“What’s that,” Askar’s rumbling voice boomed towards them, the Harbinger standing on top of the stairs that led from the temple to Jorrvaskr, “a bathing trip and a lousy skeever den, and half of you come back injured? And by carriage? Divines, what has become of the mighty Companions!” He threw his hands in the air and clapped them together pathetically, but his broad grin belied his roasting.
“Come on, Askar,” Jergen grinned, “this was vermin directly from Oblivion. I’m convinced they still bred and spawned while we were already killing them! All 23 of them!”
“Aye, and an encounter with a spriggan is also something not to be taken lightly,” Liv quipped in.
Askar’s eyebrow rose to his hairline. “23 skeever and a spriggan? I take that back. The carriages are forgiven.”
The Hall was crowded that evening, nobody wanting to miss the tales they had to tell. It wasn’t so much different from other occasions when Companions came back from a job well done, but this time it was the first time that the twins had taken part themselves and didn’t just listen to the reports of others. Leaning back in his seat with a full belly and a tankard in hand, Jergen looked around contently. Liv and he had brought each other up to date, Farkas had provided a hilarious pantomimic account of their fight against the skeever that took place on top of the long table and with the help of a dirty butterknife, and they had recounted their encounter with Talsgar the Bard, how they had rescued him and how his tales and songs had made the long journey to Dragon Bridge so much more enjoyable.
But although he had obviously lots of fun, the true star of the evening was Vilkas’ fight against the spriggan and how he had saved Aela. Liv let him talk, only chimed in when she thought it necessary to add some details, and Jergen watched pensively how differently the twins spoke about their adventures. Where Farkas obviously relived the events in his head and let his audience take part in it, Vilkas confined himself to the simple facts, and it took many questions, encouragements and praise for his wit and bravery to make him come out of his shell at least a bit.
But Jergen also felt an anxiety in Vilkas that wasn’t caused by the excitement of the past days or the attention he got. Liv had told him about her conversation with the boy, and judging the way he eyed his brother he was desperate to get to know why Jergen had taken him out on this job. What his brother’s problem was.
When Farkas’ eyes fell shut with increasing frequency and his head sagged against Kodlak’s shoulder, Jergen took the opportunity, lifted him into his arms and searched Vilkas’ gaze.
“Help me take your packs downstairs?” he asked lowly, careful not to wake the boy again. Vilkas nodded and grabbed the knapsacks they had dropped carelessly at the top of the stairs. When he hoisted Farkas’ pack over his shoulder, something fell out of the front pouch – a piece of deer horn, wittled into the form of a letter.
Jergen had already undressed Farkas from his leather gear and tucked him under the furs when Vilkas entered their room. He sat on the edge of the bed and watched the sleeping boy for a moment before he turned to Vilkas with a warm smile. “A good night’s sleep will do him good. Better not disturb him now.” With that he stood up, laid a hand on Vilkas’ shoulder and led him out of the room and into his own.
The boy swallowed with nervousness. But Jergen just dropped down on his own bed, his back against the wall, popped open a bottle of mead and poured the golden liquid into two tankards. He patted at the place beside him. “Come sit with me for a moment, Vilkas.”
The boy took place hesitantly, taking off his boots and drawing his knees to his chest. Only when Jergen offered him one of the tankards – the bottom only barely covered with mead – he gave him a hesitating smile. The man took the same position as the boy, his forearms resting relaxed on his knees. For a moment, it became quiet, both of them sipping on their drinks.
“I’m proud of you, Vilkas,” Jergen said finally, tilting his head to be able to look into the boy’s face. “And not only because you were so brave against the spriggan. Liv told me about your travel and that you had a hard time with Aela. And still you defended her without a second thought. That’s the behaviour of a true shield-brother.”
Vilkas stared up to him with wide eyes. “I didn’t think anything then,” he said finally. “I didn’t think it was Aela. Just that I had to do something.”
A low laughter came from Jergen. “But that’s the best you can do in a situation like that. Stop thinking and just act. Many people have to learn that very painfully, some learn it never.” His index touched Vilkas’ temple briefly. “That you’re able to shut down your brain when it matters although it runs at full blast all the time, that shows that you have the spirit of a true warrior.” The boy blushed, hiding his face in his mug.
“But that’s not what I wanted to talk to you about. You’re curious, aren’t you?”
The boy’s breath hitched. “What’s the matter with Farkas?” he asked anxiously. “Is he ill? Is something wrong?”
Jergen gave him a warm smile. “No, he’s not ill and nothing’s wrong. Just… well, you see, it’s partly your fault that I had to make this journey with him. And get him bitten by 23 skeever.”
“He wasn’t bitten by 23 skeevers. Only by one,” the boy mumbled, but suddenly his head shot up. “My fault?” Nervousness stood in his eyes.
“Yep. Because of that letter you wrote.” Now the nervousness turned into distress, barely soothed by Jergen’s smile. “Don’t worry, Vilkas. I know that letter is a secret, and I swear I don’t know what it’s about. The problem is, Farkas doesn’t know either.”
“What? But how? I thought… why not?”
Jergen turned so he sat crosslegged and face to face with the boy, his elbows propped on his knees. “Farkas can’t read it,” he said matter-of-factly. “He’s learning it and he’s making great progress, but reading and writing doesn’t come as easily to him as it comes to you. That’s what we have worked on during the last days.”
“But… I thought… he can’t read it? But he’s been at Vignar’s lessons! And he always tells me all these stories!”
“He does what?”
Suddenly the boy’s face closed down. “When I have bad dreams and wake up at night… Farkas is always awake too. And then he tells me stories until I can sleep again. He knows so many… about dragons and giants and ghosts, and people who look like lizards. Are there really people who look like lizards? Are they like little dragons?”
Jergen sighed inwardly. There was so much he didn’t know about the boys. How could so little kids be so bloody complicated?
“Yes, there are people who look like lizards. They have scales and tails, like the cat-people you know from the caravans. But they’re nothing like dragons. They’re called Argonians, and they’re just… people. Dragons are long gone.”
“Farkas said the same. He also said that they can breathe underwater, and that they have a kingdom under the sea where they live. And that they ride on horkers.” The boy’s eyes gleamed, but then he shook his head. “I thought… where does he know all that from? I thought he read about it…”
Divines. Jergen took a deep breath. Sometimes Vilkas was obviously not quite as smart as everybody thought.
“No, he hasn’t read about it,” he said sternly. “He still needs some more practice before he can read whole stories. Just like you need some more practice to sneak through the woods and not scare away all the prey.”
He smiled as he saw the boy blush. “Yes, Liv told me of that incident too. But she also told me that you tried and that you make awesome rabbit snares, that you’ve improved with the bow and that you could be even better if you trained a bit more. Perhaps you should train with Aela.”
The boy shuffled nervously, remembering Aela’s condescending remarks. A crease formed between his brows. “But I still don’t know how Farkas knows all these things…”
“He makes them up, Vilkas. He invents them. He listens to the things we speak about at the fire… and when you wake up and need something to calm you down, he remembers it and takes whatever tumbles through his head in that moment and makes a story from it. For you. Nobody else knows these stories, just you two.”
“Wow.” The boy was obviously flabbergasted, and Jergen felt a sting of guilt that he had really believed that Vilkas would act out of spite towards his brother. Sometimes he was an obnoxious brat, he had terrible tempers, a habit to overrate himself and he could be quite nasty when he thought he was treated unjust, but he wasn’t malign. Especially not towards his twin. Never towards his twin.
“So… Farkas is something like a book.” The words came pensively, the boy gnawing at his lower lip, thinking so concentrated that Jergen couldn’t suppress a quiet chuckle. But Vilkas wasn’t to be disturbed, spinning his thought further. “Just that he can only read himself, because he doesn’t know how to do it with others.” He became quiet for a moment, and then it broke out of him. “Honestly, that’s a shame!”
Jergen laughed out loud. Precocious little rascal.
“You know…” he said, smiling as the boy looked expectantly at him, “Farkas loves stories. Good stories. Exciting stories. And so do you.” The child nodded. “I know the stuff Vignar makes you read is quite boring… all these wars and strategies and Harbingers and kingdoms… but you’ve certainly read books that are more exciting, haven’t you?”
His face lit up. “Yes! Askar has given me some of his!”
The divines bless their Harbinger and his bias for light readings. Although… he knew Askar also owned some books of more than questionable merit. He would have to make sure that Vilkas didn’t put his greedy little hands on these.
But at the moment, this was his smallest problem.
“Well, Farkas has shared his stories with you. How about you share your stories with him now?”
“But I’m no good at telling stories.”
“Doesn’t matter. Someone has already done that and written them down. How about you read them together with your brother? You could read them to him, and practice the letters with him and show him how to read them all for himself.”
An excited gleam appeared in the light blue eyes of the boy. “You think I can do that?”
“I’m sure you can do that.” And you’ll easily do a better job than Vignar. “And perhaps, one day, you can even write up Farkas’ stories together, so others can get to know them as well. I think everybody would love to read about lizard people riding on horkers.”
“You mean… make Farkas into a real book?”
“Exactly,” the man laughed, “make all the stories in Farkas into a real book. It would be a shame to let them go to waste, wouldn’t it?”
The boy nodded vigorously. “Oh, boy… and one more thing. About that letter…” The look of contrition on Vilkas’ face was heartmelting. “Just tell him what it’s about, okay? I think he’s really curious.”
“Okay,” the boy said lightly, already turning and running out of the room. But he stopped once again, standing in the doorway.
“You think Liv will take me out again? On a hunting trip?”
“Of course she will. Especially if you train with Aela.”
Who said that kids were complicated?
“My Jarl, with all due respect…”
Askar’s voice didn’t sound very respectful. More… demanding. Demanding respect. As he was entitled to, as Harbinger of the Companions. Whiterun wouldn’t even exist without the Companions.
The Jarl knew this quite well. Usually the two men were on good terms, with the Companions fulfilling many of the Jarl’s contracts and thus contributing greatly to the Hold’s safety. And although his expression now clearly showed a trace of condescension, he couldn’t afford to snub the warriors. Especially when two of them appeared fully geared in front of his throne, uncalled and far off his usual court hours. Even if they only appeared because a child had had an accident.
“Askar… Jergen,” he said reassuringly, resorting to dropping their respective titles in an effort to lighten the atmosphere, “honestly, I don’t see the problem. It was just a child’s game. Things like this happen!”
“Oh no, Balgruuf.” Jergen’s voice was dangerously calm. “It’s not a child’s game when one of my boys is brought back to Jorrvaskr unconscious and bruised as if he got into a fistfight with a troll! And it’s even less a game when he wakes and is totally out of his mind. We’re talking about Vilkas here! Vilkas, rambling about a voice he hears, and that he’s the master of something! At first, he didn’t even recognise his brother! Farkas is a mess too, and they were with your son when it happened!” Even if he had started quietly, now he yelled.
“But they’re just kids!” The man on the throne shouted back, throwing his hands in the air. “Who knows what’s going on in their heads!”
Jergen gritted his teeth. “What do you imply? That the twins have gone crazy?”
“Of course not, but…”
Askar chimed in. “Where is Hrongar, Balgruuf? I want to know what happened, and as you obviously don’t know what’s going on in your own palace, he is the only one who can tell us. These boys are not mad, and I recognise a danger when I see one. Something strange is at work here, and nobody can say if whatever happened to Vilkas can’t just as well happen to someone else too. Regardless of age. Gods, not even the calm spell the priest applied on him had any effect!”
The Jarl paled, his hands gripping the armrests of his throne so hard that his knuckles went white. “I don’t know,” he had to admit. “I… don’t have time to watch every step of him. And he’s twelve already. He knows what he’s doing!”
“Not so sure about that,” Jergen muttered. Everybody knew that the Jarl’s younger son had the privilege of fools in Whiterun. His mother, daughter of the count of Bruma, was a pretty doll who thought her duties as a wife and mother fulfilled with giving birth to two strong boys. And the only education his father placed any value on was the military drill he needed to follow in his brother’s footsteps. The younger Balgruuf had climbed the ranks in the Imperial Legion with astonishing ease and velocity, and the Jarl wanted a similar career for Hrongar too. Apart from that, he only looked after him when the boy in his selfproclaimed role as the leader of Whiterun’s gang of children had caused another disaster and he had to appease outraged parents or furious merchants.
Not that anybody had any effective measures against the Jarl’s son. Not that he really cared. Not that it ever had any serious consequences.
Until now. Now the Companions were involved, and Jergen was incredibly thankful that his Harbinger hadn’t hesitated for a single moment to accompany him here.
The Jarl rubbed his hand over his face, then he straightened himself as if he had come to a decision.
“Alright,” he said, “I’m still not convinced he has done anything wrong, but let’s see if we can find out what happened.” He turned to his housecarl, a slender Dunmer who had listened stoically to the conversation so far. But her tense posture made obvious that she was alert, that she’d protect her Jarl even against the wrath of the Companions. “Irileth, show us where the boy was found.”
The woman nodded silently and took the lead, up to the second level of the palace, over stairs and through endless corridors until they reached the end of a long aisle that led past servants’ quarters, storerooms and spare bedrooms. It expanded into an oriel room, the large window providing a breathtaking view over the plains. On one side, a door led to an armoury full of old, rusty gear, on the other a small wooden stair ascended into the darkness of the attic.
“Here,” she said, pointing at the foot of the stairs. The stains of blood on the tiles were obviously fresh. The Jarl stared at the brownish blotches and blanched, sweat appearing on his temples. He leant heavily against the window sill.
“No…,” he breathed. Askar grabbed the shoulder of the suddenly shaking man, searching his bewildered face.
“Balgruuf? What’s the matter? That’s Vilkas’ blood, but it’s not that he’s dead!”
The gaze that found his was pleading. “Divines… Askar.” The Jarl swallowed heavily. “Harbinger.” He rubbed his neck nervously, but then he straightened himself and took a deep breath. “Irileth, return to your duties. Thank you,” he said sternly, waiting until his housecarl had vanished from sight.
“I’ll show you what happened,” he said finally, distress in his voice, “or what I think what happened. Come with me.” He took a torch from a bracket and started to climb the wooden stairs, ignoring their clueless looks. “Gods… he has heard a voice. It can’t be… but… what if?” he muttered while he led the way. When they found the inconspicuous wooden door at the top unlocked and ajar, he just shook his head heavily and pushed it open.
The attic of the palace was huge, spanning over the whole expanse of the highest level, and it was crammed full with stuff. Old furniture, chests with various contents, mannequins and poles with oldfashioned clothes and armour, lockers, racks and shelves full of dull, rusty weapons and shields. Whatever wasn’t needed or used any more over the last centuries had found its way here. Most of it was useless and worthless rubble, but there may have been one or another trinket amongst all this trash, and the men could easily imagine the excitement of the children as they discovered this paradise of junk.
But Balgruuf obviously wanted to show them something special. He led them through the room, single rays of light dancing on spangles of dust. It smelled of age – old leather, mouldering wood, disintegrating fabric and rusty metal.
In the rearmost corner, where nearly no daylight fell in, a partition was divided from the rest of the room, forming a small shack that was made from thick, sturdy oaken boards. A door was set into one of the walls, equally solid and secured by an enormous iron lock.
As Balgruuf grabbed the handle, the door swang open with barely a sound. Sheer terror spread over his face. Behind it stood only a single, raw table, a plain wooden weapon holder on top of it.
The sword it held was exceptional though, and the Companions got closer with awe on their faces.
It looked like an Akaviri weapon, the long, dark blade slim and slightly curved, the hilt inlaid with a simple golden spiral. But it wasn’t Akaviri. It was much older, old enough to be called timeless.
Askar couldn’t resist and took it reverently from its place, assessing its perfect balance. He arched a questioning eyebrow at the Jarl as he gave it a try with a few swings and Balgruuf jumped back with a startled gasp.
“What’s the matter? Don’t you trust me?” he asked with a smirk. “That’s a fine weapon you have here.” He tested the blade with a thumb. “But it’s blunt. You should take it to Eorlund.”
The frightened expression on Balgruuf’s face made him halt his movements though, and he laid the weapon carefully back. Expectantly he waited for an explanation.
The Jarl hesitated, sweat forming on his forehead. “Eorlund’s father was the last smith who has seen this blade,” he said finally, his voice weak. “He tried to destroy it, but he was unsuccessful… not even the Skyforge was hot enough to melt it down. And I do trust you, friend. But that’s exactly the problem.” He swallowed heavily, his gaze flitting over the suspicious expressions of the Companions. “This is the Ebony Blade, Askar.”
Stunned amazement formed on the warriors’ faces. “The Ebony Blade?” Jergen asked incredulously. Balgruuf just nodded. “Mephala’s cursed sword? The Blade of Deceit? The Blade that grows in power with every friend it slays?”
“Yes,” Balgruuf whispered.
The silence after this revelation hang between the men like poison, quivering with tension. Suddenly the weapon wasn’t beautiful any more… quite the contrary, Askar felt as if its mere sight made his skin crawl. When he finally pulled himself together and left the room with long strides, giving the blade a last, disgusted gaze, the other men followed him quietly. The Harbinger snorted in snide annoyance as Balgruuf turned the key in the lock, but he didn’t say a word until they had reached the main hall.
“A child!” he barked out with a mirthless laughter, “she chooses a child! A weird sense of humour these Daedra have!”
“I don’t think she meant it to be funny, Askar,” Balgruuf said quietly. “I’m sorry…”
“Then you can tell her that I’m indeed not amused!” the Harbinger bellowed, glaring at his Jarl. “I don’t care what you do, Balgruuf. Throw it into the Red Mountain, bury it under a glacier, take it to the Throat of the World or to Atmora – I don’t care, as long as you make sure that nobody lays eyes or hands on this thing ever again.” His voice became threateningly calm. “A few planks and a lock simple enough that your son could open it – what did you think?”
He turned on his heels, waving at Jergen. “Come, brother. We have some souls to mend.” Shortly before he left the hall, he turned once more, his menacing growl easily carrying over the distance. “And keep Hrongar in check. Or I’ll do it.”
All complacency had left the Jarl’s face. He nodded silently. Askar prayed that he realised the seriousness of the situation. That he truely understood what abomination he kept here, openly and accessible in his palace.
He stormed down the stairs to the wind district without looking back, the guards backing off from the fuming man. He stopped only in front of Jorrvaskr’s entrance, exhaling a deep breath and turning to his friend.
“Speak with the boys, Jergen, please. Find out what this prince has put into Vilkas’ brain. You will find the right words… and he is smart, he will understand that it will do him no good, no matter what she promised.”
Jergen nodded slowly. “Okay. I hope he’s awake.”
On his way down to the living quarters Tilma called after him and pressed two plates filled with grilled chicken, some vegetables and two sweetrolls lying at the side into his hands. “Farkas refuses to leave his brother,” she said with a warm smile, “but they will be starving by now. Take it down to them, please?”
He gave her a thankful smile. Jorrvaskr was obviously not the safest place to grow up, but at least there were always people who genuinely cared for the children. “Of course. Thank you, Tilma.”
When Jergen opened the door to the boys’ room, he was greeted by the tip of an arrow that was targeted right at his chest, the boy behind it giggling at his staggered expression. Vilkas leant against the headboard of his bed, Farkas was squatted relaxed at the foot end.
“Put that down, Vilkas,” he said, setting the plates on a table, “I see you’re better already.” He couldn’t suppress a grin although Vilkas was still pale as death and looked terrible with the bandages wound around his head, his arm and his ribs. The fall down the stairs had earned him more bruises and scratches than the encounter with the spriggan. But at least he hadn’t suffered any fractures, and such injuries were no reason for distress. They had seen worse already, broken bones and deep slash wounds, and Vilkas even sported a grin as he laid the arrow away. He seemed strangely cheerful, his good mood nearly as open and boyish as his brother’s. Jergen realised that Farkas hadn’t left his twin for a single minute since he had been brought out of the palace. And perhaps this was exactly what made the whole affair bearable for them both.
“Look what Aela made for me!” Vilkas exclaimed.
“Did she now?” Jergen examined the bow closely. It was a fine weapon, made from walnut wood, a bit too large for the boy, but he would grow into it. “And will she practice with you?”
“Yep. And Liv. And with Farkas too. She promised.”
“But I don’t need archery training!” the larger boy chimed in, making Jergen laugh.
“If a huntress like Aela offers her training, you’d be quite stupid to reject it. Even I can still learn from Liv!”
As the boys started to wolf into their food he watched them for a moment, becoming serious.
“Guys,” he said finally, “we gotta talk about what happened today.”
Two pairs of eyes shot up to his face as he sat down on the edge of the bed. It got a bit crammed with the three of them, but nobody seemed to mind.
Vilkas chewed and swallowed, looking suddenly distressed. “I’m not crazy, Jergen. I heard that voice! Really!”
“I know, and of course you’re not crazy,” Jergen answered calmly. “Tell me what it said, please.”
“That the sword is meant to be mine, and that I will be its master if I take it. That it will make me stronger and my enemies weaker.” He looked down. “It was weird… but it was also kind. The voice. She was… gentle. A bit like Tilma. And then… I felt something in my head, and that was scary. Hrongar ran away and Farkas screamed, and… I don’t know any more. Only that I woke up in the temple.”
“But how did you get up there in the first place?”
Vilkas bit his lip, looking from his stepfather to his brother. “They’ve always argued who has the best weapons, Hrongar and he,” Farkas said finally. “Everybody knows that Skyforge steel is the best. But Hrongar didn’t believe it.”
“Yes, and he said he can prove it,” Vilkas added lowly. “He said his father had the best sword ever made, and he was angry that Farkas came with me this morning. But I wanted him to see it too.”
“Okay,” Jergen said, “you’ve been lucky. We’ve all been lucky.” He looked sternly at the boys. “Hrongar didn’t know what he was doing today. That sword he showed you… it’s not just a weapon, but you know that already. His father hid it up there because he didn’t want anybody to find it, and least of all little boys like you. It’s… it has a certain magic, and it’s evil. It tries to find someone who uses it.” His index came up and touched Vilkas’ forehead. “That you didn’t take it like the voice told you shows how strong your spirit is. But if you ever encounter something like that again… come to me directly, okay? To me or to Askar. Both of you. Promise.”
He really, really hoped they’d understand the seriousness of his request. Even if they didn’t understand what exactly had happened today – he barely did himself, who in his right mind would dabble with Daedra? – but that they’d at least realise that they had escaped a very real danger today, and that there were worse threats than poison or steel.
When both heads nodded sternly, he let out a relieved sigh, laying his hands on the shoulders of both boys. Two pairs of bright eyes watched him intently.
“It was good that you told Farkas about it, Vilkas. You should have come to me, but you didn’t know that… but that Farkas was there with you, perhaps it saved your life. I won’t always be here, or Askar, or Liv. But you two, you can always look out for each other. You will do fine no matter what as long as you stick together.”
When Liv caught her shield-brother standing at the door to the twins’ room, peeking through the gap and a broad grin on his face, he motioned her silently to come over and have a look herself.
The children lay prone side by side on Vilkas’ bed, two dark heads sticking together, only quiet mumbling audible. Vilkas talked more, but Farkas repeated some of what his brother said, his finger crawling along the lines of a book that lay open on a pillow in front of them.
“Ha! Got you!” The smaller twin punched his brother into the shoulder. “Don’t be lazy! You’re just repeating what I said, but that’s not what’s written here!”
Confusion spread over Farkas’ face. “It isn’t?”
“No, it isn’t. Don’t cheat. I know you can memorise stuff awfully fast, but now you gotta read. What did I say?”
“Here, polish my sword.”
“And what’s standing here?” Farkas gave his brother a slightly desperate glance, but then he bent over the page, chewing on the inside of his cheek in concentration.
“Here… po… lish… my…”
Jergen watched in awe how the boy struggled, how his mouth silently formed single letters and combined them in a second step, and how Vilkas watched him with much more patience than Vignar had ever shown. After every syllable, Farkas looked expectantly at his brother, and Vilkas either grinned and nodded or shook his head, pointing at the letter where he had it wrong. And Farkas tried again and again until he had it right, the approval of his twin his only reward.
And Vignar dared to say he didn’t have any discipline, that he didn’t even try. Ignorant fool.
“Spear! Spear, not sword!”
Farkas’ outcry filled Jergen with silly, unwarranted pride, feeling that his own contribution to this success had been quite meager. A pride that was rudely disturbed by the hysterical giggle behind him. When he turned, Liv barely suppressed a burst of laughter, and she pulled him hastily away from the door.
“Do you know what they’re reading there, brother?”
Jergen shook his head. “No. Does it matter?”
But what she whispered into his ear shook his indifference to the core, and he stormed down the hallway towards the Harbinger’s quarters with a furious roar.
“ASKAR! I’ll KILL you! They’re SEVEN!”
The Harbinger poked his head out of his door, barechested and clad only in threadbare breeches, and looked suspiciously at the approaching Companion.
“Calm down, brother. Vilkas wanted something with Argonians, and that’s all I have with Argonians.”
“Askar…” The threatening rumble would have been frightening to a lesser man.
But the Harbinger only threw up his hands in a gesture of annoyed boredom. “They’re seven, Jergen! They don’t get it anyway!”
Jergen stopped dead, staring at his Harbinger, and slowly a broad grin spread over his face.
Askar was right. For once, they wouldn’t get it. Both of them.
Not yet, at least.