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A Vow of Silence Part 2

by Arenborne on Nov 18, 2016 at 01:37 AM}
Pain. Unbelievable, agonising, burning pain. Then darkness.

Voices, shouts, horses. Pain.

Movement, hands, dragging. More pain, more darkness.

Jolts. Bumps and thumps. Horses clip clopping. Pain, then back to darkness.

Light. Searing light burning into his eyes as he blinks awake. There’s a ceiling above him, the beams of dark wood lit up by the light coming through an open window. Aren tries to turn his head, only to feel immense pain coursing through his neck. Leathery hands clamp around his face, holding him still. “Don’t move, idiot.” Comes a gruff command. An old weathered face appears above him, “Name’s Lanthor, I’m the local healer. And you have been keeping me busy.” Arenborn opens his mouth to ask a question but the wizened old man begins talking again before he can. “Someone didn’t like you much did they. Tried to stab you in the neck though I’m sure you remember. You,” The man pauses as he leans in for a close look at Aren’s neck, “are lucky to be alive.”

Dozens of questions fill Arenborn’s mind, trying to think of which to ask first taking him a moment before he opens his mouth. Silence. Nothing. He had been trying to ask where he was but only air passed his lips. His lips and tongue worked fine, as was his breathing, so why couldn’t he talk. Panic begins to set in. He tries to push himself up, fear driving him without thought.

Lanthor holds him still on the bed, surprisingly strong for a man of his age. “Stay still you idiot! You’ll tear the stitches open!” Aren freezes, taking in what the man says. “It is as I thought. It didn’t kill you, but you won’t be able to speak again.”

It was as if he had been kicked in the stomach by an ox. His lips move, half forming silent words he would never be able to say again. He blinks, trying to comprehend the full impact of this news. Tears begin to run down his cheeks as he realises everything he would never do again.

“Stop being so gloomy. You lived, didn’t you?” Lanthor places something to his lips, pouring a cool liquid into Aren’s mouth. “It’ll help you sleep.” Darkness engulfs the world again, sending Aren into a deep, painless sleep.

When he wakes again, the sun is still shining, though from what he could tell it was at the same angles as before… had he slept a full day? The pain hits him again, a dull, throbbing pain. He is no longer panicked, and can think things through more clearly, going over his situation in his mind over and over. That’s when he remembers what happened, all of it. Sir Elmir was dead. The man had been a better father to him and his own. The man who had taught him almost everything he knew, and had mentored him through his whole life as far as he can remember. Dead. Tears begin to run down his face. He hopes there is no one else in the room, but soon all thoughts of privacy go out the window as he fully breaks down. He would never be able to speak, to laugh or sing. He wouldn’t be able to cheer at jousts, or give commands in a battle should he become a knight. He wouldn’t even be able to recite his oaths. The sobs, though soundless, come painfully due to how his body shakes each time and sends a shock wave of pain through his neck.

Eventually his tears dry, unable to sustain an extended period of such high emotions. As his body calms naturally, Aren begins to think about where he was and how he got there, how he would get word to his parents back in Pelargir, how they would react, how Sir Elmir’s family would react. A door creaks open towards his feet, and Lanthor comes into view. “Oh good you’re awake.” He holds up a water skin, “You probably want some water aye?” Only now does Aren realise how thirsty he is, and gives the slightest nod he can. The old healer holds the opening to his lips, slowly pouring the cool liquid into his mouth. “Give it another day and I’ll let you sit up.” He says as he takes the drink away.

“I guess I should tell you what happened.” He says, pulling up a chair and sitting down beside the bedridden man. “Well… some folk were travelling, mercenaries I think, running low on supplies so wanted to reach us quick. That was when they heard fighting and shouting. They ran towards the noise, searching for the source. Which was where they found you bleeding out into the mud. They also found another man, knightly by the looks of him. They brought him here to be buried.”

Aren listens intently, soaking up the information about what happened. “You’ve been here four days now. Calembel that is. And two horses were found wandering the farms around here, packed as if for travelling. They may be yours, I’ll take you to look when you can walk about.”

Arenborn nods a little once more, letting the healer do what he needed to his neck. The man explains a little about who he is before leaving, sensing Aren wanted to be left alone. Over the next week, Lanthor allowed Aren to begin moving about, though he was confined to short walks, and had yet to leave the inn he was being kept at. Aren wrote out who he was and where he was from, and a message was sent home to Pelargir for him. Then a little while after that the bandages were removed from his neck and the stitches taken out. That was when Aren began to descend into a yet darker mood.

The scar on his neck was lumpy, messy, and looked like a drunk had been at it with a hack saw. He found himself inspecting it in any reflective surface he found, often prodding it and rubbing it despite the pain it caused him. He hated it. But it wasn’t just the scar. It was the inn. It was Calembel. It was Lanthor. He hated it all because it reminded him of the one thing he despised the most, his lack of voice. He hated it more than he had ever believed possible. There were nights where he would imagine what revenge he would take on the brigands who had done this to him as he cries himself to sleep.

Aren spent most of his time alone, avoiding the others in the inn besides Lanthor and some of the staff, and always covered his scar when he had to see them. Eventually he made his way outside to the stables with Lanthor, and immediately recognised the two large horses there. Nodding to the healer they head back inside.

The next few weeks are spent recovering and waiting until eventually Logan Kolten, Aren’s father, arrives to take him back to Pelargir. The tall dark haired man with a square jaw strode up to the inn, and was met by the elderly healer. “Ah you must Arenborn’s father. He looks almost exactly like you.” Lanthor states as Logan approaches. “Logan, is it?”

The tall man simply nods in response before striding through the inn to find his son. On barging into his room, Logan grabs Aren by the shirt and pushes him into the wall. “Why’d you do it you ungrateful brat?” He demands, almost spitting into Aren’s face with anger, “Why did you kill my friend?” Arenborn only freezes, looking shocked by the sudden entry of his father. On seeing the confusion spreading across his son’s face, Logan punches the wall. “Don’t fucking act like that you know damn well Elmir was one of the best swords in Pelargir, with you not far behind him! You expect me to believe some brigands killed him?”

The man was in denial. He didn’t want to believe what had happened to his friend, yet somehow could blame his own flesh and blood son for the crime. “Only you would be able to kill him! His own squire able to catch him off guard! Why?” By now he is yelling, some of the inn staff peering through the door with wide eyes. Logan releases Aren and takes a step back and taking a deep breath to calm himself. “We start riding now.” He says quietly. “The moment we camp for the night you are going to pick up a quill and some paper and start writing out what happened. The truth.”

Logan payed the inn keep and Lanthor a hefty pouch of silver in thanks before they began the ride back, accompanied by a small contingent of household guards. No one spoke to Aren on the ride, his father outright ignoring him. Aren found little joy in the journey, even less in the stop for the night at which point a quill, a pot of ink, and some sheets of paper were placed before him.

On reading the result, the nobleman just scoffed and threw the paper into the fire. “I know you did it there’s no use lying.” Comes the monotone, angry response. Aren almost punched him.

The rest of the journey was an isolated blur for Aren, riding alone day in, day out, with no one to talk to, even if he could talk. Every evening was just more questions from Logan. Aren refused to write another copy of the story after the first was burned, not wishing to put himself through that again. So, his father took that as proof he was lying. On the final night of the ride, Aren truly snapped and punched his elder repeatedly. It took a couple of guards to pull him off. This however only added to the gossip that had made its way through Pelargir’s nobles. Aren had lost his voice in a training session, gone mad and killed his mentor. Then on questioning tried to beat his father to death. By the morning after they had returned home, this was accepted more as fact than rumour.

No one could prove either way. Arenborn was the only witness yet he was also a prime suspect. His increasingly foul, withdrawn and sour mood only fuelled this belief. Along with the increased drinking.

Logan entered talks with other noble families and knights, yet no one would take Arenborn on. Leaving him to stew in squire hood without a mentor to knight him. He passed the day he should have been knighted, hoping to wake up and it all have been a dream. But no. It was real, this was life, and it was as bad as it had ever been. That night, it took him longer to cry himself to sleep than it had since Calembel.

Then, out of the blue Logan received a letter from his brother Blince, who resided in Bree. The man was known to have many bastards, and was in the business of rounding them all up. Seeing an opportunity. The next morning, Aren had packed his belongings and was on his way to Bree-land.

There was no way of prosecuting Arenborn, there was no proof either way. The only thing anyone could do was say one way or the other. Yet most believed it, and Logan did not want that dishonour on his family. He could always have another son; it wasn’t too late. He waved off Aren with his wife, watching the young man leave the city he had once loved to a land he had only heard of in passing. Logan felt a twinge of regret, but also a large burden lifted from his shoulders. Aren, felt depression, loneliness, and most of all, empty.
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