Hazel's Final Goodbyes to Her Friends

“Oh, gods!”


Chadis knew the voice that made the plaintive, anguished exclamation, of course.  He had been blessed to have been chosen to be Leesle’s boyfriend several years ago.  Now, both at sixteen, they were even closer.  Chadis loved her madly and he thanked the gods every day that she felt the same way about him.


He had been passing by her apartments in the smuggler’s caverns underneath the city of Coldwhisper when he heard her cry out.  Her adopted father Baron Cason Rike (formerly known as Mongrel) owned the city and the surrounding lands. 


Chadis dashed in to see what had grieved her so, only to stop short when he saw her sitting on the edge of her bed, face buried in her hands, sobbing uncontrollably.  An icy stab of fear went through him.  Leesle was one of the strongest people he had ever known.  At sixteen, she had endured hardships that would have broken lesser men and women.  She bore the physical and sexual abuse of her step-father.  She had witnessed the murder of mother by that self-same abuser.  And finally being sold into sexual slavery before her tenth birthday.  She would have certainly died in a filthy brothel had she not been saved by her father the baron, and King Vax.  He wondered what could cause such anguish to the strong-willed woman.


He approached her slowly, almost cautiously.  Not out of fear, but out of confusion.  Finally, he noticed a piece of parchment, folded in thirds, laying on the floor in front of her.  He reached down and picked it up.  He read the quick missive and felt his knees buckle.  Chadis flopped down to sit beside her before he fell.  He put his arm around Leesle and joined her in tears.


At the same time, dozens of miles away in the city of Port Torrell, young Jacob Torrell dashed into his bedchambers, clutching a similar letter.  At twelve, he was too immature, too young to know that grief was not a thing of shame, so he ran to his bed to cry in solitude.


He collapsed on the bed and let out a plaintive wail.  “Oh, Hazel!  Oh, gods!”




Several days later, Leesle, Chadis and Jacob gathered along a beach in Wather.  Matron Elizabeth Heath had invited them to come and pay their respects to their friend.  The green waves crashed relentlessly upon the beach and a bitter, cold wind rolled in off of the sea.  The sky was overcast and gray, a fitting reflection of the mood of those gathered.  Hazel’s mother stood apart from the rest as she gave an accusatory stare towards Matron Heath and her lover, Giovanni Piazzi.  The three adults and the three youths stood shivering in the unseasonably cold wind.


Chadis opened his cloak and drew Leesle and Jacob in close, one under each arm.  Leesle looked up with a smile of thanks, but Jacob simply huddled closer, his face a mask of grief.  Jacob had been inconsolable since he learned of Hazel’s death.  Leesle had long suspected the boy had a crush on the young seer, and it seemed as if her suspicions were true.  She remembered the almost accusatory tone he took with Matron Heath earlier when he demanded to know why neither had foreseen this.


She had given him a wan smile as she stroked the boy’s cheek in sympathy.  “It is the gods’ attempt at irony, I think,” she explained.  “A seer can see many things, but never her own death.  She might get a feeling of dread or doom, but the details of our fates are blocked from us.  The gods can be cruel at times.”


“Why must you burn her body?” he had asked, and the anguish in his voice was almost too much for the Matron to bear.  Her voice was husky and caught in her throat as she replied.  “Her body must be burned because men are even crueler than the gods.  The…parts of a seer’s body, especially her eyes, are greatly sought after by dark wizards and mages as components for spells and artifacts.  I will not have Hazel’s body desecrated like that.  Thus, we have erected the pyre.”


Jacob’s look of shock and revulsion at the explanation had quickly transformed into a mask of righteous fury.  He pulled out the dagger that the three friends shared – the dagger given to Chadis by King Vax long ago and the visible symbol of the bond the friends shared.  He gripped the hilt with white-knuckled resolve.  “Fear not. No one will touch her before she is burnt.  I’ll kill anyone or anything that tries to come near her!”


Now, they stared at Hazel’s body as it lay wrapped in linen cloth from head to toe atop a wooden pyre nearly six feet high.  Giovanni cleared his throat.  “Does anyone want to say anything?”


Matron Heath turned to the three youths and smiled.  “I just want you to know that Hazel loved you all dearly.  Being a seer can be a sad and lonely existence.  I know this all too well.  People are afraid to get too close.  They shut us out.  Shun us.  But the three of you treated her like a normal girl.  When she was with you, she could be herself, and be accepted for herself.  That was the greatest gift you could have ever given her.  You three were her treasures.”


Jacob pulled away from the group and walked up to the pyre.  He leaned in close and whispered something that no one else could hear.  When he turned back towards the group, the grief on his face was a little less.  He even managed a small smile.


Chadis stood a little straighter and cleared his throat.  “She did so much for us, and asked for so little in return.  She was, and will always be, my friend.”


Leesle smiled.  “She knew everything else, so I know that she knew how we felt about her.  I love you, kiddo.”


Giovanni looked questioningly at Matron Heath, who nodded.  He grabbed a torch stuck in the sand and strode forward towards the pyre.  He quickly set the stacked wood afire and stepped back as it began to blaze.


They all stood and watched until the body of their friend Hazel was completely burned, and safe from those who would desecrate it.  Chadis, Leesle and Jacob started to walk back towards town, but stopped at a raised hand from Matron Heath.  She reached inside her cloak and pulled out a folded letter.  The letter was sealed with wax.


“I found this in my things this morning,” she explained, and handed the letter to Leesle.  “It’s addressed to the three of you, in Hazel’s hand.”


Leesle gasped as she took the letter with a trembling hand.  Jacob frowned.  “Written to us before her death?  But you said that seers cannot foresee their own death.”


Matron Heath shrugged.  “As I said, sometimes a seer might get a feeling.  And Hazel was a most powerful seer.  A boon from the god of oracles.  If anyone could foresee their own fate, it would have been her.”  She shook herself.  “In any event, I have not opened the letter.  Hazel clearly had something to tell you, and it is not my place to intrude.  I will leave you to it.”  With that, she, Giovanni and Hazel’s mother left the three youths.


Leesle turned the letter over to see “Leesle, Chadis, Jacob,” inscribed on the front.  On the reverse, a blob of red wax sealed the letter.  She handed it to Jacob.  “You open it, Jake.”  The young man nodded his thanks to her, cracked the seal and read the letter aloud.



My dearest friends –

If you are reading this, I am probably dead.  I have been experiencing a feeling of dread for some time now.  I hope that it is nothing.  But in the event that this feeling portends my death, I wanted to say a few things to you, just in case.


First, I want to say thank you.  You have always been the best of friends to me, and you may not realize how much that means to me.  These visions are both a blessing and a curse.  Not many kids want to play with someone who knows all their secrets.  You never treated me like a freak or a monster.  When we were all together, I felt normal, thanks to your love and acceptance.  I love you all more than I can say.


Second, know that even though there are dark and terrible times ahead, the three of you will weather those storms if you stand together.  Not only will you survive, but you will rise up in greatness.  You will stride across this world like giants, and your names will be spoken of throughout the ages.  You are the next generation of Heroes of Eldermont. 


Oh, please look after Zan.  Guide him and help him both before and after he takes the Sailor’s Throne.  He will need you all.  And look after Valeria, and – well, that would be telling.  You’ll see in due course.


Jacob – I am sorry I never got to meet your mother.  But know that she did not suffer, and did not transform into one of those undead creatures.  She bravely asked one of the guardsmen to take her life rather than turn into a monster.  Her last thoughts were of you.

Oh, and what you whispered?  I always knew.  And I feel the same way towards you.  I wish we had more time together.


Finally, would you go on one more adventure with me, my friends?  For old times’ sake?  Let me guide you one last time.  Go to Varino.  Find a member of the Heretical Council named Branigan the Bronze.  Tell him “What once cut, now binds.  The sleeper’s eyes are open, but unseeing.  There can be no peace beneath the wings of Llew’krun’s cloak.”  Trust him and follow his advice.  You’ll know what to do from there.  Oh.  Remember – Left, center, left, right, center.


I truly hope that you never have the task of reading this letter, and that this is just a foolish fear.  But I feel a darkness in my bones. 


We will see each other again, either way.  Death is not the end.


My love and blessings to all of you.




Jacob had choked his way through the letter, his voice catching with each line.  Tears filled his eyes as he finished.  He felt ashamed of the tears at first, until he saw the older Chadis and Leesle crying as well.  He wiped the tears from his eyes and mustered a smile.


“On to Varino?” he asked his companions.


Chadis and Leesle looked at each other and grinned, then turned to Jacob.  “Damned straight!” Leesle exclaimed.  “On to Varino!”


Chadis laughed.  “Where you go, I go, my love.”