As Astra fought with the toll-keeper, unnoticed by her, someone was
watching. He was wearing a hooded robe, and carrying a staff.
On the bridge, the toll-keeper kept on fighting, but he was no match for the woman. She was the most skilled swordsman the hooded man had ever seen, and this crude fighter was certainly no match for her. After a while, she knocked the sword out of the toll-keeper's hand into the water. The toll-keeper allowed her to pass.
The mysterious man smiled under his hood. He had watched this woman ever since her mysterious appearance, and he liked what he saw. She was definitely the sort of person he needed, he decided.
After he was sure he was out of her sight, he approached the toll bridge. "Halt!" the toll-keeper said. "The fee is 15 khadren."
"I think you can afford to let me pass," said the mysterious man, with an undertone of quiet menace in his voice.
"I think not!" said the toll-keeper, very angry. He obviously wasn't very happy about having had to let one person pass without paying, and he certianly wouldn't let another one pass, too.
"I think you can," said the mysterious man. And he showed the man his left hand. On his index finger, he wore a ring. It was carved into the shape of a snake eating its own tail, with small emeralds for eyes.
The toll-keeper was overcome with fear. "Al-alright," he said. "You can pass."
"Good," said the hooded man. Silently, he walked down the path that Astra had taken.
9/9/2000 2:51:13 PM
The Never Ending Quest Home
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