"Lady Rowena! Thank goodness you're safe!" Locke exclaimed. "It was bad
the Duke and Duchess to lose their son, but to lose their daughter
as well would have been too much for them to bear. I must say you've led
us a merry dance."
"It's good to see you, Captain Locke. I had no idea a search party would
be sent after
me. How did you find me?" "With great difficulty. We assumed you would
head for the Southern Caves, and it
required some time and quite a bit of luck for us to hit upon your true
Rowena inwardly sighed with relief. She had feared that somehow the role of the family's mage in her adventure might have been discovered, and she knew that if it had been the consequences would have been very serious for him. If her family had assumed that her search for her brother would begin with the Southern Caves, then the mage's part in the affair must have remained secret, for he had seen that the needle of her magic compass had aligned itself in a different direction from that of the caves.
Rowena knew that it would not be possible to keep Fred's identity a secret any longer. These men knew him much too well. Nor, since these were her father's own men and they were on the very border of Allaria, did there seem to be any further need for secrecy. In fact she had been looking forward to this moment ever since she had found Fred (or, strictly, he had found her). This was not only for the happiness it would bring to her family's loyal men (and ultimately to her family), but also because it would show everyone that she was now someone to be reckoned with. She had found and brought back the brother that all but she had thought dead. They would know in future that she didn't need search parties to be sent after her. "I've got a big surprise for you, Captain," she said. "Denom, come forward!"
Locke waited impatiently to meet the man-at-arms of whom such strange stories were being told. Where had the Lady Rowena acquired him? And why did she command his loyalty? Could the two possibly be lovers? If so, what should he do? To report back such news to the Duke would mean big trouble for Rowena, and - though it concerned him far less - would most probably be fatal for the man.
An unkempt, bearded figure in unfamiliar armour came forward rather reluctantly.
9/2/2000 2:14:12 PM
The Never Ending Quest Home
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