Fourteen

Fourteen

A Chapter by Eddie Davis
"

Zaeya uses her magic to contact Applemint's parents

"

14.

 

 

‘The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.’

--Albert Einstein

 

A quarter of an hour later, they gathered around a small Bluebird nest inside a large hole in an old stone pillar.   Lady Zaeya examined the birds from afar, and they were not happy with the Dark Elf’s presence. 

“Do these birds look like those in Whiteberry?” Gevin asked Applemint.

“I think so; I’d say they are the same species, sir.”

“They should work,”  Zaeya added, “There is a simple spell I can cast that is actually related to the other one.   Think of the birds back at your home.   I’ll cast a spell on one of these birds and if you are thinking of the same type of bird in a different place while I am chanting the spell, you will see in your mind through one of those birds.   You won’t hear anything or be able to do anything but watch through one of the bird’s eyes for the duration that I am chanting the spell.   If they are of two different species, then you won’t see anything and we’ll know that the more complicated spell won’t work.”

“What do you want me to do other than think of the birds?” Applemint asked the Drow lady.

“We have to be physically touching, so touch my shoulder, but don’t move around or say anything or you may mess up my chanting.   Don’t be surprised when the vision begins; it will seem that they are right in front of you, but you won’t hear them and they won’t sense you at all.   You’ll probably just get a view of their nest or one of them hunting for worms…or whatever Bluebirds eat.”

Applemint looked questioningly to Gevin and Troem and both men nodded their approval.   With a sigh to clear her nerves, the Halfling girl rather timidly touched Zaeya’s shoulder.

“Everyone stay quiet until I finish.   The magic might cause the other birds in that nest to fly off, but the magic will keep the other one transfixed until the spell ends.   And before you ask; no, it will not harm him.   Let’s begin.”   Immediately the Dark Elf began making elaborate hand gestures, her voice taking on a singing chant that was somewhat hypnotic to hear.    It came to Gevin’s mind that this vulnerable moment would be perfect for Zaeya to attack them by arcane means, if that was her desire.

But it was too late to do anything, so Gevin tried his best to just calmly wait to see what happened.

For a while they all just focused on the Drow woman’s chant.    Gevin was staring blankly ahead, his mind wandering sleepily, when he saw Applemint stiffen slightly, her eyes widening and a gasp escaping her lips.

“Yesh, have mercy, what is happening?” She exclaimed, peering into the distance as if she was seeing something that wasn’t there.

“Shh!” Gevin warned, remembering Zaeya’s warning.

“Sir, I can see through the bird’s eyes and it is Whiteberry, but there is something terrible going on!”

“What are you talking about?”

Zaeya’s eyes opened up and she was glaring at them for their conversation, but she did not stop her chant.

Applemint reached out and grabbed Gevin’s hand.    Though he had never seen the birds, he knew Whiteberry better than anyone after all of his years living there.    As soon as the Halfling’s hand touched his own, it was as if he just popped into a strange dream where he was seeing through the eyes of a bird.

The perspective was overwhelming for a few moments, but then he saw what Applemint was talking about.     The bird apparently was perched on the low branch of an apple tree, watching two groups of men fighting with swords and pole-axes in front of the royal courtyard where the queen and the ladies of the court frequented in warm weather. 

At first he thought it was some sort of practice at arms or maybe some unusual tournament.  But it quickly became apparent that this was actual combat.

Thankfully the bird whose eyes they were looking through was fixated on the conflict a dozen or so yards in front of him.

“That’s Baron Dellye and Earl Cetiline…they’re fighting against some of the palace guards!” Gevin exclaimed.   The bird’s head moved slightly, revealing a glimpse of more people battling on the parapets.   He could see smoke from something on fire and there was pandemonium all around.  

“Sir, look!   By the doors to the right!” Applemint called and then he saw what she was referring to.   A group of men-at-arms in mail were pushing two young boys with their hands bound, out into the courtyard.   Gevin recognized one of them as the King’s sons, and both boys were bloody and staggering under the rude treatment from the soldiers.    The men-at-arms thrust them down onto the ground and then the guards encircled them.   From behind them came Earl Cetiline’s teenaged son, Lord Phane, and he held a sword in his hands.    The guards allowed him to enter their circle and he went immediately to the two boys, who were on their knees with helpless, horrified expressions on their young faces.    Lord Phane lifted up his sword, ready to strike them down and- 

The vision ended abruptly as Applemint pulled her hand away from Lady Zaeya.

“He was going to kill them!”  Applemint cried, her arms wrapped around herself, “My God, what has happened!”

“Zaeya, can you bring that vision back up again?”  Gevin asked the Drow lady as he put an arm around the trembling Halfling girl.

“I was lucky to maintain it that long with you two shouting and moving around!   I can’t see through that bird’s eyes for a week.   What did you see?”

“Some sort of battle…perhaps a coup, from the looks of it.    Earl Cetiline and Baron Dellye and their men were fighting some of the king’s men.   We saw the heir of the king and possibly his younger brother in grave danger of murder by the hand of the earl’s son, Lord Phane.   Something terrible is going on there.    Zaeya, was that a true vision of what is happening right now in Whiteberry?”

“Yes, if that was where your Halfling was thinking about in her mind when I cast the spell, that is what you were seeing.”

“I know it was the palace that we saw,” he told the Drow woman, “and if this is occurring right now then I’d guess the king is in dire straits.”

“What can we do, sir?  Oh, my family is in the middle of all of that!”  Applemint wrung her hands.

“Zaeya, it is still possible to cast the other spell as we originally planned, isn’t it?”

“Yes, as long as another bird like the first one is in the area.   But if I cast it, you’ll only have one chance to get a message across, because that spell will exhaust my magic until at least tomorrow afternoon.   Do you still want me to cast it?   I thought it would be best to wait until the girl’s parents were settled down for the evening, but now I’d suggest that you send the message immediately, before they leave the vicinity of the birds.”

Gevin nodded, kneeling down in front of Applemint and gently taking her head in his hands, “Apple, listen to me; I’m going to contact your parents instead of you.   I want to tell them to get out of Whiteberry immediately, for if this is a coup, it will only get more dangerous and messy.   I’ll tell them that you’re okay, but they are in danger if they stay around the royal court right now and it is important to get them out of there as soon as possible, okay?”

Applemint nodded, “I understand, sir.  Please have Zaeya cast the spell soon, sir.   I just hope it’s not too late.”

“Be strong, my dear,” he encouraged her, reassuringly patting her shoulders as he turned to the Dark Elf, “Zaeya, if you’re ready, please begin, I’ll think of something to say.”

“Touch my arm, Gevin and focus what you want to say to them now, for you’ll have only one chance and you’ll only be able to tell them a short message, so plan carefully.   Grab my arm and I’ll begin chanting the spell.”

Troem came over and stood by Applemint for comfort as Zaeya began chanting and Gevin touched her forearm and began formulating what he wanted to say.

 

***

 

Mangle Pondertort peeked uneasily out of a stall in Sir Gevin’s stable where he and his family had hidden.   “As long as they don’t come in here, we’ll be alright,”  he tried to reassure his wife Andrie, who sat nearby cradling baby Billom while the infant’s teenaged brothers stood with their father.

Andrie shook her head but didn’t say a word, for they all were worried about Applemint and wondered if she’d been taken, along with Sir Gevin’s two fine horses.   She focused on her baby and struggled to not resume crying, though she forced herself to maintain a degree of hope that her only daughter was safe and sound.

“Dad, it doesn’t sound like the fighting’s getting any worse; maybe we could flee now,” Devin suggested in a whisper.

“Too dangerous; we’ll stay put until sundown, that way Applemint can find us.”

“What if she doesn’t show up, Dad?  Nobody’s seen her since last night.”

“You shut your mouth, Devin Pondertort!   Your sister will rejoin us too and I don’t want either one of you to even think of any other possibility!   The two of you may be responsible for her disappearance, not to mention our master’s horses.”

“But Dad, I didn’t…”

“Not another word from you!   Your sister is out there somewhere and everything is falling apart around us.”  He glared at his second oldest child and the boy flushed and looked at his feet.

           Mangle’s attention was suddenly caught by the sound of flapping wings.

“What in the world-“ He mumbled as a bluebird entered the stable and flew directly to him, landing on the railing of the stall in front of him and looked directly into his eyes.

“Andrie, look at this little bird - she flew straight to me and I swear, she’s looking at me as if she is trying to tell me something.”

As the Halfling mother joined her husband and sons to see the strange bird, the little animal opened her beak as if she was about to sing, but it wasn’t a bird’s song that escaped her mouth.   As the startled Halfling family listened in bewilderment, the voice of their lord, Sir Gevin, somehow, came through to them from the bird.                     

“Mangle Pondertort, it is Sir Gevin, do not be afraid; you are hearing my voice through this bluebird through magic.    Applemint is with me and is safe.   I have very limited time to speak to you, so listen well.   I know there has been an uprising or coup in Whiteberry against the king.    I want you to take your entire family, get provisions for a long journey, take my wagon and the horses, hitch them to it, ride to Oakfield and get the rest of your family, then all of you together  immediately ride north, until you to get to Albsidhe - now known as the duchy of Albsidhe- and there we’ll rendezvous with you.   If Thallow and Dart are not back in the stable when you get this message, buy a team of draft horses if you can…get them by whatever means you can.    Do not, under any circumstance, let anyone there know where you are going.   It may be difficult to leave Whiteberry depending on who is in control of the city.   Try to sneak out, but if stopped, tell them that you are heading for your master’s lands outside of town to rendezvous with him.   Hopefully you’ll not be stopped or questioned.    Applemint and I will be waiting for you at the border of Albsidhe; look for us in the first inn after you cross the border, it should be located in the village on the outskirts of the Woodedge garrison fort, about ten miles inside the border.  Do not tell anyone about this message or where I am.  If asked, tell them that I’m probably waiting for you at Oakfield.   Hopefully you found out about my present to your family of ownership of the estate, but now it looks like you may have to abandon it for a while until we see who will take up the crown as king.    I wish I had more time to explain things to you, but this spell that allows me to communicate with you is about finished.    Applemint and I will be waiting for you, make haste and be careful!  Do everything I have told you and use your best judgment if you have any questions.   May Yesh surround you with protection and safety.   Make haste, but do not trust anyone there in Whiteberry, for you probably don’t know who is in control.   Farewell!”

The bird’s beak closed, then the little bluebird blinked as if just awakening, flapped her wings for a moment and then just flew off, leaving the Pondertort family standing there dumbfounded at the whole experience.

 

***

 

“Well, it seems to have worked,”  Gevin said with a weary sigh in response to Applemint and Troem’s silent query as Lady Zaeya finished her chant.

“Did you see my father?” Applemint asked anxiously.

“They were all there - your parents, and all three of your brothers, even the baby.   They were hiding in the stable, so your hunch was right on that, Apple.”

“But did they hear everything?”

“Well, the bird repeated everything I said, word for word and they were startled, but they certainly were listening and I’m very sure they got the message.”

“Could you tell anything else, sir?   Like what was going on there in Whiteberry?”

Gevin shook his head, “I didn’t see Thallow or Dart; the stable was empty except for them.    I couldn’t really hear anything else.”

“The fact that they were gathered together in a stable would indicate to me that there was a good reason for them to hide,” Troem commented.

“Yeah, they looked somewhat anxious,” Gevin turned to Zaeya, “Thank you, Lady Zaeya, you relieved a big concern I had.”

The Drow lady smiled, “See?  I am not all bad.”

“No one is,” Troem said to her, “Good and bad are merely choices that people make, though continual journeys down the same road tend to make a specific path easier over time.”

Zaeya arched her eyebrows and smirked slightly, amused at his philosophical response, “Well, what now?”

The four just looked at each other, unsure for a moment.

“Apple and I will need to rendezvous with her parents.    It will take them probably four or five days to reach the Albsidhe border, and that is if they don’t run into any trouble and I told them to go to Oakfield and get the rest of their family first, so I’m guessing about a week.   I want Apple and me to be there when they arrive.”

“It will take you about five days to rendezvous with them from here - I don’t have any horses or mules so you’ll have to walk.   Horses could cut that time down to three days, but you’re out of luck for mounts.”

Gevin glanced at Applemint, who shared his lack of enthusiasm at the thought of a long trek, but was as resolved as he was to partake of it.

“I guess we’ll have to start out tomorrow morning, then.”

“You’ll need a guide off this mountain -there are a few perilous places on the path.   I haven’t been down there for quite some time; would you mind me joining you?”

Gevin smiled, “I didn’t want to ask, but I’d be honored to have you accompany us.” 

They turned to look at Zaeya.

“Well, you don’t think I’m just going to hang around up here by myself, do you?   But I’m not too keen on the sunlight, so I’ll have to prepare with some magic.”

“What sort of magic?”  Applemint asked, trying not to sound suspicious.

“Well, what if I could get us horses to ride…though after my last ride, I’m not sure that is a sane idea for me.”

“There are no horses around here,” Troem replied and the Dark Elf responded with a mischievous grin.

“What are you scheming?”  Gevin asked when the Drow lady didn’t explain.

“Don’t worry, it isn’t anything diabolical or evil.   There is a spell that we use in the Underdark to summon a species of large pack lizards that we use for transportation.”

“Giant lizards?  Ugh, you want us to ride them?” Applemint exclaimed.

Lady Zaeya sighed and rolled her eyes, “No, there are none of them on the surface anyway!  But the spell will work on other domesticated species if the caster is familiar with that specific species and I think I know enough about your spirited horses to summon them.”

“But if there are no horses here, would it work?”  Troem asked.

“There are none up here on this mountain, but once we go down off of it, we may have better luck.   This area was part of an Elven kingdom once, wasn’t it?”

“Yes, but Elves don’t have as many horses as humans do and they treat them differently, more as a free species.”

“I’ll bet over the years there were several that escaped or were released.   They seem to like to run, so perhaps in more open areas they will still be living - or their wild descendants, perhaps.    It’s worth a chance.   The range of the spell is quite large in the Underdark, and it could be even larger up here, maybe as far as a few miles.”

“Well, it’s worth a try,” Gevin replied, “Lady Zaeya, that brings up another question - what are your plans?   Were you planning to go back to your homeland?”

“I’d like to, but during my time in the magic jousting world, I’ve heard that my people are extinct or at least few in number.    Now I don’t know if those claiming this really know this or are just assuming because there are fewer surface raids than there were in my days, but either way, it would be quite a journey to get there as our people had sealed up the entrances -magically- so that nobody can locate them and only one trained to open the gate could do so if they were located.   I was part of a large raiding party that was brought through and I had never been on the surface world before, so I had no idea where I was.    Our house’s grand mage then cast a spell upon us so that we flew like bats due north at a much greater speed than any animal could actually fly to reach our destination.   I have no idea where the entrance was, only that it is a long, long way south of the great forest…and I’m not sure how far it is from this place.    It would be a terribly long walk, either by night to save my eyes from the bright sun, or else in great pain during the daylight hours.  But it doesn’t matter anyway, because I do not know the incantation to open the gate anyway.”

“So you’re trapped here in the ‘surface world’?” Applemint asked, a hint of sympathy in her voice.

“Unless the magic hiding the entrance has eroded, and most magic doesn’t do that.   I’d have to wait until someone who knew how to use it came through and then convince them to send me back down.    Since I’ve been gone from the Underdark for probably 2,000 years, the prospect of success seems more and more unlikely the longer I speculate on it.   And I’ve thought about it a lot.   So I am left with the choice of trying to adapt and survive up here in this painfully bright world.   But I am certainly a survivor and I will do what I have to do.  So, I’ll try to be helpful to all of you and promise not to kill any of you no matter how obnoxious you may be…if you’ll let me…stay with you.”

She looked rather embarrassed after saying the last part and glanced down at her feet, uneasy at the awkwardness of her helplessness.

“I don’t mind,” Gevin glanced at Applemint.

“It’s okay by me…I guess,” the Halfling said with a shrug.

“You’re welcome here, Lady Zaeya,” Troem commented with a slight bow and the Drow actually looked up and smiled weakly at him.

“I should get the components of the spell ready.   They’re just a few basic things, such as a tuff of grass…they do eat grass, don’t they?   I’ll also need to practice the incantation so I’ll be ready to cast it tomorrow.” Zaeya told them without looking at them, for she was still embarrassed, so she mumbled something about the spell components and began heading back to the door of Troem’s dwelling.

“Do you need any help?”  The Elf hermit asked, and to his surprise, the Drow lady shrugged, and then gestured for him to join her, leaving Applemint and Gevin alone.

“Are you alright with her presence?”  Gevin asked the Halfling as soon as the two Elves had left.

“As long as she doesn’t get angry.”

“I image that she will hesitate to let her anger flare like that again, especially with Troem and me around.  Hang in there, Apple; you’ll see your parents soon.”

She smiled, but Gevin could see more than a little bit of worry in her eyes, “I hope they don’t run into any trouble…do you think they will, sir?”

“Your father is a smart fellow and he knows enough to keep your mother and brothers out of danger.   Honestly, I’d say that Mangle could sneak his family out of the situation in Whiteberry better than anyone else I can think of, because he is very careful and observant of what is going on around him.   Don’t worry, Apple, they’ll be fine.”

“I hope so.”

“I haven’t seen your grandpa Tam and grandma Tori in a long time; it will be nice to see them again, though it’s frustrating that it had to be under these circumstances.”

“What will you do, sir, once my family arrives?”

Gevin shrugged, “I haven’t thought that far ahead, really.   I know that if someone killed the king and his heirs, there will be one devil of a struggle for the crown and I, for one, don’t want to be caught up in it.   I think we all might just stay in Albsidhe for a while…as long as any remaining Elves don’t recognize me as the knight who was responsible for destroying the Albsylvia woods.”

“Perhaps it has grown back by now,”  Apple suggested hopefully.

“No, I’m afraid it hasn’t.    In fact, since then, it has become more or less a wasteland.    The king did not seek to populate it with anyone and aside from a small garrison at the southern end, Greidour has forgotten it.   Even the western garrison was withdrawn some time ago.   From what I’ve heard, there are only scattered trees growing now where the Albsylvia woods used to set.   All because of me.”  Gevin sat down on a chair and sighed wearily.

Applemint came over to him and boldly took his hand and squeezed it reassuringly, “That was in the past, sir; you’ve made amends for that.”

He looked at her with skepticism, “I have?”

“You saved the women trapped in that Ogre’s tournament place in the forest and then willingly went through the Nihility gate to keep anyone else from being trapped there.”

“How does that make up for setting a forest on fire and killing God knows how many Elves and animals?”

“It isn’t the size of the act that matters, sir; it is the change of your heart and the willingness and sincerity of your purpose that makes restitution for it.”

Gevin looked at the lovely Halfling girl in surprise at the depth of her wisdom.

“Well, that is certainly something to consider, I guess.”

“Sir Gevin, the more you keep your focus on the right things, the better your life will become; I’m sure of that.   It would be the same thing I’d say to Zaeya, though her problem is anger and arrogance.”

Gevin smiled, “So what is my problem, Apple?”

“Your problem, sir, if I might be so bold, is that you are being drowned by guilt and blaming yourself, which, along with hating yourself needlessly and fear of being hurt and vulnerable has made you become withdrawn and isolated.”

“You’re pretty smart for a girl your age, Apple.”

“I listen to what my parents say.”

“And they talk about me like that?”

“Oh, no, sir, they worry about you a lot and have ideas on what you need to do, but they never speak ill about you.”

“So what do they think I need to do?”

“You need someone…a friend… or…something.   Someone you can confide in and trust that won’t hurt you.”

“True friends are hard to find, Apple.”

“They are when you don’t actually look, sir.”  She replied, squeezing his hand and smiling so sweetly that Gevin felt his heart race at her glance.

“Well, I have you and your family, Apple, and I count myself very fortunate in that regard.   I just realized that these past few days.”

Applemint’s smile intensified and for a long moment he just stared dreamily into her twinkling green eyes.  When her face flushed and she demurely turned her eyes away, the spell was broken and his cheeks also turned crimson.  

Thankfully, Troem popped his head through the doorway right then and said that Zaeya wanted to go to the bottom of the mountain and proceed with the spell so they could have more time tomorrow to get any horses used to them that the spell brought to them.

“It will take about six hours to walk down the mountain; she says that it would be best to have all of us present when…and if… any horses are summoned.   I figure the smart thing would be just to pack supplies and camp at the foot of the mountain in an old way-station there.   I use it sometimes when I journey off the mountain.   It’s in very good shape and well furnished by yours truly.   Actually, there would be more room there for the three of you tonight.    Even if we don’t get any horses, at least tomorrow morning we won’t have to spend half of the day coming down from here first.   It’s still early enough to make the trip before sunset.   Are the two of you up for a hike?”

Gevin glanced at Applemint, who shrugged and commented, “Well, at least it is all down hill.”




© 2020 Eddie Davis


My Review

Would you like to review this Chapter?
Login | Register




Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe

Advertise Here
Want to advertise here? Get started for as little as $5

Stats

4 Views
Added on November 23, 2020
Last Updated on November 23, 2020
Tags: Synomenia, Nihility_Gate, fantasy, elf, sword_and_sorcery, magic, knights, Halflings, Drow


Author

Eddie Davis
Eddie Davis

Springfield, MO



About
I'm a fantasy and science-fiction writer that enjoys sharing my tales with everyone. Three trilogies are offered here, all taking place in the same fantasy world of Synomenia. Other books and stor.. more..

Writing
One One

A Chapter by Eddie Davis


Two Two

A Chapter by Eddie Davis


Three Three

A Chapter by Eddie Davis