Saturday, July 26, 2008

23: Anger, Debts, and Mystery

Edward sat in his room, his meal of roasted venison in front of him. His shoulder had healed quite nicely in the past few days. Of course it still hurt, but it was healing with no fever or infection. But his mind was not thinking of the condition of his wound. Granted he was frustrated, because the wound hadn't healed much faster. But his thoughts were taken with his missing con-man.

"How hard is it to kill that whelp in his sleep!" exclaimed Edward to the roasted venison on his plate. The meat, of course, had little to say on the matter. Which made Edward even angrier. "All I asked the good for nothing 'Assassin' to do was use that boy as a pincushion!" The dead deer flank, held its tongue. "Don't you dare look at me that way!" Thundered Edward at the meat. Which simply stared back. "YOU PIECE OF…OF…OF… ANIMAL! I AM GOING TO KILL YOU FOR THAT!" After which, Edward unsheathed his sword and proceeded to hack his dinner into hundreds of tiny particles, most of which would better be classified as the table that once stood in the middle of the chamber.

Outside Edwards chamber a nervous messenger stood with his hand closed into a door knocking fist an inch from the door. A posture that he had maintained for the duration of Edwards rampage. The guard at the door shifted uncomfortably, while the racket inside continued.

Once the table, meat and plate were thoroughly destroyed, Edward sat down, his shoulder throbbing. He sat in his chair, groaning and moaning loud enough for anyone outside to wonder if the knight had managed to lop of one of his own limbs. The messenger outside figured that now would be an opportune time to use the fist that had been poised in that knocking position for the past two minutes. Upon hearing the knock, Edward rapidly regained his composure and stood up quickly. An action that caused the blood to drain from his upper body, this increased amount of throbbing, and a rapid decent back into the chair.

"Yau-yau-your liege," stammered the messenger. "I fffa-ffa-fffear that I bring nad booze…I mean bring Bad na-na-na-news."

"Well what is it!" snapped Edward, doing a terrible job of covering up the grimace that covered his face. "Out with it man!"

"The Manor of Stranfordam has been broken into, and the crook…

"WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" bellowed the no longer composed knight. Being a man who could not show emotion with only his voice, he quickly stood up. Which once again caused intense throbbing in his shoulder.

"Si-Si-Sir, the Cock left, I mean the crook left these cock feathers as he made his escape," reported the messenger as quickly as he could. Upon finishing his statement he held out a bag for the now groaning knight to grab.

"Did he take anything?" gasped Edward "or just break in and throw feathers!"

"A map and one of your jeweled daggers," replied the messenger taking a step back towards the door. "They thieves were let in the front gate by the guard and…"

"WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HOW DID MY PRIZED GATE KEEPER LET IN THEIVES!" bellowed the knight, "EXECUTE THE MAN IMMEDIATELY!"

"Si-si-sir may I offer some more information first?" asked the nervous guard, taking yet another step back.

"Go ahead," groaned the knight remembering why he was sitting and not standing.

"The thieves pretended to be a traveling company—A noble and his servants." The servant started, "And the guard was not going to allow them passage, but since he believed that they were nobles he allowed them entrance until you should return."

"Cancel my previous order then," said Edward.

"Sir there is more info that may be of service." Upon receiving Edwards nod of approval, he continued. "They seemed interested only in your bedchamber itself. The only room they infiltrated was your bedchamber. They overpowered the guards, and bashed in the door of your bedchamber. The only thing they took from your bedchamber was the map that was on your trunk. When the time for the guard of your bedchamber to change came, the new guard noticed that the guards were tied up and your bedchamber door was bashed open. When he went into your bedchamber he found five men who quickly overpowered him too. But before he became unconscious he said that one of the men stuffed a scroll into his shirt."

"Very well," growled Edward, "you may go." After hearing this, the messenger darted out the door and was down the hall before Edward could take two of his fast paced breaths. "Guard!" commanded the knight "Fetch a maid to clean up this mess, and the doctor to look at my wound."

"Yes My liege," answered the obedient and fearful guard.

An hour later, Edward lay on his bed, a fresh bandage on his shoulder and the remains of his dinner cleared away. He lay trying to avoid sleep yet at the same time trying to obtain it. He knew that he would heal faster if he got rest, but he also knew that sleep was not restful, Kelthisad would visit him. The evil dream spirit had not paid Edward a visit since his wound, but he knew that another visit wasn't long in coming. He was right. Edward fell asleep and saw a grey smoky swirling shape of a man, standing in a dark room.

"I bring you news that none other will bring you," started the haunting voice of Kelthisad. "The boy Jard lives. Your assassin failed to kill the knight in training."

"D-D-Do explain…sir," stammered Edward nervously.

"The young 'Knight' is accompanied by two companions. The newest woke as your con-man reached for the stabbing blow, and stabbed your assassin."

"How do you know this?" asked Edward, his anger mounting replacing his fear, but only for a moment.

"I have some of my men watching this party. Unfortunately, my men cannot penetrate their thoughts at all, as if some force protects them. One or all of them are a threat to the dream spirits. You must leave at first light and hunt Edith down and retrieve both the dagger and the book before Jard reaches her. If you happen to find Jard, kill him. In order to free the dream spirits both the book and the dagger will be necessary. Fail me and your life will be in torment" With that, Kelthisad left Edward to a deep restful sleep.

Jard sat stunned. Had he not brought James along with him, he would be dead. James was shocked, he had never killed anyone before. He leaned back until he was in a sitting position, still speechless. Jard was the first to re-gain the gift of speech.

"You saved my life!"

"I guess I did."

"Well lets get this body buried," said Jard looking at the body whose blood had now soaked the ground with a dark red color. "And thank you for saving my life."

"Wow…we saved each others lives," replied the boy still in a daze. "I have always slept lightly, I always hear noises at night, and wake to them. But out here there should be no noise. I woke to find that man there standing over you with the dagger. I acted without hesitation. And now I feel the weight of a life I took upon my shoulders."

"And your action saved my life, which I am very grateful for. Had you not acted, a friend would have died instead of an enemy," replied Jard. "Now lets wake Peter and get this body buried."

Peter was shocked as well, but too sleepy to say much. They buried the body a short distance off from the road and moved their own camp farther up the road. And the three quickly fell asleep.

Farran used all of his strength to attempt an entrance to Jard's mind. No matter how hard he tried he could not force an appearance into Jard's dreams. "There is more information he needs! But this will have to wait," thought Farran. He knew that unless Jard was dreaming there was no way he could enter his mind. Jard's new found abilities were not limited to merely strength and healing. But he could repel any dream spirit that he chose. And Jard did not know enough about his abilities to know when he was repelling a dream spirit. "After all, Farran, you were the one who blessed him with these new abilities," thought the dream spirit.

Bruce sat on his bunk with a bucket at his side, a book in his hand and a look of intense pain on his face. He still woke with a seasick stomach in the morning but it was subsiding, somewhat. He found that he peered over the edge of the boat less often. But he still did have fits. At the moment he was feeling sick, it was about time for his before-bed-puking-fest. And to take his mind off the matter, he was reading a book he had discovered behind a barrel in the ships hold—a large book whose pages were old and wrinkled, a book about seafaring. Yet this book was not the common seaman's book. It was full of heroic tales that Bruce had never heard of. It was full of dragon slaying, and sea serpent killing. The book was full of adventure and heroic deeds.

He was reading on the best way to destroy a sea serpent. The way the good knight, Chint of Del-Fahgin the Serpent Slayer, killed his first sea serpent was most spectacular and heroic. First, he taunted the serpent using a flute he made from the nose bone of a Xiphias gladius (swordfish). This flute drove the serpent crazy, and it attacked Chint's ship. The knight then jumped from the rigging, sword in hand, and landed on the serpents head. Where upon, he stabbed the serpent in the eye with his sword. The serpent dove but Chint held on. The serpent tried to surface and throw off Chint. But that was the serpent's fatal mistake. Chint quickly swung down into the serpent's opened mouth and thrust a small dagger into the tiny brain of the serpent. After which he leapt from the mouth and swam back to the ship. When Sir Bruce read this he jumped from his bunk, and quickly sat down again. He had forgotten about his stomach. His stomach didn't need any help from Bruce that the ship couldn't give. Bruce darted out of the room with a full bucket in one had and a request in his mouth. He wanted a swordfish.

When Bruce exited the room he left the book on the bed. He was no scholar so he didn't pay any attention to the pages that didn't contain any stories. Pages that had strange words, and meaningless sentences scrawled all over them.


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