Prenvice is the final pov character in The Fell Stone. I’m plotting this whole thing with the aim of four books, that feels right because at the core of the books are the four wielders of the Fragments and the four servants of the Shadowking. They will eventually clash but who is who? I’m giving the reader 8 pov characters so there are 2 more that haven’t come into the story yet. From these 8 will come the wielders and the servants so maybe Ark is a wielder, maybe we should like him, or maybe he’s a bad-ass servant who ends up wanting to do nothing but destroy the world. Maybe. Only 4 can be wielders and 4 have to be servants. I know which characters will end up playing which role but that will only unravel through the 4 books – The Fell Stone, The Doom Blade, The Blood Helm and The Shadow Bane.
Prenvice Wroot is an aspect, a trainee Arl (priest) who believes in Ont, the Father of Flame. Unfortunately for Prenvice, ever since he came to the Dominard of Carentol he’s been stuck with Arl Henrick Mayby for his teacher. And now he’s somehow wound up following a Blade around the Iron Lands. Blade Hanafer Kett is a knight who believes that there is something bad in the world. A mist. Shadows. It took her child, it killed her husband. Now she wants to find it and Prenvice has been assigned to accompany her by the High Arl. All he has to help him is an ancient copy of The Histories of Eastol.
The Histories of Eastol, along with birds, is a recurring theme in the books. People keep mentioning them. Prenvice thinks there might be a link to the mist in the old stories but the problem is some of the stories are missing even from his ancient copy.
Here’ a quote from one of those missing stories –
“Where are my father’s fragments?” asked the warlock’s boy.
“Gone,” said the mist.
“I will find them,” said the boy.
“Not you,” said the mist, “four fragments, four wielders, four servants, four endings, no future.”
The boy drew his steelstone blade and the mist shrank away.
“Four fragments, four wielders, four servants, four endings, no future,” it said again and then it was gone.
from ‘The Warlock’s Boy’, a lost tale from The Histories of Eastol
“Ont, light the darkness of this world with your Flame,” said Prenvice though he knew nobody was listening. “Guide us through the lightless days and into the embrace of your never darkening Flame. We are your children, Ont. Guide us ever on, oh Father of Flame.”
He touched the flame brooch that was pinned to his cloak.
“Oh Father of Flame,” mumbled Arl Henrick. The old priest was too drunk again to say the words of blessing or even care about them so, even though their meal was just hard bread and ale, it had come to Prenvice to enforce them. Again.
He looked at Henrick. He hated the old man. He didn’t hate him because he drank all day or because he was an obese glutton or because he neglected his duties, he hated him because Henrick had promised him he would teach him to become a good Arl. That was five years ago. Prenvice had come to the Dominard in the belief he would be an Arl within the year. And yet he was still an aspect. It was the lies Prenvice hated Henrick Mayby for. Lies like the one that had brought him into another stinking pub in another nothing gatetown was the worst of his lies. This pub even had a caged hawk. Prenvice had never seen anything more depressing than that poor bird, its head held limply and its eyes shut, trapped in a cage hanging from the ceiling of a pub that stank of horse dung.
“Come with me on this mission,” Arl Henrick had told him all those months ago. “Our Father Ont would want us to do this. Blade Kett is a good servant of the flame.”
Two lies in one. Prenvice had to give the old man that, he was a convincing liar.
Where was Kett anyway, he thought, as Henrick downed another pint of honey ale? He hadn’t seen her since they’d arrive in the town and that was strange because no matter what he thought of Kett she at least always ate with them and bowed her head when he spoke the blessing. Sometimes, mistakenly, he believed that there were worse Blades they could be traipsing around the Iron Lands with. That was always a very brief belief. A day’s marching from gatetown to gatetown, sniffing after snippets of hearsay was enough to make Prenvice hate Kett almost as much as he hated Arl Henrick.
He took a sip of his own beer. It was sour and full of bits of something he didn’t want to guess at. He was sixteen, that was no age, and he still had time to become an Arl before the Dominard started wondering what was taking him so long. He took another sip of beer. It didn’t get better. His life was a bit like that at the moment, he kept taking sip after sip hoping the next one would be better and it never was. He looked at Arl Henrick, the Arl’s fat head lolling, strands of grey hair dangling into his beer. Maybe I should be more like him, he thought, maybe I should take big gulps of life instead of little sips.
The pub door swung open. He craned his head around Arl Henrick’s to see if it was Kett but it was only a rain-soaked traveller. Raining again, he sighed, another night under a sagging tent.
They never had enough coins to stay under the roof of even the cheapest pub so every night the three of them squeezed into Kett’s tent. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d had a good night’s sleep. It was either Arl Henrick almost rolling on top of him and crushing him or Kett talking in her sleep again. Shadows. Mist. The dead. It wasn’t enough for her to spend her every waking moment obsessing over them she took them into her dreams.
Prenvice was about to call the landlord over again to complain about the beer when the door opened and this time Kett walked in. If only she had been a pretty sight. That would have made his days with Kett and Arl Henrick a lot more bearable. Sometimes he daydreamed that Kett was as fair as Lady Liza Littler, the Blade of Nyne. He had seen a painting of her once in Carentol. She had long blonde hair and her armour fitted her tightly. Maybe even that was a lie, he thought. The real Lady Liza was probably as ugly as Kett.
He watched Kett stride towards their table. No, he corrected himself, no woman was ever as ugly as Hanafer Kett. She had more freckles on her face than there were isles on the Lake of Small Isles. She had a slight under bite and eyebrows that might never have been plucked and her ears stuck out far too far from her head. Her hair was hardly ever washed so that the strands of mousey brown were entwining into one clump. And then there was the scar that ran from her left eye down to her lip. Sometimes he thought that improved her because it took the viewer’s attention away from the rest of her face. She was as broad as any man too and she walked with long impatient strides as if she always wanted to be somewhere else. She always wore the same leather jerkin, the same travel worn trousers and stiff boots. Her cloak was a sort of vomit yellow and she bore no family mark anywhere, not even on her shield which was plain blue.
“Have you heard anything?” she asked before she had even sat.
She crashed down on the bench and Arl Henrick woke with a belch.
“What’s going on?” he said before seeing Kett, “oh, it’s you is it. Very good.”
The old Arl closed his eyes again and began snoring immediately.
Prenvice pulled out the book from his satchel. It was the same routine every night. Listen to what the locals were talking about and if that didn’t pay off get out the book. It was a huge book, leather bound and ancient. The Histories of Eastol. There were copies in almost every educated home but Prenvice’s was different. It was an original and on top of the usual twenty five stories it had an extra ten Forgotten Tales, stories that were cut from reprints long ago. Stories no one told their children anymore. Kett was convinced there was an answer in those stories but there were pages missing even from Prenvice’s copy. Throughout the book there were the rough edges of torn out pages and Prenvice had often wondered why those pages had been torn out, what someone was trying to hide or forget.
“Nothing,” said Prenvice, “though I heard the landlord say there would be mist tonight.”
Kett shook her head and took Prenvice’s ale without asking if she could.
“I’ve seen the mist,” she said, taking a swig, “it’s nothing special. Just mist.”
Prenvice nodded. He always tried his best to look interested even though the whole debacle was boring him now. For nearly a year they had been marching over the Iron Lands searching for rumours, stories, tales. When the High Arl had introduced Prenvice to Kett he had told him how important what they were about to do was.
“Something is wrong in the world,” the High Arl had told him, his voice heavy with sincerity, “it falls on you three to discover what that wrong is. Oh Father of Flame be ever with you.”
What a load of crap that had proved to be. A year on and they had found no wrong. Just bad weather and half-tales of a funny coloured mists.
“Have you looked at the book today?” asked Kett. She leaned over the table and took a chunk of near stale bread, biting it then washing it down immediately with a swig of ale.
Prenvice opened the book to the page he had marked earlier that day. The Tale of the Point of Time.
“This story caught my eye,” he said, “and I know we’ve looked at it before but there was just something in the wording. Listen to this. It says ‘…the twins were born in a mist and a shadow stayed ever upon their mother’s heart’. I found the use of those words together quite interesting. Maybe there’s something in the rest of the story. I mean I know you know it, what happened to the twins, but I’ve always found the Point of Time a queer place. There are some rather odd stories about it in other books. Take The Lore of Iron, there’s one story in there…”
Prenvice stopped talking. Kett wasn’t listening to him. He wasn’t even sure if she had been listening at all. Instead she was looking over to the bar where the traveller was downing his second ale and talking excitedly to the landlord. Prenvice didn’t call for Kett’s attention. He knew better than that. Something had caught the Blade’s ear and so he listened too.
“…I saw it myself,” said the traveller, “whole place burnt to ash as if it were never there.”
The landlord was shaking his head.
“Aye,” he said as he polished a tankard with a dirty rag, “I’ve heard same meself half a dozen times today. One fellow, more than half moorborn, was going on about shadows on the moors too. He reckoned it were Stonelander magic. He said he wouldn’t be surprised if war was coming.”
The traveller laughed at that.
“War, my aunt Wendy,” said the traveller, “it were the dead that did it. They came in a mist and they killed everyone. They even killed the young ones too, even Lord Bill’s children.”
“Shame that,” said the Landlord, “he were a good lord was Young Bill. I doubt you’re old enough to remember his father, Old Bill. I met him once. Grand men both of them.”
The traveller nodded.
Kett turned back to Prenvice. She was smiling. He hadn’t seen her smile for a year. Actually, he wasn’t even sure now if he had ever seen her smile.
“We should leave now,” she said, standing. She drained the rest of Prenvice’s ale and shoved two pieces of the hard bread in her pockets.
“Wake Henrick,” she said, “and sober him up. It’s not far, we can be there by dawn.”
Prenvice stood up, pushing the book back into his satchel. But he had no idea what Kett was talking about. Obviously she had heard more of the conversation than he but he knew enough to know he would be going another night without sleep.
“Where’s not far?” asked Prenvice as he shook Arl Henrick awake. It did no good, the Arl was in a deep sleep.
Kett didn’t answer. Instead she strode to back to the table and grabbed a jug of water. Before Prenvice could stop her she had emptied the cold water all over Henrick.
The Arl jumped up.
“What’s happening,” he cried and then he saw Kett holding the empty jug, “what the…what did you do that for you silly girl…I was….I was bloody sleeping…”
Kett ignored the old man’s complaints and made for the door.
“Hurry up both of you,” she called as she opened the door, “we’ve a hard a ride ahead of us if we’re to reach Farview by dawn.”
Farview, thought Prenvice and the tales of the dwellum of the Night Mors came back to him. He had been petrified of the idea of the dwellum when he was a child and he was safe in a warm bed in Mudport then. He had passed over the moors once but again he was safe within a carriage and the curtains were drawn. He could remember the drawings of the monsters now. Their long arms, their claws, their gaping mouths. They took travellers and fed on them. He knew it was nonsense but still the thought of riding across the Night Moors to see, if what the traveller said was right, a graveyard didn’t fill Prenvice Wroot with joy.
“Ont, guide us ever on, oh Father of Flame,” he whispered to himself and without waiting for Henrick he followed Kett.