City of a Thousand Deaths

Epilogue 3: Belhorn

Epilogue 3: Belhorn

Erllia Trickykin placed the cup back in its saucer so the others wouldn’t see the shaking of her hands. She sat on the porch of the surface house she and Belhorn had first rented when they arrived in Waterdeep. They couldn’t afford a proper turf house; to even rent one cost twice what they paid here, itself a luxury in a city overflowing with tenements and apartments. But the over-sized dwelling had served as a home, until….well, that’s what they were gathered around here for, wasn’t it?

Most of her family lived well away from Waterdeep, in the farms outside Daggerford, but since Belhorn’s disappearance, her mother, sisters, and several cousins had made the trek north to support her. So they said.

Her mother placed a reassuring hand on Erlia’s shoulder, but she shook it off. She didn’t need to turn to sense her displeasure. Her mother’s flustered expression had been part of her daily routine over the last few weeks. With Belhorn missing for weeks, the family’s words of comfort turned from support to persuasion, to encouragement to “face facts,” and to “start thinking about her future.” A future which involved Daggerford, and, she was fairly certain, the youngest son of some respectable family. She needed to place her faith in the gods, and accept the path she was given, they said. Discussion stopped altogether after that.

But after the adventurers’ visit, her mother saw a chance for compromise. They’d either bring Belhorn back, or she’d pack up those few things he’d left her, pack the wagon, and settle in for a new life back home. Erlia agreed. At least in Daggerford, she’d not have the empty house to cook in, and his empty bed for sleep.

So it came down to this: her shaking hands, a samovar of tea, and half her family offering sympathetic expressions as they watched the fire burning in the distance.

“It’s probably just a coincedence,” she had said, when they first saw the smoke. From her family’s reactions, nobody thought so. The way those adventurers had held themselves that morning, she didn’t either.

A gout of flame spouted from the fire, and her mom placed a hand on Erlia’s shoulder again. She moved to shake it off, but found herself grabbing it instead, holding it to her face, eyes squeezed shut. She felt like a child again, accepting a hard lesson, the sting made bearable by her mother’s gentle steadiness. Memories flooded through her: of open fields, of kennels filled with scampering dogs, of her father’s cloying pipe smoke, of life before Belhorn. It had been good then. It could be good again.

It was right then, right that very moment, when she accepted her mother’s advice, accepted that the path before her didn’t include the man she had spent the last six years loving, it was right then that her mother’s hand slipped away, that she knocked over the samovar as she ran down the path and threw herself at him, at Belhorn, at the man she couldn’t live without, who had returned to her.

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