Aerich and Ithamore sized up the vaunted Cinderlander.
Without his crossbow, he wasn’t much to look at. In fact, he was running scared.
“Don’t run,” Aerich shouted.
Ithamore chuckled, thinking the aasimar was being sarcastic, but caught the severe look on the Cleric’s face and stopped laughing.
“He’s going to make this difficult, isn’t he,” Ithamore mused.
“Leave him to me,” Aerich said, putting his sword away, loading a bolt into the Cinderlander’s weapon and dropping a bolt into it. The weapon was finely crafted, exquisitely maintained. “Go make sure everyone else is safe.”
Ithamore nodded and headed back.
Aerich took a deep breath and raised the weapon. The Cinderlander was panicking, stumbling, looking back and turning back over his shoulder. The cleric took in a deep breath and sighted his target, taking in a deep breath and then releasing it, firing the bolt.
The bolt leapt into the air, imbued with the magic of the crossbow. In the blink of an eye, crossed the distance and struck the Cinderlander in the back, burying itself deep into his spine. The Cinderlander let out a wail, his legs going limp as he tumbled into the hot, desolate sand.
Aerich nodded once and slipped the weapon’s carrying strap over his shoulder and approached the groaning, bleeding Cinderlander.
“What are you going to do now,” he heard his wife ask.
“I’m going to dispense the justice I was tasked to deliver,” Aerich replied, drawing his bastard sword.
She was walking beside him now, her normally long brown hair was pulled back into a tight bun. She was dressed as the warrior cleric of Sarenrae, a golden chainmail shirt, white cloak, a scimitar hanging at her side.
“Look at him,” she said, “justice has been delivered.”
“No, he is suffering,” Aerich said sadly, “that is tantamount to torture. He must know why I have come.”
The Cinderlander screamed, pulling the bolt from his back. He resumed his crawling, leaving a trail of blood in the sand. Aerich could see the vial he was crawling toward – the blow had sent the Cinderlander, and his gear, sprawling into the sun-bleached sand.
Increasing his pace lightly, Aerich drew his bastard sword.
The Cinderlander stretched out, his fingers dancing on the glass of the vial, working against the sand, which caused the potion to spin in place. Aerich could hear his preys whispered prayers just over the sound of the vial moving. Stepping up, Whitecloak extended his blade and pushed the potion just out of reach.
The Cinderlander groaned, his head falling into the dirt in resignation. Sweat poured from his brow as he rolled over, wincing, breathing heavily.
“You shot me in the back,” he managed, looking up at Aerich. “My spine, it’s broken.”
“Call it grace,” Aerich said, kneeling next to the Cinderlander. “Do you know who I am?”
“A Shaonti-lover,” the Cinderlander replied, “a traitor to Korvosa and Civilization.”
Aerich watched Aiori kneel across from his, her face concerned.
“It won’t matter,” the Cinderlander continued, “you may have stopped me, but the Shaonti are doomed. Between Korvosa and the Orcs in the mountains, they will be exterminated.”
“That isn’t up to you,” Aerich said, “I am Aerich Whitecloak, Cleric of Ragathiel, and I have been tasked with bringing you to justice.”
“You’re a cleric? Heal me! Take me in! The courts in Korvosa will thank me, give me a medal, and send me back out here!”
Aiori looked at Aerich, who glanced at her and then to the Cinderlander.
“No, I’m not healing you nor am I taking you anywhere,” Aerich said. “Ragathiel smiled on your taking vengeance for the death of your loved ones, who are now sitting under his protection behind the walls of heaven -“
“Dont patronize me-“
“But you thirst for vengeance warped you, Cinderlander. The scales of justice have tipped too far in your favor.”
“They’re animals! Why would the Gods care for them any more than they care for a deer or wolf? “ the Cinderlander asked.
“Then why am I here? How did we find you when the whole Shaonti nation could not?”
The Cinderlander was quiet.
“I am here to deliver you absolution?”
“And if I refuse?”
“Then I’ll let you live.”
The Cinderlander groaned again. His face softened. “Will you forgive me?”
“Forgiveness is between you and Pharasma,” Aerich said, standing up and pulling out his crossbow. An elegant weapon, made by Sister Striael, and embossed with several obals of the Church. He nocked a bolt and readied the weapon. “I’m just here to arrange the meeting.”
Aerich knelt again and placed the weapon in the Cinderlander’s hands..
The Cinderlander raised the crossbow and pointed it at Aerich, the steel tip an inch from his nose.
“You’ve got one shot in that crossbow,” Aerich said, “make it the right one.”