Today, slightly later in the month than usual, we return to Mejaran.
At this point if you haven't already contributed to the story we're likely too far gone for you to try now. So I hope you enjoy reading it and feel free to find another prompt in the archives to write on, should you need to get your practice in today.
Work went well again today, now it's time to get things done around the house and farm until I'm back at the gym on Thursday night.
As Azmar pushed his way through crowds of disoriented and injured villagers, with black smoke searing his throat and obscuring his vision, he began to wonder if Father Merrow's tales of hellfire and brimstone had been made real in his humble home of Mejaran. Regardless, it probably would have been a good idea to drag the slender holy man along with him.
If nothing else, he could have been kept busy with the task of ushering the dying to the other side.
Rounding the final corner before Dr. Jaycox's offices, his feet failed him and he fell to his knees in the dirt. His old friend's office had become an inferno but he was still able to see beyond it, to the far end of the street. Villagers were bringing their injured from the pub, blood oozing from their arms, faces. From a missing leg.
They had come for the doctor's aid.
But the doctor was no more.
"You did this!"
The shout roused Azmar from his daze, brought him unsteadily to his feet. He turned to see Yarel stumbling towards him, sword in hand and a pink bandage wrapped around his head. Not far behind him came Liefert, limping but determined and fearsome in his rage.
"What...? No! I had nothing to do with this!"
"Liar!" Yarel spat blood as he continued to close the distance. "We know what you've been up to! We've seen you with the Principals!" Azmar began to retreat, his hands raised before him. Empty, for now. "We know!"
"Traitor!" Liefert drew his weapon even as he fell further behind his companion.
"I don't know what you think you know," Azmar said, "but you must listen to me! This is not my work! We have no time to argue now - there are lives in desperate need of saving. Let us talk afterward, please. I beg of you!"
"The schoolhouse, Azmar?" Yarel hissed, not seeming to have a heard a word his intended target had spoken. "You would go so low as you reached for some selfish, glorious heights? You sicken me!"
"Unplug your ears, child! I would never go this far!" Azmar paused in his retreat, an unfamiliar feeling in his breast. It took him a moment to recognize the peace that speaking the truth brought on. It had been a very long time.
"You will die for this!" Yarel screamed, raising his knife high as he lurched closer.
"Calm yourself, son!" Jocelle's voice froze the three potential combatants in place, their heads swiveling as they attempted to find the speaker. Drifting clouds of smoke and the chaos overtaking the village made the task more difficult. "Azmar is innocent... in this matter at least."
"What are you saying?" Liefert asked the question that her son could not, for he was too preoccupied with battling his urge to strike Azmar down despite his mother's words.
"He does not have a hand in this madness." Jocelle emerged from an alley that billowed smoke, her outline initially confusing the three men who watched her. She was hideously misshapen at first, but then she came closer and the growth on her right shoulder revealed itself to be a Great Silver Owl, regarding them without blinking from his perch. "I, however, know who does. Come, I will take you to him."