Thursday, August 10, 2017

Rud III

    Rud wiped his hands on his trouser leg, damp earth rubbing into the cloth. The three graves in front of him now held four bodies and a key. Swindon and Podd had wanted to bring Adam back to camp on the night that Rud had saved them, but he had known that there would be too many questions.
    The questions had come anyway and Bron had paid the price for asking them. For now, Rud kept Bron's demise a secret, letting the rumor spread that he was sick and didn't want to be disturbed. Not even Swindon and Podd knew the truth.
    Rud couldn't help wondering if Bron had been right to worry about the spring and the water's effects. Had he overreacted by killing him? No. It had to be done. Bron would have gotten in the way. He would have had the authority to seal off the spring and let no one near it if he thought it was a danger to others.
    It was no danger though, Rud knew. It was water sent from the Gods that would give every man the strength and vitality they needed to fight the Orcs. Rud was sure of it, just as he knew that he was the one who would have to spread the Gods' gift.
    Boots scraping the ground of the path to the spring pulled Rud from his thoughts. Swindon and Podd appeared as if from the rock itself. The twilight of dawn making the entrance to the path even more difficult to spot.
    They were both carrying a barrel on their shoulder, the added strength of the spring water making it an easy task. "Two barrels filled with the finest water there ever was." Podd placed his barrel on the grave his brother was sharing with a key and one of the men they had first found in the cavern.
    "So, where should we hide them." Swindon put his barrel down as well and turned, undoing his trousers laces. "I think it should be close enough to camp for us to be able to refill our flasks when we need to, but disguised so they aren't easy to find. In a bush or something like that." He said while taking a piss on one of the other graves.
    "Actually, we won't be hiding them. We'll be exchanging them with the current water barrels of the camp." Rud smiled.
    Podd's jaw dropped and Swindon turned back to them, spraying Podd's boots. "Watch where you point that thing or I'll cut it off!" Podd's hand moved toward his blade in an instant, white knuckles clenched around its grip.
    "Calm down!" Swindon said as he pulled his pants up and laced them shut. "What do you mean, Rud? You want everyone to drink from the spring?"
    Rud was still eyeing Podd with his flushed cheeks. Had Bron been right to worry? Yes. But it had to be done. "We need more men like us, Swindon. Men who can be cut down and keep on fighting. The conflict with the Orcs is getting worse. Soon it will be a full-blown war. This is only the beginning of what needs to be done for us to be victorious."
    Podd still had his hand on his weapon, but his fingers were starting to relax. "I can see the benefit in that, but what about the Captain?"
    "He's sick. Everyone will have had some water before he's back on his feet and when he has a drink himself he'll be as good as new and will see why we need to use the spring to our advantage." The lie came with ease.
    Swindon pondered this for a moment, but nodded his assent in the end. The three of them went back to camp and made sure that the two barrels were lined up to be used as the day's drinking water. They had agreed to let the spring water spread through camp naturally without anyone making a connection to them immediately. Once everyone or almost everyone had taken a sip, then Rud would inform them of what it was they were drinking.
    As the camp stirred and slowly came to life in the morning light, Swindon and Podd went to the training grounds to keep at their regular routine. The lack of a good night's sleep was nothing to them after having had their fill of the spring's water.
    Rud was making his way through camp as he noticed some heated activity near the mine's entrance. His heart pounded in his chest. Bron had been discovered, it couldn't be anything else, he was certain. Rud retraced his steps mentally to be sure there were no clues leading to his guilt.
    With a calm he did not feel, he made his way to Bron's office. Hushed words were spoken between the guards on duty. They didn't seem to know what to do. At Rud's arrival he saw fear in one man's eyes and relief in the other. A spare glance let him see the door of the office, it was open and was marked by dried blood.
    The fearful guard turned away, not making further eye contact with Rud, while the other cleared his throat to speak, but couldn't utter a word. Rud made a show of seeing the door and widening his eyes in shock. "What happened here?"
    The relieved guard finally managed to speak. "We don't know. There's a lot of blood. It's everywhere. We found the office like this at first light and didn't know what to do. The door was open and there was so much blood."
    "Is Captain Bron alright?" Rud hoped his concern sounded genuine, although the guards seemed so flustered they probably wouldn't realize he was faking it.
    "I don't know. He's not there and we haven't been able to find him anywhere else in camp. He's gone."
    "Gone?"

2 comments:

  1. It's been a while, and I have to get back into the swing of things. Glad to see you back!

    I don't recall what I thought of Rud before, but I hope he dies a horrible death. What he's doing here is deceitful and dangerous to everyone.

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    1. I seem to have ruffled your feathers with this one. We'll see how things move along soon enough. ;)

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