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Heart of Adventure Part 8 - Journeys
by J.C. Delfino III
Part 1-3(Called the East Way Chronicles)
The morning sun was just beginning to break the horizon when Raydon started loading his wagon. He paused and looked around repeatedly for the young Andester. Had he been wrong about the boy? Had a thief taken him in the night? He grumbled to himself. The boy had been truthful last night at the tavern. Raydon was sure of that much. Did the boy take the gold and run? Raydon shook his head and sighed. He loaded the last crate of books and climbed up into the wagon. He pulled the horses' reigns tight.
"Sorry I'm late," Andester said as he walked up from behind the wagon, "I had some last minute business to take care of."
Raydon watched Andester for a moment and then nodded. “Ready to go then?”
"I have everything I need right here," Andester said holding up his leather travel bag.
The older man smiled at this. Andester suddenly felt very foolish. He realized that he had just told Raydon that he was living out of the bag.
Raydon seemed to sense his awkwardness. "Well if that's the case we need to get you something more damaging than that dagger. It won't be much use in guarding my wagon or my body."
Raydon disappeared around the front of the wagon. Andester could hear the sounds of metal being sorted through. A few minutes later Raydon appeared back around the wagon. In his hands he carried a long sword, a simple blade and hilt, but still an expensive weapon. Andester started to take out his moneybag. Here goes the rest of my gold. Andester thought as he took out his gold coins; he doubted they would be enough.
"No, please." Raydon said with a wave of a hand. "Just consider it a gift."
Andester and Raydon began to ride the wagon out of town. As they passed the town center they also passed the justice wall. The bread thief stood there a wild look of amazement on his face. Two guards had stood before him and removed his shackles.
"You're free to go," the first guard said when the last shackle fell free.
The man looked behind the two guards at his family. His wife stood there holding his newborn baby. His daughter stood slightly behind her a huge smile across her face. His son was already running toward him, calling loudly as he ran.
“Jonathan…go.” The second guard said smiling. Jonathan stepped past the two guards just as his son ran into his legs. His son wrapped his arms around his father's waist.
“Daddy!” Jonathan's son hollered as he picked him up and started to carry him back to his mother. It only took him a minute to get to her but to him it seemed like an eternity.
Jonathan embraced his wife and held her close while he kissed her fiercely. After a long moment they pulled themselves apart.
"How?" He asked.
"NO!" The young girl screamed as she ran. The swarlar danced behind her laughing evilly as it closed the distance between them. The swarlar was slightly shorter than the girl, who was only seven winters old. Its dark gray skin shinned in the morning sun. The little monster could have easily caught her, but it seemed intent to play with its food.
The girl ran into a clearing leaving the forest behind her. The swarlar hopped around close beside her, snapping once then twice in an attempt to get her to turn. It was a little gray humanoid creature with skin scaled like a snake. It stood slightly smaller than her, and bounced forward on all fours like an ape. It wore loose rags that appeared more like large bags with the bottom and sides torn out and wore like a dress. It carried a large pouch tied with a long strip of leather which helped in keeping the rags attached to its body.
When the little girl fell, she let out a horrible scream. She quickly attempted to raise herself off the ground, but the swarlar pounced upon her back driving her face into the ground. It snapped its dagger like jaws just above her ear and when she turned her face it did the same on the other side. She struggled under the creature's weight but was unable to escape from the swarlar.
The thing dropped to its knees on her shoulders and pulled a small stone knife from a pouch it wore around its waist. The girl screamed hysterically as the little monster waved the blade before her face. The swarlar continued to laugh evilly.
The girl could feel the swarlar's weight shift as it pulled her head back by the hair. She watched as it drew its blade back for the final strike. Tears began streaming down her face as she closed her eyes and sobbed. Suddenly the swarlar jerked and fell behind her. She turned over and was about to kick her stalker when she noticed it lying still beside her, an arrow sticking out the center of its forehead. The young girl glanced up in front of her. There she saw a woman dismounting from a white horse. The girl rolled over again and began to crawl away as fast as she could. She headed for a small tree and had tried to hide herself at the base of it.
"It is okay young one, I won't hurt you." The woman said as she walked past the swarlar. "My name is Sondoras, where is your mother?"
The Assassin rode his black stallion into the clearing. He dismounted fluidly and drew his sword. Before him lay the corpse of a swarlar, and he knelt down to inspect the little beast. The stallion nickered loudly and the assassin glared up at it. The horse backed up a couple of feet and fell silent. The assassin's gaze once again fell to the swarlar.
A single arrow protruded from between its eyes, a perfect aim, killing the creature instantly. He grabbed and pulled the arrow from the creature with a loud pop.
He knew that by the beautiful carvings on the shaft that was an Elfish arrow. Elves, which lived for thousands of years, were known to spend a year or more creating a single arrow. The arrows were always discarded after a single usage, the elves believed it was no longer a useable arrow, but in fact they could be fired hundreds of times and would never warp or dull.
The shaft would be finely carved and sanded into a perfectly rounded shaft. Next they would carve intricate pictures and words into the shaft. When the shaft was complete the woodsman would carve into the end their clan symbol. A simple mistake would cause the shaft to be discarded and the crafter to begin again.
The creation of arrowhead was next. Painstakingly the tip, which was usually obsidian, was chiseled and sanded to perfection. The razor sharp edges of the tips, which were known to slice through skin, muscle, and bone without losing its edge, were dipped in wax to protect the elf that was to paint the tip.
After the tip was painted it would be fired. Firing the tip would make the paint as hard as rock and melt away the wax.
The arrow would be completed with the adding of the carefully trimmed feathers of an eagle, a falcon, and a dove. The elves believed that the birds symbolized justice, hunting, and peace. They also believe that arrow should only be used these ways.
The assassin turned the arrow over in his hands marveling at the workmanship. He turned the arrow away from him and studied the mark of the DeSoto clan.
His prey was close. He walked back to his horse and carefully placed the arrow in his quiver. He mounted his horse and smiled.
Tonight he would kill Sondoras.
Hours later the assassin watched Sondoras make her camp from a distance. She ate a good meal, which she foraged quickly from the area around her camp. After dinner she set various traps around the camp, something for anyone, anywhere in the camp. Each trap was carefully concealed a work of art, hidden and forgotten. If he had not watched the placement, he knew he could have easily walked to his death.
Finally he watched as she lay down to sleep next to a big tree.
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