“He knows.” Thorsten hissed after the old knight had been gone for a few moments.

“Of course he knows! He always knew!” Eric gmrose from the table, notva moment before tge doir to the bed chamber opened and Leif stepped into the warm light of the common room. “If I’d copy the plans you have, they’ll approve of my plans.”

Eric frowned. He had his doubts, but it was a possibility. “Copy them, but they stay in this house, where our ancestors had hidden them.” immediately Leif gathered quill, ink and parchment, Eric presented him with the plans he dug up from the vault beneath the hearth.

“If you had to build one, how.long would it take you?” Leif spoke eloquently, yet clearly concentrated on the plans he was copying. “At least a month, if not more.” distraught Leif looked up. “You.once said it could be done in less! Two weeks as I recall!”

“It’s harvest season for one, secondly I myself have never built one, our ancestors could build it as fast. And thirdly, I’m getting old. So it would take me a month at least.” Leif turned back to his plans, copying the crude pictures and word by word instructions.

Waiting on the ink to dry his gaze tirned out the window, against the dark wood of the seasoned shutters. Although the soul was hin, the rocks on the pole gave home to plenty of conifers to grow. But those too had to be brought together, processed before building the ship. If he understood correctly the trees needed to be relatively straight, too many edges were bad for the stability of the hull.

If he had to build.the boat in secret, could he find enough straight trees that he could cut down on his own? Transport them and then process them? He began feeling like a fool. Without the order there was little to no hope he would ever finish the ship in time.

“Your ink’s dry.” Eric pointed with the tip of a root. The farmers often chewed on the root, it calmed them. Leif knew why. The poison in the sap of the bush the root belonged to had sedated numerous generations of the pole’s population. “Thank you father.” Leif rolled the parchment and continued with the next page.

 

The usual string stormy gusts blew gently over the small heap marking the entrance to the underground cellar next to his house as Eric brought in the harvest.

It was plenty.

Just as Leif had said. The unusually high number of sunny days had benefited the plants. “They won’t let me.”

Leif stepped into the sunshine, the rays of light felt almost like a tingle to his pale skin. All people on the pole were pale.

Most had felt sun on their skin on three maybe four days a year. The entire harvest had seen calm wibds abd for two days in a row the pole had been drenched in sunshine. Eric’s skin had turned red where it was exposed.

“Figured as much.” he said locking the cellar.

“They are building it though, but they won’t send me.” he sounded like a child that had been denied desert. Again Eric mumbled. It had been three weeks since his last visit, which was also the first in years. “Sometimes things work out differently than we anticipated.” he checked the door to the granary for its water tightness, satisfied he stood up straight. Although the red sunburn hurt, the fabric of his clothes chafed at the sensitive skin, he enjoyed the mild weather. He almost felt as if he drank up the sunshine. “It was my idea, I ought to go!” Leif protested, still sounding like a child. Perhaps they are correct in not sending you. “Look, you shouldn’t be here.” casually he strode to his son. “Your mother died two months ago, and here you stand arguing like a child over a boat you don’t get to ride!” Leif gazed at his shoes, his eyes said that he was sorry, his mouth wanted to protest again.

“Come back in two nights. We’ll have the harvest festival then, it’ll take your mind off of things.” the wink Leif received told him that he ought to return, but not so much for the harvest festival. “Perhaps you’re right.” he sighed a faint smile. With a few more words he asked how Erica was faring, and upon hearing that she was well enough for a half orphan he excused himself to visit his mothers grave.

Like the knights themselves, the villagers were cremated, only their skulls on display. After the fleshh had been boiled away, the skull went on display for a hundred days before being put into the grave. The ashes were distributed over the lands that nurtured the person in life, in order to nurture the land in return.

Leif could not tell how long he stood in front of the skull that once had belonged to his mother. “I miss you. I’ve missed you every day abd every night ever since I joined the order. Father not so much, his stern nature and acted distance made our relationship always somewhat cold. But you,” he fought tears. “If you can, please help me from where you are. This land needs fresh blood, the other races need to be rallied against the return of the dragons. I need you, father and Erica need you. Please help any of us.” he gently stroked the skull. “I gotta go.” he drew the hood over his head and walked away.

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