Tainted Blood

“Your blood,” Elaanara dropped back away from Reynard to speak privately with Charsen. “I must tell you something, Charsen. There is an odor to it. Do you know this?”

Charsen raised an eyebrow and flared his nostrils as he took in the air near a blood stain on his shoulder. He furrowed his brows and shook his head slightly, “What do you mean, Elaanara?”

“I could sense it strongly when you had fresh blood in your wounds… It smells of soot. Of ash.” Elaanara’s words were quiet with concern.

With reddened cheeks, Charsen looked down at his stained robes, “Well, I don’t recall being near flames, but I should wash, this is true… I will do so as soon as—-”

“No,” Elaanara spoke loud enough to make Reynard’s head tilt back for a moment, but she quickly returned to a hushed voice. “I do not mean hygiene… this is an odor within your blood, as if soot was laced within your very veins.” The corners of her mouth pursed as she forced herself to give Charsen a moment to consider her observation.

The priest smoothed his robes under his hands and took in a deep breath. He looked back at the eastern road, not sure what to say to such a statement. Ash, soot… clearly unnatural… Perhaps she was mistaken? But he knew she was not, and he trusted her, regardless. He never noticed such an odor, though he rarely bled and never so much as today. He tightened his lips as he struggled to think of a reason why such a thing might be true, but nothing came to mind.

“Do you know why?” Elaanara asked gently after a few minutes of walking behind Reynard, who was ducking behind some trees a few meters in the distance.

Charsen said nothing and closed his eyes, still assaulting his memory for any relevant discussions with Father Lorne about such conditions in the past. Was it a disease like leprosy? Was it some sort of curse? A punishment? An omen?

As his eyes opened, the sun broke over the horizon in a brilliant flash that ebbed into a forest-bordered sunrise. A near blinding flash of orange and yellow burst from the crest of the rising orb that could be clearly seen through the heavy mist of Barovia. Such a half-second was a direct glimpse into the eye of the Dawnbringer; the shock of morning upon the last bastion of night rarely yields such an explosive reflection.

The hairs on Charsen’s neck stood on end, then his heart fell into warmth and once again he felt love like an old heavy quilt wrapped around chilled shoulders. He closed his eyes to the sun and felt the rays drift through his body like a summer breeze. The words were certainly not audible – perhaps they were not even really words – but the meaning was echoed from the burning horizon to Charsen’s heart. His eyebrows relaxed and he lifted his eyes to the patch in the sky just above the sun – a focal point for his troubles and appreciation, and his worries diminished like the snow at Spring’s feet.

“I’m not sure it means anything,” He turned back to Elaanara and his mouth widened to a soft smile as he tucked away his fear and concern. “But today is a beautiful day, Elaanara .”

Elaanara’s eyebrows and mouth tightened briefly as if she halted an unforunate word before it escaped her. She nodded once and looked back towards the road as Reynard appeared from the treeline some yards ahead looking relieved as he buttoned his trousers.

“Yes,” her face soured into a grin. “a beautiful day.”

This is the basic wording of the conversation with embellishment from Charsen’s point of view. He considered the sunrise to be meaningful to their discussion, but it’s unlikely that Elaana felt the same way. Reynard was walking with them, but did not engage in the conversation. While this is technically part of A Murder in Krezk, it seemed appropriate to make it a solo adventure since it only involved two characters and it was a private conversation.

Tainted Blood

Sins of the Father Charsen