A monk travels across the land, searching for the reincarnation of his master
|A man made his way down the muddy path that led to the cottage. He was holding his coat over the head with one hand, clutching a small leather case close to his chest with the other in an effort to shield it from the heavy rain. He slipped several times on his way down the slope, managing to stop himself from completely wiping out in the sludge, finally arriving at the door wet, shivering, and covered in muck.
The cottage was a small thatch roofed structure, built from the stones plowed up in the few acres of farmland that surrounded it. Plumes of black smoke belched out of the chimney, and the man could smell the burning wood even through the sheets of cold precipitation. He peered through the front window and saw a woman tending to a meal over a large iron stove. Behind her, in the center of the main room, a young child was play-fighting with a wooden sword.
He pounded on the thick wooden door with the back of his fist, and heard someone approach from the other side. "Who's there?" came the woman's voice.
"Yes, hello! I am traveling across this land, and I was caught up in this awful weather. I was hoping I could bother you to dry off next to a fire, and perhaps sleep in your stable for the night." There was silence on the other side. "I can pay you. I have money, I can pay you. Please, just open the door!"
There was another pause, then, "Ten Pieces."
"Fine!" The man said, and reached into his jacket to retrieve his purse.
The door cracked, and a hand caked in mud appeared, "Money first."
The man handed over the coins. The hand withdrew and the door closed, then after a moment opened fully. The woman was thin, and like her hands, the rest of her skin was flecked with dirt. The boy stood in the center of the room, clutching his wooden sword. He was equally underfed and filthy, and examined this new man with a deep intensity. "Hurry up then," she said, and ushered him inside.
It was much warmer in there, and the man was greatly relieved to be dry. The woman took his coat, and made him a place by the fire to warm up. "I'm finishing up a stew, if you'd like to eat."
"That sounds just lovely," said the man. He removed a few more wet layers and stretched his body out next to the fire. The boy took a seat across from him and examined the stranger.
"So who are you?" the woman barked from the kitchen. "You don't look like you are from around here."
She was right, his skin was a bright pale white, and his hair draped to his shoulders in long greasy platinum strands. The boy and the woman, as well as everyone else he'd encountered over the last several weeks, had smooth olive skin with thick tufts of jet black hair. "My name is Brother Lucien Kulak. I've come quite a long way," he said. "I come from a monastery deep in the Eastern Mountains."
"My names Cena, this is Milo," she gestured to the boy who was now sitting across from Lucien at the fire. "What makes a man travel so far to this little pig village."
"I am searching for someone very important. I have been searching for over seven years now, and I believe they are here. I've followed the stars, and they have led me here."
"How will you know when you've found them?"
The man put his case down and opened it up. "I have a series of items that only they would recognize."
The woman shrugged and turned away to focus on the food. Lucien began to lay the items in his case out before him, each glimmering in the fire. There was a small brass bowl, a silver dagger, a pearl encrusted hand mirror, a leather bound book, a wooden spoon, a feather pen, a doll made of braided rope, and a hand carved pipe made from bone. He looked over the items and up at the boy, who was staring pensively at them.
Lucien pondered for a moment. He was in search of his Master's newest form. The boy was of the right age, from when the black mark appeared in the sky and set him out on the journey to find the reincarnation. His new Master was almost certainly within a few miles of here, so why not this boy?
"Would you like to see?" Lucien gestured to Milo. The boy crawled over, still not speaking. He picked up the items individually and examined them, first the spoon, then the dagger, then the doll, and finally the mirror. He glanced into the mirror and then back at Lucien, the expression on his face changing from a still apprehension to a knowing smirk, then he set the mirror down and gestured to Lucien. He looked down to see the reflection not of the boy, but of his master. The deep wrinkled face and sunken eyes, the shaved head. He looked up at the boy, whose face was still young, still holding the knowing smile, then down at the mirror again. The face in the mirror began to speak in his Master's voice. "We must vanquish our creator before we can be free." Lucien nodded and unsheathed the silver dagger and handed it to the boy.
The boy rose, and walked towards his mother, whose back was to him. He slashed at the back of her legs, and as she screamed, hitting the floor, the boy pounced on her, plunging the knife down over and over again until she stopped moving.
Lucien ran over to the boy, who was drenched in blood. He looked up at Lucien and spoke with the deep resonant voice of his master, "I have returned, Lucien. And this time, nothing will be able to stop me."