~Chapter Two - Vengeance~
It was the beginning of the afternoon and the light outside the cave was at its brightest. Since Astrauld told Imoro of his childhood, they had simply eaten more chicken and thought to themselves. Astrauld about Imoro’s nightmare and Imoro about Astrauld’s life. The cave did not grow any warmer, and the two still shivered violently, their bones aching and teeth chattering. It was most certainly not a pleasant experience.
“Astrauld, I need a distraction from this blisteringly cold environment. Could you tell me more about your life?”
“Well I suppose I should tell you more while we’re stuck together.” Astrauld could tell that Imoro was growing more and more comfortable around him because of the Wood Nymph’s eagerness to hear more about Astrauld’s life. “The next moment of significance was around five years later. I was growing stronger, my father only weakening. It was time for a change in my life.”
The Autumn season had fallen over Dweldren Valley. The few trees around that were not evergreen took on orange and red colors. The sun, though still warm, was beginning to cool down as the year went on. Behind the Drehal cottage, Astrauld chopped wood. His father was away on a hunting trip and would not be back for at least another day. It was time for Astrauld to ask his mother a question he had been longing to ask for years.
After chopping one last piece of cedar, Astrauld set down the ax and walked into the cottage’s living area, where Sofia sat in a rocking chair, reading a book titled Dweldren Valley Traditions. She looked up at her now tall son as he entered the room. “Hello, Astrauld. Are you done with the wood chopping? Your father really wanted that done.”
“I’m almost done, mother.” Astrauld replied in a soft tone. “But, while he’s away, I need to ask you something.”
“Go ahead, son.”
“Mother… Why didn’t you help me when father was beating me that one night?” The atmosphere of the conversation became extremely tense when Astrauld asked the question.
“He could have killed me, mother. You stood idly bye while he smashed a glass bottle on my head.” Astrauld recalled, his temper rising. “Don’t you care about me?”
A tear ran down Sofia’s face. “Son, I love you more than everything else, but I cannot stand up to your father… He’s a brute. He’d kill the both of us.”
“You could have called a guard. You could have done something to help… Do you know what he made me do that night?” Astrauld asked coldly.
“It was pure evil.” Astrauld began to shake with anger. “He made me do something you would certainly not approve of.”
“He and I killed Lyyrn and his brother that night. The arrows in their heads belonged to father.”
Sofia but a hand over her mouth, appalled by this stunning information. “I’m so sorry, Astrauld.”
“You could have stopped it! I’m only fifteen and I’ve murdered someone in cold blood!”
Many tears began to spill down both their faces. Astrauld’s face was red with his frustration and rage toward his mother.
“I’m so sorry! I’m a horrible mother!” Sofia shouted. She dropped the book and ran from the room back to her bed, where she cried for the rest of the day. Astrauld sat in the now vacant rocking chair and wiped his face of tears. After awhile he calmed down and became bored. Neglecting his wood chopping duty, he picked up the book Sofia was reading before the dramatic confrontation. He opened it to the first page.
A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY: Dweldren Valley was named after the first inhabitants of the valley, a vicious crossbreed of Dwarves and Humans, called the Dweldren. They were strong, stupid beasts, acting like the common animal, which is why when the first settlers arrived here, it was made a game to kill the Dweldren like common beasts. It was called The Eradication.
Reading that short paragraph sparked a memory in Astrauld. “You’re behaving like one of the damn Dweldren!” Sofia once shouted. “Good observation, mother.” Astrauld said to himself. “All Dweldren should be eradicated of.”
“It’s about time I eat. I’m starving.” Astrauld grabbed one of the many chicken legs and bit into it, savoring the bite. “I’ve been talking too much about myself. I want to know a little more about you, Imoro.”
Imoro was surprised by the request. No one ever asked him about who he was, so he didn’t know how to reply. “Well, I was born in the forest in a treetop village called Krial’s Haven. I was the youngest member of the richest family in the village. We had a treetop manor that towered over all the other shops and households. My parents knew that their luxurious lifestyle would cause a stir of jealousy in the village, but they were not cautious enough. A few men broke into our house and killed my parents and two brothers. I ran from the house and was able to survive. Those fiends took our money and their lives.” Imoro breathed heavily. “Since then I’ve wandered these forests, fending for myself.”
“Interesting…” Astrauld said, scratching his chin. “That must be quite the life, being so free.”
“It’s a lonesome existence, I can assure you. Sometimes I question my own opinions on civilized life, but those thoughts wear away after awhile.”
“Anything else?” Astrauld asked.
“That’s basically been my whole life, Astrauld. I would like to hear more about you, honestly.”
The next morning started out normally. Sofia made some eggs for Astrauld and they went their separate ways, Sofia to clean the house, Astrauld to finish chopping the wood. Astrauld looked at the ax he held, imagining himself using it as a weapon against his murderous father. Astrauld imagined chopping his father’s head clean off, ridding the world of his vile soul.
The trees around the house rustled in the calm wind, their sound accompanied by a crack of Astrauld’s final chop. He bend over, picking up the two pieces of wood, tossing them on to the pile, as a chill ran down his neck. The front door of the house slammed shut.
“I’m home!” Warhal said as he arrived. Astrauld thought of all the ways he could go about ridding of his father. Quick and painless or long and agonizing. Well, realistically, Astrauld would not be able to choose. It would depend on the situation. Still, he imagined chopping up his father with the ax he left by the wood pile. Astrauld began to walk toward the house to greet his father, who now stood in the back yard. “Is the wood all chopped?” he asked.
“Yes, father.” Warhal walked over to the large wood pile to verify Astrauld’s confirmation. While he wasn’t looking, Astrauld picked up the ax.
Warhal bent over, examining the cuts. “You can finally chop the damn wood right. Good. You’ll be doing all of it next summer.” In the corner of his eye, Warhal saw Astrauld’s shadow. He noticed that Astrauld raised something in the air, far above his head. The ax! Warhal rolled to the side as the head of the ax made its descent, dodging Astrauld’s attack.
“Damn it!” Astrauld shouted. The ax was stuck in the ground, and as he tried to pull it out, Warhal gained his balance and walked toward his son.
“You’re trying to kill me?” Warhal punched Astrauld in the face, knocking him down to his knees. Astrauld let out a cry of pain, beginning to scurry away as Warhal picked up the ax. “You must want to die!” Astrauld hurried into the cottage, Warhal slightly behind him. The frightened adolescent slammed the back door shut, and the head of the ax penetrated it. “I’ll kill you!” Warhal shouted.
Astrauld stumbled into the living area where Sofia sat. She looked up at her son, shocked and scared. “What’s going on?” she asked.
“Father is trying to kill me!” Astrauld replied.
Sofia, in an instant, stood up and used her frail body to block the entrance to the living area. She put her hands on each side of the doorway, trying to be a blockade. Warhal looked at his wife angrily. “Move!” he ordered. “This is between Astrauld and I!”
“No it’s not!” she replied. “If you want him, you’ll have to get through me, you ape!” Warhal chuckled.
“Gladly.” He raised the ax and hit Sofia sideways in the head, cutting through her skull. Her body fell backward, allowing Astrauld to now see Warhal’s bloodstained figure. “You’re turn, son.”
On the end table by the rocking chair Sofia once sat in was a large, empty bottle of Drake’s Finest Brew. That’s it! Astrauld thought. He picked up the bottle and faced his murderous, ax wielding father. “Why would you try to kill me, son?” Warhal asked. “How stupid can a boy be?”
“Shut up and do it, you damn coward!” Astrauld shouted, raising the bottle. Warhal raised his ax you strike his son just as Astrauld threw the empty glass bottle at his face. It broke, and Warhal stuttered, confused.
“What in the world?” Warhal exclaimed. Warhal loosened the grip on the ax as he fell backward, barely conscious. Astrauld took the ax quickly, backing away.
“Have fun where you’re going, you b*****d!” Astrauld shouted as he ran up and kicked his father square in the face. Warhal was unconscious, and Astrauld was relieved… And he had the perfect way to rid of his mother’s corpse and his father’s soul at the same time.
Astrauld took a silver amulet from his mother’s corpse, putting it on as a reminder of her bravery. I’ll always love you, mother, he thought, shedding a tear. The dramatic moments were finally catching up to his fragile emotions. He began to break down in tears over his mother’s body, punching the wall in anger. “Why?” he asked no one. “Why her?” He looked over at his unconscious father. “You b*****d…”
Astrauld went back to his parent’s room and retrieved some fire stones. Fire stones are rocks that explode when they hit hard surfaces at high velocities. Astrauld packed some left over food and all of his clothes into a large backpack and walked into the front yard of the house. He held one large fire stone in his right hand, and another, smaller one in his left. He retracted his right arm, throwing the first stone. He threw the second stone after, and there were two explosions that ignited the house. Astrauld ran from the scene, down the trail that would take him out of Dweldren Valley soon enough.
After he was gone, the entire village gathered around the house, watching the roof cave in, hearing Warhal’s last scream. Many of them rejoiced, realizing that the Drehal family would no longer be in Ilkskava, but the person whose emotions were the most complex were those of Astrauld. He felt great happiness knowing that his father was dead, but felt a strong sadness toward the death of his mother. So, with the pessimistic and optimistic thoughts, he had a blank expression spread across his face. The emotions were so strong that they balanced each other out. There was no sadness or happiness now. There was only the memory of that night that Astrauld would always think about. He looked down at Sofia’s amulet. Her positive influence on his mind made him shed one tear. He wiped it off his face and continued his journey to another place.