Almost there now! The next part if Udrath's tale has been completed.
You can find it in the Roleplay Stories
section of the site, along with the rest of the tale so far. I've also
included it after the break. The final part of the story should be up in the next week or so, and that will bring all my current RP stories to an end. I may then start on one set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...
Udrath smiled to himself at the thought of his marriage. It wasn't so odd that he was thinking back on these times, so many years ago. yet still so fresh in the memory. No, not so odd considering the reasons why he was waiting here. He checked his axe again, but the blade was still sharp. It wouldn't be too long now until his quarry rode past.
It had been a strange life that had brought him to this point, but a good one. He had hunted, adventured, loved and fathered a powerful young son. Ahh yes, his son. Udrath sighed. That was a memory not so pleasant.
It had taken a long time to find him, but at last his search had proven successful.
Udrath had spent the last four months in Khitai, and despite the friendship he had forged with his guide he was starting to hate the place. His heart yearned for the cool air of the mountains, to see the snow laden peaks of the Eiglophian Mountains again, and to taste the bite of Cimmerian brewed uisge again. Yet he couldn't turn back now, not when he was finally closing in on his quarry.
At the last village he had passed through he had finally heard of the Imperial Circus and their new attraction, Khrom the Hunter. With his halting Khitan Udrath had discovered that this new act was a skilled young Cimmerian who performed great feats of bravery every night for the baying crowds. It was too good an opportunity to pass up. Even if it turned out not to be Collum it would be good to talk to another Cimmerian again, and there was a chance this Khrom may have news of Udrath's son.
So it was that two days later Udrath found himself seated in amongst a crowded arena, waiting for the start of the Imperial Circus. The arena was made of the light wooden frames favoured by the Khitans, with paper and canvas sheeting fixed between. It looked strong but would be light enough to pack away and carry with the circus on its travels.
A large square patch of ground, some fifty feet across had been brushed clear and a layer of sand raked across it. A canvas tunnel lead into the arena from some tents behind the seating area and it was from this tunnel that a small procession now marched, tapping small hand-held drums. They were lead by a Khitan maiden, heavily robed, her face painted white and her eyes heavy with kohl.
She stopped in the centre of the arena and began to sing in a lilting voice. Udrath didn't really understand the words but he was not really paying attention anyway. He was rather carefully scanning the crowd. He noted the slightly raised area of seating to his right, where minor nobles sat, and he noted that the only people carrying weapons were the two guards who stood by the entrance to the canvas tunnel.
The song finished and the circus proper began. The first few acts passed by unheeded by the Cimmerian. If his mind had not been so focused on other matters he would have appreciated the skill, balance and bravery of the Khitan acrobats as they leaped and swung from the tall bamboo poles that had been hammered upright into the ground. All Udrath could think of was the chance he might finally have found his son. Then, finally it was time for Khrom the Hunter to perform.
A horn blew and the crowd hushed. A tall and powerfully built young Cimmerian strode out of the canvas tunnel. He was wearing wolf furs in the traditional Cimmerian way, and a traditional double-headed axe was slung across his shoulders. Udrath stared, mouth agape. Tears welled in his eyes. After three years of searching he had finally found his son. The young Cimmerian was Collum.
As Collum began to perform for the crowd, unslinging his axe and spinning it around his head and shoulders with breathtaking speed Udrath felt numb. He had expected to feel the old rage again, the righteous fury he had felt after Flora's murder, but all he felt was empty. He had travelled all these miles to find and kill his only son in cold justice, but now he wanted more than anything to just go home and forget. Instead Udrath stood up and strode forwards past the assembled audience, and stepped into the arena.
"Collum," he shouted and the crowd fell silent. As if awoken from a trance the two tunnel guards looked surprised, then drew their swords and started towards Udrath warily. Collum dropped his axe to the ground in shock.
"Father?" he whispered.
Udrath stared at his son, clenching and unclenching his fists. He had grown so much, a man now, not the boy he had last seen. Had Collum changed so much as a person too? Did he regret what he had done? Did he even care?
As Udrath's confusion grew and he continued to stare at his son the two guards reached him, and with a final look at each other leaped forwards and wrestled Udrath to the ground and the crowd began to shout. The barbarian didn't resist.
Udrath awoke with the metallic taste of blood in his mouth. He lifted his head slowly and found that his hands and feet were bound with tight leather strips. He shuffled back slightly so that he was able to rest against a canvas wall. It was dark, with just a sliver of what seemed to be moonlight shining down from an opening in the canvas. he shook his head to clear it then noticed the other person in the tent. Collum was sat on a small stool, hands on his knees.
"Father," he said quietly. "It's been a long time".
Udrath said nothing but took in his surroundings. The small tent was bare of any furnishings other than the stool on which his son was seated. He looked up at Collum.
"So, are you going to gut me too, like you did your mother?"
Collum sighed heavily. "I know you have spent the last few years thinking that father, hating me for what you think I did". He paused and stared at the ground intently as though he was gazing back through the years.
"I didn't kill her father."
Udrath snorted. "She told me herself. 'It was Collum' she said as she died in my arms! I found you in the house covered in her blood! You fled!".
The old rage was returning.
"You murdered her!"
Collum shook his head. "No father. It wasn't me. I was covered in her blood because I tried to save her. I fled because... because I knew if I told you the truth it would hurt you even more. Better you think I did it than know what really happened".
Udrath stared at his son in shock.
"Tell me," he growled.
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