Chapter 1: Called
DISCLAIMER! I do not own any of these characters; they are products of the great Kristen Britain and her amazing plot bunnies. This takes place after the High King's Tomb. MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS, you have been warned. I am deeply sorry that I have been AWOL, but here are all the chapters re-edited
Fastion strode through the gardens in search of Karigan, urgently needing to speak to her. He had looked in the Rider wing, the training field, even stopped by the stables to make sure she was still at the castle, but he was only greeted by Condor and Hep.
Stepping out of the stables Fastion paused and searched the area for any Rider; he needed to find Karigan before he reported for duty. He noticed a Rider coming toward the stables, oblivious to the Weapon. He thought that he had finally found Karigan but as the Rider drew closer, Fastion noticed burn marks on the right side of the Rider's face.
He knew of only one Rider that had been seriously, Chief Rider Lieutenant Mara Brennyn. He walked up to her, surprise registering on her face as the Weapon detached from the shadows.
"Rider Brennyn, would you happen to know where I could find Rider Sir G'ladheon?"Fastion asked, hopeful that someone had seen his ghost of a sister.
"I don't know, Fastion." She replied, wearily running a hand through her hair, "I sent a Green Foot runner to deliver some letters to her that came in through a merchant's caravan."
At the mention of letters, Fastion remembered that she liked to go to the gardens to be alone and think, especially after receiving a letter from home. He thanked Mara, and headed for the gardens.
Now, as he searched the gardens, he couldn't help but understand his sister's choice of sanctuary. The flowers were beginning to peek through the brown earth, the trees were growing a new coat of leaves, and birds were chirping as they chased each other through the air. Fastion spotted her sitting crossed-legged on a stone bench by King Jonaeus' Spring; reading a letter, no doubt from her father in Corsa.
Karigan looked up from her letter upon hearing the light crunch of gravel. She was surprised when she read the anxiety in her friends face as he approached her. She wondered what had happened that could cause the Weapon's emotions to come to the fore. Karigan's first thought was that something had happened to the King, but Fastion body language and gait didn't convey any sign that there had been an attack.
"May I speak with you little sister?" Fastion asked, coming to stand beside the bench she was seated on.
Karigan smirked at being called 'little', Fastion being only a few years older than herself.
"Of course big brother," Karigan dropped her feet to the ground to make room for him. "Have a seat."
"Is something wrong?" she prompted, after a few moments of silence.
"I don't quite know."
"What do you mean?"
"What made you come back to Sacor City and become a Green Rider?" he asked abruptly.
Karigan paused, taken aback by the change in topic, "I was Called, I didn't really have a choice in the matter. Everywhere I went, I was haunted by the sound of hoof beats. I tried to get rid of my brooch, thinking that if I got rid of it, the Call would stop plaguing me; but I would always find myself wearing it at the end of the day. My dreams were the most persuasive, I was haunted every night with a need to be riding out on the open road. Finally, one night, the Call crashed over me like a tidal wave. I had to answer."
"Which explains why you came halfway to Sacor City in your nightgown." Fastion added, a small grin spreading across his face.
"I only got as far as Darden." Karigan replied, a blush creeping up her neck.
"That's only two towns over." He retorted
"Anyway, once the Call loosened its hold on me, I went back home, and explained things to my father. After that, I came back to Sacor City; the rest you know. Why are you asking me about being a Rider, brother."
"Because," he paused, looking vulnerable, "everything you described has happened to me. And I have no idea what to do. Ever since we showed Captain Mapstone the chest of Rider artifacts last summer, I have been plagued by the sound of hoof beats. Every waking moment is spent resisting the impulse to saddle my horse and ride. I can hardly concentrate on protecting the King with this fire burning inside me. I have tried to suppress it, but I can't without risking my sanity. Please help me."
Karigan was shocked, she had never heard of a Weapon being called into the messenger service. But she was happy that he had come to her about this.
"Well," Karigan stood up, pulling Fastion with her, "let's pay a visit to our dear captain and see what we can do about getting you a brooch."
She started walking toward officer quarters when Fastion grabbed her arm, changing her course to the direction of the throne room. "The Captain is currently attending the King during today's public audiences." Fastion stated, releasing her arm as she fell into step beside him.
The clock tolled out seven hour as Karigan and Fastion hurried to get to the audience chamber before the captain and the king left. When they reached the doors to the throne room, it was empty save a few soldiers. And Cummings, the King's personal secretary, who looked to be retiring for the night.
"Cummings?" Karigan called
"How can I be of assistance Rider Sir G'ladheon?" he asked, inclining his head in respect of her station.
Karigan winced at the new title, still not use to it yet.
"Do you know where Captain Mapstone and the King can be found?" she questioned.
Cummings paused a moment, stroking his chin in thought.
"I believe that they are dining in his study."
"Thank you." She gave a curt nod, striding back through the doors, Fastion leading the way.
They arrived at the King's study quickly, thanks to Fastion's thorough knowledge of the older passageways in the castle. Gwen and Tristan stood guard outside the King's study when they arrived; Gwen nodded to her sister and brother, knocking on the door for them. Karigan thanked her as she and Fastion waited to be invited into the room. When a deep voice called for them to enter, they both gave Gwen and Tristan a nod and entered the King's study.
Zachary and the Captain were in deep discussion about something serious, their meal half eaten and forgotten before them. But as soon as Karigan and Fastion stepped foot into the room, Zachary's attention was completely on his Rider, who was the happiest he had ever seen her.
He wondered what had happened that would make his beloved display so much emotion. Both Rider and Weapon bowed to the king, but the Rider's eyes were focused on her captain.
"Kar-Rider G'ladheon, what brings you here?" Zachary didn't care why she was here, he was just happy to see her. They hadn't spoken since the day she had been knighted and he longed to hear her voice again; no matter what she was saying.
"Fastion needs to speak with the captain." Here she paused, her grin breaking out again. Zachary was overcome with an urge to smother that smile with a kiss, instead he motioned for to continue. "And since you are here as well, Majesty, I don't see the point in you not being privy to the conversation, since it will affect you as well."
Karigan took half a step back, giving her brother's shoulder a reassuring squeeze. Zachary didn't miss the action, and a spark of jealousy flared with in him until he reminded himself that they saw each other as siblings, nothing more.
"Captain Mapstone," Fastion began, "ever since we showed you the chest of Rider artifacts last summer, ever since you blew the First Rider's horn, I have been plagued by the sound of hoof beats. I can hardly concentrate on protecting the King with this fire burning in me. I have tried to suppress it, but I cannot without risking my sanity. How my sister withstood it for two years I cannot begin to imagine" The Weapon went down on one knee before his King, "I offer my services to my King and country as a Green Rider."
Karigan smiled so hard that her cheeks were beginning to hurt. Captain Mapstone and Zachary were speechless; neither of them could remember the last time a Weapon had heard the call.
Captain Mapstone was elated that she would have yet another Rider. Zachary was both happy and sad; happy at the reaction this news brought to the woman he loved but sad because he was going to lose a valued friend.
"I accept." The king replied, placing a hand on his newest Rider's shoulder. "Rise a Green Rider and be welcome to my Messenger Corps."
"Well, let's go pick out a brooch. Then it's off to the Quartermaster's to get you outfitted in a uniform." Captain Mapstone stood, heading for the door trying to stop a smile from forming on her face. "You'll need to pick out a room in the Rider Wing. Then we have to talk to Colin Dovekey about your transfer. He won't be too happy about this," she paused, a grin breaking out on her face, "But I am."