Tap, tap, tap.
The door sneaked open and Ryddik took a step into the room, his face slack and pale in the moonlight. He looked much like a midnight ghoul, and who can fault him for it? The boy had never seen much o’ death. Ragnar squeezed the last amber of ale from his bottle. least he hasn’t pissed himself.
“Ryddik, come, sit.” He tapped at the opposite chair with the bloodied tooth of his sword.
The lad sat. Eyes big and black as Raven-glass. You could see the fear in them, and the dark work he had been about that night. His father’s ruined corpse and the two bodies of his Blood sworn, guts hanging like glistening snakes bathing in a pool o’ crimson looked back at him. As if what he had done had happened in a dark world. Another world entire, made of death and shadow itself. A right coldness crept up his back and Ragnar looked at his blood stained hands. This world was dark, and he filled it with death.
“King Anghar … dead,” Ryddik whispered. a wet line running down his cheek.
“Aye. And I killed the bastard. His men too.” Ragnar bit the cork from another ale and placed it in the lads trembling hand. A good drink always settled soft nerves. He got up and made for where his father’s head had rolled, plucking the crown from his wet skull. He placed it on the table between them and set to digging out the Kraken heart diamond inlaid into the red gold.
The diamond thudded onto the table, big and hard as a man’s fist. Ryddik gasped, bubbles of ale dribbling down his chin.
“People say you’re craven,” Ragnar said.
“I am.” Ryddik wiped his chin. “The Rabbit they call me, ’cause I’m like to run rather than fight.”
“Know what I think?” Ragnar took his hand genlte like, placed the diamond in it and closed his fingers. “A brave man knows when to fight and when to flee. Only stupid men spill blood when none need spilling.” Ragnar leaned back puffing out his cheeks. “Now, little rabbit. You’re to run far from here, and take my sweet sister with you. You know where she is?”
Ryddik nodded, he placed the diamond into his pouch.
“Good. There’s a ship, wolfeater. you’ve an hour before she leaves, lad. Best run fast.”
Ryddik stood silently. Scared most like. He would do as he was told, that was sure. He loved the King, but Ragnar had caught the same look when his eyes fell on Anisse. She’d be safe.
He made for the door handle. Ragnar grabbed his hand, a touch firmer this time.
“Keep her safe.” He said
“Yes, Prince Ragnar.” Ryddik swung the door open, the wood squealed not wanting to spill the secrets that hid behind it. He took a step. Then another before turning. His mouth worked as if a sour insect had crawled on his tongue. “What’ll happen, to you?”He asked.
Ragnar settled his arse into a chair and finished off the ale he had given the boy. “Trial, first. Hangrin will want us hanged, I reckon’. But I’ll ask for single combat and Murok will bite at the chance.” He grinned. “He’s always been eager that one to stick us with his sword, tell the truth I’ve always favoured his daughter.” He took another glug before setting to cleaning the mess off his steel. The door groaned shut and darkness flooded the room. Best get used to it, eh? He looked at the bodies, thought on how the light had fled their eyes one by one. Quick as a blown candle.
The dead know the dark. Come the ‘morrow, I’ll know it too.