The next morning Dimitrion got out of bed quietly to not wake Hildrin. He got dressed, kissed her on the forehead and went into the kitchen to look for Magrun. She was about to serve breakfast in the dining room.
»Good morning, sir,« she smiled at him. »I made you a hearty breakfast. After the search and what´s coming this morning, you need all the strength you can get.«
»Good morning and thank you, Magrun.«
»Excuse me, sir, but have you seen Hildrin this morning? It´s not like her to get up so late. I must apologize, sir.«
»It´s all right. She told me last night that she wasn´t feeling well, « he replied without looking up. »She´ll help you in the kitchen later.«
»As you say, sir. Enjoy your meal.«
She went into the kitchen where she began to sing a song about the beauty of spring and was very popular in this area. Magrun hadn´t exaggerated about breakfast. In front of Dimitrion there were bowls and plates full of steaming and tasty things. Freshly baked bread, scrambled eggs, grilled bacon, fat sausage and ripe cheese tempting with their scents to a feast. Dimitrion was very hungry as he had to realize and let himself taste it. When he was full, he saw Hildrin hurrying into the kitchen through an open door. Shortly afterwards she came to the dining room, made a curtsey and wished him a good morning. She apologized for being so late for duty and for never happening again.
»It´s all right, Hildrin. After such a night we´re all sleepy,« he said in a neutral tone.
She made another curtsey and started clearing the table. In between, her hands touched and Hildrin got warm around her heart. She had taken all the courage together last night and she was not disappointed by the gods and gave her the love she longed for. Dimitrion got up and went over to the servants quarters. Therben was still asleep and the Halfelf decided to do his fighting exercises behind the yard where Serrin approached him.
»I´ll see to Therben. The hand needs to be taking care of, otherwise it gets gangrenous and we´ll have to cut it off.«
»I´m in the back of the practice area. Meet me there when you´re done.«
»As you wish, Landlord.«
He wanted to start practicing, but the breakfast made him too sluggish and after a few minutes he would have to throw up. With his sword he squatted down on the practice area, breathing heavily. Thoughts flashed up, followed by dizziness: The Straban, shredding up Therbens hand, Hildrins face, she smiled, then Therben as he slept, the rain, rustling leaves, the boy´s cap, paws with yellow claws, fangs, darkness. Dimitrion fell backwards, the sword fell out of his hand clinking and someone called his name. A face appeared above him and he was lifted up. He could not hear clearly how his name was called. But it sounded hollow and distant.
»Do you hear me, lord of the manor?«
Something smelly bit his nose before his gaze became clear. He looked around still dizzy and noticed Serrin and Merthan next to him.
»Lord, are you all right? What happened?« asked Merthan worriedly. Dimitrion leaned on Merthan´s shoulder.
»Never mind. I´m fine, Merthan. I just stumbled, that´s all,« he lied to him. But he could not deceive Serrin. She knew what had happened to Dimitrion, but she stayed silent.
»I´ll make you a tea, Landlord,« she said and went back into the house.
»Thank you. I´m actually thirsty,« he said.
»Are you sick, my lord? The rain was bad yesterday, maybe a cold?«
»Yes, that must be it. Don´t worry, Serrin must have something in her herb bag that´ll get me back on my feet again.«
He closed his eyes and breathed deeply several times. He smelled the stable, the blossoming trees, flowers, Merthan´s sweat, the sand on the square. Merthan still looked at his master with concern. Then he took the sword and leaned it against the fence next to Dimitrion.
»How´s Therben?«, the Halfelf asked.
»He was only awake for a moment and in great pain. The herbalist gave him drops and he fell asleep again. Then she changed the ointment and bandage. She said she´d treat him like this every day until a week went by.«
Dimitrion nodded. That were some good news. If the wound didn´t develop gangrene by tomorrow, Therben could keep his hand. Serrin came back with the tea. Fruit tea, simple fruit tea was in the cup. Serrin suppressed a grin. After the cup was half empty, he put it aside.
»Merthan, go to the front yard and if the search party arrives, greet them on my behalf and tell them I´m coming.«
Merthan looked at the herbalist, then at his master. He nodded.
After he left, Serrin approached him.
»You had a vision, lord of the manor. Your people are deeply connected to nature. I was wondering when you´d have one. We Druven need herbs and song formulas to sink us into a trance. Care to tell me what you saw?«
Dimitrion told her. The herbalist nodded and supported her chin with both hands after sitting next to the lord of the manor.
»There are big animals in the mountains, bears that can break a man´s neck with one blow. A boy like Jillen would fit in size to her normal prey pattern.«
»I don´t think we´ll find Jillen alive,« Dimitrion suspected. »At least we know what happened to him.«
»He´s not dead yet …«
»… he´s just far away,« he finished the sentence.
»Right.« Serrin got up. »We should leave so we don´t waste time.«
The two went to the front yard, where two dozen men were already waiting and talking excitedly. They greeted the landlord and the herbalist. Dimitrion saw Jergen and Birden, but Nirven was not there. After a short consultation they left for the forest. But Dimitrion had little hope of finding useful traces of yesterday´s rain. He was wrong. Dimitrion stood near the creek, as he found a small leather bag soaked wet on a rock. The contents of the opened bag rolled out into his hand.
Trollberries. Judging by the size of the bag, there was less in it than fit in. Dimitrion looked up and Serrin thought the same thing he did.
»The boy probably thought he was going to offer the Straban a sweet change and didn´t know that the berries had to be boiled first,« she said.
»Then the bird began to spit foam, he got scared and fled to the mountains. Here he met the animals and ran back again.«
»Most predators respond to escape like a bull on a swinged cloth. He must have been terribly afraid,« said Serrin.
If he had confessed his act, he would have been punished but would still be alive. Now the situation seemed to be worse than a spanking from his father.
»We´re stopping,« he shouted, and the seekers began to hungrily eat away the packed meals.
Then he told them what he and Serrin suspected.
In the late evening the group disbanded at the estate and all went their ways. It was a heart breaking task to tell the weavers about their son and they cried when they left the manor. Dimitrion rubbed his eyes and damned himself that he couldn´t had done more to help them. But maybe there was a way to make up for it? While Serrin went into the kitchen to brew another cup of tea for Therben, the halfelf stood up and thought he needed someone to help him.
Or maybe some brothers-in-arms, not just someone else.
He walked straight to the main house and into the basement. There was a spacious room, to which only he had the key. Dimitrion opened the door and locked it behind him. In the room there was a large table with all kinds of equipment such as vials, tubes, glasses, wires and bowls. Next to it stood a shelf filled with various books about shamanism, Alkemy, healing arts, weapons, armour and legends. On the other side of the room, weapons were lined up on the wall. There was a fume cupboard for fresh air and a simple bed in the back left corner. In the middle stood a waist-high and half-meter wide coal basin decorated with runes. Dimitrion ignited it and started to tune the formula for the aether. It was the same ritual that the aethergifted used all over Khayren to make contact with someone. It was easy when someone knew the whereabouts of the one he wanted to contact. But if not, it could take a while. After many long hours Dimitrion felt a tingling sensation on the skin. He had managed to reach his friends.
to be continued …
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