Silver and Blood

by EM Malachi

Candlelight flickered across dozens of polished silver triangles. The crowd was mostly Fellowship, with a few outsiders clustered along the edge. The sun had already set over the Serpent’s Spine, and the moon was obscured behind a cloud. It was going to be a dark night, one year after Feridwyn’s death. 

As Iolo made his way through the crowd to the people in his care, he bumped into a man in a Fellowship robe. There was an unexpected clink of chain mail. When Iolo gave a greeting, the man scowled and pushed deeper into the crowd. Iolo examined the gathering and noticed other concealed weapons and armor. Worried, he made his way to Alina, a mother staying at the poorhouse. “I need you to gather the children and tell anyone you trust to get back to the house.”

Alina looked startled and put a hand on her daughter’s shoulder. “Is something wrong?”

“I’ll explain later. I hope it’s nothing. If you see Camille on the docks, can you ask her to help you put the children to bed and then stay for a cup of tea?”

Alina started coaxing her daughter over to others she knew from the poorhouse. “I’ll make sure the old widow’s safe. She’s one of us.” The pair hurried off. 

Iolo walked to the far side of the Fellowship House. There, he removed a board and pulled out a crossbow and quiver he had hidden. He made his way back around the building as Batlin began his speech: 

“Brothers and Sisters! A year ago, our brother, Feridwyn, was murdered. The best of us killed by the chaos that grips this land. We cannot have our worthy reward while chaos tears down everything we build. We can never have unity, when met with constant distrust and violence. 

So now, I ask for your trust as Brother Feridwyn gave us his. Tonight we mourn, not just Feridwyn, but for the necessary deaths that come from what we must do. We can wait no longer. We must protect our way of life. If we do not act, they will destroy us all. Take to the streets! Tonight we take Britain!

For Feridwyn! For the Fellowship!”

As Batlin finished, the crowd roared, and those with weapons drew them. The mass of people converged around Batlin and started moving west across the city. Iolo tried to line up a shot on the cult leader, but too many were in the way. Iolo knew he must be patient, so he chose instead to stop a Fellowship agitator from setting fire to a nearby home. 

Iolo heard shouts and fighting from other parts of the city. Zealots had been in position to strike at critical locations, but luckily the Royal Guard was armed and ready to respond. A force of rangers from Skara Brae cut off the mob at the Virtue’s Pass Bridge. 

An old woman, unarmed and unarmored, ran screaming at the archers like a banshee. 
Iolo recognized her as part of the Fellowship outreach to Cove. Confused, a young archer let loose an arrow that killed her instantly. Other unarmed Fellowship members followed her lead, throwing their lives into the wall of arrows. The rangers eventually gave ground, but the mob was in bloody tatters.   

An alarm bell sounded to the northwest. Not seeing Batlin among the bodies of his pawns, Iolo headed in that direction. On the way, he joined up with a force of city guards, en route to the cemetery. A Fellowship force from the north had made it that far before being spotted. Batlin was in front of their lines, giving orders to the invaders. 

Iolo pulled the trigger on his crossbow, but the bolt missed unnaturally, curving around the cult leader. Iolo ran forward and slammed Batlin to the ground, intent on dragging him back to town. He felt a sharp stab in his back and turned to face Batlin’s enforcer, Elizabeth. The tall woman smirked as she kicked him in the stomach. As Iolo writhed in the dirt, he saw her silver medallion was covered in blood.