Ugh. Just... ugh. I swear tomorrows will be more interesting. Sorry.
Lahsaa awoke with a start to tapping at his door and his name being hissed urgently. Pulling on a pair of breeches and a shirt he stumbled over to the door in the gloom of his bedroom and pulled it open as quietly as he could. "Wha...?" he groaned sleepily, before he was pushed back inside the room roughly by Leanna who entered and closed the door behind her. "Leanna? What the...?"
"I'm sorry," she said apologetically with a quick glance around the room to make sure they were alone. "But... Remember I said I needed your help today?"
The young man nodded, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes.
"I need to know if I can still count on you. We need to leave soon if you're still wanting to help."
Lahsaa bit his lip, recalling the tongue lashing he had had from his father the day before about not doing enough work and running off on flights of fancy. On the other hand, he had promised her. He nodded resolutely.
She smiled. "I need you to say it Lahsaa. You're wanting to come with me, voluntarily?"
"I do. It's my choice - however I can help, I want to help." he said.
Leanna smiled, not quite believing how easy this had been to convince him and as well at the sudden warmth from the scroll hidden in her robes. "Thank you." she said, sincerely. "But we need to leave soon... we have things to set up. Can you be downstairs in fifteen minutes."
He glanced out of the window where dawn was just about starting to break. "Of course."
She darted over to him and kissed him softly on the cheek. "You're a wonderful man Lahsaa." she said, before turning and fleeing the room, leaving him to stand in a daze.
A quarter of an hour later he emerged into the small courtyard, dressing and carrying a staff. Their eyes met and Leanna nodded. "We need to be quick. Let's go."
Dawn found Gregory unmoved from his seat by what had been the fire. He watched as the sun made its appearance over the horizon in the east and sighed heavily as he stretched the ache and cramp out of his muscles. He began restoking the fire, setting down new wood for the small embers to consume before unpacking some of his rations - a meagre meal for what he needed for the day but unable to face or stomach much more. It was perhaps an hour later before Aylix emerged. The captain was red eyed and had a haunted look on his face and he sat next to the fire wordlessly, pulling out a hip flask and taking a very long drink.
"A bit early to be drinking isn't it Captain?" Gregory said, his voice a croak after being unused for the last six or more hours. Aylix didn't reply, and stared hard into the fire as if he had lost something within the small flames.
The pair sat in silence for a while longer until Eliana and then Grundown appeared, bidding the pair morning greetings before preparing themselves for the coming day. Crow and Addy were the last to emerge - both having an expressions on their face that mixed exaltion and trepidation on their faces as they walked hand in hand to join the group.
The silence grew between them, as they all sat awkwardly around the small fire, unsure of what to say to each other before the days events, the enomrity of it all coming back to weigh on their shoulders harder than it had done for the past few days.
In the distance, the bells in the town hall in Netherthong struck eight.
Aylix stood suddenly, draining his hip flask. "I'll meet you all outside the town, time for me to gather the milita." his voice seemed pained, but was said as if daring them to question him. "Don't be late" the mercenary walked off slowly, his hammer rested on his shoulder.
As if it was a cue, the rest of the group stood, packing away none essential kit into their tents before armouring up and checking weapons and equipment before they met back at the fire.
"Ten bells. If you're not there, we will have to leave without you." Gregory said softly, glancing at each of his friends in turn. "We all know what we have to do, may Crowan grant us the courage to see it through."
"And may Tralda grant us all the fortune we need." Addy said with a nod, clutching at her holy symbol with the hand that wasn't clutching Crow's hand.
"Aye, lets be off then." Grundown grinned as the five parted ways.
Above them, the sun blazed across the clear blue sky, chilled only by a slight autumn breeze - the beauty of the day almost mocking what they were shortly to do.