Undead Reckoning Pt. 10

Talbot set his bag down on the dresser and laid the rifle on a little desk near the window. He eyed the bed and contemplated getting a little shut-eye before dinner. However, he instead sat down at the desk and carefully unwrapped the rifle. He started to fully examine the rifle, something he had initially been reluctant to do. He turned it over and over and studied all of the markings. The feel of it was still so familiar after all of these years. There was the stamp of the Callan Army on the walnut stock, slightly worn from use. He had personally filled in his own engraved initials with paste and then revarnished over it before selling the rifle.

Somebody had obviously cared greatly for the rifle as it was in great condition. Of course, Blackrance may have had the thing refurbished and cleaned before having it mailed. Everything was shiny. The stock had been oiled and wiped down and the iron and steel had been similarly oiled. It looked exactly the same as when Talbot had been issued the weapon after boot camp. Touching it definitely conjured up a lot of bad memories but there was also security there. He remembered falling asleep in the camps of the battlefields with the rifle firmly in his hand. A soldier could not be caught without their weapon, especially when the fighting got more bitter and bloody. The rules started flying out the window.

Talbot laid the rifle back on the cloth and wrapped it up again. He moved over to the bed and removed his boots before laying down. He stared at the ceiling for a while and did not remember falling asleep. He had intended only to rest his eyes but he was out like a light. He did not dream exactly but instead had a vague feeling of anxiety. It was the feeling he always had on the morning that a battle was to begin. He had no intentions of joining any battles but the dream on the train had already unsettled him. He should not have touched the rifle. It awakened something in him that was dying slowly on its own.

He woke up at the sounding of a bell from below which he guessed was the signal for the evening meal. He slowly sat up and rubbed his eyes before slipping on and tying his boots. He rose from the bed and entered the hallway. He turned slowly and locked the door and then looked at the door opposite his. He waited to see if Mr. Seneca would open the door and head down to dinner but the door did not move. He made his way down the narrow steps on his own but had to stop and make way for an enormous Dragonborn who grunted and kept moving. As soon as he passed, Clarity’s door opened and she caught sight of the large gentleman and she shared a look with Talbot. This was evidently the guy who had been arguing with the staff earlier.

Talbot spoke softly after a moment. “Black scales?” he said more as a statement, barely a question. “Watch yourself. The chromatics have bad reputations. He’s huge too.”

Clarity pointed at the horns sprouting from her head with a flat look. “Careful how quickly you judge by appearances, Mr. Hawkwing,” she said. “You’ll embarrass yourself.”

Talbot did feel embarrassed. “Thank you for setting me straight,” he said. “I apologize. I should know better.”

“I’ll forgive you this once,” Clarity said. “If you keep an open mind, we won’t have this problem again. I also told you I can take care of myself.”

“You did,” Talbot said. “I guess my machismo is showing.”

“Your gallantry and chivalry are appreciated but not needed at the moment,” Clarity said.

The conversation was suddenly interrupted when another door in the hallway opened and a slight blonde human woman stepped out. She looked at Talbot and Clarity and smiled a thin-lipped smile. She was wearing a plain and simple dress and a heavy chain around her neck. Something was hanging from the chain but it was tucked into her dress. “Good evening,” she said and her Ganarastavan accent was immediately apparent. “Are vee going down to dinner now?”

“That’s the general idea,” Talbot said. “We were just about to go down if you want to join us.”

Clarity cleared her throat. “My name is Clarity Havenwood and this is Talbot Hawkwing,” she said. Her breeding definitely included more refined manners.

“My name is Ana Koryana,” the woman said. “It is nice to be meeting you.”

“It’s nice to meet you as well,” Clarity said. “That’s an interesting necklace.”

“Thank you but it is not necklace exactly,” Ana said. She pulled out what was evidently a symbol of The Defender. “It is holy symbol.”

“Weren’t all of the gods killed years ago?” Talbot asked.

“I still believe,” Ana said. “and my belief is rewarded with power. The gods are still out there somehow.”

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