The wind blew in from the west. Poor omen, thought Sren. Tonight was the night that Sren's family was going to get welcomed in to the court as minor nobility. Very minor nobility, but still nobility. He sat on the side of the hill overlooking his family's current house. A two story building, one of the largest in the farming community.
That was because Sren's father Phet was a prestigious carpenter and could not afford to have anyone see him in a run down house. Phet's father taught him pride in his work. Taught all of his brother's pride in their work.
"What a wasted family," murmured Sren as he watched the sunset. Soon enough it'd be dark enough for him to go home. The odd thing was that now since his family was going to become noble, the price on his head was going to increase. Great families weren't supposed to have a living breathing blemish on their record.
In the back of his mind an awareness of a man coming up on the trail behind him came to be. Sren slowly turned around and freed his hands. No one man scared him. Within a minute a brown hair blue eye man was before him. Slightly taller, with long hair unlike his own which he kept short. He was wearing a Mountain Guard uniform, comprised of thick grey pants with a grey over coat. A snake representing the battalion on his shoulder and his left breast covered in medals.
Sren was dressed similar, except in black with no markings or medals. The uniform only had a red cord over the left shoulder and two ceremonial knives on his hips.
An awkward moment passed before Sren smiled, "Bert I wasn't sure if you were going to meet me up here by yourself or with half the garrison."
Bert smiled a moment before saying, "Brother I don't think the local garrison has enough arrows to stop a Warlock."
Looking at the fine young man in front of him Sren didn't have to take his soul to see his pain. Scars were plentiful on Bert's face and according to what Sren had heard his back was worse off. His brother was taken prisoner for two weeks before a different battalion made a daring raid at night freeing some of the prisoners. Bert was one of a few in his battalion that survived, must didn't including Byb.
Byb was Bert's twin brother and died at an executioner's hand in the prison camp for demanding medical treatment for Bert. It was an honorable way to pass, better if it was in the field of glory but still highly praised.
"How's father?" asked Sren as he sat down and dug his tobacco pipe out. Carefully opening up a pouch and lighting it with a match.
"He is honored by Alec and Byb, understanding of me, and in disbelief of you. I can tell his lamed foot is bothering him more than it used too, but he is relieved Alec has secured him a retirement. He truly wishes that you'd never reach the Third Ascension," answered Bert as he sat down next to Sren and prepared his own pipe.
"And our honored brother Alec?"
"Part of the King's Eight, earned this honor when the King Jedd's palace was raided when he was in the King's Guard. Not the biggest fan of you though. " Bert inhaled from his pipe. "Something about you being the one black curse on an honorable family and how you should do the honorable thing and hang yourself publicly."
A moment of silence passed between the two brothers as the words sank in. The eldest son brought judgment and their father would accept it. All the years of childhood and adolescents thrown away over the arcane.
"I do not think being touched by the arcane is a curse. The king didn't mind it to much using me in the war either," ranted Sren as he slowly exhaled his smoke.
"Welcome home," said Bert sarcastically as he slowly tapped out the tobacco from his pipe.
An awareness of life approaching and suddenly an intense need to feel the souls started to consume him. "Someone is approaching dear brother."
Carefully Sren pulled out his knife and handed it to Bert. Than guiding Bert's hand he stabbed himself in the shoulder with it. Bert had a moment of confusion before understanding took place. With an adjusted grip on the knife to make it seem like he was attacking Bert let Sren wrap his hand around his throat.
When Sren deemed the approaching people were within earshot he screamed out in pain and than screamed at Bert. "I trusted you, you're my own blood."
"Yes, you are my brother and that is why you have to go," Bert yelled back.
The sounds of swords being drawn and than a familiar voice sounded out. "Sren don't kill him."
The man looked almost completely like Bert but a little taller, darker hair and green eyes. The voice though was what was different, commanding, unlike Bert's timidness. Alec was wearing chain mail with a white tunic over it. The tunic had two wolves' heads facing each other and a blood red sword pointed down between the two.
And than Sren noticed one of the men was tied up with a sack covering his head. Sren took the moment to throw Bert off of him. With a deep breath he could feel the warm blood starting to run down his arm. The warm stickiness. "What is this Alec?"
Alec pointed his sword at the prisoner and stated, "He is a child a molester. Pure scum of the earth was caught by the child's mother and brother. I have to execute him as the first lordly thing I am to do. I choose the execution of Araca Sod."
Araca Sod thought Sren. The Old Certia language for the words Arcane Feeding. With a nod Sren put his left hand in front of him and pulled the man's soul towards him. In a greenish blue light a figure of a man could be seen coming from the prisoner and then Sren's eyes glowed blue and the light was gone.
In that instant Sren knew everything about that man. The man's hopes and dreams. Ambitions and desires. The entire life of the man flashed before Sren's eyes, including the sick uncontrollable desire destroy innocent boy's fragileness. This almost made Sren puke, but it was something he was used to too. The sweet desire to collect a soul sedated Sren, but not enough to keep him from walking up to the man's corpse and start stomping the head.
Alec stopped it after a second. "I guess that mean's he was guilty."
He turned around and motioned for the guard and Bert to leave. The guard touched his head and left, Bert was right behind him. After a couple of minutes of silence Sren started to fill his pipe up again.
"I should have you hunted down. Yet I can't this day for some odd reason Sren. I definitely shouldn't have brought you a gift. I definitely shouldn't have a horse ready and packed for you at our old swimming hole. However, I heard of some Occultist causing a ruckus down south outside of Fort Chasin. Something for you to do and far enough away from me as you'll get. I have appointed our father as the Stewart here for me. He has orders to kill you. Consider you banished," commanded Alec as he crossed his arms.
"Fort Chasin always seemed like an interesting place anyways," said Sren with a smile as he started to walk in the direction of the pond. The wind was still blowing from the west. Nothing but trouble came from the west. Sren looked back and touched his head in salute of his brother.
"Someday I will come for you Sren. I am honor bound."
"Archers, lots of archers."