Chapter 6: On the Road Pt 2
Karigan and Fastion raised their hands. They mentally kicked themselves for being caught off-guard as they were ordered to slowly get off their horses. They did so, scanning the area for any more brigades, spotting maybe ten men in the bushes waiting on either side of the road.
"Well, well, well. Whadda we 'ave here, Garrett?"
"Looks like two Greenies, Bart; all alone with nobody ta protect 'em."
Karigan and Fastion stood between their horses, the highwaymen standing in front of them, their swords pointing at their chest.
"We're not the ones who need protection," Karigan hissed, glaring at the highwaymen, "The odds aren't in your favor."
"Two sword masters against a few thugs, it's too easy." Fastion chimed in, knowing that he and Karigan could fight their way out if it came down to a battle. "It's not looking so good for you two."
"We ain't alone, Greenie." The one called Garette let out a whistle and the men hiding came onto the road.
Fastion got a grin on his face. "Now things are looking more even." he said, his hand inching toward his sword.
Karigan noticed, her own hand slowly moving to grasp the pommel of Aquila. In one fluid motion, they simultaneously drew their weapons, knocking their would-be robber's blades away. While still in shock, Bart and Garrett were cut down in one quick slash from both Riders. The other men moved towards them, fear flashing in their eyes but quickly replaced with anger over the loss of their leaders.
Karigan and Fastion split up and each took five brigades. Karigan was amazed at the response she was getting from Aquila. He drew on her strength and memory; gathering together everything she had learned about survival and putting that knowledge in her immediate grasp. She parried, blocked, and attacked, every swing falling an opponent. Within minutes, twelve men lay dead in the road, leaving two Green Riders wondering what to do with the bodies.
"Since when did I become a swordmaster?" Karigan looked at her heart brother, questioning his earlier words.
"You practically are," Fastion quickly defended himself, "All you need to do is pass the test and it is only given during the winter solstice."
Karigan decided to leave the subject alone and went into woods to gather some fire wood while Fastion moved the bodies into a pile. Karigan came back, and placed the wood between the bodies. Fastion dug through his saddlebags, searching for the tinder box. Upon finding it, he struck up a flame and set the bodies on fire.
"There's a waystation about seven miles up the road, we can stop there for the night." Karigan said, brushing her hands off. Fastion nodded and they both mounted their horses. They kept up a steady pace, cantering most of the way. By the time they arrived at the waystation, it was almost completely black except for the occasional moonlight leaking through the tree branches. As they passed through the wards, Fastion shivered slightly, a motion Karigan didn't miss.
"What you just felt were the wards set up around the perimeter of the waystation to keep Riders safe." As the words left Karigan's mouth, a fox raced across the path. "Though they don't seem to keep out small animals."
Fastion chuckled and dismounted Dragonfly, following Karigan to the paddock attached to the cabin. They un-tacked their horses and rubbed them down with currycombs. Karigan told Fastion where the grain was located and went to go fill two buckets with fresh water. She came back and set the water buckets on the hook, stepping back so the horses could drink. She then shouldered her tack and bags, motioning for Fastion to follow her. Karigan opened the door and had to jump out of the way of two opossums who ran out of the cabin. She then proceeded to dump her bags on one of the four beds set up in the cabin.
"Ok," she said placing her hands on her hips, "do you want to sweep the floor or start a fire?"
"I'll sweep." he replied, claiming his own bed. "Where is the broom?"
Karigan waved her hand toward a closet as she pulled out her tinder box. She picked out a few logs from the selection against the wall and placed them in the hearth. After a few seconds, the flames started right up and greedily licked at the wood. She heard Fastion sneeze repeatedly as the dust he had disturbed irritated his nose. He came back and she instructed him where to find a metal pot, some herbal tea leaves, and some mugs.
"Could you please go fill this halfway with water from the creek?" she asked, extending the metallic pot. "Go out behind the paddock and keep going straight, you can't miss it."
He nodded his head "And don't think I've forgotten about training." He threw over his shoulder as he exited.
Karigan chuckled and shook her head; she hadn't forgotten but had sure hoped that he would. He returned and she put the pot over the hearth, intending to let the water boil while they practiced.
"Training first, tea later." Fastion said, giving her a stern gaze.
"Yes, sir." She replied, teasingly. "But we need to stay within the protection of the wards."
They walked out into the yard to start their lesson.
Stevic G'ladheon had just sat down with the latest addition to his library when a servant knocked on the door.
"Chief," A small boy poked his head around the door, his face apologetic for disturbing his master, "Several men are here, asking to see you and Mistress Karigan."
"Do these men have names? Did they say what they wanted?" Stevic asked, removing his feet from his desk and placing them on the floor.
He hoped it wasn't yet another adventure depraved merchant asking for his Kari's hand in marriage. Ever since she had gone out with Braymer Cole; most of the bachelor merchants had come to proposition him for her hand in marriage. He had declined every proposal, having resigned himself to letting his daughter pick out a husband for herself. He wouldn't force her into a marriage, hoping that she would find something as real as what he and Kariny had experienced in their short time together.
"None that they would give, Chief." The boy replied, bringing the merchant out of his thoughts.
Stevic sighed and nodded his head. "Alright, show them in."
Three men walked into the room. They held themselves aloof, making Stevic think that they were nobles. Their bronze skin and sand colored hair mixed with azure eyes, reminded him of his wife. The one in the middle was slightly taller than his companions and he stepped forward.
They all swept into an extravagant bow. "Greetings Chief Galadheon. It is a pleasure to finally meet you." The taller man, who Stevic concluded was the leader, stuck out his hand, grasping Stevic's hand firmly within his own. "We can get down to business as soon as your daughter joins us." He glanced toward the door as if any second she would appear.
Stevic frowned, "Karigan is currently residing in Sacor City, serving in His Majesty's Messenger Corps."
The leader blinked, and then cast a glance to the two shorter men. They mumbled a few words in a strange dialect between one another before turning back to face him. "I'm afraid that she is the reason that we are here and that we must now leave for Sacor City. Thank you for your time, good evening Chief Galadheon." The three men turned to leave.
"Wait! You're leaving already? What is it that you want with my Karigan? As her father I demand you tell me what you want with her." He raised himself up to his already intimidating height. Who were these men that felt that they could come and go without answering any questions? The three men held there place.
"I'm sorry, but this is something that must be discussed with your daughter first. If she chooses to tell you afterwards that is her decision. However, we are under strict orders to speak to her and her alone. Safety and peace be upon you, Chief Galadheon."
With those words they disappeared, back into the hallway. Stevic followed them, intending to get some answers, but they were not in the hallway.
"Where in the name of the gods did they go?"