Marks in the Sky

A cool breeze relieved the dry dustiness of the air between the two largest barns on the lands belonging to Jray`Ov.

The breeze also threw hay-dust into Jray`Ov’s face. Closing his eyes, Jray waved his arm for someone to take his place and took a few steps to the side as he attempted to rub the dust from his eyes.

Ah, the wonderful things that one gets to experience in a day’s work on a farm, he thought ruefully.

“Are you all right, seyr?”

“Yes, yes, of course, just keep at it.” Jray waved back at the men still unloading the wagon as he blinked the last of the irritant from his eyes. “I’d much rather have the livestock’s grain stored and out of the way before it comes time for the harvest of our own grain.”

Jray nodded to the man that handed him a flask of water before returning to help the others. They had nearly finished stacking half of the bales beneath the cover hanging out of the side of the barn that housed the few dozen beasts that Jray raised for various purposes.

Taking a swig from the flask, Jray pressed his other hand against the small of his back as he turned to survey the small hayfield that he kept up for the livestock. The field lay on the west side of the barns and was sectioned off from the rest of his farmland by a six-foot rock wall that had originally been the beginnings of an ancient fort that had long been forgotten.

As he stared at the wall – slightly higher in some places than others – he wondered if the walls were indeed intended to be used by the Othrarians who had constructed them.

Thinking of the inhabitants of the neighboring kingdom, Jray was reminded of the recent rumors he had heard of contentions rising between Kroal’Ishlon, king of Othrar, and Fi’Siondo, the king of Rowltho.

Supposedly armies were amassing over some unreasonable request made by the envoy of Kroal’Ishlon to Fi’Siondo. Jray had never met his king, but - though nothing he had heard of Fi’Siondo gave him any desire to do so – he hadn’t sounded like the kind of man to begin a feud lightly.

It had been years since Jray had actually made it a point to keep in contact with anyone who was informed on the state of the kingdom and its stance with its neighbors, but he had heard plenty of rumors about tension growing in the villages and cities residing along the length of the Border River that separated Rowltho and Othrar. Supposedly part of it had to do with Othrarian accusations against merchants from Rowlthoan who were – according to the Othrarians, the rumor spreaders would stress – charging an excessive amount for the foodstuffs that they peddled.

That actual tension between the kingdoms could develop over greedy merchants and food Jray found hard to believe, so he doubted the rumors’ accuracy.

Should actually send a letter asking some questions and see what’s starting the rumors, he thought, lifting his wide-brimmed hat from his head to run his hand through his sweaty, tangled hair.

“Look, Grandfather!”

Jray turned and looked down to find Ze’Donoa, his grandson, holding up an insect for his inspection. The boy’s bright green eyes were wide with expectation.

Smiling, Jray nodded and tousled the boy’s thick, curly hair.

Suddenly the hair on the back of Jray’s neck stood on end as another gust of wind, stronger this time, blew in from the north-west.

A barely discernable whistle itched at Jray’s hearing, and he tilted his head in an attempt to pinpoint its cause. He jolted back at the succession of thunderclaps that struck overhead and looked up to find streaks of wispy cloud-like streaks of glowing color – their ends pointing north-west and south-east – in the otherwise clear sky.

Every muscle in his body tensing as he felt the light wash of Power prickle his skin, Jray clenched his jaw.

“What was that, Grandfather?” Ze’Donoa asked taking hold of his hand. “What are those strange clouds in the sky?”

Nayrl Flash-marks. A group of dosh are making their way with great haste to Reglan’Rowltho or another city along the Border River,” Jray whispered turning his head to look in the direction which the dissipating trails of pure nayrl indicated the dosh were headed.

“Something must have happened,” one of the men atop the wagon said, causing a chorus of whispers to rise from the rest of the group standing around the wagon.

“Some dosh are known for their tendency to do whatever they please,” Jray said in a louder voice, turning to look at his servants. “Let’s not assume they are moving in force until we know it is fact.”

A dozen more thunder claps drowned out Jray’s last word, and he glanced up just in time to see a small figure burst off in the same direction as the other dosh must have gone, leaving a glowing trail among the other shimmering Flash-marks.

Seyr Jray’Ov!” Someone called from up the path leading to the village.

Jray walked out from between the barns to meet the young man who was frantically waving his arms as he dashed up the path.

“The Othrarian army has struck at several cities along the Border!” the man huffed as he slumped to a stop, dazed fear in his wide eyes. “We are at war. . .”

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