“Here it splits.”
The assassin stepped beside him and put his hand on his arm to lower it and the flame.
“Does it burn out?”
“Only if I want it too.”
“Verry. It’s a benefit of worship.”
“So whats gonna happen to you. You going to some lake of fire where you will swim and talk and think about how silly the light was?”
“I suppose I will bereinvented.”
The assassin huffed.
“Right. So which way then?” the sage asked.
“Were back here too far.”
“It has only been moments.”
“Left it is. Don’t let anything sneak up on us.”
“Just walk and watch your footing.”
The two of them moved down the well hewn tunnel. Carved for smaller folk or in economy of effort they hunched as they walked stopping to examine some divot in the wall or scrap of decay or stone on the floor of their way.
“There is somethingup there.”
The assassin stepped up beside the Sage and held his arm down low again. he noticed the assassin held a blade. It was the first time he had seen him with a weapon. It seemed too small to keep death away from them in a place like this. Still the sea air infiltrated every thing. the roar of the coast was gone though, only the hiss of the exuded flame and the stuttering of the harried coal.
“I see it.”
“Is it moving?”
“I don’t have anything. I don’t have a weapon.”
“I noticed, brave choice, you must be an exceptional fighter not to need one.”
“Damn it. This will not work for me.”
“If we leave it will follow us.”
“God why did we do this.”
“You must run at it. Yell. I will run beside you.”
“Yes of course we should. Of course you want to do that.”
“Do it now.”
The assassin switched hands with the dagger and put his left hand on the Sages waist and pushed him steadily forward into the best run the two of them could manage, bent and pushed together as they were. As they
neared the glint in the dark it grew and seemed to come closer until it was close enough to illicit a scream from Tinderno but the assassin had already slowed him and he held him back now and they stood near to the lump in the hallway. The flame jutted and bent towards the figure, dead some many years it looked. rusted through except for his helm. it was simple and ornate. Silver or something, the assassin only guessed.
The assassin tried to discover the things kind, human maybe by the helm, hard to say, man, the bones were thickened, the skin, if that was what it had been, was black and flexed. He could not see a weapon and the things hands were gone.
“Is it undead.”
“Are you sure.”
“See for yourself.” The assassin gestured at the flame in the Bensant’s hand. he moved it towards the remains and the spigot bent towards it and licked at the red cacked mail and tried to hunger inside it. He pulled the flame back away.
“What are your thoughts on taking the helm?”
“Do you wear a helm?”
“Neither do I.”
“For the wealth of it.”
“Are you in need of the wealth of it?”
“Neither am I.”
“Do you think he fell and then crawled in here to die.”
“Or to get away from something.”
“How much further do you think this goes?”
The assassin knelt next to the remains and studied its face. then he leaned in and smelt it.
He placed his hand on the mail and pressed it.
“I am no respecter of the dead.”
He felt in the filth and gunk around where the form was sat. Then he reached in to the waist and dug with his fingers under the cacked mail and a patch of it broke off and crumpled and he let it fall. then he pulled something from the cavity he dug into. he held it out to the flame and the Sage brought it near. They were coins. Silver maybe, they were dark but heavy, he wiped at them with his thumb, there were five. He took the biggest one, only slightly larger than the last digit of his thumb and he handed it to the Sage.
“You lived, he didnt.”
“Right. this is interesting.”
He put the rest back where he found them and stood.
“So that’s it?”
“You should try on the helm.”
The assassin ignored him and turned back the way they came.
“Is it always like this?”
“Sometimes there is fighting.”
The sage moved up behind him and then went in front again. When they got back he relented the flame and dropped the coal’s stretched and squinting face back into the fire.
“Its wierd but I want to go back down that hall way even though I know it will just keep going and going until it stops at something stupid like an empty room.”
“You don’t know that.”
“Its a road thats all it is, its just below ground. They would have taken anything valuable. They or someone else. Right?”
“Where do you come from?”
The assassin looked at him then back out the cave mouth. he was squatting again.
“You have varied talents. Your learned. You deduce expertly. You can parley words with me. You are shred with your life. Your a healer.”
“They wont risk a climb in the dark so we can leave while there is still brightness in the sky. we should try to move down at least some from where we came down.”
“I wont be able to keep this dry will I?”
“At least it is not cold out.”
The Sage disrobed but kept a particularly thick strope tied around his waist. He had fine laced sandals with silver buckles. Other than that and his rings he was naked. When he nodded the assassin nodded back and the sage rushed the fire out of existance. then they stepped out of the cave mouth after the assassin had exited and made sure in his way that it was ok to leave their hole. it was difficult moving down the rocks and when they leaped into the sea it was overwhelming and cold and the sage bore new fears that seemed more dark and terrible than that night without a fire and he swam the more vigorously and they swam together until after dark
and for a while they did this and it was a small wonder to the sage how he did not tire from it and when Ilius rose clean off the heaving back of the sea the assassin began to swim in toward the rocks and the waves were gentle for luck or for some reason plotted and charted by gods in their high order and they crawled out on a steep and graveled shoal and hovered shivering for the wind and they, both of them desired to return to the water for the warmth and the vigor of it. but soon their heat dried them and they made a short way up some feet into a petty shelter of stone and sat and looked out onto the sea and the many imperfect reflections of their
moon and it was soothing to both and they closed their eyes in turn and dreamed a borrowed dream, given and born by that place they were in. rich in all things they would leave there even itself and they woke with no memory of it but its absence returned them and they stood themselves, ready, hungry for their journey to meet them and one after the other they steped into the sea and swam out into her and then turned as though their minds had changed but only part way and headed again south.