Sunday, February 17, 2008

Chapter 5: Tinate

        Caden and Rilyn walked along the highway. The weapons were put away, and Caden massaged his shoulder. Rilyn moved behind Caden. When he got next to Starlight, she nipped at him. Rilyn jumped away. Caden pulled the reigns.
        "I don't think she likes me," Rilyn said.

        "She senses that you're afraid of her," said Caden. "That makes her in charge. With animals, it's all about who's the master."
        "Yeah," said Rilyn. "But people aren't that way."
        "You're not going to start up on the bandits again?"
        "It was a mistake to leave them alive."
        "Enough already," Caden said. "One is never going to be able to walk right again, and if infection sets in, the other is going to lose his sword arm. Even if he avoids infection, wounds like that never heal straight. We won't see them again."
        "You know what they say, a wounded Kryptop is the most dangerous."
        Where does he get these sayings? "Besides, you stole their bush axes," Caden said. "So I guess they're wounded and toothless Kryptops."
        Caden and Rilyn walked through the southern gate of Tinate. The gate had two massive stone pillars, each almost 5 fathom's tall and 15 hands wide. They were 1 and a half fathom's apart. The pillars were connected by two cross beams, one above the other. In the center of the cross beams, a vertical sign displayed, " Tinate." Four guards, two on each side, stood at the gate.
        Caden stopped under the gate. Rilyn continued to walk. The guards looked at him. The traffic moved around him. "Um? Excuse me?" asked Caden.
        "What do you want, kid?"
        "Have the Dragon Knights passed through here?"
        "Who're they?" asked the first Guard.
        "Don't know know that Dragon's don't exist, kid?" said the second guard. "Now get lost."
        Caden looked at them. They started making jokes about dragons. Caden pulled on Starlight's reigns and caught up to Rilyn.
        They searched the city for cheap lodging. They settled on the Blue Fox. Caden tied Starlight up in the central courtyard next to a trough. They walked into the common room. Caden looked at the barkeep. He knodded at them, so they sat at a table near the fire place. 
        Caden leaned next to Rilyn. "I hope it's okay for me to be here."
        "Why wouldn't it?" asked Rilyn.
        "In Erdon, they said I was too young."
        The serving girl walked over to the table. Caden guessed that she was about 20 harvests. Caden stared, she wore only a black skirt, yellow camisole, and red bodice. She set two mugs down. "If you're hungry, we have lamb, roasted with onions, potatoes, and carrots. I can fix you up with some bread and cheese if you prefer that. We have rooms available. If you want separate chambers, it'll cost 30 swans, but only 20 if you share a room." She looked at Caden staring. "If you want company tonight, that costs more."
        Rilyn kicked Caden under the table. Caden looked away from the serving girl's chest and looked at Rilyn. "We'll share a room, thanks," said Rilyn. "And bring us two plates of lamb, and some bread and cheese to share, and make the next round a pitcher of dark stout."
        "Sure thing, sweetie." The serving girl walked off. 
        Caden stared at her leaving. "Maybe we should look for some place cheaper," he said. He turned to Rilyn. "I only have about 12 swans."
        "Relax," Rilyn said. "The mayor knew you wouldn't have any money. He's covering all of this." Rilyn removed the coins from under his cloak. "Just promise not to do anything stupid and lose what money you do have."
        "What's that mean?" Caden took a drink from his mug. The clear liquid felt like fire. Caden coughed.
        "And go easy on the shine."
        The serving girl set down the plates, a loaf of bread, a wheel of cheese with a small knife, and a pitcher. She winked at Caden. "My name's Cassy, by the way." She took Rilyn's coin and left. Caden watched her leave again.

        Caden left the table shortly after eating. The shine and stout made his face feel hot, and the rest of his body feel very tired. He remembered that he'd been awake since the night before. He went out into the court yard, and brushed and fed Starlight. He took the saddle, stone sword, and his knapsack into their room. He fell asleep as soon as he hit the bed.

        Caden woke up in the middle of the night. Someone was taking his boots off. He looked up and saw a figure moving in the dim light. He squinted, and in the shadows saw a woman moving around the room. He rolled over and pulled the blanket over his head.

        The next morning, Caden woke up after Rilyn was already up and out of the room. He walked over to the dresser where there was a pitcher and bowl. He poured the cold water into the bowl and washed his face. Then he opened the window and dumped it outside. He put his boots on and walked out of the room into the courtyard.
        Caden found Rilyn eating in the common room. "Have fun last night?" Caden sat down.
        "What do you mean?" Rilyn ate a bowl of pumpkin porridge.
        "I woke up last night. I saw that you brought Cassy back to our room."
        "I think you are confused," Rilyn said. He took a sip from a steaming mug. "It was only us in the room last night."
        "What ever, I know what I saw."
        Cassy walked up and gave Caden a bowl of porridge and a steaming mug. She was dressed more conservatively that morning.
        "The guards said they didn't know who the Dragon Knights were." Caden took a bite of porridge. "What's up with that," he said with his mouth full."
        "Cover your mouth, you barbarian."
        Caden swallowed. "Sorry."
        "After you went to bed last night, I asked around. It seems they're called the King's Knights around here." Rilyn looked around the room and leaned across the table. "And I wouldn't say anything about the Dragon Queen here, either," he said in a soft whisper.
        Rilyn and Caden looked out the front window. A loud commotion of people were walking past. They both heard the crowd shouting, "Witches!"

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