Gender: Male Age: 53 Location: Las Vegas, Nv
|Introduction: An Awakening|
Three days later we came to a large canyon and decided to make camp early. After unsaddling Kern I put the eaglet basket on a branch where they would be out of the way. Taking my bow I started up the canyon. After I had gone about a mile I came to a clearing in the woods with a stream running through it.
Sitting down I waited, it was late afternoon so something should be headed down to water soon. To the left side of the clearing was a large outcropping of rock that jutted out from the side of the canyon. After a half hour I heard something by the rocks. Nocking an arrow I waited and a moment later a young buck came out from around the outcropping.
Taking aim I shot the buck through the heart. Moving across the clearing I thought I saw something up in the rocks, I looked but couldn’t see anything. As I got closer to the buck I got a glimpse of something above me in the rocks. Nocking another arrow I looked up and saw the snow cat as it was preparing to leap.
Releasing a quick shot I dropped the bow and dived to one side coming up with my dagger in my hand. Surprisingly I saw the cat laid out with my arrow sticking out from under its jaw. When I looked closer I saw that it had lodged it the cat’s brain.
Checking my bow I made sure it wasn’t broken and then started skinning the buck. When I finished I placed the meat in the skin and then went to the cat. Before I started skinning it I noticed it was a female and it had been nursing. I knew that if the female was hunting than something had happened to the male.
When I was done with the cat I climbed up to where it had been in the rocks. After a moment I found the trail it had left. Going back down I gathered the meat and hides. I picked up my bow and climbed back to where the trail had been. After ten minutes I came to a steep slope and looked up at the crest to see the lair.
When I reached the lair I saw no recent tracks of the male. The opening was narrow and made a sharp turn a little way in. I saw movement at the turn and set everything down. Pulling my dagger I squeezed into the opening and around the corner I found that I could stand bent over.
Looking around I saw the cub. Moving towards it I saw that it was one or two weeks old, it was also half starved. Putting the dagger away I picked up the cub as it mewed for its mother. Holding it carefully I squeezed out of the lair. I tucked it into my shirt and picked everything up and started making my way back down.
I was almost back to camp when Farrell met me, “I was just coming to look for you.”
I shrugged, “I was jumped by a snow cat.”
Hearing voices the cub started mewing again. Leaning close Farrell saw the small bulge in my shirt. “I see it’s a dangerous one.”
I laughed as I pulled the cub out of my shirt so Farrell could see it better, “I had to kill its mother. She was hunting the buck I killed, when I went to skin it she jumped me. I got off one lucky shot which killed her. When I skinned her I saw she had been nursing and trailed her to find the cub.”
Coming into camp Farrell went to the fire while I dropped the cub off on my bedroll and set my bow and quiver to the side. Later after feeding the eagles and eating I made a broth for the cub. Using a kerchief I twisted a corner and dipped it in the broth. I opened the cub’s mouth and put the corner in.
Slowly I fed the cub and when I finished I put some rabbit furs in the hood of the green cloak. I put the cub on the furs and it curled up and went to sleep as if exhausted. Turning to Farrell I thought about the last few days. I felt a tingling again, I had been feeling it off and on for two days now, “Do you feel anything?”
He looked at me, “No. Why, what do you feel?”
I shrugged, “I’m not sure but I think we are being followed.”
He glanced towards our back trail, “I haven’t seen anyone.”
I shook my head, “It’s just a feeling.”
He nodded, “I’ll keep watch tomorrow.”
I sat back, “Thanks.”
Two days later I was to sick to get up in the morning, “Farrell? I don’t feel well.”
Farrell crossed the camp to me and checked me for fever and found it was high, “Do you feel nausea too?”
I nodded, “Yes. Its hard to focus and everything is blurry.”
He looked around, “We’ll stay here for today.”
I looked at him, “There is a fortress about a day’s ride south. If anything happens, go there. Follow the trail east to Kolene. You should be able to take passage from there to Tangora. From there head northeast.”
He nodded, “You’ll be okay. Get some rest, I’ll make some broth.”
Through out the day Farrell fed the eagles and cub, checking every now and then on me, he knew I didn’t look to good. That evening he knew he would have to do something, I was getting worse, I was delirious and my fever was higher.
It was almost midnight when Farrell heard the horses snort. Someone or something was coming. Picking up his bow he moved to me and shook me, “We have company.”
I moaned and started crawling for the nearest set of bushes. After making sure I was hidden, he crossed to the other side of the camp by the horses. Finding a suitable tree, he moved behind it. About ten minutes later a rider came to the camp, he stopped at the edge and looked around, “Hello the camp, I’m friendly.”
Farrell called out in high elven, “come into the firelight.”
The stranger was surprised, “An elf. Well, I will come in and thank you.”
He rode in and dismounted, “I’m alone.”
After a moment Farrell came out of hiding. The man snorted, “A Kaire, so that’s why the voice sounded different.”
Farrell nodded, “My name is Farrell.”
The man smiled, “Mine is Ambert. I’m looking for a human lad. I have been following him for a long time. His name is Kevin sen Dangul.”
Farrell looked him over, “What do you want with him?”
Ambert looked around, “His grandfather wants to see him.”
Hearing me groan in the brush, Farrell put himself between Ambert and the brush where I lay hidden. Ambert looked at him, “I will not harm him and I might even help.”
Farrell returned Ambert’s look, “I owe him a life. It is not a light debt.”
They looked at one another and Farrell finally moved aside. Ambert was a tall man with blonde hair and dark eyes. There was a hint of mail at the sleeves of his shirt as he moved to help Farrell with me. As they parted the brush they saw that I had passed out. Ambert bent over me and felt for a pulse.
When he found it, it was weak. Lifting me, they carried me to the fire and set me close beside it. Ambert went to his saddle bags and pulled out a small case. Opening the case he asked if I had been feeling anything strange before I got sick. Farrell thought back to the day I found the cub, “Yes, three days ago he felt strange like he was being followed.”
Ambert nodded as he sorted through the vials and small pouches. He held up a vial that was light blue, “This should help.”
Farrell looked at him, “What is it?”
Ambert moved towards me, “Mura, a drug made from a flower that is very rare.”
Farrell knelt beside me, “What will it do?”
Ambert stopped and looked at him, “It will close the shields of his mind and stimulate his heart. It is not a cure for what he has.”
Farrell looked at me, “What is wrong with him?”
Ambert looked at him for a long minute, “In his people there is a time when the mind takes a step but the body does not have the knowledge to follow. Sometimes they die.”
Farrell looked at me, “but Kevin is human. I have never heard of this before.”
Ambert smiled, “Kevin is far from human. He is a child of the elder and he is the son of two wizards that were among the strongest in the world.”
After giving the drug to me Ambert started rubbing my arms and legs, “It looks like I might have gotten here in time.”
Hours later I awoke, Farrell was sitting beside me, “It looks like you return to the living.”
I looked up, “I feel so strange. I thought I could see everything going on and then it was like my head tried go one way an my body the other. Now it feels like it’s wrapped in blankets.”
He nodded, “It’s the drug Ambert gave you.”
I looked at him, “Who’s Ambert?”
He moved to the side and pointed to where Ambert slept, “He was the one that came in last night. He said he has been looking for you.”
I looked at the sleeping man, “Did he say why?”
Farrell shook his head, “No. You should rest.”
I nodded and closed my eyes. Farrell shifted as he sat, “I will make a stronger litter tomorrow and we will go on to the fortress.”
In the morning when I woke, the stranger was sitting beside me. I looked around for Farrell until I saw him by the horses. The stranger cleared his throat, “Well, it looks like you are awake. How does your head feel?”
I looked back at him, “My head feels strange, like it could float away.”
He nodded, “The drug I gave you is wearing off. You’ll start feeling worse soon.”
I smiled wryly, “Thanks for the good news. Why are you looking for me?”
“Your grandfather sent me. We don’t have time now to explain. First to help you, I need to get you to focus on something.”
I nodded, “There’s a stone in my pouch.”
Ambert opened the pouch and pullout the large emerald, “It should work.”
Setting the emerald on my chest he knelt next to me, “Now concentrate on the stone. We’ll start with a barrier. You must channel your energy through the stone. Think of a barrier of air that nothing solid can pass through. When you have it pictured send as much energy as you can to the stone. Think of the energy as an unseen beam of light.”
I stared at the emerald and tried to do as I was told. I pictured an invisible shield around myself and focused on the emerald. Slowly I concentrated more on the emerald. As I concentrated more on the stone a light began to grow around me. When it stopped there was a dome around me that was clear with a slight green tint.
“That was good. It needs work but you did very good for your first try.”
I sighed, “I feel weaker now.”
He nodded, “Magic must come from inside first. That means that it must use your energy. The weaker you are right now while you are sick, the less the disorientation.”
Farrell came over from the horses. He had the cub in his hands, “I finished the litter. Whenever you are ready we can leave.”
Ambert smiled, “Let the barrier drop slowly.”
Slowly the green cast faded until it was gone. Farrell handed the cub to me and then picked me up with Ambert’s help and carried me to the litter. As Ambert went to his horse, Farrell set furs around me, “You should name the little one. The eaglets watch him and don’t know what to do.”
I smiled, “They think he is strange. He doesn’t have wings and walks on four legs. My link with them is a lot clearer now.”
He shrugged, “Ask them, maybe they can tell you his name.”
I looked over his shoulder at the basket hanging from the saddle, “They call him Wynn or white one.”
He looked at the basket and then at me before turning and heading towards his horse. After he saddled his horse he came back to the litter. Ambert was on the far side, “We should make the fortress by tomorrow night.”
A day later we sighted the fortress in the distance. It was late afternoon before we reached the gate. I felt better but was still unable to do very much without tiring. I practiced off and on with Ambert using the emerald as a focus. I could raise a barrier easily now and the tasks he gave me were getting easier too.
As we entered the fortress we saw that there was more activity than there should be. We stopped at an inn named the Sleeping Cat. We were met at the door by a tall man with one arm, “Looking for rooms?”
Ambert nodded, “Yes and something to eat. Do you have stables for the horses?”
The innkeeper nodded, “My son will see to your horses if you want.”
Ambert looked back as he turned, “We’ll get our gear.”
The innkeeper smiled, “it will cost you a silver for rooms and another two coppers for the horses.”
I struggled to pull my pack over my shoulder, “What about dinner?”
“A copper apiece for the pot, if you want anything special you pay for it.”
I nodded and looked around, “where can we sell our furs?”
The innkeeper pointed across the central square at some shops that were just closing, “You can keep them in the stable for the night.”
I glanced at him and nodded again before picking up the basket off of the saddle. Farrell picked up Wynn from the furs on the litter where he had been sleeping. The innkeeper turned from looking at Farrell and the kitten, “I’ll show you to your room.”
He glanced back as they walked, “My name is Marc by the way.”
As we went up the stairs Ambert glanced back, “Why are there so many soldiers here?”
The innkeeper laughed, “There’s a war fixing to start in the east. Haven’t you heard?”
I shook my head, “No, we just came from Kalmar and there was no word.”
He nodded, “Well, the new Duke in Tangora and the Duke of Salador have pledged aid to King Alan in Golen and he has declared war on Sudan.”
Ambert looked at him, “The Dukes in the west will send aid to Sudan?”
The innkeeper nodded again, “So we hope, anyway the soldiers are new recruits being trained. Here is your rooms, these two across from one another and the one on the end.”
Farrell opened the door for me and set Wynn down on the floor, “I will go help with the horses.”
He set his pack down and turned to go. I sighed, “I’ll rest for a bit. Marc? Where can we buy two more horses and some supplies?”
He shrugged, “The supplies are easy, there’s a shop just down the street. The horses will be harder, what with the demand in Sudan. There is a trader named Sawyer, he lives at the edge of the forest south of the Fortress about five leagues.”
Ambert came back from the room at the end of the hall, “Where can I find an herbalist?”
The innkeeper gestured, “There’s a shop just down the street. If you want I can send my son down there.”
Ambert shook his head, “No, I’ll go. There’s something else I want to check on.”
The next morning I stayed at the inn and gave Farrell the pouch of chips I had saved from the large emerald. I also gave him a pouch with a dozen rough emeralds. After they left the innkeeper’s son came up to ask if there was anything he could do. After thinking about it I asked for bread, cheese and milk to be brought out front.
I dressed and then picked up Wynn and the eagles basket before making my way downstairs. The boy came out of the kitchen in time to hurry across the room and help me with the door. Once outside I put Wynn down and set the basket next to him. I lifted the eagles out of the basket and put them down on the grass.
Taking the tray I thanked the innkeeper’s son and gave him a copper. I then asked him to bring a bowl and gave him another half copper. As the boy left to get the bowl I sat down in the grass. As soon as I sat down Wynn started climbing into my lap trying to get to the tray. Braking off a tiny piece of cheese I gave it to the cub and set him to the side.
I took a sip of milk from the tankard and broke a piece of bread off before putting a piece of cheese on it. Marc’s son came out with the bowl and gave it to me, “Can I stay and watch the cat?”
I smiled and nodded and poured some of the milk into the bowl and then put the bowl down beside Wynn. After I finished eating I put the tray aside and moved over to the eagles. I glanced at the boy watching Wynn, “Would you bring me a basin of water and a rag?”
Turning back to the eagles, I picked out Aleron. Focusing like Ambert had shown me I reached down into the link with Aleron and urged him onto my hand. Slowly I moved back to the step. The other eagles watched and chirped at me in curiosity. The boy returned with the water and rag. Taking the rag I dipped it in the basin of water and started cleaning Aleron.
The young eagle started preening his feathers and rubbing his head against my hand. When I finished I noticed Wynn playing with Lachlan. The young cat would stalk Lachlan and then Lachlan would bat him with his wings. Wynn would roll onto his back and Lachlan would rub his head on Wynn’s chest.
I could hear the other eagles amusement and Lachlan was feeling happy and affectionate towards Wynn. I went to pick up Megan, she rubbed my hand and then stepped onto it. I was washing her and noticed that we had a crowd of five recruits and a sergeant. They were all watching Wynn and Lachlan play.
When I finished with Megan, I looked over at the two playing. Wynn had Lachlan down and was licking him on the head. In my mind I could hear Lachlan laughing and the other eagles chuckling. When I looked over at their audience, they were chuckling too. Smiling I reached for Keely, she just crooned and stepped onto my hand.
As I was washing her I saw that the audience had grown. Looking over at Wynn I saw that Crystal had joined the fun. She and Lachlan would chase Wynn and then he would chase them. She would go one way and Lachlan another, Wynn would go after one of them and the other would chase him and he would turn to flee.
He would stop and the chase would go the other way. When I finished with Keely, I saw that Wynn was tired and had gone to Aleron and Megan to lay down. In my mind I felt them smile as they started grooming him. I reached for Lachlan and put my hand down. He flicked his wings back and stepped onto my hand as if he were the one in charge.
The sergeant gestured to his recruits to leave, “Boy that is the first time I have seen a snow cat anything but mean. You have him and those birds trained real well.”
I smiled, “Thanks but their not trained. They just learned to get along with each other.”
The sergeant smiled and moved away with his recruits. I kept washing Lachlan who stood quietly, moving his wing or leg when I needed them moved to clean them or around them. I realized my link with Lachlan was clearer and set him down. He walked to Wynn and slowly rubbed his head against the cat’s chest.
Picking Crystal out of the link I called to her and she came to my hand before chirping as she stepped onto it. I washed her and noticed that she kept putting a wing or foot or even her tail feathers back into my hand to wash again. As I finished I saw Farrell coming towards me. I set Crystal down and she made her way to the other eagles around Wynn who was now asleep.
Farrell smiled, “Well, it looks like you are feeling better. Ambert went out to buy the horses. He thinks he will be able to get them.”
I nodded, “Did you have any trouble selling the gems and furs?”
He shook his head, “No, but we didn’t get as much as Ambert thought we would.”
I sighed, “That’s alright as long as they pay for what we need.”
Farrell looked over the curious sight of the eagles and the snow cat, “It looks like they get along.”
I grinned, “You should have seen the audience they had. Wynn and the eagle, Lachlan, that’s the one with the blue crest on his chest and powder blue all the way down his wings. They were playing, one would pounce and the other would run or give up. It was amusing, the other eagles thought so too.”
He smiled, “Can you link with the snow cat?”
I shrugged, “I don’t know, I haven’t tried.”
He looked around, “Why don’t you try now, I’ll watch for you.”
I started focusing and still felt the link with the eagles. Looking at Wynn I tried to feel what the snow cat felt. Slowly at first and then with greater strength I felt what the young cat was feeling, contentment and a feeling of wholeness. I knew the feeling of wholeness was because of the eagles.
When I came out of the link, Farrell was sitting beside me. I smiled, “Wynn thinks the eagles are his family.”
He nodded, “I guess they are in a way.”
I felt tired and a little sleepy so I moved over next to the eagles with my back to the wall. Farrell moved to sit on the other side of the eagles while I drifted off to sleep. I woke with a feeling that something was not right. Looking to my right I saw that Farrell was watching three men dressed as hunters but something about them bothered me.
As I watched them, I saw that they were watching a young officer who was waiting outside an herb shop. I watched as the three men spread out and started moving toward the officer. That’s when I saw it, the man in the middle moved his hand to the hilt of his sword. I realized that they were assassins after the officer.
I was up and moving before I realized that I only carried the three stilettos. As I closed on the one in the middle, I pulled two of the stilettos. I saw that they were almost to the officer so I yelled, “Assassins!”
They drew swords and I threw one stiletto at the man on the left. I was on the man in the middle even as he turned. I ducked low as he swung a backhand stroke towards me. He left himself open and I moved in and stabbed up under his sternum and into his heart.
Even as he started to fall I grabbed his sword and pushed him away. Turning I saw the officer had dodged the remaining assassin’s first swing. Moving quickly I stepped in as he swung again, deflecting the blow on my own blade. I expected the man to attack me and was surprised when he stepped back and turned to run.
As he took his first running step a dagger came past my shoulder to hit the man in the base of the skull. Turning quickly I saw it was a young man that had come out of the shop that had thrown the dagger. I also saw the man I had thrown my stiletto at. It had taken him below the ear where I had aimed.
I looked back at the officer and saw he had his sword out and the young man was with him. The office shook his head, “Well, it took you long enough.”
The young man shrugged, “I didn’t see a need to hurry. I saw someone coming to help you.”
I looked closer and saw two things, first was the officer’s expression and the other thing was the wry and nervous expression of the young man. The young man wasn’t a young man in any sense, it was an elf maiden. She glanced around, “The guard will be here shortly.”
The officer nodded, “Aye, that is them now.”
I turned and saw that it was the sergeant and the some of the soldiers from the inn. He looked at us as the soldiers moved towards the bodies, “What goes on here?”
The young officer shrugged, “An assassination attempt Sergeant. This young man spotted it and saved my life.”
The sergeant looked at me, “Well youngster, we meet again. It looks like you know more than training animals.”
I nodded reluctantly as I went to retrieve my stiletto. As I was pulling it out I heard the officer talking to the sergeant about leaving in the morning. I walked back to them as the sergeant saluted and left to have his men dispose of the bodies.
I thought about the trip to Kolene. With a war going on it might be wiser if we went with a larger party and I did feel better. I cleared my throat, “You are leaving in the morning? By chance are you headed for Kolene?”
The officer looked at me carefully, “Perhaps, why do you ask?”
I smiled, “My friends and I are going in that direction and I thought it might be safer to travel with a larger party.”
He shrugged, “Well, I guess one or two men won’t hurt. Be by the front gate at dawn. That’s when we leave.”
I nodded, “We’ll be there.”
I turned and walked back to the inn and told Farrell that we were leaving in the morning. That afternoon when Ambert returned I told him what had happened. He took me to the stables and showed me the three horses he had gotten. All three were three to four years old and silver grey in color, they looked like they had come from good breeding stock.
While I fed the eagles and the Wynn, Farrell and Ambert went out and bought more supplies for the trip. The next morning we met the officer at the front gate of the fortress. Once all the guards were ready to go we moved out. We followed as they took the trail leading through the forest towards Kolene.
Early in the afternoon of the third day we were still on the trail. The three pack horses were behind Farrell and Ambert was riding on his right talking to him. I was focusing on the emerald as I rode in front of them. Suddenly an arrow came from the brush on the left striking the basket with the eagles.
Instinctively I reached inside myself for the power that I was just beginning to master. I reached out towards the brush where the arrow had come from. The clothing of the hidden assassin burst into flames. Even as I turned my horse I realized we were being attacked on both sides. There were more of the bandits coming out of the trees.
Drawing my sword, I pulled my horse to the right in time to deflect a blow from a man who had rushed from some low shrubs. Bringing the sword back in a backswing I cut through his throat. Even as I did this the horse reared because another man attacked on the left near its head.
I went off the horse on the right side. Hitting the ground I came up in a crouch facing the bandit. As I moved forward to engage him an arrow came from one of the soldiers further up in the column and hit the bandit in the back. Looking around I saw that the bandits were either dead or fleeing back into the woods.
I walked slowly towards my horse trying to calm it down. With an ache in my chest I moved along the side where the basket with the eagles was. I saw the arrow sticking out of the basket and with a feeling of dread I lifted the cover. Inside I saw that three of the eagles were dead.
The other two, Crystal and Lachlan looked to be in a bad state of shock and I didn’t know if they would live. Wynn had somehow crawled into the basket and was trying to revive Crystal and Lachlan. Slowly I lifted the two eagles out and placed them in a fold of my cloak. I lifted Wynn out and set him by my feet.
I moved away from the horse and sat down holding the eagles in my lap. Wynn followed and climbed into my lap to be with the two eagles. A couple of minutes later Farrell and Ambert found me. When Ambert saw what had happened he motioned to Farrell and they moved off towards the horse.
Ambert checked the three eagles that were dead. Farrell took the basket and moved off into the woods to bury the eagles. Ambert came back to me and squatted down. He had me bring out the emerald and focus on it. He told me it would help me maintain the link.
That it would also help reduce the shock to the eagles. By the time Farrell returned I was feeling better and the eagles were recovering. Ambert motioned to Farrell and they moved off to talk. When they finished Ambert went to talk to the commander.
After Ambert finished talking he nodded and walked away. Ambert walked back to me, “I’ll be leaving. I have something I need to do. I’ll meet you in Kolene.”
Once he saw that I understood he walked to his horse and mounted up and rode off to the south through the woods. After all the bodies were buried and the wounded had been taken care of Farrell returned to me. He let me know that we were ready to go. I stood up, keeping the eagles and Wynn in a fold of my cloak.
I went to my horse and mounted with Farrell’s help. He handed me the reins to the pack horses and mounted his own horse. We fell in behind the soldiers as they began moving.
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