A Dark Night by the Water

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By Erik Mortis
The banks of the Berriessa lay before the Duke of Brookshire. With no moon overhead there was only starlight to reflect off the water. His personal boat beached for the night on the shore, the Duke indulged in the joy of dark tranquility, of silence. With all the recent war and strife he desired nothing more then to be in this wilderness.

Up the shore, back near the tree-line was his camp, with a small fire now burnt down to embers. And yet here he was sitting on a rock, forsaking the fleeting warmth; gazing out over the lake. In the air above him he saw the faint outline of a bat hunting after insects. Though small, he could see its black silhouette block out stars for a brief moment. Free of any cares but those of the night's meal; how he envied them. So much death and destruction in distant lands, so many lives taken.

But here on the banks of this lake, he was alone, no orders, no decrees, no laws and no entourage to stop him. Here he was truly free. Free of the shackles of power. Free from the confines of noble halls and palaces. Free to forget the world outside these hills, and these waters.

For decades now he'd ruled over Brookshire. Through various Kaisers and rebellions. Himself forsaking a chance on the throne. Just a Duke. But now he was old, as those of his line often tended to do. He thought about his many years of service to his people, and their loyalty for him.

And then the time was upon him, in the mid of night he made his final choice and got up from his rocky perch upon the shore. Reaching for a bucket he brought with him, he strolled calmly to the waterline, and broke the placid mirror; drawing forth a pale of clear water.

As he approached the dying embers of his fire, he paused and put the bucket down to draw forth a vial from his cloak. Pouring the vial into the pale at his feet he felt the fading warmth from the coals; ever dwindling.

He stood, and with a firm hand doused the coals with the dark liquid he possessed, jets of steam roiling forth as the heat was extinguished. Breathing deeply he took in the acrid scent of water and heat, and smoke. Filling his lungs he experienced the escape of energy as he recited a few lines he had memorized. The fire was out.

With only a few moments of heat left to the still steaming ashes, the Duke left the bucket by the fire pit and walked once more down to the waterline. Finding a new rock seat for himself, the duke leaned back against the stone and felt the chill of the earth seep into his bones. He always loved these nights.

As the last wisps of steam and heat left the fire to drift into the nocturnal abyss, the duke thought one final thought as he gazed over the waters. How he loved these shoes and how he would miss them.

See Also: Brookshire