The Bard and the Seeker

Well away from the others, Mordekai sits among the rich smells of the grove, his crossbow in his hands before him as he observes the weapon, and remains motionless. Taking deep breaths, his eyes pour over the weapon, covered in tempered steel and complicated dials.

“Not the kind of weapon I would expect you to wield,” Odus says softly from behind the Seeker. Mordekai doesn’t turn, but continues to stare gloomily at the weapon. He hadn’t heard the Bard approaching, but then again, he hadn’t been listening for it either.

“No,” he sighs, in response. Odus moves around to stand before Mordekai. Keeping his eyes on the Seeker’s face, he pats him sympathetically on the shoulder. When Mordekai finally does look up, Odus smiles widely at him, his hand squeezing the Seeker’s shoulder softly.
“Are you alright?” the bard asks.

“No,” replies Mordekai, and he drops his eyes again. There is a long moment of silence, and Odus, unwilling to leave, struggles to think of something to say. Suddenly, Kayle silently plunges from the sky, landing softly on Odus‘ shoulder. With its wings spread wide, the hawk’s talons scrape along the bard’s armor, before the bird finally settles and stares off into the grove, remaining still on its perch.

Both men look at each other startled, and Odus can’t help but smile, as he slowly settles to the ground in front of Mordekai, his eyes watching the hawk intently. From the corner of his eye, he can see Mordekai smiling slightly.

“He must like you,” the Seeker says, “I’ve never seen him trust another before.”

“He’s lighter than I expected him to be!” Odus says in wonder, but as thrilled as he is to be so close to the hawk, he pushes his advantage quickly, prompting the Seeker to speak, “Tell me about the crossbow.”

“I was trained in bows, much like the fine specimen you use. For a long time, I used them exclusively, not wanting to taint myself with a weapon so far from it’s natural components. But this… this was taken from a fallen enemy,” Mordekai says, distracted now, not understanding what it is about Odus that makes it easy to talk to him, “In my youth, I thought that using this kind of technology against the enemies of nature would be an ironic twist.”

“Isn’t it?” Odus asks, his eyes still on Kayle. Mordekai finally chuckles.

“Not really,” the Seeker smiles, “Think on it. I highly doubt they have time to realize the irony of the situation as the bolts from the crossbow steal their life away.” Mordekai shakes his head, “The stupidity of youth. Still, I suppose I could announce the weapon before every fight to make the point, but that seems presumptuous.”

“I am Mordekai, look at the weapon I use to destroy my enemies!” Odus mimes the Seeker’s voice. The two men laugh openly at the joke. When the laughter dies off, they burst out into snorts again just looking at each other. Kayle, annoyed that his perch won’t sit still, finally leaves them.

“Their deaths were not your fault.” Odus says, getting to the heart of the matter. Mordekai‘s smile falters slightly, as he looks once again at the crossbow in his lap. Finally, the Seeker returns it to the strap on his back, and smiles back at Odus.

“I know that now,” Mordekai says, “It’s just that I have all these ideals in my head that I’ve held for so long, but now that I’m out here, away from the grove I grew up in… They seem so naive, almost arrogant in a way.”

“How did you come to be with us, friend?” Odus asks. Mordekai stands finally and extends his hand to Odus. The bard pulls himself up, and they clasp hands warmly.

“That tale is for another night,” the Seeker says, patting Odus on the back. “And… Thank you.”

“I’ll hold you to that promise,” Odus says seriously, “After all, I like a good story.”

Author: Neil