|#1zombiegleemaxFeb 03, 2004 11:57:42||Eric's name is finally explained here.|
Enemy of My Enemy
As day broke Eric, holding a sleeping Airyanna in is left arm, found the trees thinning, and the embrace of the morning sun growing on him. Soon the wood cleared altogether. Behind them lay the cover of the forest, but also the danger of a Dragon Army brigade, the commander of which Eric had slain only yesterday. In front of him an open meadow, and complete uncertainty.
If the dragons were still flying, which they most certainly were, they would easily spot the two of them in the open meadow, but to back into the forest would be suicide. Eric knew that a Kender settlement lay only a couple hours away if he followed the road. He had spotted the small village a few days before when his brigade had moved fairly close to it.
He began to move, his pace was quick. Almost sprinting now he kept the road in sight but stayed off it. Eric’s hope was that the Kender village was empty. There was a good chance it was, most villages had a habit of clearing out when a Dragon Army of any type was near. If the village was empty they might be able to rest for an hour or so. If still occupied the Kender might try something foolish. Or worse they might help. As with most other non-Kender, Eric found the short thieving humanoids highly annoying, though in the past they had been a pleasure to slaughter. It wasn’t that the Kender were evil, indeed, quite the opposite was true. They were more like a race of curious, immature, little elves, hardly a one standing taller than four or five feet, who couldn’t help but to get into everything.
Eric felt he was making good time when Airyanna awoke and made her usual morning request. Though she wasn’t long, any pause in their progress felt like an eternity to the draconian.
Finally the village came into site.
“Damn!” Eric yelled out in his own draconian language. He could see smoke rising from several places, and movement was visible throughout the small village.
“What’s wrong?” Airyanna asked as Eric set her down.
“What, how?” Eric’s words were breathless, he’d been sprinting for sometime now after already having moved all the night before as swiftly as he could through the thick forest.
“I don’t know what you said, but it didn’t sound like it was nice.”
“Look,” Eric knelt down in front of Airyanna, ”I want you to go to that village, tell them where you are from, I’m sure somebody there speaks your language or even the tongue of the humans.”
“Aren’t you coming too?” She asked in protest.
“You are not safe with me, you go to the village, I’m going to go back and….”
“No!” Her protest filled word was backed up by a stomp of her foot on the ground. “I won’t go unless you go.”
“No! No! No!” Her arms crossed now in anger.
“Alright, I’ll take you to the village.” Eric knew he had to get her there, then he could leave her, the kender could find some elves to take her in maybe. He knew that he would have to lead the hunt for him away from the village, after he was caught no one would probably care about the girl.
Airyanna walked by Eric’s side as they approached the village. The Kender seemed not to notice at first, but then quickly vanished.
“Halt!” Cried out a small voice. Just then two lightly armored kender stepped out from behind a small barn near the village’s edge, each holding a wooden spear. A third stepped out. Though just as short he seemed older, and held a short sword in his hand.
“You speak the language of humans?” Eric asked.
“It is the common tongue, now I’ll ask the questions here!” The older Kender raised his blade as he spoke. “What are you doing here, where did you take that child from?”
“New Silvanost, she is the only survivor.” Eric looked down at Airyanna, then back at the kender “You have to take her in, my army is hunting us as we speak.”
“Hunting you? You’d better start making sense” The older kender motioned, the other two nodded and each took a step forward.
Eric found them almost laughable. He knew he could kill all three before they could even react, and he didn’t know whether to admire their bravery or condemn their foolishness.
“I killed the commander of the regiment which passed through here only four or five days ago.” Eric glanced again at Airyanna, “He wanted me to kill her, and when I refused, he tried himself, so I killed him.”
“A draconian protecting an elf, is this Army after you now? As we speak!?!”
“Yes, I told you that already!” Anger filled the Aurak’s voice.
“Well, let’s get you inside somewhere.” With that the older kender sheathed his diminutive sword. “Come, follow me, oh, by the way, my name is Irum, I’m the chief magistrate of the village.”
“His name is Eric, I’m Airyanna.” Airyanna said in a cheerful voice.
“Look, your honor,” Eric started
“Oh, please, just call me Irum, titles are for formal functions only I always say.” The kender’s voice was as full of cheer as Airyanna’s had been.
“Irum, your village is in danger, take the girl and I’ll leave, Ill try…”
“No.” whined Airyanna.
“No, no. We’ve lived with the threat of the dragon armies for as long as, well, for long as there’s been a village here.” Irum turned toward the center of the village.
“We’ll hide you and us real good, why, in a matter of a few minutes we can make the entire village a ghost town.” Said one of the spear holding kender.
“Aye, my nephew here is right.” Irum said as they approached a small wooden building in the near the village center. Irum opened the door and vanished within, parting with the word “wait right here.”
He re-emerged after a short time and pointed inside. “Go ahead, I’ve explained everything to my wife. She’ll see to you, I’ll be in shortly, I have to tell the rest of the village to prepare for unwanted guests.”
“I can’t stay, even if you can hide your homes will be burned, and your…”
“Now, now, Eric it was right?” Irum asked
“Eric, we can always replace buildings, we’ve done it before, we’ll do it again.” The kender pointed once again inside. “Now go in and, look out for your head Eric. Those of your, um, stature may find it a wee bit cramped.”
“Go ahead Airyanna.” Eric watched her enter the door, stooped down then turned to Irum, “Thank you”.
“An enemy of an enemy is a friend as I always say, and we kender need to look far and wide for friends.”
Eric’s massive frame barely fit into the confining Kender home. He had scarcely a moment to complain before a heavy set kender woman motioned him to a corner. As he entered the corner he felt dizzy, suddenly everything was spinning and swirling. Eric closed his eyes for a moment, felt himself fall.
“You’re in the caves below the village now, all hidden by illusion they is.” Stated the woman as Eric opened his eyes. “You’ll be safe here.”
Eric looked about, then breathed a sigh of relief when he saw Airyanna at his side.
“You stay here and rest a bit, I’m gonna take the lass and see if I can’t just clean her up.” She approached, taking Airyanna’s hand in hers.
Eric nodded at the kender woman, then turned to Airyanna. “Go with her Airy.”
“Promise you won’t leave.” She begged as she placed her free hand on Eric’s arm.
“I promise, now go, and be a good girl.”
Eric watched as the kender and Airyanna disappeared down one of the numerous tunnels. He could hear the echo of kender chatter coming from though out the cave. Laying his head back he closed his eyes. A minute’s rest, that’s all he needed. Soon all the chatter melted away.
“Eric, Eric….” Airyanna’s voices was soft, “Eric!” she then shouted as she started giggle.
The Aurak opened his eyes “How long have I?”
“Oh, at least two hours now.” Replied the kender woman.
“Look what Mrs. Lightfoot did.” Airyanna said as she tugged on Eric’s hand.
Eric sat up, then turned his head. Airyanna stood before him in what appeared to be a new dress. Her hair was brushed and her skin clean. Eric smiled as Airyanna climbed into his lap.
“Don’t I look pretty?”
“Beautiful.” Eric turned to the kender. “Thank you.”
“Well, now that she’s taken care of, let’s see if we can’t clean up those wounds a little.” The kender said as she placed a bowl of water next to Eric.
“Can I help?” Airyanna asked looking up at Eric.
“A curious and fascinating little lass, too bad she’s an elf,” The kender glanced at Airyanna “You’d ‘ve made a good kender you would.”
“You can help.” Eric said as he started to untie the filthy blood soaked bandage on his shoulder.
Eric removed his blood stained uniform shirt revealing his well built, but battle scared chest. As Mrs. Lightfoot began to wipe clean his left shoulder he noticed Airyanna studying his old scars. She looked as though she were about to say something when Irum appeared from nowhere.
“Never get used that portal I will.” Irum then faced the Aurak. “Ah, I see you’ve met my wife. The others can’t wait to meet you both. All in good time I told them,” Irum said as he chuckled slightly.
“Thank you for your kindness, I don’t know….” Eric replied.
“Not to be worried about. Now as for your,” Irum paused, “shall we say former friends, they’re just now entering the village. A wicked lot they look too I might add.”
“I’m sorry I brought this on you” Eric said as he looked down at Airyanna.
“From what you and the girl told us while you rested, it sounds like you had good reason.” Said Mrs. Lightfoot as she prepared to put a new bandage on Eric’s shoulder.
“You’re not what I expected Kender to be like at all.” Eric said as he watched the woman begin to place the bandage.
“Well,” Irum started. “The wife and I aren’t as young as we used to be. Though in my younger days I could, borrow, with the best of ‘em. I still enjoy looking at the new shinnies that the younger ones bring in though. That said now, you certainly are different from anything I imagined a draconian would be.”
“Not long ago, I probably was just as you imagine us all.” Eric said as he turned his head toward Irum. “This girl though.”
“Aye, children all have a charm, but I never expected a draconian would enjoy such a thing.” Irum replied as he pulled up a short stool to sit on.
“She, she made me realize some things I’d never even thought to think about. Elves, humans, and kender, none of you are my true enemy. I just did as I was told, like a good soldier.” Eric lowered his head, a tone of shame filled his voice. “I killed without thinking about it. I, I enjoyed it. I loved a good fight. I never once questioned why I was killing.”
Everyone had paused in their actions, Eric realized he had all eyes in the room on him now. He drew a long breath then continued.
“When I found her, I was curious more than anything, for some reason I couldn’t bring myself to hurt or just leave her in that burned out city.” Eric paused as he placed his hand on Airyanna’s back. “Then asked me why. For the first time in my life I was asked why we were enemies.”
“We’re not, are we Eric?” Airyanna asked.
“No, you made me realize,” Eric sighed then looked down into Airyanna’s eyes. “You made me realize we truly weren’t. I’ve been doing the will of the wicked all my life and never questioned it once. Looking back, saving you is the one thing I don’t regret doing in my life.”
“Eric, Your blood is red, I thought, that is don’t draconians have black blood?” Irum’s wife asked.
“Those that are of the new breed have red blood, we are also warm blooded, unlike the draconians of old,” replied Eric.
“You can stay here for as long as you need, but you need to get to Palanthus.” Irum lifted a small wooden cup from behind him, “I will send word that way once your old regiment has past. A marvelous city Palanthus, full of hustle and sparkly things. There are wise men and elves there, they’ll know what to do.” Irum turned to his wife, “Sara, could you fetch me some spirits for us and our guests here.”
“Palanthus is in Solamnia, on the other side of Ansalon, how…” Eric’s words were cut short as Irum’s wife re-entered the cavern with a wine jar in hand and a host of kender behind her.
“We’ll worry about that later, but now let us drink and be merry, after all, the Dragon Army will probably burn the village, we’ll all have brand new houses soon.” Irum said as he motioned the others to come in.
Eric was astonished by the old kender’s attitude, and soon found he and Airyanna surrounded by questioning kender. As day passed yet again into night both Eric and Irum noticed Airyanna being consumed by fatigue. The last few days had been long for her, they’d been long for Eric as well.
With a few commands Irum cleared the room, leaving only himself, Eric, Airyanna, and his wife once again.
“Irum, how did you find these caverns, how were you able to hide them?” Eric asked as he lay Airyanna on a small nearby cot.
“Long ago, during the War of the Lance as the story goes, one of our villagers helped a powerful wizard. He created the caverns and the illusions as a way of saying thanks. Unfortunately no one remembers his or the villagers name.” Irum finished his wine, then tossed the cup aside. “Handy they is. As you may have figured by now, this village has been destroyed so many times that we have a festival each time now. Completion day, the day we finish, oh we have a grand time then.”
“What’s the name of this village anyway?” Eric asked as he pulled a blanket over Airyanna, who was fast loosing the battle to stay awake.
“Name?” replied Irum’s wife “We tried to rename it each time we build it, but it happened so much that we just gave up.”
“Eric, that’s an unusual name for a draconian. How did you come by it?” Irum asked.
“My father befriended a human mage, Eric the Great he called himself. He reveled in slaughter by magic. I was hatched shortly after he was killed, my father named me in his honor.”
“Eric,” Airyanna’s voice was fainter than Eric had ever heard before.
“What?” Eric asked softly.
“I want a hug.” Her voice grew only slightly in strength.
Eric wrapped his massive arms around the tiny elf, and as he held her he felt a small kiss on the side of his face. Eric lay her back down, and covered her back up with the blanket.
“Children just have that certain charm.” Irum said as he sat across from Eric. “Now, I have an old friend, a Knight of Solamnia, I’ll send word to him, he’ll see to it the council in Palanthus gets word of you.”
“What of the Dragon Army?” Eric asked as he turned to face the kender.
“Seems they’ve taken up camp for the night in the village, they should be gone by morning.” Replied Irum
“Eric,” Sara walked towards her husband as she spoke. “You look as though you could use some rest as well. “ Placing her hand on Irum’s head she looked at Eric. “We’ll head to the next cavern, please, use this one, I insist.”
Eric nodded, then watched as Irum and his wife left the candle lit cavern. He turned and looked one last time at Airyanna, who was now sound asleep, then lay on the floor next to her cot.