Endings – Adair de Clare

Gilded scrolls are tacked up across all of Narrowhaven’s public establishments, from the Inn to the Bank, to the front gates of the King’s Estate; each one written in Fenrir’s slow, careful scrawl. They read as follows;

"All are invited to the cremation ceremony of our late King of Narrowhaven, Adair de Clare, known to some as the Mad King. The act of cremation was requested by his departing spirit, and will ensure that nothing foul befalls his mortal coil. Help us in silent prayer to call upon Lady Amelia Grace to ferry the Paladin Adair’s soul to it’s final rest. This ceremony will be done around the late evening, and I ask as your new King, Fenrir, to darken all sources of light besides candles so that the light of our former king and dearly departed friend may shine the brightest of all, lighting our way in the darkness towards better days."

Delia sat waiting in the Kings Keep. Her black-gloved hands were folded on her lap, primly, and her face was covered in a black veil. They were the only addition to her normally dark wardrobe, though she chose to put on her formal robes, rather than a dress. It just seemed fitting. However, her mourning garb belied her true feelings. Having mourned already for Adair long before she had found out about his death, and having spent her time with him since his demise, there really was only a body to be buried – a simple formality that would allow his spirit peace, perhaps, but definitely keep both it, and the corpse, from the hands of those who might decide to abuse it. She had no idea how Fenrir (or Scarlet) had obtained the corpse, she was only grateful it had happened. Therefore, for her it was more of a celebration, and it was only for appearances that she donned her drab outfit.

She was soon joined in the small room by a man she hadn’t remembered, but who clearly had remembered her; one Engale. He was pleasant enough, but persisted in questions which she had little interest in answering. She thought, perhaps, he might be good to know better, however, once this ritual was over with. Clearly some kind of magi, and quite her senior, she was certain she could learn more from him, and perhaps he might be interested in joining the Academy as a teacher, if his prerequisites fit her design.

Fenrir finally arrived, as well, though upset about something to do with some evil entity. Evil entities – they were all around, constantly butting their heads into everything that normal people wished to accomplish. Dreary, she thought. She decided they should speak of this after the funeral. She might be able to help.

As the new king escorted them from the building, others were met along the way. A nice looking man by the name of Vurn was requisitioned to help Delia create a protective circle, another was requested to gather wood, and while on their way to the site of the cremation Fenrir grabbed another girl to help Delia in her efforts. With two to help in her efforts, little effort was needed on her part, and as a crowd gathered around them, the young woman by the name of Thronna cast the circle before Vurn went about it with his protective spells. That should be good enough, Delia considered, and if something untoward were to occur she was always there to tidy things up. She was surrounded by at least three decent magi, including Engale. She had faith everything would be fine.

At last the soldiers were lined up in a row like little ducks, and guards were set with cannons. A crowd had gathered. She noted Scarlet and her new duke, Merrick. Sasha arrived to stand by Vurn. Ah, so they’re a couple, Delia noted to herself. There were many others she didn’t know, but apparently they were well known by some. Most notable was a man in stark black, much like herself, with long blond hair, who stood to the other side of Engale. He looked rather grim, and stern, as if displeased by this whole process. Delia thought that many would be, considering the circumstances. However, they didn’t know Adair like she did. They hadn’t heard him after his death speaking of what had happened, and what he hoped to achieve. Even in death, his agile mind continued plotting. She smiled a bit underneath her veil – this was why she had loved him.

Finally Fenrir arrived with the well-preserved and wrapped corpse and laid it on the pyre. After this he handed out single candles to each person who had arrived. They were lit, one by one, and everyone’s attention was on the body, or on the new king. Just as Fenrir came to him with a candle, he looked across to the severe man. His eyes widened and his jaw nearly dropped, "El-Elmore? Is that you?"

The man named Elmore appeared uncertain how to react, "Aye Fenrir. Tis I. I’m to understand you’re now my King?"

"You-you’ve been gone for so long!" Fenrir appeared excited, however Engale brought him back to task, and he turned towards the crowd, giving instructions to the guards before heading back to Adair’s body. Finally he was ready to begin, "My friends, fellow townsfolk, I have summoned you all here this evening, for the cremation of our Late King, Adair de Clare." As he continued to speak, Delia simply walked over to the corpse and laid her small hand upon it to give it a parting blessing. Tears welled in her eyes momentarily, as she knew it would be the last she would see of it. "Even though some called him a mad king, he was more wise than any of us gave him credit for."

"Mad?" Elmore spoke up, confused. Fenrir nodded a bit, looking to him, "That is not what I would call Adair myself. I would consider him the one I would trust my life with, the man who I knew had my back. And we all did, did we not?"

Delia looked up to Fenrir, thoughtfully, murmuring, "That is what they called him? I had never heard that before. I do not recall madness." Scarlet’s ears picked up her words and she spoke up as well, "I do not recall either."

Fenrir went on to explain, "The opinion of a few peasants who felt they had been done wrong," Delia winced at the use of the term, "If you insulted Adair, he was not afraid to make you pay for such an insult."

"I hardly see why we would need to bring this up in such a solemn moment," Scarlet commented, indignantly. Delia looked over to her and smiled wistfully, "Because it’s a part of Adair. He took his honour seriously, unlike many. He still does." Scarlet closed her mouth, presumably deciding that to add further comment would be to cause further scene.

"Which is why we have came here to cremate his remains," Fenrir continued, "There would be no other serious offence or dishonor than for the mortal remains of a Paladin to fall to the whims of evil intent.

"I had asked the town to quell the flames of their light for this moment, so that when the pyre is lit Adair’s light will be the brightest of all, seen for miles across the sea. This is symbolic of his nature as a leader, a teacher, a guiding light in our lives. Many of us have gotten to where we are this day through what he has taught us. This ceremony is the least we can do, for what he has given us."

Delia smiled sadly, leaning over the wrapped face of her beloved’s corpse and laid a soft kiss through her veil upon it. "It is not goodbye, Adair, my love. It is only farewell to your mortal remains. You are safe now." Then she moved from the center of the circle, away from where the fire would soon be, and took a place next to Engale.

"May you all bow your heads in silent prayer, call out to Lady Amelia Grace, ask her for her assistance in comforting Adair de Clare’s spirit," the new king requested. Everyone followed suit as he lowered his head as well. "Lady Amelia Grace, please soothe the spirit of our friend and former King. May his rest be the peace he deserves. The Maker save us all." While the crowd gave silent prayer for Adair’s soul, Fenrir leaned in with a torch and lit the pyre. As he did, heads came up and every candle was extinguished so that the only flames left were those rising like the sun that Adair had equated himself with – a sunrise on the sands of the beach, as if on a horizon, rising fully into fierce brightness consuming itself.

To the back of the crowd the guards and soldiers stood at attention, and their leader called out, "Attention! Bear Arms! We salute our fallen King, may he rest in peace!" Fenrir backed from the conflagration and called out, "Fire the cannons! Their echo may fade but the memory of our king never will!"

As the cannons were fired over and over, he went on, his words buried in the echoing booms, "As the mortal coil we posses fades away our spirits shall remain forever strong, I ask each of you in turn to look to your self and those you love, those you care for. We can no longer remain idle as forces muster within the world beyond our sight. Look at the faces of those you love, those you wish to protect, and ask yourself: would you be willing to give your life for them? The answer should be yes.

"Just as Adair died for what he believed in, so too, shall I, and I expect no less of those who wish to protect the Kingdom of Narrowhaven. We are here to serve. I am proud of each of you.

"I ask, any who have not approached me about a position within the Kingdom, or even about what they could do to help the Kingdom along, to please do so later. I am forever grateful, and I plan to help you along in every way I can."

The captain of the guards spoke up, "We pledge our allegiance to you Kind Fenrir!" Yet from the back of the crowd one voice rung darkly, "I’m only here for Adair, King Slayer."

Fenrir tactfully bypassed the comment, turning to others in the crowd, "You may each speak in turn, whatever you wish to say. If you wish to say nothing you need not do so. Is there no one who wishes to speak?"

Scarlet pressed her lips tightly, showing no intention upon moving forwards, simply staring at the burning flames.

Others spoke up:

Vaagnar Ironfist, "All I can say is: rest in peace."
Thronna Hlaeghym, "I did not know him, but may his spirit find eternal peace."
Gunnar Untin, "Rest in peace King Adair."

Moving his eyes from the fire, Elmore shifted his cold gaze to Fenrir, "This shouldn’t have happened. If the Clerist was here, he’d have something to say. He knew Adair well." He frowned as he looked about him to all those he didn’t know.

"Clerist," mused Fenrir, "How I would love to gaze upon his face again. He has been missing for longer than Methalas, but the Lord of Lies has returned, Clerist has not, and it has me worried."

Delia looked to Engale, who appeared frustrated or put off in disgust as he stated, "I won’t be party to this any more," before he vanished. His comment made her wonder, as she looked back between Fenrir and this Elmore, who frowned again as he stared at Fenrir accusingly, "I know not what the Clerist would say about a demon King slayer."

"You speak as if the revelation of me being a Tiefling changes everything," the king inquired, "Does it Elmore?"

"Not for me. For your old friend, perhaps, but it matters not," he shook his head, "Two days."

"Would you have instead let the town fracture?" Fenrir inquired. "I know not what happened, only rumors," Elmore deigned, "We should speak. You owe me that. Now is not the place. My apologies to you all." He looked around at the slowly dispersing crowd. "I owe you everything," Fenrir told him, "For I only have gotten this far thanks to your aid.

The headmistress spoke up again, softly, calmly, "It is what Adair wished. He has told me as much. The Sun has set, and now the Moon rises. This is what he wished."

Elmore glanced to her, then back to Fenrir, seeming calmed by her words. He went on, "Two days ago you were bringing loot into my shop to sell. Now this. I must depart, it’s too much."

"Take your time Elmore," Fenrir said, "I have made my nature known and I have given you the chance to speak against my claiming the throne, but those who still think ill of me," he turned and looked to the back row of the guard assembly, speaking to them, "I will prove to you, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that even daemons can be angels."

"Whatever," the voice spoke up again. Fenrir’s icy gaze sat upon the man, "Do you have something to say lad?" The man brushed it off, "I attend the funeral of Adair, I will not make this about you."

"Am I the only one to think this is not the place nor the time for such debates?" Scarlet spoke up, looking to Fenrir and the guard, then back to the ashes, her nose wrinkled in disgust.

"I will respect your desire to be here," Fenrir began, then something grabbed his attention – laughter. Wicked laughter began to peal out from just outside of the protective circle that the mages had created. It surrounded them. Fenrir stopped and his arm automatically reached over his shoulder to retrieve his weapon. Others grabbed for theirs as well, bows being notched and swords or axes withdrawn. Some were pointed towards Fenrir, himself, and he held up his hand "Stop!" His gaze searched the horizon as he explained to them, "I draw my weapon against a foe who is unseen, but presence is felt." Then he looked to the guards, "Guardsmen, fan out! If you find anything out of the ordinary sound the alarm. Make sure the citizens are escorted to their homes. You have your orders. You are dismissed!"

Scarlet looked to the fire, regretfully, shaking her head, "Such a shame. My apologies, dear King Adair, for such a ceremony."

Fenrir turned to the crowd, "You are all free to leave as you desire." A voice spoke up in the back as the rest of the mourners turned to leave, some paying their last respects as they headed home, "The king is dead! Long live the king!"

"I will gather Adair’s ashes," said Fenrir, "I plan to encase them in a statue in his honor."

Scarlet wandered towards the fire as Fenrir began to kneel before it. As he spoke, she dropped something within the flames. "You got your wish my friend, but I can already hear the complaints pouring in. Some King I am to subject myself to the same laws I enforce upon others."

Scarlet murmured to herself as she turned away, "And, one day, the crimson hooded one met his soon-to-be wife… laughing."

He suddenly stood, as the last of the soldiers stood alone, staring at him accusingly. Fenrir turned to the man whom had earlier given him such problems, "Guardsman, what is your name?"

"Sigmund," the man looked up to him, Sigmund de Clare." Then as an afterthought he looked to Fenrir, firmly, "I have a job to do."

Delia, still watching the flames consume the man she had once loved, looked over sharply. She knew that name. She had just sent a letter to him informing him of the cremation. "Sigmund de Clare?" Fenrir asked, puzzled, "Adair is your father, lad?"

"My brother," the man stated, "and I have a job to do." He turned and wandered away leaving everyone stunned. Scarlet’s mouth dropped open, and Fenrir looked around, "This is an interesting development. Who among us knew he had a brother? I did not know he had any family in these lands."

Smiling in wry amusement, Delia spoke up, her head tilted with interest, "I did. I had told you he was coming. Did you not remember? I wrote to him." This entire debacle had been her creation, in the end. It was a way to ensure Adair’s curious brother had no way to claim the body of the king while it was missing, though true she had expected him much sooner, and this man who claimed to be him was nothing as she had expected.

"I figured his father would come, but never a brother. I don’t know why I am surprised, or why he is in the Narrowhaven guard," Fenrir looked to her, equally as puzzled.

"His father is dead," she informed him, "The latter I can not answer. His brother was his only living relative." And he lives in Brittania, she thought to herself, her eyes narrowing slightly. "Though being in the guard," she continued, "That is rather peculiar. He had said he was coming for the body. This man clearly wasn’t. It may have been a ruse."

Fenrir nodded, turning to walk back towards the slowly dying pyre, "That is true." Then suddenly he stopped, and at the same time Delia looked past the pyre, past the protective circle that had been crushed by so many feet, and her eyes widened at the image she saw floating behind it. "Excuse me?" She said to the fiery, blood-hued demonic features, her gaze narrowing. Fenrir pulled back slowly, staring at it as well, "That face – I’ve seen it!" The only person unsurprised by the entire thing seemed to be Scarlet, who stood back simply watching.

"That looks the same face that appaered in my old home so long ago," Fenrir said to Delia, as she pulled off her gloves and the dark veil covering her non-plussed expression. "Who invited you?" She asked as she walked up fearlessly towards it, as if it were a party-crashing guest. "I doubt he needs any invitation," Scarlet quipped, amused.

"The new king is cursed!" The image stated, darkly, before vanishing before their eyes.

Delia sighed, shaking her head wearily, "Evil entities, so predictable." They always disappeared. It was one of their modus operandi, she had learned in her Defense Against Dark Arts classes. Professor Cornelius was the premier professor in all the lands in dealing with the dark arts, and her passing his courses with honours was the baroness’ claim to pride. She turned to Fenrir, who appeared taken aback and quite shaken. "You know who that was?"

"No," he all but whispered, "But what if what it said is true? Last evening Methalas poured a hoard of minions ‘pon me." His concern was palpable, but Delia rolled her eyes, "That does not mean you’re cursed. It means whomever that is, is a jerk. Most evil entities are."

Scarlet’s lips curled in dark delight, "Perhaps you are." She egged him on. The king turned to look at her in all solemnity, "I oft think the land itself is cursed. That would make me quite normal by comparison."

"He came after your soon to be wife, earlier," the duchess informed him. "I sent her home. Apparently, each time she was saying your name, he would laugh, and laugh."

Delia looked to Scarlet curiously, "Ah, so he has some affinity with Fenrir. Why?"

It was Fenrir who answered, "I do not know why. Ever since my first delve into the depths of Despise as a fledgling warrior, ever since first laying eyes ‘pon him we’ve been at odds with each other. It feels like a game of cat and mouse."

He looked into the flames as Delia commented, thoughtfully, "Perhaps he sees you as a threat. You should destroy him."

Fenrir didn’t look up as he replied, "The Lord of Lies. He often throws mobs of undeath at me. I had fought off each wave successfully in each of our meetings, till one night. It was the bottom of Despise, deep in the darkness."

"Does this being have a name?" She inquired. Knowing a being’s name was a large help in gaining power over it, she knew as well. "If you have a proper name for him, I can do some research."

"He calls himself Methalas, the Lord of Lies."

"Methalas," she nodded, once, putting the name to memory, "Very well. Necromancer – is he human or demonic?"

Fenrir turned his attention back to the pyre’s ashes, "What he is even I do not know. He is always robed in a crimson blood colored robe."

"Despise you say?" She further pressed. Fenrir nodded, "The very bottom of those wretched depths. Delia, you must tread carefully if you plan on going there. Even then, I would suggest that you do not do it alone. The Maker forbid if I must burn your corpse and place your ashes next to Adair’s." He looked over to her in concern. But she simply smiled in amusement again, "Oh, I’d have no intention upon going alone, Fenrir. I’m rather squishy."

As she turned to retire for the night, leaving Fenrir to handle the ashes of the pyre, she looked to Vurn and Thronna, and quickly made plans to meet with them over this subject. She also planned to bring Sasha, as well as see what Engale had to say. Her mind working quickly, overcharged, she teleported back to her room at the Academy, where she sat up all night in research of demonic exorcism. Adair accompanied her by her elbow the entire night, until his form and energy faded once more.

My, how she loved him still.

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