FROM: General Debinani Rahl
RE: Chapter Twenty-One – A Son”s Burden
Alexander Rahl was sitting on a barstool in Tablenhelm’s
Fall when the man walked in. He had been in before, and the
boy winced inside for he knew what was coming. The dark-
haired man grinned charmingly at Belinda the barmaid and
put two fingers to his lips.
“Shhhhh” he whispered.
Belinda fell to the floor asleep, and Chandler at his table
fell face-first into the neatly-stacked coins he had been
sorting. Alexander lay his head down on the table and
feigned sleep, the magic of this man never worked on him,
but his friend and superior had known who the man was, even
though he did not say, and had instructed Alexander not to
let the man know he was awake. Alexander’s friend had been
scared of the man even though he wouldn’t show it. And if
his friend was scared, Alexander knew he should be scared
too. So once again poor Alexander feigned sleep.
Alexander listened to the absolute silence of the man
walking up the stairs to his father’s study and shuddered
as the sound of the door upstairs creaking open and closing
softly. There would be no battle tonight. Alexander had not
had much time to get to know his father, but he knew
something was wrong. The dark man’s visits always ended in
disaster of one sort or another. He heard their hushed
voices through the ceiling, planning and plotting one thing
or another. If he concentrated hard enough he could make
out some of the words, but not enough to be important. But
that was okay. Alexander knew what was going on. He may not
have been the brightest boy to carry the name Rahl, but he
carried something much more precious with him, and it told
him the truth about what was happening. The boy shuddered
at the thought.
Alexander’s breath caught as the man glided down the stairs
and nearly caught the boy with his eyes open; but Alexander
closed them just in time. The man looked about the room for
a moment and then departed.
Then the screaming started.
This always frightened Alexander, but what frightened him
more was that the screaming was growing more seldom. For
over an hour the screams of anguish continued from
upstairs. Sounds of wood and stone being ripped asunder by
bare hands and by magic echoed through the town of
Northwood. A guard of Winterfell came running through the
doors, but Alexander did…something… to his mind…he couldn’t
remember where he had learned it, but learned it he did,
and he sent the pacified guard on his way with a mug of ale
for his troubles. And the screaming continued.
When things finally quieted down, Alexander slowly ascended
the stairs to check on his father. He found the door ajar
and stepped inside. His father’s office was in ruins. Maps
had been burned, tables shattered, even the stones of the
fireplace glowed with an unearthly heat. And there was
blood. Blood everywhere from where his father had cut
himself on different implements in the room. On the wall,
in letters as big as a man is tall, were two words written
hastily in his father’s blood:
Alexander found his bloodied father on the floor, and
nearly broke into tears when he discovered that his father
was not breathing. The boy screamed and started to pound on
his father’s chest as one healer or another had taught him.
He tried desperately to crush the garlic and ginseng in his
hands but the healing magic never came.
“You can’t die!” Alexander screamed as he desperately tried
to revive his fallen sire, “If you die, He wins…you know
that?!?! IF YOU DIE HE WINS!!!!!!”
His father did not stir. A newly awakened Belinda poked her
head into the room and fainted dead away at the sight.
“YOU’RE A WARDER DAMMIT!!!! YOU CAN’T LET HIM WIN!!!!!”
His father gurgled a little and took in a precious breath
of life on his own.
“That’s right….” said Alexander, “You’re a Warder soldier,
and you know what that means?”
His father mumbled something unintelligible.
“That’s right…you swore an oath…to defend those who can not
Alexander’s father nodded weakly.
“And what do we say?”
His father coughed up a bit of blood and smiled ever-so-
“Hoowah!” he whispered.
Alexander smiled and allowed his father to fall into a
The boy lifted his father into his simple bunk and bandaged
his wounds as well as he could and then set about the work
of cleaning his tortured father’s chambers.
Hours later, when all was done and all back to normal,
Alexander found himself in thought. He knew his father had
overcome obstacles in the past, but he was not sure if he
could conquer this one. He felt he had to tell someone.
Someone who could keep a secret.
Alexander grabbed his spear and helm and set out into
Northwood to find his friend. His friend would know what to
do, his friend knew all of the dark man’s mysteries. And
his friend could keep a secret. His friend would never tell…
even if he could speak.