CHAPTER SIX

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     Avos woke before sunrise with a start. The faceless were in his dreams again. Although he heard the morning doves coo and saw the orange glow of the waking sky, he still had the sense that someone watched him from beyond. He sat up uneasily in his bed and surveyed his surroundings.

     Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. His room lay still, his clothes and boots where he left them.

     Outside his window there were signs of another storm that had slogged through the South the previous night. Ewes drank from newly formed puddles and branches scattered happen stance in the fields. He knew he had to shake off the dread and get up, get dressed and start picking up the debris before a young lamb got hurt or worse, his mother got on his back.

     He got dressed and headed down into the kitchen where he was surprised by his father. "Da? You're up late," Avos declared as his father was usually tending to the horses or out making rounds on the dry stone hedge by now. 

     "Avos, I was just about to come wake you. I believe we have a visitor heading this way." His father looked solemn. Could this visitor be someone he had hoped to never see?

     "A visitor?"

     "Aye, heading up the South Road. I spotted him during the rounds. He should be here shortly." He took his hand and cupped Avos around the neck and gave him a sombre smile.

     "What is it, Da?" He wondered what had gotten into his father.

     "Nothing, son, nothing. I just forgot you were growing into a man. It was seventeen this year, right?" He turned away, not expecting an answer.

     Avos saw a single tear fall down his cheek.

     Suddenly the day got very strange. Avos was confused and curious why his father would express such emotion. It was not rare, but it seemed misplaced. Perhaps this visitor brought this on?

       "Do you know this man who comes?"

       "I do."

      Avos stared at his father and waited a few seconds for some sort of explanation; but it never came. His father eyes glazed over as if lost in thought. Avos had seen the look before, usually when he was talking about the Great War.

     His parents had never told him much about the Great War, only that it had been because of an uprising from a class of men and women who had forsaken the Light - Bringers, he thought they called them - who were to carry out the sinister designs of the Great Dark. His father described it as a time of immense change and travesty. It had taken people unaware; even the armies dedicated to protecting the larger cities and their rulers were left in ruin.

     Eventually, the Great Dark was defeated, apparently overnight. His father told him with the same look he wore now, that a great warrior of the Light broke the spell that the Great Dark had over those who fought for it.  It was as if the Bringers had suddenly woke from a dream and decided to return to what was left of their homes. Though some did not make it home.  Some were left with the memories of what they had done and found that they could not continue living. Others became victims themselves, by the retaliations of the families who had lost loved ones to their raids and battles. It had taken years for peace to be reclaimed again throughout Valterra. But it had come. It was all Avos had known.

     Avos recalled how he was told this secluded farm was not his first home. He was born in the City of Endure, but everything his parents had built and owned was destroyed by the war. He and his parents had moved here to the South to join his father's sister, Chloe. Was this visitor from Endure?

    He was about to ask his dad as much when his mother burst through the door. She must have been out in the barn and saw this man coming. His approach had her panicked. She did not even look at him, it was straight to his father she flew.

     "It's too early, he is not ready!!" She threw her arms around him in a fit of hysteria.

      "Now, now, Kaja, we don't know if that's why he has come just yet. Let's wait it out before you go all tears and sobs." He was hugging her now but it was obvious he didn't believe his own words. Avos suddenly felt like an outsider. He had no idea what was going on and was quite alarmed that this man could stir up such emotion from both his parents.

     "Ok, which one of you is going to fill me in?"

     "I guess that would be me," announced a voice from behind him. Confused, Avos turned around and came face to face with a stranger. He was an older man, grey haired and bearded, wearing a brown cloak of a cleric. He extended his hand to Avos in welcome and continued.

     "My name is Chancellor Marcus Thane," he said as they shook hands. "I am your uncle, Avos, from Endure. I am here to see you resurrected, my son."

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