"An opportunity?!!?" said Fred aghast. His mind was reeling from the
sudden image of his sword-sister, Astra, coming to his mind. The loss he
felt soured any thought of gain for the Kingdom. "For what!?! Have we
sunk so low as to take from the tree any fruit for which our lips lust?"
Rowena was jarred by the power in her brother's voice. She looked him over; he was dirty, unkempt and smelled of sweat, smoke and unpleasant things. The cloak that covered his body was soiled, burned in places, and ragged. She could see that he wore armor beneath the cloth, and it seemed to emanate brightness in the dying light of the day's end. This man before her was indeed her brother, yet his travels had changed him. She would have spoken a word in response to his outburst, yet the sight of two diminutive men caused her pause. And then she said, "What are those!"
The embittered voice of Dokken rang clear in the darkening air; "Bloody! That dame is as stupid as a ewe!"
Fred was up in a heartbeat. "Take that slander back dwarf Dokken or you shall pay by my hand!"
"By your hand?!!?" cried Dokken sarcastically. "Will you kill me or will you let your sword do it for you?!!?"
The words caused a chill to run up Fred's spine. His anger at the slight to his sister was forgotten as the truth of the sword-binding caused more serious considerations to flood his mind. It was the voice of Lem that was next heard. "Be the lass a girl of this country? And if so, what was the cause of her screams?"
After explanations and introductions, the foursome settled down and set camp. The Lady Rowena D'Honaire was awed by the dwarves. She had never laid eyes on any and had always thought them to be the most exotic of men. She had once seen an elf, but that one was haughty and 'high-brows' did not sit well with Rowena. As the fire crackled the girl continued her barrage of questions, a barrage that had begun a half hour earlier.
"What is it like to live underground? I would think it so dark and dreary....are there days when you do not even see the light of the sun?"
Lem rolled his eyes at her ignorance but he found the patience to begin to answer another of her silly questions. Dokken, however, did not have the patience. "SwordSlave, tell your mother's daughter to quit her yacking!"
Fred, who knew that the dwarves would not treat his sister as the Lady she was, shot back by speaking to Lem. "Goodly Lem, tell your cousin that he should speak his thoughts with the Lady D'Honaire and that if he should slight her that the Lord D'Honaire, here seated, will be more than happy to give him a proper education."
Dokken grumbled and Fred only grumbled louder. It was Rowena who tried to calm the matter. "My apologies, Sir Lem, Sir Dokken," she said most politely. "I did not mean any offense, I only wished to learn more of your kind, your way. I will bestill my voice, and let you slumber."
The night followed its course and though Dokken snored, Lem was on duty. Fred and Rowena were awake as well, staring at each other in the light of the fire.
"It is good to see you brother," she said.
"And you," said Fred. "But..."
"But...." continued Rowena. "....the world is a troubled place and we are not where we need to be to make things right."
"Aaah Wen. Everything is crazy yet still you can read my mind. I do love you so. But you are right; we need to get ourselves home and fast! There is so much to tell, so much to report. The things I've seen, Wen, you wouldn't believe it even if I told you! The Dragon is dead and another two as well, yet still our people are not free from madness. If any of the Dukes and Barons think they can use the troubles of Aqualaria to our advantage they are wrong; the Aqualarians are a stranger people than any of our Teachers know."
"And besides," said Rowena. "As Dad always says, 'the foreigner that you help in the day may be the friend that saves you in the night.'"
Fred was suddenly startled and excited; "What did you say?!!?"
"I only said that based on what I've heard of these Aqualarians, they might prove better allies than subjugated servants."
"No, not the meaning...the words....our father's words. Why did you say that right now?"
"I dunno. Why, what's the matter?"
"There was a man in that dread Forest. He made me...think, before I made a hasty decision. He, too, spoke of strangers and aid. He would not tell me his name and there was something very strange about him. He was lost to the fog and mist when I came to the aid of the dwarves. He's probably dead now, if the Forest had anything to do about it. I was just spooked when you used the same words as he."
"Then I shan't spook you any longer, dear brother. Let us sleep now, for tomorrow we continue onwards. There is a hamlet not far from this place, I passed it coming southward. We should be able to get steeds there and make our way homeward all the quicker."
With that said and done, the two fell asleep, none the wiser that Dokken had his ears open the whole time.
2/12/2000 9:30:23 PM
The Never Ending Quest Home
16775620 episodes viewed since 9/30/2002 1:22:06 PM.