Underneath an Orange Sky

Episode 1 [Jericha POV]

The Festival of Samhain

SYNOPSIS: In which Jericha White recounts her perspective of the Festival of Samhain and peculiar occurrences on its eve.

~ * ~

Nessa’s funeral was yesterday.

I was somewhat surprised that Septimus even showed up. Apparently old Bill wasn’t lying through his teeth when he told me that my daughter’s husband is working to improve his lifestyle. I can’t bring myself to forgive him completely, though, for his renaissance comes too late. Were he not drunk that night, my daughter might yet live. I gave him money to pay rent and keep the kids fed until he acquires a job. I still think Conrad should squire to a local knight.

…Her favorite color was yellow.

The Festival of Samhain was interesting this year. Strange to go alone. Decided to stay at a local halfling establishment. Halflings are good for the heart. The little people have a natural effervescence that lifts my spirits and brings me joy even in the darkest of times. I came upon a peculiar young halfling. “E.A. Underfoot, master wizard!” he said upon introduction, dapper as a chipmunk.

I sat by him in the stands during the fencing Tournament.

The Tournament had gone on for several matches when E.A. Underfoot began to act even more peculiarly than usual. He sensed an evil magical presence. I followed his eyes into the stands opposite us. A hooded man rushed to leave. Thinking that perhaps dark magic had been used to cheat in some way, I moved to alert the Tournament adjudicator. But in my impatience I neglected to hear the halfling’s full explanation. The crowd impeded me. The hooded man disappeared.

I ate a consolatory bacon puff, but I will not soon forget the suspicious hooded man.

I have little skill with fencing (and some have made the argument that I haven’t much skill with my greatsword, either). Still I know skill when I see it. The contestants were slow and dull – with he exception of one. He was a tall, imposing man. An elf. Dark as midnight and as ominous as a thundercloud boiling over. I didn’t catch his name when it was announced. He made clear quickly the content of his character. His final victory was punctuated by ramming the pommel of his blade into his fallen opponent’s exposed wrist.

After the Tournament was the famed fireworks display. Apparently Mr. Underfoot was providing the event; I sat with the matron of the halfling bed-and-breakfast. The fireworks were impressive.

… a memory. Her little hand, sticky with the honeyed buns she had been eating earlier, grips mine with white-knuckled excitement as the fireworks sparkle in the night sky.

The screams of terrified citizens interrupted the show. People swarmed willy nilly. I rushed back to the inn to equip Joachim’s armor. It is a strange thing when a woman realizes that armor has become more comfortable and natural to her than a dress! When I returned to the scene of panic, some strange hunched cannibals were feeding on the dead. Upon corpses! Like ravening wolves on a carcass. Bile rises in my throat recalling it.

Mr. Underfoot was engaged in combat. He was not alone. There was a bizarre man with a stovepipe hat almost as tall as my greatsword is long. Glowing green goggles obscured his eyes and immediately I recalled the hooded man.

Could it be?

I pondered this as I cut down the cannibalistic man-beasts. My aim today was good. The training I’ve engaged in has proven its worth. A familiar-looking elf engaged in direct fisticuffs with one of my targets. To my surprise he was not mad. Nor was he incompetent – his fists were quicker than a hailstorm. Still, there is only so much a fist can do. My patience thinned and I cut the flesh-eater down. It would have been polite of me to give the elf the kill, but I saw more of the corrupted approaching. There wasn’t time for battlefield etiquette.

It is difficult to recount battles in which I have been a participant. I act quickly in combat, using the primitive part of my brain that yearns to conquer and defeat. To stab and make bleed. The means are irrelevant. In the end Mr. Underfoot, the slender goggled man, the elves, and I defeated the cannibal corpse-men. Mr. Underfoot saved a dying man. We take a breather. I can see the town guard approaching us to assist.

Better late than never, I always say.

~ * ~


MysticGundam malignantlibrarian

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