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The Storyteller Chapter 3
The following morning, Ronin awoke to sharp, hurried knocks on his door. Having drunk much wine the evening before, he was irritated at the noise. He looked outside the window and noticed that the sun was not yet up. Growing increasingly annoyed, he got up and, making himself look as presentable as he could having been woken up before dawn, and opened the door.
To Ronin’s surprise, Emmett was standing in the doorway, looking anxiously around. “Quickly pack your belongings—only what’s necessary! And meet me just outside the main entrance to town.”
“No time for questions! You must do as I say for the time being; I shall tell you everything when there is time.”
Having already packed some books and as much food as he could fit in his pack for the trip into town the day before, Ronin did not need to pack much more, and was quickly out the door and on his way into town. Upon reaching the town and seeing that it had not yet been ransacked or burned down by the mysterious foe that was supposedly arriving soon, he decided that there was time to make one quick stop before meeting Emmett.
Following his oft-travelled route to Vivian’s home, he broke into a light jog. When he reached the house, he went to her ground-floor bedroom window and tapped lightly on it, fearing that he might wake her parents. After several attempts, he woke her up, and thankfully she woke, got up, and walked to the window without much of a stir. With a confused face, she quietly opened the windows. “What is it Ronin? Is something wrong to have woken you at this hour?” she asked.
“Vivian, I have to leave,” he said, and seeing her concerned face, he explained. “I do not know any more than you do. Emmett came to my door this morning and told me to pack my belongings and meet him outside town. I have come to say farewell. I do not know when I shall see you again. Know that you have all my love, and that you will be always on my mind.”
“No Ronin, I will not let you go alone! I will come with you!”
“I will be with Emmett, I will not be alone. And if you should accompany me and any harm befell you because I was not able to protect you, I could never forgive myself. No, I shall go alone.”
“Please!” he cried, and he put his finger to her lips. “There is no time to argue. I must go alone, and you must let me go.”
She hesitated, debating with herself for a moment, then nodded as if to confirm something to herself, and then said, “It breaks my heart to let you travel into danger, but I will do as you wish me to. Go with the promise that you will return as soon as you can. I give you my love, for that is all I have to give. Let it protect you as well as any shield.” And with that, she pulled him towards her, kissing him passionately and embracing him as well as she could through the window. She held him as if she would never let go, and he wished that she never would.
At length, she let him go, and reluctantly he started out of town. He had barely gone a hundred yards however, before he heard Vivian shout his name. “Ronin!” she yelled once, twice, three times, and then let out a strange noise before falling silent. By this time, Ronin was turning the corner around her house to where he had heard the screams. He stopped short as he turned the corner and saw two black-cloaked figures with hoods obscuring their faces, carrying staves, and gathered around the woman he loved.
He held his breath and stayed where he was, willing himself to turn invisible, but the figures had already seen him. One of the two turned to face him, beginning to walk to him, while the other reached for Vivian with a gloved hand. It grabbed her by the throat, lifting a small dagger and holding her so that there was nothing she or Ronin could do without her being killed. Ronin’s anger surged at the way the vile monster treated his beloved, and cursed the fact that he was unable to help her. He did not care if he was hurt. Let them kill me. Just let Vivian be safe, he thought. His mind swelled; his head felt as if it would explode. He clenched his hands until the turned white and veins popped out of his forehead. He looked at his lover’s tormentor, wishing agony and death upon him.
Just as he was wishing these things, the hooded figure dropped dead on the ground. Ronin’s vision swam. His thoughts became clouded; his balance, unstable. He remembered on the edges of his consciousness seeing Vivian jump away, horrified, hearing the shouts of his mentor Emmett, and the dark shape that had been almost upon him turning to face Emmett. He heard a fierce cry from the old man, and the thud of metal against wood. He felt himself lifted up, seeing Vivian’s worried face. Then darkness overcame his sight, and he knew nothing more.