Magrat stared out into the darkness, as if the answers to her questions could be found out there.
They had accepted her. She traced the fang symbol on the flag he had given her. This could change everything. This meant she was pack now.
She never asked for it. She did as she was asked, she did as she would have ever done, for her people. In a way, they were the closest she had felt to home, in so very many years.
But to join them? Would that not mean abandoning her people?
Before, it was merely the Oath of hunters, of allies, bonded on the field, dissolved in absence. To be a Longfang, meant to live as a Longfang, not as a Lost. She would now need to take their side, in any decisions they made, no matter the side they chose.
She was not sure she was ready for this.
But she would have a place. If not a tribe again, then a pack. Her mind drifted back to the night of the Lich’s ritual, their forms gathered about her, guarding, as she struggled to regain some of the energy she had expended fighting the Dead.
She had not asked them to wait. They merely did.
No one had waited for her in a very long time.
She struggled through her watch, straining to reconcile two cultures, so vastly different, and yet still so similar.
Her watch was long, but her answers were longer yet in coming. Stanrick relieved her of her post, and she sought the oblivion of her bedroll, and the peace of sleep.
But her dreams brought no comfort.
She was running.
It was all you could do when the Revenants came.
Around her, people from her past ran.
Too slow, too slow.
One by one they were dragged down,
And one by one,
They joined the host that pursued.
Then, there was blackness, and wind and rain and water, everywhere.
She was safe, she had left them far behind
Gathered around her now were a new people, the warg children.
They were fighting.
The mordok came in waves, and were slaughtered.
But then the fallen mordok began to get up.
Their torn faces rotted and snarling,
And from behind their lines, it rose.
It was like the mordok, black skinned,
and dressed in the skins of it’s kills.
But it’s face was her nightmare.
Every undead she ever fled from,
Every undead she ever destroyed,
they all burned within it’s eyes.
The lich waded into the ranks of the warg children,
They died like leaves in the fall.
And as they fell, so did they rise again,
to tear at the throats of their mates and children.
Then the Longfang came for her, twisted dead puppets,
And she felt their fangs,
as she had felt the Revenant’s teeth,
Magrat woke, gasping for breath, and clutching her dagger.
The campfire flickered, her pack mates slumbered and watched against the night.
She buried her face in her hands.
“Spirits of my Ancestors, not here. Not again.”
Yawn had been carving a branch into the start of his wooden knife. The one he’d need, and playing on an off again with fitting it with flakes from the obsidian shard he’d been carrying for luck. Yawn was full of superstitions. He always made sure his sword arm didn’t match his shield arm. He only cleaned and scoured his mace by moon light the better for Gaia to see his efforts. Rill had given him a ceramic tub of salve, said to bring luck to wanders. Or at least that’s what Rill had told him which was truth enough for Yawn.
He set aside the half finished branch, the edge and end of the mock blade only just becoming distinct. Yawn waited a beat. The question swelling in his chest. He walked over and knelt laying a hand carefully along the crook of Magrats arm. “Magrat, where were you?”
He started to ask questions of her because she seemed strong. Then because it was said her knowing could be useful. Having seen the lich, having fought it, he knew it may very well make or break the future for the Longfangs. But that was before he’d asked her to teach him. Before she became a friend. Right Now all Yawn cared about was his friend, and what troubled her what robbed her of sleep. “Would you tell me as I told you once?” He could feel the fear, the worry, and it was thick. It throbbed and ached.
Magrat glanced up at Yawn. She laid her hand on his for a moment. She didn’t know if she could ever fully explain to them, and if she could, if the Longfang would even understand. She shook herself, banishing the fog of the nightmare away, and unwrapped her hand from the hilt of her dagger.
“I saw Death.”
She sighed. When had she gotten so melodramatic?
“I dreamt of the undead, back home. Killing everyone.Everyone becoming the Dead. Then I dreamt of the warg children….you. The ulven. They were slaughtering mordok. But every one that fell, stood up again, and began to kill ulven.”
She drew a hissing breath.
“The fallen ulven rose too, and began to eat their children and their mates. Eventually, even you, the Longfang, came for me. I felt your fangs in my throat….”
She rubs the spot on her neck where years before, a Revenant had savaged her, almost killing her. Sometimes, she could almost still feel it. Magrat looked at Yawn in entreaty.
“We have to stop it. We must. I have never been cursed with foresight, but if this filth is not destroyed, this will happen. Everything that went wrong back home, on Faedrun, will happen here. In your home. Yawn, I am terrified of this lich. I cannot allow this to happen. Not again. Not while I can stop it.”
Yawn listened. Feeling the words weight. The thought clawed at his stomach. Fear, heavy as lead, thick and colds in its bottom. “Not so long as I draw breath but I…” Yawn felt the words slipping from him. How did you say all you’d learn had become a bell with out a clapper? It kept him alive but just. “I couldn’t harm it. I cornered it, lob a stone half the size of my chest and nothing. I knew then, with absolute certainty. I think I felt the truth of your words before, but it feel home then, My arm, my shield can only keep me alive, not quell them.” Yawn looked into Magrat’s eyes. “When we are done withe the business of the Grey Tides, I I will go to my trails. I will go in to black. Into the Dirge Swamp, as far as my legs will carry me, I will find my totem, and I will learn to call the spirits to put down the dead.”