scatteredreamz (scatteredreamz) wrote,

Chapter 2

Despite Isulan’s efforts to convince him to stay, Emor left two days later at the crack of dawn. His mother didn’t even come down to see him off, she merely watched from her window as her son’s figure rode out of the castle, tears in her eyes. Although Borim was shocked to hear he wasn’t Stragorn’s son, he’d forgiven Sarah readily. Still, he didn’t want to loose his only brother, and begged Emor to take him along. But Emor refused steadfastly.

“Besides,” he had added with a cruel smile, “Isulan is going to need all the help he can get.”

And so he left, alone, heading south by the main road. All he brought with him was a backpack of clothes and supplies, along with his sword and chain mail. Just in case, he told himself as he packed it carefully into his bag. The sword had come from Arthur, and was both Stragorn’s and Theus’ before him. It was a beautiful sword, with an ornately carved crossbar and swooping dragon handle that covered the leather grasp. And it was also a short sword, perfect for Emor’s still small grip. No matter where he would go, he wore that sword throughout his entire journey.

His plan was simple, he’d make his way south following the trade road, until he got to Teras or the road fell away. The contrast of the open road was strange compared to home. He was used to having people around constantly. Here, however, he met very few people; none of whom wanted to talk.. Not that he wanted to talk to any of them as it was. Most wore eerie black hoods or slumped half asleep in their saddles. At first he enjoyed the quiet, humming songs to himself and taking in the scenery. But after a day of it, Emor was feeling desperately lonely.

Despite this, being outside did a great deal of good for Emor. Just four days in, his legs and arms burned from used muscles and his skin had tanned from the sun. His rather engorged appetite was slowly shrinking as well. But all this went by without a thanks from Emor. The only thing he felt was hungry, burnt and tired.

Most of all, he hated sleeping outside. His blanket, although substantially warmer than the cool night air, did nothing to stop the rocks from digging into his back. Not only that, but the insects seemed to crave his blue blood. Often times he spent more time warding off the bugs than sleeping. And more than once he awoke to find a small animal crawling over him as if he were just part of the scenery. He didn’t have the common sense to realize that they were probably attracted by his measly fires; which he usually spent over an hour trying to kindle.

So it was no wonder that when he rode into Girshin the next evening, he was overly willing to shell out the gold for a nice room at the inn. The town lay due south of Estro and was governed by the same king. The only difference government wise was the chancellor, who took care of the day-to-day activities. The city herself was completely foreign looking. Instead of single family homes with thatched roofs, Girshin homes were all double story houses with multiply families. There seemed to be quite a few more families here than in Estro. Emor had heard his father- brother, he corrected himself bitterly- talking about that. He’d said the chancellor was loath to let go of his men, claiming that if the war got out of hand that he would need them to defend his people. Stragorn had pointed out that if he sent the men there wouldn’t be any ‘getting out of hand’, but the chancellor continued to ignored him.

Emor had never been in an inn before. His room, though fairly tidy for a room above an innkeeper’s bar, was filthy compared to the prince’s standards. There was soot everywhere from his little fireplace. The bed sheets were clean but haphazardly tucked in, and the few candle in the room were all on their last breath. Never before had he wished more to be back at home then when he stepped into that room and flung himself on his cold, hard bed. With no one to see, he didn’t bother to retain his mask of self-assurance and strength. He was scared, homesick and tired. Why did I ever leave home? The cold, dark air gave him no reply and he sighed deeply- chocking on a lung-full of soot.

As he lay in bed feeling sorry for himself a loud crash echoed up from the bar, followed by a tumult of laughter. If he was going to stay here for the night, he decided, he’d rather spend the time with some people than here alone with the shadows. Leaving everything but a little money for drinks behind, Emor turned and descended the stairs to the bar.

Every stool was full that night, with numerous types of folk. Emor spotted a few elves in the group, easily recognizable by their hairless faces and lengthy hair. Elves never cut their hair. They were all clustered in one corner and speaking in hushed voices over their mugs. Then there were the humans. Some quiet and brooding, some half asleep, and others boisterous from their alcohol intake. Many sported long swords or chain mail, most likely soldiers heading south to Evelest.

Emor stole a seat by the fireplace- much warmer than the fires he’d been working off of lately- and waved over a barmaid.

“What da you want?” she asked horsily. She was clearly feeling hassled at the moment, Emor spotted two men from the bar eying her greedily.

“Do you have any cider?” asked the prince, trying to appear nonchalant. The man in the chair next to him scoffed and took a long drought from his mug.

The barmaid shook her head, “Just mead kid. You want some or no?” He could hear her foot tapping below the chair.

“Sure, why not?” answered Emor, slipping her the money. He could hardly see her face in the dimly lit common room, but he could see she was laughing at him as she turned away. A red tinge came to his cheeks, but he didn’t dare snap at her in a bar full of strangers. He didn’t like mead much, but he’d rather drink that then nothing. So he simply thanked her for the drink- tried to ignore the dirt stains covering the glass- and nursed his cup for a while. At least it warmed up his blood a little.

“Give me a break Drugane.” a loud voice cried from somewhere down the hall, disturbing Emor’s thoughts, “It was brilliant. You guys should have seen the thing, you’d of thought it’d never seen a human before.”

Four men came bursting through the doors just then, all wearing travels clothes and sporting a range of weapons. “And then he just lopped of his head,” the man finished, his arms hung around two of the other men’s shoulders, “just like that! It was wicked, you should have seen it.” The leading man, who Emor assumed was Drugane, rolled his eyes dramatically and took a seat at the bar. His friends all sat on opposite sides of him, and the loud-mouthed one called for their mugs.

They each wore a small brass badge, but Emor couldn’t read the writing. “Wow, you know, I’ve never seen one before.” One of the guys said, “Do they really look like they say, goblins?”

Drugane nodded his head and took another sip of his mead. His hair was a typical Girshin dirty blond and his eyes glinted blue in the light of the fire. “Creepy.”

They talked on for quite a long time, the soldier’s companions guzzling one mug’s content’s after another. Drugane, however, seemed disinterested. His eyes were searching the walls, his mind somewhere else. His garb was covered in telltale signs of travel. All along the bottom of his cloak was caked in mud, the edges frayed and in some places even torn in two. There was a leather glove covering his right hand, so worn from use that it was tied around his hand instead of fitting over it. He was obviously a fighting man; his most striking adornment being a long, thick scar that stretched over the bridge of his nose and down his cheek. He reminded Emor of old Jethro back at home, though quite a bit younger.

After a while the barmaid smiled as she passed Drugane, handing him a new glass before his old one was even emptied. He tapped his brow in thanks and handed her two coins. The cost of the drink was only one. His friends burst into cackled laughter.

“All right Dru!” the giant loudmouth said, pushing the girl into his lap. The woman gasped in shock as she fell into his arms, and the soldier shot daggers at his friend. Drugane helped her off his lap and slugged the man in the jaw, eliciting looks from everyone in the bar.

“Keep your hands to yourself you drunken sluggard.” he hissed cooly. “It was a tip. And don’t you have a wife you should be getting home to?”

The man scoffed, draining his glass. “Define should.” Drugane cringed in disgust and said goodnight, taking his half finished mug and plopping down in a seat next to Emor. His three companions exchanged surprised glances, but merely shrugged. Obviously they were used to his company. With a ruckus of noise they all finished their drinks, said goodbye to the drink-man, and made their way through the door. Drugane merely huffed and buried himself deep within his armchair.

“You want to refill that kid?” came the barmaid’s voice. Emor jumped at her voice and turned to look at her. But she had her eyes on Drugane.

“No thanks, I’m good.” he answered. But she barely heard him. She’d achieved her goal- Drugane had noticed her.

“Sorry about that Jill.” he said, “you know how they are when their drunk.” She nodded bitterly.

“Yeah, I know. But thanks anyway.” she answered. Her voice seemed dramatically younger now that she was talking to the man. “So are you staying in town a while? I never see you much anymore.”

“Nope, I’m heading out with the boys to Evelest tomorrow.” a thin smile played on his lips as he said this, his eyes watching the dancing flames on the hearth. “I’m gonna show Parsilan what it’s really like to fight something.”

Jill’s face fell as he said this, and she slumped noticeably. “Oh,” she stammered, “well good luck to you.” The man’s face furrowed a little as she said this, and he seemed about to say something to comfort her. But the moment passed before he could and she walked away, clearly hurt. He only sighed and went back to his drink.

“What are you looking at?”he grunted after a minute. The comment caught Emor off guard. Drugane wasn’t even looking at him, but somehow he had sensed Emor’s gaze. Emor started to answer, but Drugane spoke first. “You’re a royal aren’t you? If you were trying to lay low or anything, your clothes gave you away.” he added as Emor’s head snapped in his direction. “Nobody around here wears fancy clothes like those.”

Emor peered down at his own attire. He was wearing a deep red shirt under his traveling cloak, which was a bright blue still from it’s little use. In contrast to the black, greens and greys of the group around him, he stood out like a precipice.

“What’s your name?” Drugane asked again, this time actually pausing to let the prince answer.

“Emor.” he answered, reaching out his hand to shake. Drugane had a firm grip, and Emor gave him an obligatory wince of pain. “And you’re Drugane right?” The man nodded, reclaiming his hand to take another sip of mead.

“So what are you then,” Drugane asked, “some sort of prince or something?” His voice sounded old and tired, but he wasn’t even near his thirties yet. Not that anyone would have noticed from looking at him. Drugane’s face was so weather-worn and his hands so calloused that most people assumed he was in his forties.

“I’m King Stragorn’s son. Well, actually, “Emor said, fumbling for words, “I’m really his brother. But I didn’t find out till just recently, when we heard he’d died.” Drugane’s brows rose slightly.

“Stragorn died? That’s a real shame. Met him once, nice man.” he added, “Wore his heart on his sleeve. Suppose it happened over in Evelest huh?”

Emor nodded, relating to the man how his brother had died. Apparently Drugane had met Stragorn a few year earlier on his way down from Estro. “He was looking for men to go down to Evelest with him,” Drugane explained, “but I couldn’t come. I had to watch the chancellor.” He motioned to the badge on his cloak. Now that he was closer, Emor could read the small title ‘Captain of the Guard’ carved into the brass.

“But I’m heading down there now. I talked to old Obed and he said we could go on down. Not without a bit of persuasion,” he added with a smirk, “but he did just the same.”

“When are you leaving?” asked Emor. He knew it was a little out of the way from his course, but for some reason going to Evelest suddenly made sense. He could visit his sister, see his brother’s graves. And most importantly, he could go prove those brother’s wrong. After all, they’d said he couldn’t handle war. But he’d need a guide.

Drugane seemed to guess his thoughts. “Why?”

“Cause I’m coming with you.” answered Emor resolutely.

“The hell you aren’t!” Drugane cried, nearly splashing himself with his drink as he sat up to face him. “What makes you think you can just bust into my group?”

:I’m the king.”stated Emor simply, “I can do whatever I please.”

“Maybe up in Estro kid, but not down here. You want to go to Evelest, you find your own way down.” This pissed Emor off most grievously, but he had no time to retaliate. Drugane was getting up and leaving, his empty mug set precariously on the table.

“Get back here commoner!” he hissed, eliciting stares from the crowded pub. He’d gotten Drugane’s attention. The soldier stopped in mid-stride and turned slowly.

“Look, kid.” he said, bringing heavy emphasis on the word kid, “You may be hot stuff up in Estro, but you’re nothing but another teenager down here. So shut your yap before I shut it for you.” Emor was taken aback. Never in his life had he been treated this way. The nerve of this man to question his authority was something he’d never seen before.

“Wait.” said the prince. Drugane stopped again and turned to meet Emor’s gaze. “I’ll pay you.” The man raised an eyebrow.

“How much?”

“20 silvers.” Emor answered. The man in the seat beside him whistled. “All you have to do is take me down there.”

Drugane thought a second, then nodded in agreement. “Alright kid, you got yourself a guide.” he said, that thin smile crossing his face again. “But I want paid now, okay? I’m not getting bluffed.”

Emor got up and motioned for Drugane to follow him, heading up the stairs to his room. But Drugane’s smile vanished again. “Don’t tell me you keep your money in your room.” he muttered. Emor turned to him, clearly confused.

“Of course I do, why?” But as they neared his door, the answer was apparent. Emor’s door stood half opened when they came to it. A quick search of his room confirmed Emor’s fears: the money was gone.

“Tough luck kid.” Drugane said, and turned to leave. But Emor stopped him. He wasn’t about to be left stranded. Digging through his pockets revealed ten silver coins, and he offered them to Drugane hopefully.

“It’s all I’ve got Drugane.” Emor said, his surprising lack of stubborn pride not lost on the soldier. “Come on, it’s still a lot for just taking me somewhere. And you can obviously use it.” he added with a smile.

Drugane laughed, nodding in agreement. “Ain’t that the truth. Alright, but you’d better be there on time tomorrow, or I’m leaving without you.” he swiped the silver from Emor’s hands. “We’re leaving at dawn.” Emor looked out the window and noticed a tinge of light across the horizon as Drugane walked away. So much for sleeping.

Despite his threat, Drugane gave a knock on Emor’s door a short while before dawn. Emor hadn’t slept since the Girshin had left, he was too antsy and afraid to sleep away the dawn. After all, this soldier had all of his silver stashed in his pocket. So he greeted Drugane sleepily at the knock, stifling a yawn.

“Just wanted to see if you were awake or not.” The soldier said. His voice seemed as tired as Emor felt. He guessed Drugane hadn’t slept much either. The thick scar on his face looked sickly in the meager light as he stuck his head in the door, searching his room. “You’d better get your things, we’re gonna leave a little early to grab some supplies.”

Drugane left and Emor slung his bag over his back. It felt extremely light without the chain mail in it. Emor was wearing the armor under his shirt. He laughed at his reflection in his water basin, his chest bulging slightly. At least his cloak covered the pattern of the rings. With a last look around to check for anything he might have left behind, Emor shut the door and went downstairs to join the others.

Drugane’s companions seemed un-phased to see the prince as he strode down the stairs. Apparently Drugane had told them about their new party member before he arrived; they each held two silver pieces in their hand. But Drugane wasn’t anywhere to be seen.

“Hello.” Emor said cheerfully, disguising his apprehension. All three of these men were big enough to pick Emor up with one arm. And in spite of their earlier drinking binge, they seemed to hold liquor pretty well too. All except for one man who was sleeping on his feet.

“You must be Emor.”said the guard closest to the stairwell. He was a medium built man, though a bit on the small side, with shoulder length grey hair and shockingly light blue eyes. A strange look for a man that couldn’t have been over thirty years old. “Name’s Brodi.” he said, but muttered something else under his breath. With a grin he held out his hand and, although a bit concerned, Emor took it. Instantly Emor started and let go so he could examined his finger, frost covering his skin. Brodi gave a hearty laugh and his other friend grunted in amusement, his arms crossed against his chest as he leaned against the tavern wall.

“You’ll have to forgive Brodi,” the other man said, “he’s a magic dabbler.”

“That’s mage to you, Wendel” Brodi shot back. Clearly it was all just friendly banter because Wendel simply smiled, choosing not to reply. In stark contrast to Brodi, Wendel was fairly tall, with short cropped brown hair and walnut eyes that never ceased to scan the room. His badge, Emor noted, was hidden behind his leather jacket. All three men wore riding jackets over their mail, the armor clearly visible over their shirts. Wendel also bore a quiver and bow at his back, but Brodi sported a belt of herbs and powders; both with swords at their sides. Brodi’s sword was short, Wendel and the other man’s long like Drugane’s. The sleeping guard also carried a short handled axe strapped to hip.

“Parsilan, say hullo to Emor won’t you?” Brodi asked, elbowing the thickly built man in the ribs. He groaned at the jab, muttering something about poisoned glasses and closed his eyes again. His greasy blond hair hung sloppily in his face and Brodi shook his head. “He doesn’t have any business drinking, the dense slob. Takes him days to get over it.”

“Where’s Drugane?” Emor asked, glancing around. He didn’t see him anywhere in the common room.

This time Wendel fielded the question. “He’s off in the marketplace somewhere, said he had something to buy. He’ll be back any second though.”

“I guess I should grab my horse before he gets back then.” Emor said, mostly to himself, walking towards the door. Brodi raised an eyebrow.

“He’s got a horse? Hey, maybe this kid isn’t so back.” he said to Wendel. For the first time the taller man gave Emor his gaze.

“Really?” he asked. Emor nodded. “Good. I hate carrying my pack on long journeys.” Both men chuckled.

With a shrug Emor strode out the door and towards the stables. But on the way out he passed Drugane, a bundle in his arms. “Where you going Emor?” He asked as they nearly collided.

“Just getting my horse so we can load him up.”

Drugane’s eyes widened. “You have a horse? That’s great, we can use him to carry our supplies.”

“I guess that means we’re walking.” noted Emor. Well, he supposed now was as good a time as any to start working on his muscles. “What’s that?” Drugane looked down at his bundle and smiled sheepishly.

“Thought you might want this,” he said, unrolling it to reveal a simple cotton shirt. “You won’t stand out so much if you wear it.”

Emor thanked him- though not nearly as much as the man deserved- and began to undo the clasp of his cloak. It was carved with the same eagle and leaves of Estro that his mother’s bed had born. He didn’t want to think about her right now though. So instead he turned his thoughts towards his new companion. “Why didn’t you spend your money getting a new jacket?”he asked.

Drugane looked down to examine his tattered coat. At one time it had been a lush forest green, but now the sun and mud had turned it grey. The sleeves were still too long, the bottom completely frayed, and not a button remained to tie it together. Drugane had to admit it, it wasn’t in the best of shape anymore. His fingers rubbed the aged fabric, a faint smile on his face. “It was my dad’s.” he said softly, a hint of longing in his voice.

The prince didn’t know what to say. He wasn’t good at being comforting or understanding. So instead he just continued to dress. But the rattle of the chain mail sounded as unwelcome as blasphemy in a holy place. “Sorry.” he said finally, hoping it would clear the tension. Drugane seemed to notice his agony, and quickly tried to change the subject.

“I just don’t want to get rid of it, that’s all. It’s about all I’ve got left of him. Besides,” he added, “There’s plenty of stuff I need fixed before my jacket.” Drugane motioned towards his scabbard, the tip of which had fallen off, leaving the sword’s point to jut out of the bottom. The man didn’t own a single thing that hadn’t already been worn beyond it’s limit.

“You know, you probably want to put that shirt on under the chain mail.” he said after watching Emor struggle to free himself from the mail. “You may not be hurting now, but after a day or so of that metal rubbing against your skin you’ll be miserable.”

The prince took his advice, though loath to do so, and quickly gathered up his horse. Drugane seemed impressed by the animal and by the time they had reached the inn once more, he was stroking it’s mane and muzzle like they were old friends. The horse didn’t mind. He just whinnied a little and ate some grass, happy to be outside.

Before they could even get to the door Wendel strode out and over to them. Right behind him, Brodi was trying but failing to lug Parsilan along. The big man was considerably more heavy then the mage could manage.

“I told him not to drink, but does he ever listen...” Drugane muttered loud enough for the prince to hear, striding over to help Brodi lift the drunkard onto the horse’s back.

Wendel didn’t seem pleased at all with Parsilan’s behavior. He was the most disciplined of the four men and didn’t take lightly to such shows of disgrace. It was as if he were trying to pretend he wasn’t with them, Emor noticed. The archer faded into the shadows and merely watched as Drugane and Brodi struggled with the big man. “A little help!” Drugane called to Emor, snapping him back to reality.

Together the three men got him on, but being as heavy as he was, the companions were forced to carry their bags. This set even the good natured Brodi into a tantrum. “I say we leave brute.” he said to Drugane. Despite Wendel’s authoritative looks, Drugane appeared to be the leader of the group. So when he shook his head, Brodi didn’t question him. Emor’s respect for the man went up a notch, though his face didn’t show it. His code of honor strictly told him to be wary of anyone in charge.

As they walked the men shared stories with Emor of their adventures. They had been guards of the chancellor for years now. Wendel was the highest ranking of the four of them, but Drugane was the oldest. From what Emor could make out, Wendel had nobility in his blood, which allowed him to climb the ranks much higher than Drugane, a lowly peasant. Brodi was the middle child, so to speak, and Parsilan was the baby. He’d only been with them for about a year. He was big and strong, but he had the brain of a chimp. At least that was Brodi’s opinion. But he was loyal, and that’s what mattered. So they took him under their wing.

They each had different background’s, but a common thread ran through each. Every one of them had lost someone to the war. For Brodi it was his big brother, for Parsilan his father, and for Wendel his twin younger brothers. But Drugane had taken the greatest toll. He didn’t appear at all happy to talk about it, finding reasons to move ahead at all the right moments. About midday while Drugane was ahead checking the road, Brodi told Emor the story.

“ ‘bout ten years back we had a big raid on the city.” said Brodi as they walked along in the quiet lane. “Goblin attack, came in the night when no one was expecting them. The chancellor had heard about it, but he chose not to believe it.”

“He didn’t want to accept reality.” Wendel muttered. Brodi nodded in agreement.

“Anyway, since Chancellor Obed decided to ignore the warning, no one but the normal night watchmen were on call. The goblins swarmed the city. It couldn’t have taken more than an hour for them to sweep through. Took everything of value, killed everyone they met. Dru, Wendel and I were teenagers when it happened. From what I’ve weaseled out of him, he and his sister were asleep when the fires started. I think Drugane must have tried to protect her and his mom, but he wasn’t good enough yet.”

“Where was his father?” Emor asked, almost too loudly. Wendel shushed him and for a moment no one spoke. With an okay from Wendel, Brodi went on.

“Dale died about a year before. He was a blacksmith, he and Drugane made Dru’s sword together. He died after enlisting as a guard. So Drugane had to try and protect his family on his own. He killed maybe one goblin before they knocked him out cold. His mum and his sister were killed, and Drugane got left with that nasty scar.” Brodi rubbed his nose for effect.

“He never looks in the mirror,” Wendel said, they tagged off like professionals. “ The scar reminds him of his failure. Drugane’s haunted by his past, more so than the rest of us. I can’t even imagine..” said the archer, his voice shallow, “knowing you weren’t strong enough to save your family, and paying for it by their lives and not your own. It must be hell.”

Parsilan snored loudly, breaking the moment. Brodi went back to studying his little book of spells, Wendel to his guard work. All Emor could do was lead the horse and think. He’d only been away from home for a week, and already the taste of the world was bitter to his lips. No one ever talked about things like this in the walls of the castle. Not even Jethro, and he had been to war. Then again, Emor reminded himself, this wasn’t war these men were talking about. It was slaughter. The mask slipped down from his face briefly when he saw Drugane again. For a moment he saw Drugane as an equal, maybe more. But then he remembered who he was, and his heart turned again to stone.

He knew how he was supposed to feel when he heard a story like that. Not just sorrow or anger, but determination to rid the world of such an evil. He knew how he should feel, but he didn’t. Instead he felt afraid, and sought comfort once more in the image of an uncle that looked nothing like the man himself. Emor saw him as a warrior, a noble man, a misunderstood man. But the man himself was far from misunderstood. The prince just refused to believe it.

The five men stopped only once before nightfall. By the end of the day Emor’s legs burned with a new intensity. With every step his mail felt even heavier, his pack digging into his shoulder. The soles of his feet were blistering too, each step a new form of torture. So when they finally set camp for the night, the tired prince flung himself to the ground, exhausted. He could only lay and nurse his feet as the other men made camp.

All being expert campers, the group worked quickly to go through their routine. Wendel swept away the brush while Drugane gathered firewood. When the spot was ready, Brodi sprinkled one of his powders over the top and muttered an incantation. With a surprising pop the wood sprang to life, crackling with warm fire, and Drugane set about to start their dinner.

By this time Parsilan was beginning to awaken. They had been able to coax him off the horse and now he lay in the dirt with his head in his hands, muttering. But the smell of meat on the fire quickly aroused his senses. For the first time all day the big man opened his eyes and muttered a single word. “Food.”

“Yes, food you big slug.” Brodi answered harshly, “and don’t you be eying it so greedily. You aren’t getting near as much as you’d wish.” Drugane chuckled to himself as he turned the meat on his sword above the fire. Wendel had gone to refill their water bottles.

They had entered the forest only a short while ago, and that was only to make camp. The road they were using took a more direct route to the city than the tree-line did. The elven city of Evelest lay much deeper inside, and the black forest didn’t begin for many legs after. Right now they were in Longwood. The trees kept watch over the elven city, and as such the elves respected them and let them grow as they wished. So the place was clogged with oak, sage and chestnut trees. But since the fall was nearly upon them the birds had flown to warmer homes, leaving nothing but the wind behind to disturb the quiet. Trees, after all, make very little noise.

Dark of night came much sooner under the forest top. Even as they ate their dinner the bugs started their attack. But unlike Emor, the guards had long since put a stop to their bug abuse.

“Ugh, Brodi they’re starting in on it again.” Parsilan said, waving a massive hand in the air. The magic user pulled out another of his powders and sprinkled it on the flames. Immediately the insects flew away, leaving in their wake the fragrant smell of some wild flower. Parsilan smiled, “that’s more like it.” and went back to gorging himself on his meal.

Brodi only shook his head and continued his conversation with Drugane. From what Emor could make out they were making good time on the road, despite their companion’s lack of mobility. They would reach Evelest within days, the camp soon after. Drugane said something about elves, but Brodi changed the subject before Emor could interject. He was bored to tears just listening to them talk and wanted in on the action. Seeing Emor’s attempt, Wendel moved to sit down next to the prince.

“Are you interested in elves or something?” he asked, taking another large chunk out of his steak.

Emor didn’t like charity chatter. But he shrugged and answered the question anyway. “I’ve never met one before, they’re all holed up in the forests.”

“Hmmm..” Wendel replied, swallowing his food, “Not all of them, the one Dru’s talking about comes up to Girshin once and a while. He and Drugane are friends.”

When Emor didn’t reply, the archer seemed torn as to his course of action. For a moment they both sat in silence; Emor unwilling to continue a conversation spurred by sympathy, Wendel just simply uncomfortable. Eventually the later called to Drugane that he would take the first watch and used his excuse to slip away, leaving Emor alone.

With his meal done and his stomach full, it didn’t take long before Emor’s lid’s drooped closed and he fell asleep. So deep was his slumber, in fact, that Drugane decided to let him sleep through his watch. Although they knew they were far from the battle, the guards felt much safer knowing someone was keeping their eyes open. But with both Emor and Parsilan unfit for their times, the others’s watches were all double their allotted length. And come morning, that lack of rest took a serious toll on the mood of the camp.

A light hoot awoke Drugane a short while before dawn. The call jarred him out of his slumber with a start, though for a moment his still sleeping brain struggled to understand why. Then he remembered. The hoot was their danger call, and the only person who would be awake to use it was the watchman. Reaching for his sword, Drugane raced to Wendel’s side.

The archer had an arrow notched on his string as Drugane approached, aimed- to Drugane’s surprise- at the approaching man’s head. “Wendel, what the...” but Wendel shushed him with a glance, turning his attention back to where it had lain. Suddenly Drugane understood, his aim wasn’t at the guard but behind him. The two friends had been working long enough to know the other’s thoughts, so Drugane waited for the sign he knew would come.

Behind him, Drugane heard the faint crackle of broken leaves. His neck hair stood on end. Surely it couldn’t be more than wildlife, they were so far from the dark forest. “Now!” Wendel’s eyes cried as they widened to their extreme. Without any hesitation Drugane threw himself to the floor, the arrow from Wendel’s bow flying over his head before he had even completed his fall. A cry of pain imitated from the shadow of the forest, and then a thud. More crackling leaves, and then... silence.

Drugane had barely been on the ground of a second before Wendel rushed to his side, helping him back to his feet. “Grab Brodi.” Drugane whispered. “And Parsilan, if he’s able. I’ll get Emor.” Wendel gave him a questioning glance at the last bit, but followed none the less. The archer trusted Drugane with his life, he could concede his misgivings about the prince readily if his leader believed in him.

As quickly and silently as he could, Drugane crept to Emor’s side. The prince was deep asleep, his form hard to recognize in the predawn light. He started at Drugane’s touch, one of the big man’s hand clasped tightly over his shoulder, the other laid over his mouth to keep him from making a commotion.

“We’ve got a problem.” Drugane whispered. He couldn’t clearly make out Emor’s face, but for what he could tell the boy seemed disinterested. “Grab your sword and come on.”

Emor merely yawned and looked about, taking his time before he spoke. “It isn’t even day yet Drugane, let me sleep.”

Drugane growled with frustration, releasing Emor hard enough to knock him back to the ground. “I don’t have time for this.” he muttered, and stormed off to find Wendel. He and the other two were already very close to where the arrow had fallen. He was pleased to note they had waited for him. Parsilan yawned openly, but his eyes were alert and ready.

“Where’s Emor?” Brodi whispered. Drugane chose to ignore him, causing Wendel to shake his head in disgust. Together the three of them entered the forest. Drugane went first, followed by Parsilan. Both Wendel and Brodi stood a short distance behind them. Brodi was already forming the words to his spell on his lips. He was particularly fond of fire, and used it in his spells whenever he could. Now all he needed was a hoot from Drugane and he’d bring dawn to the forest in a hurry.

A tracker since his youth, Drugane quickly picked up the trail of the wounded creator. His worst suspicions were correct, it was a goblin. “It’s wounded.” he whispered to Parsilan, a flick of his finger beaconing his companions on. The tracks led on into the woods for some distance, clawed toes leaving deep gashes in the forest floor. Even Parsilan could see them. His sword was ready in his hand and his throwing axe was right at his side. Though not as keen as the tracker, he was deadly accurate with a throwing axe. One peep from that goblin and he would slice it apart. Drugane knew the fighter’s ability well. But he also knew the zealous guard might attack before he saw what he was attacking, and without considering anyone in his way before he did. So Drugane staid close to the ground, squinting in the dim light.

Finally they found the wounded goblin. It had run as far as it could, but the arrow was well aimed and well shot. He was mortally wounded, and his companions had obviously been well aware of it. The creature was alone; he’d been abandoned. As they neared it bared it’s teeth, hissing profanities in the goblin tongue.

“Brodi, now would be a good time for that light.” Drugane said when the mage was in earshot. The tracker handed him a thick branch and immediately it burst into flames. Wendel was already approaching the goblin. His eyes had grown used to the light over his long watch. As soon as the torch was lit the goblin coward against the tree behind him. But there was a grim defiance on his face. “Something’s wrong.” Drugane muttered, but too late he saw what it was.

Wendel was now within arm’s reach of the creature, his sword now in his hand. “At last we meet my friend.” he taunted. But the goblin had other ideas. With a flash of steal he flew at the archer, a dagger clasped in his hand. Wendel, however, had been prepared for it. Before Drugane could even step forward to help the fight was over and the goblin lay dead at Wendel’s feet. The archer sighed and wiped the blood clean from his blade. “So much for interrogation.”

Parsilan was clearly disappointed, and Drugane could guess why. That was the second time he had seen a goblin and not gotten to have a piece of it. “Don’t feel too bad.” Drugane said to Wendel, coming up to his side, “we wouldn’t have gotten much out of him anyway. He probably didn’t speak a word of Common.”

“Goblins in Longwood.” observed Brodi, “what next.” He stooped over the form with his torch, eying the beast closely. This was his first time to see a goblin in person. It was a hideous thing. He couldn’t imagine that they had once been Brigs, human-like creatures with the craftsmanship of dwarves. They looked more like animated corpses as far as Brodi was concerned.

Drugane plucked the dagger from it’s hand, studying it closely. It was an elven dagger, curved like driftwood. So it’s true. He thought bitterly, they really do steal everything from us. Then I wonder if the other rumors are true... The tracker shuddered involuntarily. He didn’t want to think about it. “Well, the rest are gone, I guess there’s nothing more we can do here. We should probably get back and dismantle camp in case they decide to come back.”

“I’m all for taking our stuff and going, but do we have to take the brat?” Brodi asked as they walked back. “We could steal his horse, he’s so rich he wouldn’t miss it.” Drugane’s glare shut him up before he could continue, though he noticed that Wendel seemed to agree. He didn’t exactly know why he was risking mutiny to give the prince a second chance. But he was a man of his word. “I promised we’d take him to Evelest if he paid and he did. We shouldn’t expect anything more from him.”

“Then can we knock him out? I know a great spell to make him fall asleep.” Brodi begged, “We could just sling him over the horse like we did Parsilan.” The big man blushed at the reminder.

“You could if you wanted, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Then we’d have to carry our bags again.” Drugane replied. The mage didn’t argue.

Meanwhile Emor was blissfully unaware of the conversation. He’d tried to go back to sleep, but he couldn’t manage it now that Drugane had woken him up. He was rather grumpy about that. After all, he was the one paying for this little excursion, the least they could do was let him get his rest. Here they came again, giving no thought to waking him, making as much racket as they please. Oh well, he thought, he might as well find out what the commotion was about. There would be no more rest today.

Stifling a yawn, Emor walked over to Drugane. The guard was hurriedly stuffing their scattered supplies in his bag, cursing himself for not keeping the campsite ready to go like he would have on any other adventure. He’d been thoroughly convinced they were out of danger and it had made him sloppy.

“What’s up Drugane?” the prince asked. Drugane was so engrossed in his task that the prince had to repeat himself. He wondered what was bothering the man, he was acting so apprehensive today. Not that he acted much different other times.

“We’re leaving.” answered Drugane. “Get your things, I’ll explain on the road.”

Emor’s brow furrowed and he looked around. Seeing nothing jumping out of the brush, he turned back to Drugane. “The sun’s just risen Drugane, and nobody’s eaten breakfast.” This time the guard whirled around so fast Emor had to jerk back to keep being toppled to the ground.

“Listen kid.” he said, irritation lacing his voice. “I don’t care what authority you command, I’ve already made that perfectly clear. And while you are traveling with my group you had best follow my leadership!” He had to stop a second to control his voice, which was raising to a alarming level. “Now get your things and come, or we’ll leave without you.”

Emor was outraged. It was enough for the man to have acted this way at the inn in Girshin, at least there he’d attributed the outburst to his mug. But here, in daylight while he slung his things onto Emor’s horse? He wouldn’t be treated like an inferior. “How dare you speak to me with such disrespect!” shot back Emor too loudly.

“Would you shut that ever moving mouth of yours!” cried Drugane in outrage. Maybe he should have let the mage knock him out after all. “We’re being trailed by goblins you imbecile, and if you don’t lower your voice the entire black forest will hear your racket!”

Emor’s mouth open as if to reply, but then he shut it again. When he finally spoke it was once more composed. “If you had explained the seriousness of our dilemma, I would have complied.” he hissed, his voice so low Drugane had to lean in to listen. “And from now on, Girshin, I would appreciate if you might let me in on things. I am not one of your tag-alongs, and you would do well to remember it!”

“You seem to be doing pretty good at tagging along if your not.” Drugane shot back under his breath.

Emor’s eyes grinned slyly before he spoke. “I don’t follow your command, for now we are simply traveling the same road. If you’re as clever a leader as you imply, you would realize that I am doing you a favor. That’s my horse you’re packing, my silver in your pocket.” Drugane said nothing. He knew when concede defeat. For a royal brat, the boy sure made a good argument.

“My party is leaving as soon as possible.” Drugane finally said in a cold tone that matched the prince’s. “We thank you for your hospitality, and will await your company before departing. But we ask that you come swiftly.”

Emor nodded. He could play this game if the guard could. “I accept your thanks, and will be with you shortly. I’ll go pack my things.” With a grin he spun around and walked unhurriedly to his pack. He moved with painfully slow steps, each sending a shiver of anger down Drugane’s spine. If he didn’t get out of here soon, the guard knew he would tear the prince to bits. So he finished packing the horse and went to stand with the others further down the path.

“Where’s Emor?” Parsilan asked as he swung his bag onto the horses back. Drugane didn’t answer. The big man turned to Wendel with a confused look on his face, but the archer shook his head. There would be a time for explaining to the fighter, but now wasn’t it. Instead he and Brodi exchanged knowing glances, and the archer laid a hand on Drugane’s shoulder. But the tracker only threw the gesture aside. Well, Wendel thought, at least he’d tried. Drugane had been so tense and drawn lately. His already worn face was always set now, ever since they had gotten permission to leave for Evelest. He never laughed anymore, and when he did he always fell silent again, as if he felt guilty for being happy.

Whatever dark cloud had descended on his companion- his friend- it was effecting everyone. Even Parsilan seemed to be picking up the anxiety, his eyes fixed towards the camp. And this kid wasn’t helping, concluded the archer bitterly. He knew they had no choice; now that Drugane had accept the offer, he’d never turn his back on it. It wasn’t in his nature, Wendel would have been more concerned if Drugane refused than anything else. But he worried about the man’s health. Both mental and physical.

Brodi was worried too. He didn’t know Drugane half as well as Wendel, the two men had been friends since childhood. But he could still see the difference in Drugane’s moods. He was so brooding now, it drove the magician mad. He’d tried to find a spell or something in his spellbook to ease the man’s troubles, but he couldn’t find one. And even if he had, he probably wouldn’t have been able to work it. Despite the fact that he called himself a mage, he was hardly that. Sure, he knew a few spells, but that was about all. He’d inherited a great respect for the art from his father, as well as the ability to use it. His father had been a much more serious magician, but he’d given up on the stuff after nearly killing a friend he was working a healing spell on. If his father knew he was even dabbling in magic Brodi would have been in serious trouble.

After what seemed like an eternity Emor emerged from the forest. He had obviously taken his sweet time, his hair was combed back with water and he had in his hand a half finished loaf of bread. “Breakfast on the go.” he said, offering some to his companions. Parsilan eyed the food greedily, but a look from Brodi stopped him from accepting a piece. “No? Oh well, more for me.” Obligingly he took a large bite and walked off, not waiting for them to follow.

The rest of the day’s journey was spent in awkward silence. In hushed whispers Wendel related to Parsilan the events of the days prior. The knight couldn’t believe anyone could be so disrespectful to his leader. Drugane had saved his hide countless occasions already, and he had earned Parsilan’s unwavering trust. Although they had only known each other a year, the younger man would give his life for his leader in a heartbeat. Although he suspected Drugane would never let himself in a situation to need that kind of rescuing. He was a cunning tracker, a keen strategist and a man of his word. No, thought Parsilan, this was a man who would live to see the end of the war. If it ever came.

“How are our stores?” Wendel asked Drugane during their midday halt.

“I’d appreciate a deer or something right about now.” replied the tracker, “We’ve got just enough to get us there, but I know none of us want to eat on rations the whole way.”

“Have you seen any tracks?”

Drugane shook his head. “No, and the further we get into the forest the less there’ll be.”

“Well, if I see one it’ll be fodder before it even sees us.” Wendel slung his quiver around and pulled out his bow and string. Any good marksman knew that keeping a bow strung was a bad idea. The rest of the day’s journey Wendel held that bow in his hand, his eyes scanning the trees with the patient gaze that had earned his place in the group. Parsilan was the brute force, he always walked behind Drugane to be their backup. But Drugane trusted Wendel with keeping the rear guard safe, as well as the front. It was a task the archer relished in.

Another day waned and still no sign of wildlife. It was a strange thing. Between Drugane and Wendel, the group rarely went a day without spotting game. All they had to eat was dried meat and some rock hard bread. Tempers were once again tense that night. Emor stayed out of the way as best he could. He was smart enough to know that at this point he was a marked man. And with nerves as short as they were, it could be lethal crossing anyone again. The feeling of loneliness fell over him once more. For a while there he’d been enjoying himself, making friends. Now he was an outcast.

Brodi saw the prince’s thoughts from across the camp and felt compassion on the kid. But he’d brought this upon himself, he’d have to get himself out of it. Otherwise Emor would never learn. With a sigh of empathy Brodi switched his concentration back to Drugane, who was speaking softly to the group about the next day’s journey.

“Once we reach Evelest we can pick up a few extra supplies.” Drugane was saying, “Haliman knows we’re coming so it shouldn’t be that hard to get a few days rations.”

“Do we really need the elves’ help?” Wendel asked, “You know how I feel about them.”

Drugane glared at him, “Wendel, this is no time for petty feuds.”

“I’m just as good an archer as the elves, but can they admit it? No, of course not. They’re too proud of themselves to admit a human could possibly live up to their standards.” Wendel rambled.

“Wendel!” snapped Drugane. The archer ceased his chatter. “A camp divided is a camp conquered. Besides, it’s been years since that happened, and it was one elf that you’ve got your quarrel with, not the whole population. Don’t judge a people by a person.”

“You’re full of anecdotes today my friend.” said Wendel with a hint of anger.

Brodi couldn’t stand it anymore. “Oh shut up, both of you. I’m as tired as the rest of you but lets not jump down each other’s throats.”

“It’s that damn kid.” Parsilan commented as Drugane and Wendel apologized. Brodi nodded. Despite being on the other side of the camp, Emor’s ears picked up his name and he strained to hear Brodi and Parsilan’s conversation.

“Ever since he came Drugane’s been nothing but a bundle of nerves.” Answered Brodi.

“We’ve all been a bundle of nerves.” Parsilan replied. They both nodded and halted their speech as Wendel and Drugane walked off to take the first watch. “And it’s only gonna get worse as we go.” he finished.

“Someone should talk to him, make him understand.”

“Oh come on Brodi, he’s a spoiled rotten little prince, it would be like trying to reason with a tree.” Parsilan threw another log on the fire and it popped harshly. “I’ll be glad to get rid of him in Evelest.”

Brodi laughed, “Yeah, it won’t be too hard to loose him out there. With no one watching his back he’ll be skewered by goblins before he can pull out his sword.” They both chuckled at this and then started setting up their things to get some sleep.

Emor was horrified. Was that really what war was like? And would they really leave him to die? Surely they weren’t that cruel hearted. Then again, his memory went back to the hatred in Drugane’s eyes when they parted that morning. He could pay them to protect him... but he didn’t have any money. Wasn’t being a prince worth anything down here?! No one seemed to care a bit about his tittle, most scoffed. Down in the south, they said, things were different. Emor had argued that Estro was in the south too, but they had only laughed. As far as Girshin was concerned, Estro was as north as the north was.

The north and south were separated by a long line of mountains that made trade and communication difficult. After the wars with Grinwol the two halves hadn’t spoken in centuries. Surely that wasn’t how Girshin thought of their king’s city. Emor shook his head. He had to do something. Maybe if he pleaded with Drugane. The man seemed to have a heart, at least more of a heart than the other guards. He had to try.

Getting to his feet the prince slung his scabbard onto his belt and made his way to where Drugane had disappeared. Meanwhile Brodi and Parsilan watched in amusement from under their cloaks. The group had staged their conversation during the day’s leg. All except for the fight between Dru and Wendel, that part had been real. They were hoping that they might scare the kid into submission. As Drugane had said earlier, the prince wouldn’t last a day in that camp if they didn’t teach him some respect. Parsilan had asked why it was their concern. Drugane only replied that it was their duty. What would the world come to if they had a king like Emor? Brodi had shuddered at the thought.

Drugane could hear the end of Brodi and Parsilan’s none-to-quiet conversation. He and Wendel had already split up. Wendel was on the side of their forest camp that faced the road, Drugane facing in towards the heart of the trees. He wondered if the prince would really have the nerve to talk to him. He shivered in the cold, cursing the tears of his coat. The fall was settling in around them and the night winds pierced like daggers. Finally Drugane heard the heavy footfall of Emor’s boots.

“Hey Dru.” Emor said as he approached. His voice was timid and polite, so uncharacteristic of the boy that Drugane had no problem feigning surprise at his presence.

“How kind of your majesty to come into the cold to speak with one such as I.” he replied. Drugane gave a mock little bow and returned his gaze to the tree line, praying this would work.

Emor frowned. “You don’t have to bow or anything, I’m not a king.”

“Not yet my liege, but someday you will be a great king of vast renown.”

“Oh quite the charade.” snapped Emor, “I know how you really feel about me.”

Not one to disobey an order, Drugane complied. “Look Emor, you can’t just go ordering the world around and expect it to comply. The real world’s different.”

“I know,” he answered, actually hanging his head in shame. What a remarkable change from the way he’d acted before! Then again, thought Drugane, he’d seen the same shift of attitude before; in a wild animal cornered and caught. But the moment you gave it any chance of escape, that facade vanished. “I’m sorry. I’ve gotten so used to having things my own way.”

Drugane smiled. “I can’t turn down an apology. But why the change of heart? We’re you afraid we’ll leave you to die or something?”

Emor’s brow furrowed. “Actually, yeah, I was.” He thought a moment. Of course, it all made sense. This must be a ploy to get his cooperation. Why else would Parsilan and Brodi have been talking so loudly? They could be so quiet when they wanted to be. He wouldn’t let the guards get away with it, if they wanted to make Emor comply they’d have to do better than this.

“What is it?” Drugane asked, starting to wonder if the boy had figured it out.

“Oh, it’s nothing. Goodnight Drugane.” Even as he walked away Emor started to form his plans. Drugane had no idea that the prince was on to them. He was actually allowing himself to feel good about the way things were going. If the kid really shaped up the trip might turn out okay. The guard shivered again. Maybe he’d go down and grab an extra cloak from one of the others.

Parsilan was already asleep when Drugane returned, but Brodi was still up watching the fire. The mage was reading from his little book in the firelight, playing with the flames like a child plays with toys. Since Parsilan was asleep the tracker didn’t mind borrowing his cloak, which was particularly warm. The fighter was so much bigger than himself that it billowed on him.

“What are you looking for?” he asked as he passed the prince. Emor was digging in his bag as Drugane left to take watch again.

Emor’s head snapped up in surprise at Drugane’s voice. Was he hiding something? Drugane scolded himself for not trusting the boy. He was probably just surprised Drugane was in the camp, that’s all. “Just my blanket, it’s really cold tonight.” Emor smiled sheepishly. “Plus I thought I’d get my bag mostly packed. You know, so we can start early tomorrow?”

Drugane smiled. Already things were looking better between them. “That’s nice of you, don’t stay up too late though.”

“Oh, I won’t.” Promised Emor. The tracker said goodnight again and walked back to his post only slightly warmer than before. It wasn’t going to be a very good night for Drugane. Since they had two posts to fill with only four men- despite his insistence that Emor was improving, he didn’t want to push his luck with the boy- they were each taking a four hour watch.

He didn’t know how long he stood there in the cold, teeth chattering and fingers numb. All the time he paced, his thin boots doing as much good as his thin cotton shirt. Minutes went by like hours until he’d lost track of time. Long after the moon had set- the signal for their switch- Brodi went out to find the guard.

“Dru?” Brodi asked gently. The man didn’t hear him at first over the howl of the wind. The mage hoped against hope that he hadn’t caught his death out here. “Drugane!”

Drugane turned around and saw his friend. The world came flooding back and he shook his head, shaking the tired cobwebs from his brain. Taking a look into the sky he closed his eyes wearily, his fingers pressed against his tear-ducts. He didn’t usually nod off on watch, what was getting into him? Nothing, that was just it. He wasn’t getting enough rest.

“Hey, are you alright?” Brodi asked, stepping closer to the tracker so he could put a hand on his shoulder. His skin was ice cold. “What happened?”

“I must have fallen asleep on my feet or something.” answered Drugane, the words bouncing strangely in his ears. “Sorry Brodi, I didn’t realize...”

“Think nothing of it Dru.” replied the mage with a smile. “Go get some sleep, you look like a ghost.”

It must be the cold, Drugane thought as he walked back to the camp. And the stress, and the lack of sleep... the list ran off in his head but he tried to ignore it. He’d just get some sleep near the fire, that would make everything alright. But as he neared camp his newly woken brain noticed something his other sleepy companions had failed to register. The horse was gone.

Drugane spun around quickly, trying to spot the beast. Maybe it had gotten loose of it’s reigns or something. He made his way over to where Emor had set up his things and stopped suddenly. Emor wasn’t there. And neither were his things.

“Son of a...” he cursed under his breath. So much for sleeping.

“Wendel, Wendel!” Drugane called to the archer. The man was already asleep by the fire. Taking a deep breath Drugane hooted loudly. That did it. Without missing a beat Wendel jumped to his feet, his bow at the ready. Parsilan and Brodi came crashing down to him too.

“What’s up Dru?” asked Parsilan, scanning the woods for danger.

“Emor’s gone.” answered Wendel before Drugane could say a word. The tracker merely nodded.

“We’ll have to comb the woods for him.”

“Why bother.” spat Brodi, “we tried to reason with him and it failed. Let’s just forget it, he’s not worth our time.”

Drugane sighed. “Because our packs were still harnessed onto the horse when he took it, and it appears he’s taken them along. Besides,” he added, “we can’t just let the future king go wandering around in a forest full of goblins.”

“That’s the thing Drugane,” replied Wendel, “if he want’s to go traipsing around in the dark, we don’t have any reason to go chasing after him. We’d probably be doing the crown a favor.”

Drugane eyed him warily. “We can’t just let the him go get himself killed.” Everyone else stared at their feet. Both Brodi and Parsilan agreed with the archer. He’d sown his own seeds, let him reap the harvest.

“Look,” Drugane said. His voice shook with exasperation, “how many times have we risked our lives for the chancellor? We all agree the man doesn’t deserve it. But we do it anyway, because it’s what we’re supposed to do. Isn’t this kid more important than a chancellor?” His companions nodded, but he knew they didn’t agree. He didn’t care. It was their duty to protect this kid. He had no idea why fate had to be so cruel to him, but he knew what he had to do.

“Wendel and I will search the road.” said Brodi, “Parsilan, you’ll go with Drugane. If we see the kid, we’ll hoot and the other two will come and help get him back. If he’s still alive when we find him.” Drugane tried to ignore the last bit, but it sunk into his head like a rock in the ocean. Emor you idiot, where are you?

A Traveling Song by Emor

Into the dragon’s lair I go
To slay the evil beast alone
He’ll breathe his fire, to and fro
But never will he touch me though

To save the people from the flame
My sword will cut the scales away
And so, the dragon will I slay
And then they’ll know I saved the day

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