Gender: Male Age: 53 Location: Las Vegas, Nv
|Introduction: A detour and a meeting|
A week and a half later I was back to my old self and we had seen no sign of Ambert. Coming close to the gates of Kolene we saw a man sitting on a horse. When we got closer we saw that it was him. Spurring our horses we passed the column and waved to the commander as we passed. When we reached Ambert we pulled up and greeted him.
He looked like he hadn’t slept in awhile and his horse looked like it had been ridden hard. He smiled, “There is a good inn by the south gate called the Hunter’s Inn.”
Looking at the pack horses he saw the new basket without a top. The two eagles were looking over the top at him but he didn’t see Wynn. He looked at me, “What happened to the cat?”
I laughed, “He’s in the basket. He thinks he has to guard Crystal and Lachlan.”
Farrell snorted, “Some guard, he sleeps most of the time.”
Ambert laughed, “Lets go to the inn.”
Turning his horse he led the way through the narrow streets over a narrow bridge and through more streets. We finally reached a large two story building and stopped at the stables beside it and dismounted. When I went to the pack horse to get the basket, Wynn was sitting up with his paws on the edge.
I set him on the ground and then took the basket off the horse and carried it to Ambert and Farrell. Together we walked to the front door with Wynn running at our feet. Ambert opened the door and walked in with us following. The innkeeper crossed the room, “Are these your friends?”
Ambert nodded, “Yes, we’ll be staying for a couple of days.”
He grinned at us, “Fine, my name is Godfrey. My son will show you to your rooms when you are ready.”
Ambert nodded, “That will be fine.”
While the innkeeper’s son was leading us Ambert told me that we needed to speak. The boy showed us into the room and we saw they were joined together by a door. I gave him a copper coin and watched him leave before going into one of the rooms. We placed the packs on the floor and I put the basket on the bed.
Wynn jumped and climbed onto the bed. When he reached the basket he looked around and tipped it over. I could feel Crystal and Lachlan berating him. I could also hear Wynn bleek with amusement. Ambert made a gesture and I could feel something like my shield. It seemed to cling to the walls, floor and ceiling.
I looked at Ambert, “What was that?”
He smiled, “Something like a shield but holds all sound in. It is necessary, you need to come with me to the Elf court. Your grandfather will be there in one week. If the others find out there may be trouble. He can only be gone for a short time without anyone finding out.”
He looked around, “As it is the seer that revealed that you were still alive has been found murdered. Your grandfather believes that the assassins have been sent or have been contracted for you.”
He sighed, “I need to go back a ways. Your parents were very powerful wizards and when they announced they would marry, many powerful families objected. They objected because they were both very powerful and because your father was in line to inherit.”
He looked away, “Your mother was not from a powerful family. Threats were made and your parents realized they would only be happy if they left. When they left they were sought for a long time. Not once did either use high magic so they could not be traced that way.”
He took a breath, “Then those that would inherit started to die. The first two were believed to be accidents but the last was plainly foul play. In an attempt to locate a cousin your grandfather used a seer. She located him but found that he had died as well. While she was still in a trance she looked for the next to inherit and found you.”
I looked away, “If my own family did not want my parents to marry why should I bother with them?”
Ambert shook his head, “Oh, your family did not object. They rather liked the idea.”
I looked at him, “And my grandfather will be at the elf court? Where is that?”
He nodded to the south, “Southeast, about a weeks ride.”
I looked at Farrell, “I don’t know. Farrell what do you think? It will mean a small detour.”
He smiled, “I have heard of the woods in which the elves live. There was even a small colony of my people that are supposed to be there. Yes, I would like to see this wood.”
I turned away from the bed and the ball of fur and feathers rolling around on it, “then it’s settled, we will leave the day after tomorrow. That should give me time to find supplies for the trip.”
Ambert made a small gesture and the shield melted away. He smiled, “I’m going to see about the supplies.”
I looked at Farrell, “Well, that leaves us. How about a glass of cold ale?”
He smiled, “That sounds good. We can drink it on the patio. That way you can wash Crystal and Lachlan.”
I gathered the basket up with a smile and placed the eagles back inside and set Wynn on the floor. We went downstairs and stopped the innkeeper to ask for two tankards of ale. I gave him a silver piece and also asked for a small platter of raw meat, a rag and a large bowl of clean water.
We went out and found the patio empty. Looking around we choose a small table under a large oak tree. A few minutes later a young girl came out with a tray. She placed the tankards on the table along with a pitcher of water. She looked around but didn’t know what to do with the rags. I smiled, “Here, I’ll take that.”
I placed the basket on the ground with Wynn and took the rags and put them down too. The girl stood staring at the eagles as if she wanted to play with them. I smiled at her, she was only about seven or eight. I cleared my throat, “What about the meat?”
She glanced at the eagles, “My brother was cutting up a chicken. What are you going to do with the birds?”
I laughed, “What’s your name?”
She blushed, “Marcy.”
I smiled, “Well Marcy, they need to be cleaned.”
She looked down at the basket, “The cat too?”
Farrell and I both laughed and I shook my head, “No, Wynn doesn’t like water that well.”
She bit her lip and then blurted, “Can I help?”
I looked down and saw my friends staring at her. I could feel they were curious about her, “Sure but you better go ask if you can get wet.”
As soon as I finished speaking she turned and ran back inside. Farrell laughed, “It looks like you have a convert.”
I just smiled and sipped the ale. The innkeeper came out carrying a platter of chicken. Marcy was following with a frown. After the innkeeper reached the table he set the platter down and handed me my change, “Are you sure Marcy will not be a nuisance?”
I smiled at her, “Not at all, the little ones are curious about her too. She won’t be a problem.”
He nodded and looked at Marcy, “Very well but you behave.”
He turned and went back inside. With a grin at Farrell I got up and picked up the water. I sat on the ground, indicating Marcy should sit across from me. When she had sat down, Wynn padded over to her and stood on his back legs and placed his front paws on her chest. He peered into her face intently.
I could feel him through the link and he was examining her to see if she might hurt Crystal or Lachlan. When Crystal gave a chirp he looked back at her as though questioning her. Crystal gave another chirp and he nodded and dropped down before walking back to the basket.
I looked at Marcy who sat with a look of awe on her face, “Well, now that the master has examined you we can get started.”
Wynn looked up from washing his legs with a very satisfied look on his face. I took Crystal and Lachlan out of the basket and placed them on the ground between us. I moved the bowl and gave Marcy a rag and called Lachlan to me. I could feel that Lachlan wanted Marcy to clean him and sighed, “How is she supposed to know how to clean you?”
With a soft cooing sound Crystal came to me while Lachlan went to Marcy. I could hear Wynn give a bleet of laughter. I didn’t think Marcy could pick Lachlan up so I kept Crystal on the ground in front of me. I started showing Marcy how to wash them by doing Crystal first.
When we finished, Crystal and Lachlan waddled over to the grass keeping their wings spread so the air would dry them faster. Once in the grass beside a tree they squatted down with their eyes half closed. When Wynn saw that they we were finished walked to Marcy. He climbed into her lap purring loudly and lay down to let her pet him.
I stood and sat down at the table. Farrell chuckled, “it looks like you finished in time. Isn’t that the elf maiden that was with us in the caravan?”
I glanced down the road and sure enough she was heading towards us. I glanced down at Marcy, “Would you like to feed them?”
When I said that, Crystal and Lachlan started squawking and waving their wings to make them dry faster. I laughed at the way they were acting, “Why don’t you split the meat. That way Crystal and Lachlan can have theirs when they are dry.”
I handed her the platter of cut up chicken as the elf maid arrived. She smiled down at Marcy and looked at me and Farrell, “My name is Ash. I spoke with Ambert and he said that you need a guide to the elven high court. I have business there myself so I agreed to take you.”
I gestured to Farrell, “I’m Kevin and this is Farrell. We saw you on the way here.”
She nodded, “I was accompanying the officer. He is one of the duke’s younger sons.”
Farrell noticed two men down the street that were watching us. They appeared travel stained and carried crossbows. He cleared his throat and nodded towards them and I turned to look. I frowned and then Ash hissed, “assassins.”
I looked at her and then back at the two men who were slipping into an alley. I stood quickly, “Watch this end Farrell.”
I quickly walked across the street and into another alley. Once in the alley I jogged to the end and carefully looked around the corner. I didn’t see the two and went around the corner and started walking quickly. When I reached the alley they had gone into I silently looked around the corner.
One of the men had a bolt loaded in his crossbow and they were looking around the corner towards the inn. I walked towards them quietly as I drew my dagger. I was almost to them when the other one looked around and saw me. He jerked and yelled a warning as I closed and side stepped his lunging stab.
I grabbed his wrist and turned as I lift it and pulled him between me and his partner. He jerked as the bolt struck him in the ribs and his partner cursed. I let the dying man go as I moved towards his partner. He dropped the crossbow and pulled two daggers, slashing at me with one. I wasn’t going to get into a long fight with someone using two weapons.
As he slashed I stepped back and brought my dagger around to stab through his wrist. I twisted and turned it and the man screamed as his wrist was ripped apart. I continued to turn and twist the dagger before yanking it out and stabbing him under the arm and into his heart. He fell away and I looked at the two men before kneeling and cleaning my dagger.
I checked them and pulled a drawing out of one’s pocket, I opened it to see my face. I stood and walked out and back to the inn. I looked at the elven maid as I set the drawing in front of Farrell. He frowned, “this is old... from when we first met.”
I looked at it and he smiled, “you have changed a great deal since then.”
I shrugged, “Maybe. We need to leave before more come.”
Ash cleared her throat, “Before dawn be ready.”
I nodded as she turned and walked off. Farrell sighed and stood, “I’ll go check the horses.”
I cleaned out the basket and Lachlan and Crystal reluctantly climbed in. Wynn rubbed his face against Marcy’s chest before moving towards me as I stood. I went in and crossed to a table in one corner. There was a shelf behind and above the table. I set the basket on the table before bending to lift Wynn onto the table.
I pulled Crystal out and lifted her up and set her on the shelf before putting Lachlan with her and then Wynn beside her. The two eagles shifted around and kept looking around the room. Wynn lay down and put his head in his paws but his eyes were bright as he kept looking around. I sat and ordered tea when Marcy crossed to me grinning.
Ambert entered the room and looked around before crossing to me. He sat, “Someone is asking around for you.”
I slipped the drawing I had taken from the assassins, “I killed two men that had this.”
He hissed, “It has started.”
Farrell came in and crossed to us before sitting and looking at Ambert, “Did you find supplies?”
Ambert nodded, “they will be brought.”
I glanced at Farrell, “We will need to check them in case.”
He nodded and then turned as Marcy brought two mugs of cold cider. The sun was only a hint below the horizon as we saddled and packed the horses. Ash rode in on a beautiful black mare and we swung up to follow her. Wynn had climbed out of the basket and around to sit in my lap.
It took us several hours of riding through fields before we reached the great forest. The coolness of the forest was refreshing and we rode easier. We stopped a few hours before the sunset. We were in a small glen and picketed the horse on the grass. I put Lachlan and Crystal on a broad branch and looked at Wynn, “Stay and protect them.”
He cocked his head and chirped before climbing the tree and stretching out on the branch beside Crystal. I shook my head and turned to put the crossbow together before slipping out. Farrell had left right after we got there and Ambert and Ash were setting up the camp and starting the fire.
I moved through the forest silently just as I had so many times. I felt almost refreshed or renewed. When the feel around me changed, I stopped moving and squatted as I continued to listen. The forest went quiet and I finally stood and started moving. I found the men in minutes and stood behind a large tree to watch.
They both held bows and were watching a thicket and a few moments later I knew Farrell was in the thicket. I quietly set the crossbow down and drew my sword and dagger before slipping closer. I touched one with the tip of my sword and he stiffened, “You...”
I pressed harder as his partner turned, “Quiet.”
The other man shifted and I moved with him, keeping my sword against the first man’s throat, “If you wish to live to see tomorrow drop your weapons.”
The man I had at sword point didn’t hesitate but the other man smiled thinly, “I think not.”
I didn’t say anything as Farrell suddenly slipped up behind him and hit him with the hilt of his sword. He dropped to the ground and the first man started to turn. I shifted and kicked out into his groin and he folded over. Farrell moved quickly and tied both mens hands behind their back.
We pulled the two men back to camp and Ambert turned from the fire before standing. He crossed to us and I gestured to Farrell as I pushed the men forward. Ambert whispered a binding spell and I let the men fall. Ash walked into the camp a moment later and glanced from the men to me.
Ambert seemed angry and I gestured to Farrell before slipping back into the forest. When I came back with my crossbow Ambert and the men were gone. I set the three fat rabbits down and squatted to skin them. Ash took them from me and nodded to Wynn and the eagles. She cut one of the rabbits in half and handed it to me.
I smiled as I crossed to the meowing cat and the crying eagles, “you aren’t starving.”
I started cutting pieces off and giving it to each of them. I glanced at Farrell when he led two horses in. He handed Ash four grouse and tossed one to me. I grinned and turned back to feeding Wynn, Lachlan and Crystal. When they stopped taking the food I turned and started helping with dinner.
Ambert returned alone and sat beside the fire, “We need to keep our eyes open.”
Ash snorted, “By tomorrow night we will be inside the protection of my peoples lands.”
Ambert only glanced at her. I set Wynn and the eagles on my blankets after dinner and laid back. I caressed them and thought about meeting my grandfather. I woke up to Wynn patting my face and glanced around. He was looking into the darkness by the horses. I stood and moved into the darkness before starting to move around the camp.
The girl was staring into the camp intently and a large snow cat sat beside her. The snow cat sniffed and turned to look at me and a moment later the girl turned her head. She lifted her hand and I shifted as I pulled a dagger, “I wouldn’t.”
She stopped moving as the cat stood. Wynn walked past my leg toward them and I almost cursed. He ignored the woman to go to the cat. The large cat laid down as Wynn rubbed his face against its. I glanced at the girl and she was grinning, “He is a bold fellow isn’t he Georgia.”
She looked at me, “I was looking for uncle Ambert.”
“I’m here Emily and you should not be.”
She grinned as Ambert slipped out of the shadows, “I am a Wizard and may go where I please. Besides, mom and dad said to tell you Cameron has declared himself heir.”
Ambert hissed and turned towards the camp, “That is not good. It means he is ready to move and the king has less time than he thought.”
She followed him and I hesitated before following her. I glanced at Farrell and Ash as they slipped out of the shadows. Ambert knelt to build up the fire, “What else Emily?”
Her large snow cat had gone straight across to the eagles. They were still sleeping but Wynn slipped in front of them. The cat butted him before pushing past him to smell them and then rub her face against each. I didn’t realize everyone was watching until I looked around. Emily grinned, “Georgia loves children.”
I sighed and went to sit on my bedroll, “What now?”
Ambert looked at Emily and she shrugged, “The king said to tell you two days.”
Ash hissed and Ambert sighed, “It will be close.”
He glanced at me, “we need to ride straight through.”
I looked at Farrell and he nodded. I finally nodded to Ambert and he turned to put the fire out as we started breaking camp. I glanced at Emily, “You have a choice of the two spare horses.”
She smiled as she walked towards the picket line. Several times Emily came to ride beside me. Her snow cat Georgia rode pillion behind her but curled up sleeping which Farrell laughed at. Riding through a dark forest isn’t easy or safe but Ash knew what she was doing and led us confidently.
We stopped after the sun had risen to eat and I made a warm broth to drink. We stopped at noon and a couple of hours before sunset. Farrell and I both used bows to kill a couple of rabbits along the way to make a meal. Ash and Emily had lured Wynn and the eagles into eating from their hands.
I didn’t bother to tell them I had mentally reassured them so they would accept the meat. Ambert was moody all day and kept murmuring to himself. We rode all night again, this time with Georgia scouting ahead. We rode into a strange and mixed city at noon. Elves and Kaire walked the elegant woodland streets together.
I glanced at Farrell and he grinned as Ash led us through the streets and stopped beside the spiraling stairway up to a large wooden house. An elf walked out from one side and smiled, “Ash!”
She grinned as she swung down, “Cousin.”
I slipped off my horse and hesitated before pulling Crystal out. I caressed her head and put her on one shoulder before reaching for Lachlan. He was peeking out and looking around as I nudged his feet. I lifted him to my other shoulder before pulling Wynn out and squatting carefully.
When I stood the elf was looking at me strangely as Emily and Ambert climbed the stairs. I glanced at Farrell, “Are you going to stay with me or...”
He smiled and nodded as he absently handed the reins to another elf that was already gathering Ambert’s and Emily belongings, “for now.”
I turned to Ash who grinned as she looked at the two eagles who were constantly looking around, “Think they are ready for that?”
I glanced at the two, “They think so.”
I sighed and started for the stairs, “I’ll come back for my things.”
I moved carefully as both eagles spread their wings to keep their balance and Wynn ran beside us. The room I walked into was large with several people. Unlike inns it wasn’t smoky or dark, high windows let in light to brighten the room. Ambert and Emily turned from talking to a man. The man almost looked familiar as he looked back at me.
I glanced at the tall Kaire that walked to me, “You are with lord Ambert?”
I looked at Farrell and smiled, “Actually he is with us.”
The Kaire looked down at Wynn in front of his feet and smiled, “another mischief maker?”
Crystal screamed and he grinned at her, “Yes, I meant your protector.”
I smiled, “do you have a room for my companion and I?”
He looked at Farrell and nodded, “Of course. You can call me Chase.”
He led us towards the huge tree trunk and the staircase that wound up. On the next floor we went down a hallway and he opened two rooms across from each other. Crystal and Lachlan were clutching my shoulder as I walked into one. I looked around the comfortable room before nodding and walking back down to the large common room.
I carefully shifted the two eagles off my shoulders and onto a shelf on the trunk of the tree. I bent and lifted Wynn up onto the shelf before heading out to get my things. It was an hour before I came into the room. I smiled at Crystal and Lachlan preening for a small gaggle of girls, some elf and some Kaire.
I sat and ordered a meal and some raw meat. I looked up as the older man Ambert and Emily had been talking to stopped at my table. He was looking at the two eagles and a sleeping Wynn. He glanced at me before sitting, “you take after your mother.”
I looked at him carefully and still had the familiar feel about him, “in some things.”
He smiled, “yes.”
He looked around, “I don’t have much time Kevin. I’m your grandfather.”
I looked him over carefully before turning to the serving girl as she came back to the table. I accepted the large bread bowl of hunter stew and the plate of raw meat. I handed her a silver piece before turning to the girls watching the eagles, “Here girls, feed them before they start making a nuisances of themselves.”
Crystal and Lachlan spread their wings and cried out as one of the Kaire girls came to take the meat. I turned back to my grandfather, “why come looking for me now? Why did you leave my parents to...”
He sighed, “I tried to calm things at court but there were to many opposed to their union. Edan and Cordelia chose to leave and I accepted their decision. Things have changed, your uncle Cameron plots to take my place after I step down.”
I looked at him as I started to eat, “Why tell me?”
He smiled, “Because your father may have left but he wasn’t exiled and was still my heir.”
I glanced at Farrell as he sat beside me and then back at my grandfather, “What do you want?”
He nodded to Farrell, “I want you to return to the Isle of Mist with me.”
I sat back as I thought, I slipped a coin onto the table as the girl came to see what Farrell wanted to eat, “what do you think?”
He nodded to the girl after asking for stew and looked at me, “You should see your family.”
I glanced at the eagles and Wynn taking small pieces of meat from the children before nodding. I looked at him again, “Will you come or stay here?”
Farrell smiled at the Kaire girl that set the bread bowl on the table and looked at me, “someone hunts you, I will come.”
I glanced at my grandfather, “we will come.”
He smiled before standing, “we leave at first light.”
We finished eating and I lifted a sleepy Wynn down and set him on the table. I could feel his and the eagles contentment. Elves and Kaire filled the common room for dinner and talk. Farrell watched bright eyed and absently pet and caressed Wynn. I finally stood to move a sleepy Crystal and Lachlan to my shoulders before scooping Wynn up.
I went to my room and put the eagles on the end of the bed frame and Wynn on the bed. I opened the window and breathed in the fresh breeze before going to bathe. I came back and nudged Wynn over before laying down. My eyes snapped open at the first hint of sound. I slipped out of bed and silently lifted my sword and moved to the side of the window.
The man’s head peeked in a moment later and he started to climb through the window. I moved and put the point of my sword against his throat, “I don’t like people disturbing me in the night.”
He froze and slowly looked at me with huge eyes. I smiled, “should I cut your throat now or would you like to tell me who hired you?”
He swallowed, “I don’t...”
I lifted and pushed and he stiffened, “WAIT!”
I paused and he licked his lips, “a mage hired me. He said he would give me ten gold pieces.”
I pushed slightly, “want to bargain for your life?”
He glanced at me as his arms quivered and then nodded. I smiled, “your life for the mages.”
He smiled, “done.”
I gestured and pulled the sword back. He moved back out the window and I heard him drop to the ground. I turned to look around the room before going back to bed with my sword. We were up early and I carried everything out before waking Crystal and Lachlan. A young Kaire lad fed them and Wynn on the wide front porch while we waited.
Emily followed her snow cat out and began to saddle her horse. Ambert was the next to appear and saddled two horses. Grandfather walked out talking to an elf who looked at me. I smiled, “something happen to a mage?”
They stopped talking and the elf stepped closer, “what do you know?”
I lifted the eagles to the pack saddle and then Wynn before looking at the elf, “he sent a man to my room to kill me. I gave the assassin a choice between his own life or the mage’s.”
The elf looked at my grandfather but I stepped close, “don’t look to him, speak to me.”
His eyes narrowed, “why?”
I smiled, “because it does not involve him.”
The elf finally nodded and then smiled, “than you got a bargain for the assassin. The mage was a nasty half breed we did not want here.”
I turned and swung up into my saddle before moving to lift Crystal to the front of my saddle. I looked at my grandfather as he smiled and swung up on his horse and turned to led the way southwest, “we go to Hamar.”
Farrell rode beside me and glanced at me, “an assassin?”
I nodded, “I caught him half in my window.”
He grinned and then laughed before moving back to lift Lachlan to the front of his saddle. Wynn growled and I turned at his complaint in my mind. I grinned when Emily rode closer and leaned over to lift him and put him in front of her. We rode with few breaks before stopping for the night.
The camp was bare since we would only be here half the night. I watched my grandfather create a ward spell around the camp before helping with the few rabbits we had killed while riding. It took us a week to get all the way through to Hamar. We rode through the busy streets and down to the docks.
I thought we would stay at an inn but grandfather went straight to a large ship and swung down. I brought Crystal, Lachlan and Wynn aboard and set them up on the after deck before going back to help load the horses and our gear. Georgia had taken the responsibility to watch Wynn and the eagles and sat by them as they murmured to each other.
When everything was loaded the ship was pushed away from the dock as the crew yelled and began pulling the sails up. Farrell watched from the after deck with me until we started moving out of the bay and into the ocean. One of the crew grinned as he moved up beside me with a long pole that had string and a reel.
I watched as he put something on a hook and tossed it over behind the ship. Wynn and the eagles were as curious as I was and murmured to each other asking what he was doing. Several minutes later the man jerked back on the pole and I looked at him in surprise as he began to use the reel and a large fish was leaping and fighting.
Crystal and Lachlan spread and flapped their wings as they eagerly cried out and Wynn made a hungry chirping sound. The crewman glanced at them and grinned, “want a fish?”
Wynn chirped and the eagles folded their wing and copied his chirp. He laughed, “let me bring it in.”
Emily laughed as she stopped beside me, “Georgia likes fish too.”
I grinned, “catching them looks like fun too.”
She laughed again as the man chuckled. The two week trip was spent practicing magic and learning to fish. Crystal and Lachlan’s feather grew longer as they filled out and they began flapping their wings more. Wynn and the crewman that taught me to fish even became friends, it could have been the bits of fish he was slipped on the side though.
Farrell and I also spent an hour or two each day on deck with swords or daggers. Many times Emily joined us, especially for dagger work. I had to admit Farrell caught the biggest fish, he used the crossbow and tied the fishing line from the pole to the bolt. He shot one of the huge sharks that followed the ship and spent an hour reeling it in.
A day from the Isle of Mist the water changed to a clear blue. During the night the mist rose up but Ambert stayed with the helmsman until morning when Emily took his place. It was late morning when we saw land. There was a few fishing boats out but they didn’t have sails. After we docked the crew started unloading the horses and I carried Crystal, Lachlan and Wynn off the ship.
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