Archive for April, 2009

            Cookie was pleased with the extra help On. Bunri assigned to him. Despite the rumors surrounding his arrival, Cookie found the boy to be eager to please and actually fairly competent with the preparation. He was a more than adequate replacement for Ireba, who-may the ether embrace him-died on the journey from Treffen to Tagerden. That had left Cookie and Jada to feed the hundred-odd people of the caravan by themselves. The boy’s presence certainly made their work easier. (more…)

            Life in the caravan passed quietly over the next two months. Sanura and Celeres mostly kept to the camp, trying to avoid strangers that might recognize their faces. Along the way, they gave money to On. Aikyo and had him purchase the items they would need after they left. The journey from Kugiri to Mt. Clero would probably take a week, and they wanted to be prepared for it. (more…)

            The next few days went more quietly than the lovers expected. After leaving Fort Argila, they had led their mounts into the forest, making their way carefully through the dark. At first, they started at every sound of the night, but as threats repeatedly failed to manifest, the travelers settled down. A storm swept in with the dawn and stayed with them for two days, thoroughly soaking them. The air was warm enough that the humans were not too miserable, but after two days of riding through muddy brush, both the antelopes and riders were feeling the strain of the trek. (more…)

            The sun had almost touched down on the Island of the Western Sky when the lovers entered the village. That afternoon they had finally reached the road to Mt. Clero. They led their mounts, burdening the weary antelopes only with what supplies the humans could not carry. Overall, their injuries from the day before were light, mostly bruises and strained muscles. A few days rest would have been best, but their one brush with the monsters in Yudoko Territory propelled them on. (more…)

            The Cheldean college at Mt. Clero was a large village huddled against a sheer cliff. A tall stone wall worthy of a fortress enclosed it and quite a bit of open ground used as parks and farmland by the college. Despite facilities for them, no humans guarded the wall. Instead, fierce stone statues lined the ramparts, keeping their unblinking gazes looking out over the valley below. Rumor claimed they could do more than watch in times of war, but no force had dared to lay siege to the college with the memory of the oldest grandmother. Still, to the farmers scattered throughout the valley beyond the college’s walls, the grotesque visages of the statues were a comforting reminder of the power of their protectors. (more…)

            The fog was heavy in the valley, draping itself over every boulder and loop of the path the travelers found themselves on three days later. Their current destination led only indirectly to the Nameless Sword. Arva had an idea for avoiding Einian’s attention once they entered her caves, and that meant taking them to see the fearsome Yudoko. (more…)

            The shore along the south-in arm of the continent consisted of cliffs that loomed far over the sea. Gnarly seawood clung to the sheer rock, thriving in the harsh environment where the waves crashed into stone. Hardy sea folk cruised up and down the shoreline, harvested the wood, and returned to their seaside villages carved into the cliffs. The seawood was tough but buoyant, making it perfect for the ships of the Zonne empire. Indeed, late in the evenings, the old sailors would tell their children a legend of how, to defeat an invading armada, a Zonne princess and her love sacrificed themselves on the cliffs to grow a navy from the seawood forests. (more…)

            Sanura boosted her husband into his saddle, distressed by how light he was getting. His illness had continued it unstoppable march across his body, until its brown splotches were more common than his gray skin. Exhausted by the day’s ride, he no longer even gave a pretense of helping with the camp in the evening. The mornings were even worse. This last morning, Sanura had to feed and dress him before finally breaking camp. Only by recalling how much he improved while riding on previous days could she bring herself to allow him to mount Grass Eater. (more…)