’’ A shudder in the loins engenders there
The broken wall, the burning roof and tower
And Agamemnon dead.’’
I was in an already in a foul mood when I entered Hillside. The village had grown ever so slightly in the months I’d been trapped in that forsaken castle at Llud’s hall but for me it meant nothing at the moment. Perhaps it had been the rain or the dreariness of the endless patrols and scouting expedition the sheriff had seen it, in his wisdom, necessary for me to take part in but mostly it had been the company which had been far from pleasant. Sure the sheriff is a just and honest man but he is also one who seems to never relax from his duties or find mirth in any activity or leisure. Even on the hunt he would never be at ease or revel; perhaps seeing it more as a chore than anything remotely enjoyable. Then there was the prisoner, thrice curse that bloody traitor, for months I had worked to meet him and when I finally spoke with him I came away with nothing but more questions… the disgraced knight tongue more poisonous and malicious then any viper or fiend I could think of.
Yet as the fortifications and stone walls of my ancestral home came into vision atop the windswept hill I hurried my horse’s hooves. For I knew that she waited for me there. With kind words and warm embraces. With tales of the children’s adventures and escapades that would sooth my weary brow. Only she knew how to make me think of the present and forget about the past and future, so it was with a smile on my face I dismounted Dafod. The servant were gathered outside the hall to welcome me, my wife in the front. How beautiful she was, her pale face framed by her flaming hair and her young body clothed in smooth linen. She rushed towards me and as she threw her arms around me I felt that something was wrong. Her small fingers dug into my sides firmer than ever before and she seemed to want to plant her head into my chest as she pressed herself against me. I held her close to me for what seemed like an eternity, feeling my heart sink even deeper with every heartbeat. It was long before any of the servants dared approach us, but when they realized that the giant would not let the frail woman go Sister Abigail finally drew breath and approached; a tiny corpse in her hands.
‘’She’s with the Lord now.’’ Still clutching Marion sobbing body with one arm I reached for the small parcel, no bigger than a loaf of bread but heavier than anything I ever felt before. My knees trembled as I saw the small face and felt the stiff little arms against the soft linen.
‘’It’s not uncommon my lord… She just stopped breathing.’’
I bit my lip so hard I drew blood as I let my wife go and handed back my dead daughter. Devin rushed to support Marion as she sank to the muddy ground. I wished nothing more then to hold her close to me; hug her until the pain went away. Hide away ourselves until this world forgot about us. But I knew what I had to do. With trembling arms I hoisted my shield above my head and as my voice drowned out Marions sobs i fullfilled my duty:
‘’As my heritage obliges I’ve returned to hearth and home with my shield and my honour intact. For me awaits safe sleep and good company, for you awaits fine wine and gratitude.’’
‘’As our heritage obliges’’ muttered the servants in response.
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.’’
The following weeks, and some would say even months, an uncommon darkness lay over Chillmark. The servants and family of the Tarrens are used to a certain ponderous and even gloomy life atop the bleak hill but this was something different. Whispering voices talked about the lord’s father and the madness that had gripped him when his beloved wife died or of the strange blood that flowed from the Spartan forefathers making men into monsters. Yet those with careful and knowing gazes whispered that there was something sinister in the making in Chillmark. The servants whispered and bickered, some seeking shelter in smaller groups to gossip and worry about what had happened and what was going to happen while other met in secret during the nights. About the hangings in the tree when the lord was gone. About the lords dead daughter and the worrying circumstances of her death. About how brave Cynsten had been wounded and kept it a secret. But to the silent observers and prying eyes there was nothing to bind it all together; just strands of web with no sign of a spider. Yet the spider was there; waiting, binding and plotting. But whatever guided its hand no one knew for sure.