Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Journey Continues

I didn't like having Dran around. I had a lot of reasons. Some were legitimate, some were rather petty.
My more legitimate concerns were about his trustworthiness. Sure, he had every reason to hate Koteph, but that didn't necessarily make him our friend. He was a shade. He was the son of a dark sorcerer. He had lived his entire life in the Black Tower, and, according to him, literally every person he had ever cared about was dead. "All five of them."
Also, I was worried that he would slow us down. Larger groups travel more slowly. And we were kind of in a rush to get word to the University before Koteph's army mobilized.
He was from the Black Tower. I was the heir to the White Tower. Quarreling with him was my ancestral duty. You wouldn't expect Tylus the Blue to get along with the Red Mages, would you?
But my biggest objection, by far, was that he was a reminder. A reminder that I had left the safety of my tower. That I was being hunted by forces more powerful than me, and that those forces wouldn't hesitate to kill me. Or worse. I didn't like that kind of stress.
Dran seemed to get along best Dragoneyes. The two of them continued talking long after we were finished asking him about Koteph's most recent doings. "So, your powers allowed you to identify me as a shade, defeat me, contain me, free me from Koteph's control, create clothing for me, pick out a horse for me, and pay for it with gold you made yourself?"
"Well, Amniel did most of the work on the amulet, but yes."
"Can you kill Koteph?"
"I'm going to have to." We rode away from Eriat. Dragoneyes examined the look on Dranarius' face. "It's a city."
"I've never seen so many people at once."
"And that's not even a major city. Wait until you see Condora, or the Yellow City. Or one of the great Etoran settlements."
"What makes this even stranger is that I know all about all of those cities. Eriat has five thousand people. The Yellow City has about twenty times that. My father made sure I received a full education, and would know all about the world that he never let me see." He choked up a bit. "Sorry. I'd prefer not to talk about my past."
"That's perfectly fine, since I like talking about myself regardless." I perked up. Dragoneyes had never told me the details of his past. "I was born in one of the Little Lands. Darmash? You heard of it?"
"Well, I was a bastard. Literally and figuratively. The bastard son of the court magician and the king's junior wife. You can imagine how popular that made me at court."
"I think I can."
"Well, I was a constant reminder to everyone that the king was a cuckold. The king didn't want to kill me. That would just mean admitting he was a cuckold. So, when I was sixteen, he sent me off to war."
"Yes. Your cousins, the Etorans, were invading the Little Lands a few countries to the north, and the king of Darmash wanted to get an early start at losing to the Etorans. And he decided his bastard not-a-son would love fighting and dying for his country, far away from the attentions of the court."
I had never heard this before. "So how did you end up at the University a year later?"
"Well, I never actually reached the front. I deserted. Wandered around for some time, doing odd jobs. Eventually, I came across the ruined camp of some neighboring princeling. Torlus, I think his name was. He was headed off to the Green Tower when some bandits showed up, killed him, and took his money. But they didn't take his letter of admission to the University. So I showed up, pretended to be Torlus, told them I went by 'Bashra,' and wrote to Torlus' parents for more money."
I was flabbergasted. "You got into the University on false pretenses, and stole money from the parents of a dead child."
"I needed it more than them. Torlus was a prince."
We bickered a bit. In the end, I admitted that Dragoneyes was probably right in doing what he did, and he admitted that it was dishonest. Dran kept quiet.

The conversation shifted to our next destinations: The Blue Tower and Lake Loria.
"We should split up," Dragoneyes said. "We can meet up afterwards, and it doesn't take long to bear a message."
"Splitting up seems like a bad idea," I countered. "Could be a recipe for trouble."
"I see your point. But there isn't much that could trouble me. And if you and Dran are together, there won't be much troubling you either. Unless Koteph arrives with all his army."
"Which is a possibility."
"No it isn't."
"You seriously think that a pair of sorcerers is a match for whatever fate may throw at us?"
"This is Irin, not the Land of Giants. If we let our fear affect us that much, we will be paralyzed."
"Fine. Me and Dran. I assume Cassinder will come with us."
"I assume so too."
Dran spoke up. "It seems like Dragoneyes is stronger than both of us put together."
"I am."
"And, I don't mean to be harsh, but it seems like Cassinder is a bit of a liability."
"I am." I didn't even know she was listening.
"So you're saying I should be in charge of Amniel's sister?" Dragoneyes thought for a second. "Actually, that is a good idea. The two of you will head off to the Blue Tower, and explain things to Kytor. I think Cassinder would prefer to come with me and talk with the river-dwellers."
"Why do you say that?"
"You know, She's odd. They're odd. I'm sure everyone will get along splendidly."
I considered pointing out how embarrassingly optimistic that was. "Fine."

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