‘Son, observe the time and fly from evil.
For thy soul be not ashamed to say the truth.
For there is a shame that bringeth Sin, and there is a shame that bringeth Glory and grace.’
‘With all due respect, father,’ the thug next to you says, ‘Shut up!’
‘Hey,’ you say, leaning forward so that your shackles lengthen to their limit, ‘Leave the padre alone.’
For a few static moments the only sound is the dull thud of horses’ hooves.
‘Yeah, tough guy? What you gonna do about it?’
You furrow your brow and try to look as dangerous as you can, but it’s been a tough few days. Yesterday’s skirmish with those trolls at Warlock Farringdon’s hut has left you drained and you’re aware that it shows.
The greasy thug laughs at you and shrugs. ‘I thought so.’
He leans back and lets his head fall to the side.
The wagon in which all three of you travel rocks rudely, bounding over the uneven path which will carry you to Nob Hill and the gulag at Fort Tremulous.
‘Thank you, my son. The wisdom of my Lord should be freely heard by all,’ the kindly faced priest says.
‘No problem,’ you say, ‘Although I should probably tell you that I’m not a believer.’
The old cleric chuckles, ‘Neither am I, strictly speaking. But there is truth in this book.’
With wide eyes you regard the tome he holds in front of your face. It is not, as you had believed, a Bible, or indeed any kind of holy book. It carries, on its cover, the Huntington coat of arms. Your family’s coat of arms. And you discover that it is even more difficult to disguise shame than fatigue.
‘Your father sent me,’ he tells you matter-of-factly, before the cart is hit by something both heavy and swift. Like the other two prisoners, you are thrown from the bench on which you sat, your flight only restrained by the manacles around your wrists and ankles.
The vehicle tumbles, and you cover your head to avoid serious injury as feet, boots and chains whirl chaotically.
When gravity finally asserts its authority, you open your eyes and find that the canvas roof of the cart has become dislodged. The sun burns brightly in the azure sky overhead and you are temporarily blinded, but when your vision clears you see the one man you hoped you’d never have to face again.
‘Hello son,’ he says, ‘You must now decide. Sin or glory?’
And decide you must.
If you rush your father and try to strangle him with your chains, turn to 119
To take the priest prisoner and use him as a hostage, turn to 442
If you have encountered the book carrying your family crest before and know how many pages it holds, turn to the section that is a tenth of that number.