Lover’s Bramble

Lover’s Bramble

by Andrew Borck | @bfriendlygiant

We are ghosts, summoned out of the aether for that which is too much for those on the material plane to handle. We are summoned through knots, which vary based on the need and the person tying them. Different members call it different things, but when a knot is tied for the wrong reasons or by the wrong person, I call it a bramble. These are not easily untangled, and most Thornwatch do not take kindly to being summoned under false or wrong pretenses.

Near the end of last spring we were called to fight a huge threat – a monster that would put the Owl Beast to shame. Upon arrival I noticed two of my brethren – a Sage I had dealt with before and a surly Warden – were already there. In front of them was a young man, holding the limp body of a young woman. He was sobbing, and the front of her dress was covered in blood. The Warden had her sword out, and motioned for the Sage to flank him.

“Where is the beast. Tell me where, child!” She barked at him. The young man seemed taken aback, and was speechless.

“Whu-how…you’re real!” His eyes were wide, and jaw was slack. “You came! That’s great! I can- I mean, I need your help-” The Warden scanned the trees, her knees bent.

She looked at me and growled, “Find out where it is. NOW.”

I bent down near him, and softly asked, “Tell us child- where is the beast that did this?”

“Beast?” He blinked, and rubbed his nose with his sleeve. “No, no, see I just needed some of you, any of you to come. So I tied the only knot I know.” The Warden straightened up, and whipped her head around. I thought she might charge him.

“We are NOT your errand-mongers, child!” Her teeth were clenched.

“Something evil is nearby,” the Sage murmured, staring at the girl.

“Wha- no, I mean, I really do need your help, but I don’t have any beasts to fight. I thought since you all know…you know, magic, you could help her…”

“You called us to revive her?”

“Well….yes.”  He stared at the Warden, then glanced at the Sage who still looked at the dead girl and sighed. The Warden put her back to him, and placed a hand on my shoulder.

“We’re leaving.” She sheathed her sword and began walking away.

“Wait – no! You have to help me!” He stood and cried out. Blood was spattered all over his front.      

“How did she die?” I asked.

“That DOESN’T matter! Are you going to help or not?” His eyes filled with tears as he clenched his jaw and hands.

“It doesn’t matter because we are not helping.” The Warden called over her shoulder.

“Because you can’t or won’t?!” The young man’s teeth were bared.

“Steady child-” the Sage took a small step back.

“If you won’t help me,” his voice sounded with echoes that burned my ears, “then you won’t be leaving either!” His skin began to crack, and purple wounds began to erupt across his face and arms.

“Move! Get over there!” The Warden pointed with her sword and charged.

After the battle, I set the Sage down gently against a tree so he could rest, and nurse his wounded shoulder. I’m still not sure what he was really trying to do, but near as I could find the girl became an unwilling participant in his ritual. The Warden ran his corpse through.

“He’s dead.” I called out to her.

“Making sure,” she breathed, shallow and quick. “The Thornwatch should not be so idly summoned.”