The Castle Montefort of the House D’Honaire was the place to be on the
sixth sunset after the Grand Daye of Commissioning. The Duke and his
Lady, their daughter and their ducal court held a lavish festival in
continuation of that which began in the halls of Caemlyn. There had been
jugglers and poets, gildmen and faire-maids; the food was overflowing as
was the drink, and all were invited from the high down to the low. That
was the place to be, but that was before the misfortune came. First there
was the black fire that spewed forth from the Shreken, then came the news
that Lord Frederigo was no more, and after that the Lady Rowena
disappeared. The Castle Montefort was not the place to be in those days,
nor since, and not especially now.
A woman lay sobbing upon her bed while her husband was raging in the study. “This is OUTRAGEOUS! How can my daughter be involved in the machinations of some… some… some bastard who dare call himself my son?!!!?”
The Castle Montefort was definitely not the place to be.
A drizzle came down upon the traveling party as they made their way from the Iris Estate. The Longspear wound its way through the capitol city and from there deeper into Allaria and closer to Suffex. Locke knew he would have to make his decision shortly. He was a torn man, wanting with all his heart to protect his Duke, knowing the danger that this man Denom posed, yet also realizing that postponing the inevitable was hardly an act of courage. And what of the Lady Rowena? How the Lady Duchess Champlaine had cried her heart to him when she gave him the task of finding this wayward daughter of Suffex, of tracking her down. If he led this troupe to Caemlyn then how much more would the Duchess suffer? Too much pain, too many miseries minor and major. Damn this pretender! Damn the Dragon that sent him! Damn the curse of the Dragon, even in death it still punishes us! In anger and frustration Locke found his answer; the pain needed to be stilled, the suffering stopped…he would take this man to his Duke in Suffex. And he knew, whatever the tricks of the pretender, the misery he continued to cause would come to an end. And with that Flynt Locke spurred his steed to greater speed.
Two days passed since leaving the House of Hindsight. The Longspear made a winding way, following the example of the many rivers and streams of the region. By the end of the second day, however, they entered into Suffex lands and with it a vast plain with woods to the south and high hills to the north. They made camp at the Erspamer Rock; a huge formation of granite that seemed to be more the remnant of some giant’s game of croquet than a natural outpouring of the creator god.
"Well, I for one am glad to be free of the riverlands," said the Chanticleer. "Too many broken bridges and muddy tracks for my taste."
The evening went peaceably; they ate a simple meal under cold skies and brilliant stars. By morning they were off again. Within the second hour they came to the first of many hamlets that were spread across the Suffex farmland. By nightfall they took rooms at the Inn of Southsunder. Arrangements were made for the Lady and for Denom, as well as for Pall and the Chanticleer who had now made peace with the fact they were officially "guests" of the Guard D’Honaire and would remain so until they reached the Castle Montefort.
It was on the fifth day after leaving the Iris Estate that Locke brought his charges to the edges of the capitol city of Suffex. Even from many kilometers away the walls of the city could be seen, and rising from within, rising far above them, was the Great Hill and carved into its rock and stone rose ever higher the massive Castle Montefort.
"Oh my!" uttered Pall.
"Incredible!" whistled the Chanticleer.
"Home!" exclaimed Locke, Rowena and ‘Denom’ simultaneously.
Even as the troupe approached the gates of the western wall Locke had his men tighten their distance to Denom. With a salute from the duty guards they rode into the great city of Bannock.
12/31/2000 6:25:19 PM
The Never Ending Quest Home
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