This is the second installment of the novel I began in ‘Prologue: The Prophesied Birth.’ I don’t think I need to say anymore.
As you know, Verris, my occupation is that of a courier. I run messages between four cities, Jarloth, Quig, Veck and Borden. They’re roughly in the shape of a square, Borden near the Boundary River, Jarloth in the center, Quig and Veck on either side.
The day I met Yesu is a day I remember starkly, for more than one reason. The first was the aforementioned, that I met Yesu. The second is the fact that I was being chased by brigands. I was on the Culon Pass, which is a long, narrow strip of rock sticking off of Culon Mountain. The bandits were close behind, their breath almost heating the back of my neck.
“Give it up, courier!” one yelled, swiping at me with his spear.
I made no reply, afraid to show my terror that would most definitely make my voice squeak. I was only carrying business messages, but even that was enough to cause trouble, as most were about which funds were to be traded where.. If a brigand got his hands on those, there would be trouble.
I stumbled, hitting against the rock face of Culon mountain. My hand scraped something sharp, and when I looked down, I saw blood running off of it. The brigands drew nearer, all three of them. My custom issue walking staff and dagger wouldn’t be enough to fight them, not with their swords and spear.
So, instead, I did the only thing I could. I jumped off the pass, sliding down the rock. My tunic was shredded instantly, my legs beginning to go as well. I hit another ledge, hard, about fifty feet below. I lay there, trying to figure out if my legs were broken (they weren’t moving), and trying to regain my breath.
When I heard someone drawing closer, I thought it was the brigands. But then this thought came along. ‘Really, Malek, think about it. You’re the only one who would jump off a cliff.’
“Peace,” the man said. He had a thick beard, and bushy eyebrows. “I’m here to help.”
“Thank you,” I said, as he touched my legs. “I think they’re broken.”
“Yes, they are,” the man said, taking my legs gently. I whimpered with the pain, but he was apparently a doctor of sorts, for soon it was over. “Now, stand up,” the man ordered.
“You just told me that they’re broken,” I said, shaking my head. “I can’t get up.”
“I assure you, they are no longer broken, Malek.”
“How do you know my name?” I asked, accepting his hand and being pulled to my feet. Amazingly, it was true; my legs were perfectly fine.
“I looked at the courier list to see who I might meet on the way. I assume you’re the courier by your bag.” The man smiled, his beard parting to show his teeth. “My name is Yesu. I’m a Healer.” He held out his hand once again, and we shook. I said nothing, as Healers, while not extremely common, were not especially rare either.
“Are you heading for Borden?” I asked. Yesu nodded. “Would you care to travel with me? I’m going there myself.”
“Thank you. I’ll accept your offer, Malek.”
From above, a curse was hurled at us. I looked up, seeing the brigands turning and running back up the pass. I shook my head, looking back at Yesu. His tunic was dusty from a day’s traveling, and his face, well, his face wasn’t the most pleasant to look at, as his nose was broken, and there was a large scar on his forehead. But right then, I knew that he was special, and not just because he had healed my legs.
We traveled mostly in silence, until he brought a spider, spinning it’s web to my attention. “What are spiders for?” he asked.
“To eat flies, I suppose. And other insects.”
“And what are the insects for?”
I looked at him curiously, and Yesu pointed out a butterfly, fluttering from flower to flower. “They spread things from plant to plant. And the fish eat them, and we eat the fish. You see, you take one thing out, and everything dies. Every creature, no matter how small, is important. Remember that, Malek.”
His wisdom astounded me, but I asked nothing else for the remainder of the trip. Finally, we parted ways, myself to the courier station, Yesu to a friend’s house.
The next morning, I received my letters, and set out for Quig. As I started for the path that would take me there, I heard a shout. “Malek! Wait!”
I turned, and there he was once again, this time with two men. Both were muscular, faces bare of hair. “Yesu,” I said, smiling at him. “And who are these?”
“My name is Jord,” the first man said. He was slightly taller than the second, and bright red hair rose from the top of his head. “And this is my brother, Jan. Yesu is a distant cousin of ours.” Jan’s hair was darker, more of a brown. He had a pack on his back, which bulged with whatever was inside, but he showed no strain.
“Pleased to meet you,” I said, nodding in their directions. “Are you traveling to Quig as well?”
“Yes, we are. Would it trouble you to take us with you?”
“Not at all. I welcome the company. Going to Quig is always the most boring trip of them all.”
I slung my bag over my shoulder and began walking, Jord and his brother following with Yesu. “To pass the time,” Jan murmured, “Perhaps we could exchange stories.”
I looked at him, then nodded in appreciation. “I agree. Would you like to go first?”
“My brother is much better at speaking that I am,” Jan said softly.
“Go ahead, Jan,” Jord said, patting him on the back. Jan shook his head, urging Jord to tell something. Jord finally agreed, and cleared this throat.
The only story I can think of, he began, Is the story of two brothers, Silth and Horun. It is a legend told in our hometown. Silth was a easy, outgoing and well-liked among the village he grew up in. Horun not as much. Both were blacksmiths, and when they grew old enough, they moved to Jarloth to set up shop.
Jan looked at him, and his face wrinkled. He started walking quicker, moving past me until he was out of earshot of his brother’s voice. I looked at him curiously, but continued listening. I figured he had heard the story too many times. Legends were like that, repeated with far too much frequency. Jord continued the brother’s saga, his voice growing steadier.
They did their work well, and their business was growing. But on day, they heard that their father had taken ill. They rushed back to their hometown, Mistborg, to be with him, leaving their friend, Nervin, in charge of the business. While their father was dying, however, the blackguard Nervin stole all of the money and made for the border.
Another friend, more trustworthy than Nervin, came from Jarloth with word about this, so Horun left with Silth to chase him down. As they left, Silth was still bright and cheery. That trip, though, well, it changed him.
They caught up to Nervin in Curg, just on the border. Horun confronted him about the stolen money, but Nervin replied by attacking and knocking Horun down. Silth stepped in, using his hammer to defend his brother. But, as you know, he was a blacksmith, and didn’t know his own strength. One blow to Nervin’s head stopped him forever. After that, Silth became quiet.
They returned to Mistborg, but found that their father had passed on only an hour before they had arrived. They managed the estate for months, then were approached by a stranger. He spoke of a world beyond this one, one ruled by Ayos. What else could the two brothers do except follow? And that, my friend, is the last anyone ever heard of them. But some say that on these same trails, they walk still, following the man who taught them the ways of Ayos.
Jord nodded, obviously finished with his tale. I smiled, appreciating the ending. It was the proper way, with a hint of mystery, but with enough actual ending to make sense.
Jan fell back, realizing his brother was finished. He was still silent, and stared sullenly at Jord. Yesu, noticing it as well, cleared his throat. “Perhaps,” he offered, “It is my turn to tell a tale?”
“Thank you, Yesu, that would wonderful,” I said, watching the brothers out of the corner of my eye.
“Of course,” Yesu smiled, “It would be my pleasure.”