It was a night as sweet as could be hoped for, the tang of summer a fading spice on the autumn air. A cool night, the mists little more than plucking fingers slinking among the wagon’s wheels. Yes, a pleasant night, Islwynn sitting propped against the wagon while Kilimar stalked the woods beyond the campfire-light in the first watch.
Seated there, the crackle of the fire a counterpoint to Morgana’s needle as the rogue worked her wares a melody came back to Islwynn, floating down the corridors of memory unbidden to lips that formed half-hummed words.
Farewell to old Mordent, you sea-bound coast.
Let your marshes dark and dreary be.
When I am far away and mist-bound lost
Will you ever heave a sigh or a wish for me?
The song filled the caravan, the babe chewed his fist and drowsed in his father’s arms. Pack well rounded by the caravan’s door, Islwynn rocked his babe, singing softly to lull Kristov to dreams.
I grieve to leave my native home
I grieve to leave my comrades all
My parents whom I love so dear
And the darling, darling girl I do ad-
“That damn giorgio song again?” A voice hissed at the caravan door, a dark-haired Vistani swinging herself up into Islwynn’s home.
“Eve to you, sister.” Islwyn sang, keeping the melody as he looked up. “Hush now, he’s almost abed.” Continuing to pace the wagon’s length, Islwynn eventually placed the babe in a basket beside his own swinging hammock. “You’re not at the fire.”
“Nor you, Islwynn.” Leaning against the caravan’s support, she eyed his pack. “You’re truly going.”
“The Rauni kno-“He started, only to be cut short with a gesture from the woman.
“You’re leaving, giving this up for… for what?!”
“Hush!” He hissed, “You’ll wake Kristov, you stupid doe!” Checking his son, Islwynn fussed over the babe for a spell before turning back to face his sister. “I must do this. It’s my calling.”
“Your –“she looked to the baby, then forced her voice still, “Your calling. That damn Giorgio church’s calling, you mean. It was stupid of you, listening to them! They’re not our people, Islwynn! They’re marks! That’s all they are!”
“Krista…” Crossing the wagon, Islwynn took her by the shoulders, “The Legions of the Night gather ‘round us. You’ve seen the fall of the cards. I can’t ignore what they say. I won’t. Mother w-“
“Don’t speak of her.” Krista jerked free, turning away. “She’d call this foolishness. Leaving your child, leaving your tasque. All for a bunch of witless Giorgio.”
“She would.” Came the quiet admission, “But still… I must go. Will you care for him, Krista? Raise him up in the ways?”
Turning, Krista looked up at Islwynn, searching the half-elf’s face. “Yes.”
A sigh, and Islwynn nodded. Kristov would be safe. And he… he would make the world safe for the boy. Safe for all. Going to the basket that served for his son’s bed, Islwynn knelt. Words were spoken, soft and rich. Fingers trailing along the sleeping babe’s chubby fist, Islwynn watched his son a moment more. At last he rose, looking to Krista and finding a back turned to him.
Nodding, Islwynn took up his pack. Looking back at the basket a final time before stepping out into the night. It was a night as sweet as could be hoped for, the tang of summer a fading spice on the autumn air. A cool night, the mists little more than plucking fingers slinking among the wheels of his caravan.