World of Titans > The Legend of Vashilov > Legend of Vashilov: What Came Before (2)
Legend of Vashilov: What Came Before (2)
It was a four day march from Ulbyon to the Talon Mountains for the rabble of Ilya and Dobrynov's band of raiders. They found the place -- a shack in the foothills, as Dobrynov had described -- easily enough, which immediately made Ilya question whether this was indeed the home of a mystic who could ward away Titans if it was found so easily.
"Perhaps we have found it because we were meant to," Dobrynov said -- a remark that earned the large man a scornful glare from Ilyavicz.
"Whatever," Ilya said at last, throwing up his hands as the pair dismounted from their Grimfowl. The rest of the men began to unload their supplies and make camp, while Ilyavicz and Dobrynov walked cautiously up to the shack.
"At least we know someone's home," Ilya said, indicating the stream of smoke billowing from the chimney.
"Indeed," Dobrynov said. The pair stood there for a moment at the door. "Well," Dobrynov said, "Will you knock?"
"Me?" Ilya stammered, "This was *your* damned idea, Dobrynov! You knock!"
"I just thought maybe you'd like to knock," Dobrynov said, "Since, you know, you have this thing about being in charge most of the time. I was just being polite."
"Well I don't want to knock! It was your idea to come here!"
"Okay, Ilyavicz. You do not need to yell. I'll knock."
"Yes, you damn well better knock, Dobrynov!"
"I will," Dobrynov said.
"... So knock already!"
"First, stop yelling please."
"I AM NOT YELLING," Ilya yelled. "Well, except for just then... Sometimes you infuriate me, Dobrynov. Did you know that?"
"Is this the right place to be having this conversation, Ilyavicz?"
The door opened.
Ilya and Dobrynov glanced sideways at the man standing there in the doorway. He was barely an inch or so taller than Ilyavicz, wearing a simple hooded sackcloth robe. His chin sported a small beard, with his cheeks and mustache stubbled. The man's eyes were a piercing green in color -- a rarity among the men of Scande.
"Uh. Hello," Ilya said, boasting a grin.
"Hello," the green-eyed man said.
Ilya elbowed Dobrynov.
"Yes, hello," Dobrynov said. "Hello," he said again. "Are you, by chance, the... wise man... who lives... here?"
Ilyavicz just looked at Dobrynov, absolutely amazed.
"I live here, yes," the man said. "I presume you have come seeking Brother Alexey."
"Aha! Yes!" Ilyavicz said, "Probably, we have! Is he in?!"
"Brother Alexey does not meet with just anyone," the man said. "Tell me why you have come to seek him."
Ilya nudged Dobrynov again.
"Well," Dobrynov said, "You see, at Marrecz we were surprised by a man-scorpion sent by Razboynik, and Vladimir was killed --"
"You can't just start there," Ilyavicz said, "Tell him what we're doing!"
"I am coming to that," Dobrynov said.
"No you're not!" Ilya snapped, "You started the story at Marrecz! That's not the beginning! Why would you start telling the story at anyplace other than the beginning!?"
The man at the door interrupted them: "You are with the men who sacked Tsengrad and Marrecz?"
"Yes," Dobrynov said, "And, four days ago, Ulbyon as well. But we have lost our leader. We seek guidance in our fight against the Gryphon."
"Wait here," the man said, as he shut the door.
Dobrynov smiled. "You see? Now Brother Alexey will come and help us."
Ilyavicz scowled. "If so, it will be despite your buffoonery."
Dobrynov blinked. "Why must you be so hurtful?"
"Just keep quiet," Ilya said, as he moved away from Dobrynov and sat on a large stump near the cottage. "I don't want to talk. Let's just wait for this Alexey and see what he has to offer."
Dobrynov nodded. "All right," he said.
And so they waited. Long hours, they waited. The men saw that dusk was coming and began to pitch camp and light cooking fires.
"I told you so," Ilyavicz said, finally, blurting it out as if he had been waiting for just the right moment to do so.
"Perhaps the man at the door cannot find Brother Alexey," Dobrynov said.
Ilya just stared. "It's a shack," he said. "Where could he possibly be lost in there?"
Dobrynov began puzzling out the problem.
"Look," Ilya said, "Knock again. Or perhaps we should just pick up and leave. Maybe make for the pass in the North, head for Spring. Leave Scande behind us. Make a new start in nicer lands -- I hear that Washag the Prawn-God is very kind to his subjects, as Titans go."
"The doorman told us to wait here," Dobrynov said. "We can't leave. What if Alexey arrives after we have gone?"
"Dobrynov. It is nearly night. Look at the sky! Look at the time that has passed since we last saw anyone come out of that doorway!"
Dobrynov sighed. "Still. We should wait."
Ilyavicz groaned. "You are impossible," he said, as he threw himself back onto the stump and crossed his arms angrily.
Night descended. The two men slept, and morning came. Ilya was the first to awaken, rising with the dawn. He cursed himself and walked over to where Dobrynov was huddled in sleep, shaking him violently.
"It is morning," Ilyavicz said. "Morning, and no one came. I've half a mind to burn down this shack, but that would waste even more of my time in these blasted hills. Let us be off now."
"If you wish to go you may," Dobrynov said, sitting up and stretching. "But I will remain here and wait for my audience with Brother Alexey."
Ilya fumed, but said nothing; nor did he leave, even as frustrated as he was, because of all that he and Dobrynov had been through together since leaving the Blackguard and embarking on their fight against Razboynik. He sat and suffered as Dobrynov insisted on waiting again through the course of an entire second day. Night fell; several of the men went out and forraged for the night's supper. The cooking fires were lit again and it was all Ilyavicz could do to keep from howling in frustration.
The next morning, Ilyavicz was again the first in the camp to rise. And, again, the first thing he did was awaken Dobrynov.
"Two mornings already we have waited here," Ilyavicz said. "Waited, and wasted our time. Can we be off now? We might be able to find resupply and recruits in Nissu, if the Gryphon has not destroyed it in retaliation for Ulbyon by now."
Dobrynov ignored Ilya's protests. He sat up, stretched and resumed his vigil in front of the door of Alexey's shack. For all his consternation, Ilya still did not abandon his friend.
Midday came; and it was only then that the door of the shack again opened, and the man in the plain brown robes emerged.
"Oh," the robed man said in surprise, "You are still here?"
Ilyavicz pursed his lips and furrowed his brow, but Dobrynov held him back with a wave. "May we see Brother Alexey now?"
The robed man smiled, folded his hands together and inclined his head respectfully. "You are, at this moment, seeing Brother Alexey," he said. "And I am most impressed at your persistence, gentlemen. I have waited here for my entire life because the Goddess of Justice has revealed to me the name and face of the man who would free Scandia from the pestilence of the Gryphon. He is to seek me out here, in this spot, where I have built my home."
"You see, Ilyavicz?" Dobrynov said, smiling victoriously, "He has been waiting for us this whole time!"
"No," Alexey said, his smile fading apologetically. "You are both brave, as are the men that follow you. But no man here is the one I have been told to wait for. And so I am sorry, but I can do no more for you than applaud you again for your determination in waiting for me all this time."
Ilyavicz scoffed. "Naturally. Come now, Dobrynov. We can make for Nissu and have decent shelter for the night, then head South in the morning."
Dobrynov ignored his friend. "You say you know the name of this man you are waiting for?"
"I do," Alexey admitted. "You are curious to know it, I assume? I do not see why. It will do you no good to learn of it."
"Perhaps it would," Dobrynov said. "If we were to find this man, and bring him to you, your wait would be over. And if, then, we joined with this man, you would be helping our fight by helping his. Is this not so?"
"What?" Ilya said, but he was still being ignored.
Alexey stroked his chin. "It is an interesting proposal," he said. "Perhaps you two are instruments of the Goddess, and are meant to play this part in my destiny?... I suppose it could not hurt to tell you. The man I wait for is named Vashilov. He is a man of the village of Oprichnia, far to the South of Scandia. If you bring him to me, and pledge yourselves to his service, then I will help you to defeat the Gryphon and liberate all proud Scandish men."
Above Ilyavicz's impassioned protests, Dobrynov agreed and prepared the men to ride for Oprichnia.
Legend of Vashilov: What Came Before (1) by – July 8th, 2008
Legend of Vashilov: What Came Before (2) by – August 31st, 2010
One Dark God Deserves Another by – August 29th, 2010