me in solitude within the confines of my chamber,” Jake moved toward the double oak doors towering over them both by several feet. Its grand qualities seemed so elegant at the time. Thins lines swirled down the sides, etching exquisite designs into the frame; it was beautiful, priceless and even comforting to him. “We all have our own ways.” Another silence swept over them, but this time, Jake was the one to break it. “So, Erik will you join me in drink? If you do, I’ll share a story about me and your father.”
Erik removed his hands from his face, the hot tears still sliding down his cheeks, and looked once again up at the his father’s friend. Quickly, his eyes swelled up with fresh tears as he noticed the deep crimson cloak draped over a finely tailored tunic baring the family crest. A story?” confused and lost Erik wondered if Jake was toying with him. “Jake, I do not know what use this story may have for me, but I will join you.”
“I’m sure you’ll find use in it. It might not be today, but one day lad you’ll understand the meaning.”
Jake motioned for Erik as he opened Erik’s chamber doors. “Before we go Jake,” Erik stared once again into the pearlescent pair of eyes before saying, “I’m glad that you’re wearing them. There is no one else who deserves them but you.”