When I saw this trip in my mind’s eye it did not include G’Lan.
G’Lan and his old cart and his old urlot plodding along. He is the old storyteller again. And I am his foundling again.
I have been the Leader of the Kha’Ri most of my life. I have led Narn into battle. I have lived the majority of my life as an independent creature. Why do I still find myself in a secondary role the moment I am with this Narn?
I suppose I envisioned something more of my youth. Like the days when Pa’Koth and I travelled. When the Union was young and the people scattered. Now the people are ravaged by sickness, but they expect succor from the Union. I must provide what I can and call those who are able to go to those who are in need.
I have stayed in this inn in Vas’Hon many times. I stayed here when I first left my fragile government afraid of what might happen without my watchful eye. I stayed here when the creatures attacked and we and the innkeeper fought for our lives. It is a convenient day’s travel from Vas’Noth.
Vas’Hon’s very closeness is its asset and its loss. So many of the sick stayed in this village. Tonight I stay in the inn, but there is no innkeeper. No warm hearth welcomed us. The tareee was available but no bustling server brought it to me. We broached the keg ourselves. The stores had not been plundered. There are not even brigands available here.
Only corpses. I recognized the innkeeper. She was still as sturdy as the day she fought with us so long ago against the creatures from the City of Darkness. We burned all we found. I Sang the Songs for the brave innkeeper. She wouldn’t have turned them away. Even if she knew it meant her life. I wept for this village since so few who knew them were alive to do so.
This I do remember from my previous trips. Burning that which is diseased or misshaped. This comes back to me like a nightmare. Yet I am not that callow youth that traveled before. I understand my role in this world more fully than I did then. Mine is the hard road. The road others do not travel because it is hard and rocky and so many more pleasant roads beckon.
At times I envy those who were horrified today. I think back to my youth. When I was horrified to come across a dead village. Then it was G’Lan that lent me strength. Now I realize it wasn’t strength at all. That the fortitude he owned was only the will to not stop. Because you couldn’t be weak.
So I organized teams and we cleansed the village. We set the inn as headquarters and started our job, not as an act of charity but as an act of necessity.
It is still a nice little village area. It is still a convenient day’s ride from Vas’Noth. The people will come back. We die, but Nar’Shal continues.