1874-08-12: Beneath the apple tree
Beneath the apple tree
Summary: Wulfred closes his eyes for a moment.
Date: 1874-08-12
Related: None.
NPCs: None.

The map making had gone admirably, the men and women of the Spurs were moving across the lands, mapping, and detailing great rises, and roads, and paths. There was little they missed, and little that wasn't added to the maps. Local sights were marked, places that might well be missed, odd shaped rocks noted, caves, and other such places doodled just so. They were nothing if not thorough. Wulfred for his part mopped at his brow and took a deep intake of breath as his chest fluttered, that damned racing sensation. A sensation that took a few breaths to cease, not to mention a moment leaning forward in his saddle, eyes closed and nostrils flaring. Damn it was hard getting old.

Another stream, its length followed by a few, another path, its length scouted by another, the Regiment was cast far and wide like a fisherman's net. There was little they intended to miss. Hell, even pockets of sheep were noted for completions sake, sightings of wild critters, often alluded to with either exceptional little doodles, or really bad attempts at capturing the noble mien of a wild beast. The Regiment would miss not a thing, though Wulfred grunted faintly once more as his heart missed a beat and fluttered as it raced most oddly.

"I think…" Wulfred slid from the saddle, clinging to the side of the horse in a such a way that made the beast take but a couple of steps to the side, allowing his portly self to push away, "Go… see to the men." Wulfred growled towards a Squire, "Tell them to keep it up, I just need a moment." And with a loose wave towards the general direction of the men, Wulfred soon turned about and stumbled a few awkward paces to the large apple tree he'd been admiring from afar. Against the rough bark, Sir Wulfred placed his hands and soon his brow, "By the One…" And with a further grunt, he turned about and slide down the trunk to settle on the ground, back against the tree and his vision growing dark about the edges. Extremities tingled, even his nose that he idly flicked with the tip of a numb finger, "Come on Wulfred, deep breaths."

Deep breaths did little, but the fresh Galenthian air felt good, and with trembling hands, Wulfred reached into his buff coat and pulled the locket from within. Some muffled curses followed as he fumbled with the broken clasp, finally parting the two sides to gaze upon the faded image within. Though the lock of black hair was as rich as the day his wife cut it, all those years ago. His lips twitched faintly, a smile of sorts, weaker than normal, memories of his daughters, his son, and his glorious wife drifted to the fore.

The smile widened a little as he thought of his dear daughter Gytha, lost all those years ago to traitors during the Sack of Griffon Pointe, her beautiful face for once clear within his minds eye, for the years had seen details slowly fade much to his annoyance and heartbreak.

His dear son, annoyingly pious and yet finally a soldier. Despite those few years where the priesthood beckoned, Wulf's chest throbbed as he felt nothing but pride for the man he had become.

Freya and Felicity had both ensured the family line quite thoroughly, their service to Crown and Duchy nothing short of unceasing. Their skill with blackpowder ensuring that Wulf's heart once again pulsed with pride, knowing that that foul smelling powder was truly within the family blood. Though heaven help their husbands, for they were truly as hard-headed as their mother. Hard-headed, yet full of warmth and life.

And his dearest Constance, his strength, his heart, his only love. His soulmate. The lock of hair within the locket was stroked gently, a caress that was followed by a faint involuntary twitch of his thumb, "I'm tired my love, old and tired. What I would give for a slice of your apple pie right now, give me strength… but first…" His voice trailed off as he let his gnarled left hand, badly injured and scarred from a charge against artillery many years previous reach out to grasp a fallen apple at his side, "I should bring a few of these home, but yes, just…"

Running a finger over the hair once more, Wulfred grinned faintly and closed his eyes, "Just…" His voice felt strange, almost disconnected as he let the locket fall to his stomach, the silver chain tumbling over the swell of his buff-coat clad belly, "Just a moment is all." And with that, Wulfred closed his eyes and his large form almost seemed to shrink a little as that final breath slipped free of his lips. His weathered and battle scarred form slumped against that great tree, a look of peace upon his features, that beard so glorious and full cushioning his chin, while the sun glinted upon the locket resting upon his stomach, and the apple warmed within his still grasp.

A good couple of hours passed before the Squire returned, the fact that Wulfred was still sat beneath that tree, quiet and restful sent a pang through the Squire's chest, "Sir Wulfred?" His pace quickening as he dashed towards the old knight, the Lord Aspendon, "Lord-Commander?!" But there was no reply, and neither did he stir. A gentle shake of the old cartographer's shoulder as the Squire knelt beside him did nothing either, just the tumble of a hand from his bunched up coat to the ground. Not a breath escaped the old Lord.

"Oh…", the Squire's eyes didn't blink as he sank back and sat numb beside the old Wolf, keeping watch upon his commanding officer, waiting for the others to return.


The woman stepped lightly upon the grass, her dress, a pale yellow as if made of captured sunlight and slit up the sides past her waist. She walked slowly and then stopped to place a hand gently on the loyal squire's shoulder. Though the boy could not feel it or hear the words she spoke, the boy's heart was calmed and his soul assured. She held her free hand out to Wulfred and her voice like soft wind wafted across the way to the wolf.

"Rise now Wulfred and take my hand, for we have much distance to travel." She smiled and spread her pure white wings. "You, who have seen much of the world, and who have drawn it for the knowledge of all this will be quite the journey. Draw it. Enjoy it. At the end, your daughter waits to see you once more, and in the Kingdom of the Sun you, who have known so much war and hardship, will finally know peace." She smiles. "Do not worry. Time will appear to pass in a blink, and you will be reunited, one by one with those whom you love so much, for they hold you in their hearts for all time."

The Old Wolf stood and looked to the Squire. He nodded once. "He's a good lad. Will he … ?"

The woman smiles. "He dies in his bed in seventy year's time. Your lessons in both war and in life will see it thus."

With that, the Old Wolf took the offered hand and left on his next journey.

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