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Finding himself outside Aelfwyrd breathes deeply, rubbing his temple as if trying to rid some tightness. Vastyr’s wise words had momentarily calmed him but suddenly emotions begin to overflow once more; injustice, sorrow, rage and despair in equal measure. Trying hard to focus Aelfwyrd feels his sanity slipping ever so slightly. Finding no control from within he falls back on the seasons spent as a student with his diminutive Kralorelan sensai.

For many minutes Aelfwyrd examines each of the great wyrms etched along the length of his Dragon Blade. Closing his eyes the Kargani softly recites their purpose and meaning all the while turning the weapon over in his grip. Then almost oblivious to the outside world Aelfwyrd begins a complex practice routine; a whole array of spins, thrusts, flurries and feints against a number of imaginary foes. Feeling control and focus return once again his spirit begins to soar, knowing a kind of salvation for a split second.

Then, as always of late, rage rises from his gut. Soon the practice strokes become exaggerated and violent; his blade furiously thrashing this way and that. With each combination Aelfwyrd questions his god, anger plain in his voice.

"I hear your command and I follow" (Left neck chop to reverse leg sweep to rear gut thrust)

"I see your hidden signs and I take heed" (Front trip to front full impale to rear parry)

"I walk your path yet I know not where it leads" (Feint left to gut thrust right to rear decapitation)

"I master your weapons but I am none the wiser" (Rear parry, spin left, rear neck cleave)

"I fight your battles yet I feel no victory" (Rear parry, spin left, front neck cleave)

"I slay your enemy but I see no purpose" (Front throat slash to front neck cleave to front head thrust)

The final thrust plunges his blade into the side of a nearby hut splintering the wooden panels asunder. Leaning heavily against what remains of the hut wall his breath is ragged. Aelfwyrd’s rage cools but it is quickly replaced by desperation. Heaving the blade free he yells wretchedly to the heavens.

"I know you hear, for it was you that spoke to me."

The echo of his voice fades, all is still. Silence the only reply. Daring to wait for a response but getting none the Kargani shakes his head. Walking despondently back into the boothie Aelfwyrd is unaware of the figure in the darkness who was watching all along.

Yet as he turns to walk back to the boothie the Far Walker feels a terrible presence surround him. In the darkness his visions play tricks, for the flickering campfires behind him throw shadows on the huts of fighting armies and burning cities. All is still and terrible quiet, yet there is a voice like the clash of sword on shield that calls his name.

AELFWYRD! GIRD YOUR SOUL WITH IRON, FOR YOUR TESTING TIME APPROACHES. SEEK THE DARKMAN, THE HAG, AND THE DANCER, AELFWYRD, AND THEN YOU SHALL SEE TRUTH.

The shadows flicker, the war-din fades and the presence is gone as soon it came.

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