It was the repetitive sound of water drops hitting the stone-cold floor that caused him to wake up from his drunken state. The stench of death and wet sand permeated the air and he found it harder and harder to breathe. Darkened blue eyes darted around, hoping he would recognize his surroundings. The bulky male sat up coughing, calloused hands patting the floor as if he were looking for something vital, but as a deep voice echoed through the walls of the room, his entire body froze.
“Captain, we meet again.”
A skinny, bearded and longhaired man appeared from the shadows, a bright candle in his wrinkled hands. He walked barefoot towards the stranded captain, who frowned at the sight of his pointed, yellow foot nails.
“We never met,” was his cold response.
For a moment, only silence could be heard, and the blue-eyed man suddenly jumped, looking around him in panic. Where was she?
The bearded man let out a hearty laugh. “Of course we have,” he retorted, setting the candle on the top of what looked like an old, dusty altar. “Otherwise you wouldn’t be here.”
“My sister told me about you – about this place.”
The stranger shared another hearty laugh. “Such a bright personality, it’s a shame that her mind isn’t as bright.”
At that comment, the captain was ready to brandish his weapon, but when his fingertips couldn’t feel the hilt of his sword, he was reminded of how he had abandoned it after the events of the previous night. Where was she? He kept wondering, his body twitching nervously.
As if reading his thoughts, the bearded man brushed invisible dirt away from his robes and pointed at the table before the altar. “There she is.” His tiny black eyes glared at the confused man on the floor and he extended one of his hands. “Hand it over.”
Growing aggravated at the old man’s attitude, the soldier slowly stood up, even though his knees felt extremely weak, and he crossed his arms over his chest. “What?” he asked defiantly.
“The hourglass. If we’re doing this, then we have to do it right,” he explained with an authoritative tone in his voice, “and put everything back into place.”
His words fell into deaf ears as the blue-eyed man was staring at the unmoving body on the table. She looked like she was sleeping. Her long eyelashes were softly grazing her high cheekbones and her lips were slightly parted.
Hearing his name snapped him back to reality and he patted his cloak to find the hourglass the old man was talking about. He lazily handed him a half-shattered, golden hourglass, his eyes still fixed on the corpse before him. He could hear the bearded stranger making a ruckus in the background, opening bottles and lighting up candles, but he couldn’t care less, until he was addressed once again.
“I have to ask though, what is your motivation?” The man brandished a long dagger before plunging it into the dead body’s chest, sneezing loudly when hot smoke came out of it and slowly filled the room. “Widows and orphaned children came here and they all had very understandable reasons for this,” he went on. “Et tu?”
Garen finally diverted his gaze and looked straight into the old man’s eyes. “Excuse me?”
“What about you? Wife, sister, friend – she is nothing like that, not even a lover or an enemy,” the bearded man prodded, setting down the dagger and walking towards the captain. “Take it off,” he ordered, shoving his index finger into Garen’s chest.
“You have an anti-magic armor in the home of a mage. We need to burn it.”
As Garen started unclasping it, one question annihilated any other thought he might have had.
“So what is your motivation,” the mage kept asking, as he wouldn’t take silence for an answer. “What did they do to you? You had everything.”
Garen wanted to slam his hands on the table, but he was afraid to break it and harm the body lying on top of it. Instead, he brushed soft strands of auburn hair away from her face. “They gave me everything,” he agreed. “It was never about me,” he whispered before backing off, giving some room to the mage.
The old man’s eyes softened at that statement, only a little, but Garen didn’t see it as he promptly turned around, cutting the conversation short.
“It was about Demacia,” the mage concluded for him.
It is always about Demacia, Garen thought angrily, limping towards the only hole that served as a window and staring at the dark, cloudy sky of Urtistan.