Chapter 5. Shadows of the Past

The friends were all sitting in the clearing waiting for Brandon to calm down enough to speak without screaming. Finally he took a deep breath and looked up.

"I suppose you girls are all wondering why I'm so opposed to letting Tars go," he began.

"You should know, being an all knowing battle mage," Hawke muttered under her breath.

Brandon ignored her."I met Tars a while back at a tavern. The two of us got into a round of poker. For awhile the game was going quite nicely until Tars accused me of cheating. As you all know, cheating in poker can get you killed. Well, Tars looked just about ready to cut me to ribbons and feed me to the birds. As for me, I was shocked. I know I hadn't cheated, and I couldn't help wondering what the guy was playing at.

" 'What are you talking about,' I asked him. Well, instead of answering me, he swiped all of the money currently on the table, and bolted. I tried to chase after him, but he was gone. Since then Tars has led a life of crime; stealing from anyone he can."

There was a long pause.

"I still don't see why that gives you a reason to kill him," Lilly said.

"The story isn't over yet," Brandon told her.

"Oh."

"As I was saying, Tars steals from anyone he can, including me. I ran into him again at a library. I brushed by him by accident while looking for a book, but as I brushed by him, I felt more than just the brush of clothing. He had stuck his knife out, which sliced through my side as I brushed by him. Furious, I whirled around to knock the living daylights out of him, but once again he vanished without a trace.

"It was then that I realized one of my most prized processions was missing. It may sound stupid, but Tars had stolen my eagle necklace from my pocket. I don't know why I wasn't wearing it at the time, but I knew it was gone forever. The thought of Tars stealing my most prized procession filled me with a want to get revenge in any way possible."

For Hawke, that still didn't seem like a good enough reason for wanting to kill someone. By the looks on her friends' faces, they felt the same way.

"Brandon, I know how much it hurts to have your most prized procession stolen. And getting sliced in the side isn't really the best way to greet someone, but killing him is not the answer. You could get in a lot of trouble," Lilly pointed out.

Raishel laid a hand on his shoulder. "Besides, killing someone just because you want revenge is wrong in every possible way. Surely you can think of more justifiable ways of getting revenge that don't involve killing anyone."

"That doesn't mean you can't beat him up a bit. If a first you don't succeed, beat him over the head with a frying pan," Bobbi said.

"Bobbi," Hawke warned, "you shouldn't be putting such ridiculous ideas in his head!"

"Maybe you can get him to confess in front of a jury," Lirilisa suggested, "it would certainly eliminate any possibility of bloodshed."

Brandon looked about ready to explode. "That necklace meant more to me than anything," he was really starting to scare them now, "I want it back now! If I take him to court he'll just act all innocent and get let off. Besides, he wouldn't even show up!"

"You never know until you try," Lilly assured him, "you really should stop being so stubborn."

"I'm not being stubborn," Brandon shouted, leaping up and scaring the young women out of their wits, "I just want my goddamn necklace back!"

Afraid that he would hurt himself or someone else in his rage, Hawke leaned over and whispered something to Lilly. She nodded and began to sing a beautiful, soothing song. As her angelic voice rose and fell, Brandon slowly began to calm down. After awhile he lay down in the grass and fell asleep. To make sure he wouldn't wake up too soon, Lilly sang for a few more minutes.

A silent calm settled over the glade. It was so quiet Hawke could hear the wind blowing off the lake and the dead branches of trees falling to the ground. Even though Brandon had done his best to explain why he wanted to go so far as to kill Tars, Hawke didn't think any one fully understood.

It was just a necklace, surely he could have another one made, right?