The Visitor

Posted: July 4, 2017 in 1. Norasburg, Rears Its Ugly Head, Tall Tales
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“What brings you to Norasburg, Light Falson?” Welsley asked after the initial surprise had passed.

Guiding Light Edith Falson was the Goddess’ chosen ruler of Falson Peak, the largest of the tower cities, capital of the nation, most central of the twelve towers. The Falson family was unique in that there was always a Falson on the Council of Lights, when she passed she was replaced by her granddaughter, a woman who was groomed from birth for the position. The family could trace their line back to the days the Goddess walked the realm. The first Guiding Light of Falson Peak was of the family and the line had continued unbroken to this day. The Falson family seemed to have a very special place in the Goddess’ heart.

“Leave us,” Light Falson commanded. Her voice was soft, but there was no kindness in it. She had spent a lifetime dominating all those around her, she was a person used to barking orders and being obeyed.

Welsley nodded to her attendants and watched as they skittered off. Welsley rose to greet her guest and noted the second, younger, woman standing just beyond the older Light. The family resemblance was obvious, this would be her granddaughter. Whatever brought them to Norasburg must be important if she was willing to take her heir so far from the safety of her stronghold. Welsley couldn’t remember a time when it had been reported that Light Falson had left the comfort of her tower, let alone risking her replacement’s safety.

“Don’t get up,” Light Falson gestured at Welsley to remain seated. The older woman walked over to the table and sat down across from Welsley. The two Lights waited quietly as the third woman poured a glass of wine for the newly seated woman.

“Ravensbrook,” Light Koarl offered into the silence after the younger woman stepped away from the table. She stood a couple steps back from the older woman, hands crossed in front of her, body partially draped in shadow.

“Ravensbrook,” Welsley repeated, “why is that name familiar?”

“What are you looking for among all these dusty old books, Light Koarl?” the older one countered after a sip of wine.

“What brought you here to my tower, Your Eminence?” Welsley responded.

“Why have you garrisoned troops across the river, Light Koarl?” Light Falson replied. “Why have you sent Shan through the forest? What is your interest in the thirteenth tower? What came out of that forest? Why have you kept this information from the council?”

“Why have I kept it from you?” Welsley shot back. “That is what you meant?”

Along with being blessed by the Goddess, the Falson family had long been the nation’s unspoken rulers. Light Falson ruled the council, all decisions made by the council were based on the wishes of the Falson family.

“I did not realize the deployment of my troops was a concern of the council,” Welsley continued. “I wanted to provide some additional security for my logging camps. The forest can be an unfriendly place.”

“Filled with the undead, I hear,” Light Falson replied.

“And where did you hear that?” Welsley wondered.

“Is it true?” Light Falson ignored the question.

“Yes,” Welsley admitted. “A group of what we were told were ghouls. Six of them, all destroyed. The garrison is a precaution, a prevention against another appearance.”

“And Shan?” Light Falson asked after a moment of thought. “Why does she journey through the forest?”

“Shan is determined to discover the origin of this threat,” Welsley shrugged. “I trust her judgement and give her the freedom she needs to accomplish her task.”

“Light Amoren took a similar approach with her,” the older woman responded. “I never understood it.”

“Shan works best that way,” Welsley explained.

“I will be leaving some of my troops with yours at the river,” Light Falson declared. She raised her hand to cut off any protest. “They will be transferred to your command. It is better to be safe than sorry if creatures from legend are rearing their ugly heads from beyond the forest. There is no way to tell what Shan’s excursion could stir up, we cannot recall he and we cannot leave the towers at risk.”

“You sent four people,” the elder Light continued, “you should have sent an army. The myths teach us that the undead are limitless in number. We have no way to know what level of danger Shan and company are walking into. You should have informed the council before sending an expedition.”

“There were only six. Shan made a judgement call. I support it,” Welsley responded.

“You put us all at risk,” the elder raised her voice. “You had no right!”

Welsley grimaced. She hadn’t given a thought to anything beyond Norasburg. She understood Shan’s impulse to protect their people and even approved of the curiosity about what lay beyond the woodland. She hadn’t given much thought to any risks, she was still unsure she believed the ghouls were real.

“What are you not telling me?” Welsley asked. Ravensbrook was the key to this all, she was sure of it. The more she focused on it, the further away the answer felt. She had heard the name before, she was sure of it. “What am I missing about Ravensbrook?”

“Ravensbrook, also known as the Sister’s Tower,” the young woman’s voice broke from out of the shadows. “It has sent its foul armies against us before.”

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