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Heart of Adventure Part 10 - The Morning After
By J.C. Delfino III
Part 1-3(Called the East Way Chronicles)
After they finished with their breakfast Andester and Raydon sat drinking a rich herbal mixture that Raydon had sweetened with honey, “we should reach Orason within a couple of days." Raydon said after he finished his mug.
"Orason?" Andester asked taking a small sip.
"Yes." Raydon replied as he rose to fill his mug again from a kettle that sat on the cooking stove. "I have a friend there that we will be visiting, before heading south again."
The battle with the spiders had been terrifying. Already Andester could think of ten ways he could have done it better. What he could not figure out how he could have defeated the dozens of spiders without Raydon. This was a blow to Andester's pride for he had felt that he should be the one to handle anything that would come their way.
Raydon commented that those spiders were very deadly. Andester had been told that their venom was very powerful but not deadly. It could however paralyze a man. They then would feed. He thought back to the trapped deer and wished now he had cut it free; there may have been more of the spiders around. Raydon talked for a while longer and then fell into silence. They packed the wagon and began their trek south again, Raydon singing a little song and looking over at Andester every few moments and smiling, no doubt hoping that Andester would pick up the tune. Before long he was successful in teaching it to him.
“Oh lighted sun has begun this day of fun.
The night is gone, the day has won,
Oh lighted sun.”
And they repeated this merry little tune as the horses pulled the wagon forward, but after a while it turned to humming and Andester hummed along merrily.
"How old are you son?" Raydon finally asked.
"I have seen sixteen winters, including this one."
"Can you read?" Raydon asked after a brief pause.
Andester did not answer, although the redness to his cheeks gave away the answer.
"It is okay not to be able to read just as long as you want to learn how. A person should never stop learning." Raydon said handing the reins to Andester and taking out a scroll which he held up. "This is a map of the East Way. We are here." He pointed to an area that showed the roadway passing through a thick forest.
"This area,” he said pointing at the forest "is the Stylarn's Hunt." Andester had heard of the Stylarn. It was a race of human like creatures. From a distance they looked just as much a human as Andester. But if you got close to them you started to notice the differences. They had long stringy hair, high cheekbones, long bony fingers, but most noticeable was their eyes. Their eyes were said to be as red as blood. They had absolutely no white or for that matter any other color in their eyes than red. It was most unsettling to look into their eyes and that if one looked to long they would be become their slaves.
Raydon continued. "See that word there." He pointed at some letters on the map. "That is the word ‘hunt’."
Andester found Raydon's lesson extremely boring but was interested in the map, for he had never seen a map of the East Way before. He followed it down to Sliverton and found the mines just east of the town. "How long would it take to travel down there?" He asked as he pointed at Sliverton.
"About four days at a quick ride." Raydon answered. If he was upset by the quick change of subject he kept it to himself.
"Great," Andester said. "I am looking forward to getting down there."
"Why?" asked Raydon.
"Well," Andester paused for a moment before continuing on, "I plan to work a season in the mines. Collect some gold coins, there are things I need. The spiders last night, they showed me how unprepared I am."
Andester fell silent, and for a long time neither one spoke. The road they followed came to a large stream, with a wooden bridge crossing it. Raydon drove the wagon onto the bridge and reined the horses to a sudden stop.
"What..."Andester started but Raydon cut him short.
"Look at the stream." Raydon said pointing at the flowing waters. "That is freedom, the ability to run freely. Even still a stream only follows the path set for it."
Raydon paused for a moment to let this sink in. "You, Andester, are like this stream. You must run, you must live, and that hole in the ground is not your destiny! You my young friend have a heart of adventure."
Andester laughed out loud. "Do you think I want to work in the mines? This is all I have." Andester said holding up his leather bag.
"What more do you need really?" Raydon asked.
Andester thought about this. He now had a sword; it was longer and heavier then had used in the past, but the damage it could do was impressive. He was sure he could master it. There were other things he would need armor, camp gear, food and who knew how many other things he would need once he was in the wild. The most important thing was armor now.
After Andester explained this to Raydon he was surprised to hear Raydon's next comment.
"In Orason we can get you fitted in studs."
"Why are you doing this?" Andester asked.
"You remind me of well... me. And besides I need your help."
Andester could feel his blood starting to race. Is this really happening? A chance for action without losing a season in the mines! He thought to himself.
"I am constantly going from place to place, searching for wondrous books, scrolls, and writings. Once in a while I find something enchanted. Those are the real treasures." Raydon said with a smile. “But I am getting old, and things are getting heavy.”
Great Fantasy Fiction
Sondoras arrived in Orason early that morning. She had not seen that assassin since his foiled attempt on her life the night before.
The scent of his leather armor had been carried by the wind to her last night, so she set her traps and made her bed all while totally aware that she was being watched. She had lay down and then covered entirely up and waited for her opportunity to come. It came shortly after when dark clouds hid the moon and she slipped out of her bedding and her camp. She had been able to circle around behind the man and actually followed him into her own camp.
After he jumped off the cliff she watched him disappear into the thick forest. She then packed her camp and rode through the night.
She rode her stallion though the town of Orason. She had followed a worn dirt road east of town; she found the small branch off that was barely wider than a game trail. She could smell the smoke from the fireplace before she could see it rising into the morning air. She came over a small pass and could see in the middle of this delicate valley was a small cabin.
She could see a woman by a nearby steam washing clothing. A man was gathering wood that he had just split then carried it inside. As she rode closer to the homestead she quickly realized that they did not see her. Sondoras decided to use this surprise to her advantage. She rode the horse around behind the house and dismounted.
Sondoras walked around the front of the house and started to walk toward the woman at the steam. Soon she was standing behind the woman, shaking her head in disbelief. The woman was on her knees before her, both hands held a shirt and rubbing it fiercely on a washboard. Sondoras smiled to herself then reached down and grabbed the woman's shoulder, hoping to startle her.
The woman jerked forward and in the same motion one of her feet shot out behind her and swept Sondoras' feet out from under her. Both women were on the ground only for a moment. Sondoras was the first on her feet, but instead of attacking human woman before her she stood hands open, arms stretched out as if to embrace the other woman. The other woman rose up a couple of seconds later but facing away from Sondoras. She drew her hand up close to her face and turned quickly around, ready for a fight. Her face softened the moment she saw Sondoras. The two women embraced warmly.
"I see you have not forgotten all I have taught you," Sondoras said brushing the hair from the other woman's eyes.
"Mother," the woman said shaking her head.
"Trilla," Sondoras said to her daughter, "how has this new married life been treating you?"
Trilla replied in a joking voice, "Torr and I have been married over ten years already, it is hardly new."
"Ten years is nothing."
"Nothing maybe to an elf, but to a human it can be an eternity," Trilla responded causing both women to laugh loudly, “Especially if you are married to a man like Torr!" Trilla added starting another bout of laughter.
They started walking toward the small cabin style home. "It is good to see you again Trilla." Sondoras said with a sigh.
"What brings you this far east?" Trilla said putting her arm around her mother’s waist as they walked.
"Lady Zarek." Sondoras replied.
"The Queen? Trilla asked surprised.
"Yes, she has a small quest she needs me to complete."
"Even if I did not owe the Queen my life, you know that you could count on Torr and I."
"Yes I know, let us go in and discuss this with Torr.”
The assassin stood in the middle of the clearing that had served as Sondoras' camp the night before. Now it was bare. Not that he had expected her to still be there, but he was surprised she could have taken the camp apart so quickly and completely. She had even broken down the traps she had set the night before.
Blood dripped from the cloth he had wrapped around his hand. He had given himself five stitches and knew he would have to burn it and the hand would be useless for weeks. Something gleamed from the tree that Sondoras had bedded next to that night. He walked over and saw his dagger sticking out from the tree trunk. When he pulled it free he noticed the tip had been broken off, making the blade almost useless in a fight. He dropped it to the ground angrily. She did not fear him; she even dared mocking him he realized with a fury. She will learn to fear, her and the party she forms, each of them, all of them. This he swore to himself as he returned to his horse.
He tracked her throughout the day, he could tell she was headed toward Orason, and believed she would probably try and put together a party there, long before she got to Sliverton. She would want to know who she was working with, and would either join with people she knew or want to travel with a party for some time to make sure they were what she was looking for. Elves were not known for rash decisions. She would take her time.
He secretly hoped she would choose friends or even better yet family, she had embarrassed him and worse yet beaten him, and he was determined to make her pay. He would not be happy until her tears ran red with blood.
Malfattore stood on his balcony looking on with glee as his creations were bringing more fodder for him. His favorite creation the huge canyon carass once again was carrying the most bodies within his large hands. The only problem was the damage that the carass would do to the bodies.
The rest of the creatures were dragging corpses into the front courtyard. His undead bloodsniffers, who had once been large and powerful wolves, were running around the courtyard still looking for prey. He turned and started down the staircase behind him, laughing wildly.
This was the part he enjoyed the most, taking these husks and seeing what he could make of them. They were his clay and he was the potter, he was a creator, and he loved his creations.
Chapter 11 Coming Soon
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