The Village of Dardek
The Village of Dardek is in some ways what Keatoph expected. There are fishermen and hunters, families and friends. The houses are built of wood and complemented with stone fireplaces. These are not the oddities.
Still, it has its strangeness. First most, is the blue wind which passes around the houses, like a minute aurora borealis, vivid and intangible. The gentle gust passes through the gardens lining the window cells of the town. The plants enjoy its warmth, climbing boldly in all directions out of their holders.
This stream originates from a single house farthest from the village entrance. In its frame, this home is just like the others. However, it is adorned with fungi and glowing stones, as well as some strange symbols. This is the house of Rohkie.
Behind it’s door, its master sits at a table with two much younger than he, a lady elf and human man.
“Keatoph,” The elder addresses the man. There is both cheer and sadness in his voice. His sound is as aged as his skin. “Igleer had said you would be coming this way. So, I assume that you will be heading to Graenfas next?”
“Yes. That is our course. I will seek the aid of the Blue Helmfas. Depending on the reports, I intend to send word to the master of Asgafal as well.”
“You have not told me this,” Ophni, the elf pipes in.
“Yes,” Keatoph admits. “I am sorry for that. I intended to. Igleer told me much about our journey… and about myself.”
The old man twists his beard with a sad expression.
“I am sorry,” he tells the young warrior.
“What do you mean?”
“For things being the way that they are.”
“If what Igleer says is true, you are not the one who owes an apology.”
The wizard looks surprised.
“You are still unconvinced?” He asks.
“It is quite a paradigm shift,” Keatoph answers.
“I understand.” The wizard looks inside the frame of his bedroom door. “May I show you something?”
Rohkie rises and passes into the other room. The sound of him opening the lid to a dresser, and then letting it fall a moment later, pass back to the two adventurers. The magician returns with a piece of parchment.
He unfolds the paper and then lays it on the table. It is yellowed with age. On its bottom corner, red wax bears a signet seal.
“That is of the old King,” Keatoph recognizes. “I have seen it at Briar Pass.”
“Yes,” Rohkie agrees in a deep tone. “It is. Would you care to read it?”
Keatoph stares down at the document. Ophni leans on him, reading over his shoulder with him.
“To whom it may concern, in the event of my premature passing,” our protagonist mutters, “I request that Jarl Hesfall watch over my estate and things until my son, Keatoph-”
“Keatoph!” Ophni gasps. “You’re the King’s son?” Her chair scouches back as she stands.
“It appears I am,” he replies quietly. His lips smile. His forehead wrinkles. His eyes water. The room is filled with such intensity, that it crawls up everyone’s skin. It is a moment that follows Keatoph, as he leaves his company and hurries outside.
He walks down a dirt path through the town, turning whatever way he must to be away from people. His vision blurs. His throat stings. Eventually, he finds an expansive cabbage patch. He passes into one of its rows. When he has reached the middle of the field, he collapses and weeps.
His father was not his father. He had been lied to. He had been betrayed. And though Keatoph cannot in this moment see that he had always been treated this way, I suspect, as I suppose so do you, that it will become ever more clear as he carries this truth into the days ahead.