People in the Mist

Chapter Nine

This time there was not a festival disrupting our movements, but simply the traffic of people having their own business.  We did not rush through the streets, although I noticed we took a more direct route than last time.  As we dismounted some officials came forward wearing clothes not nearly as distinguished as I saw previously.

We were escorted into the building, but not led downstairs.  We were merely brought to a parlor.  After only a short wait where none of us took a seat, the officials we spoke to last time came in.

Orintious did not speak any gracious words, but simply asked, “How far do you want this to go?  If you simply want assurance that nothing will happen with things as they are, we can give you that.”

The high priest went directly a question of his own, “Did you look at Galabur’s piece of the trunk?”

I answered, “I did not.  What intrigued me was that my Father mentioned knowing where all the pieces were.  That was enough information for me to fill certain holes in the narrative.”

“YOU IDIOT!”

I could tell that he was casting a spell, and it worried me that it was taking so long to cast it.  Simple spells could be done quickly, but those more complicated in a situation like I was in meant more deadly.  I had been taught things about magic.  One of the more basic lessons was on the type with divine magic, those using the powers of the gods, being innately more powerful than arcane magic.  Attempting to figure out what to do, I realized that could tell something about the spell he was casting.

“It’s arcane magic,” I said more to myself than anyone else.

“Right!” Orintious sounded out.

He dropped to the floor, then slid more than threw his sword at the feet of the high priest.  Worried about the magical energy being gathered, I also dropped down.  Heratin dropped to the floor, but in a manner to place himself where he could reach out and touch both Orintious and me.

“I have access to divine magic.”

Power flowed around us as the high priest dropped to the floor in pain.  While it was not the destructive force of an explosion, the uncontrolled arcane energy was dangerous all the same.  Three of the priests had protection, but two did not.  One of those had the knowledge and speed to redirect the energies enough to keep him from harm.  The other dropped into a chair in an odd manner with his face showing no consciousness.

While I was wondering what to do, I felt a hand of Orintious as he commanded, “Let’s get out of here.”

I obeyed even as I asked, “Are you certain?”

“One rule of being a mercenary, Vernallor, is that you do not hang around if you are not being paid.”

Heratin got up saying, “There are exceptions to that rule, but let’s not discuss them right now.”

“I will say this almost never, but I agree with Heratin.”

I thought we would rush through the door, but Orintious only advanced to gain his sword.  He made some swings I believe to keep the priests still active focusing on something other than casting another attack spell while telling Heratin and me to head to a window.  My brother actually opened it instead of breaking the stained-glass panes.  Being that we had not gone up any floors, or down any, there was no problem in stepping outside.  No sooner did Heratin and I decide to head to the stables than Orintious rushed out telling us to run.

Intending to simply conduct some business, we had not given any instructions to those who took our mounts.  Seeing them still saddled, we whistled for them.  They were in a small corral where there was some grass.  Hearing our alert they could not come to us, but moved to the gate.  Men died as an electrical explosion went off before the corral, and I worried about our mounts.

Orintious told us to stay back with Heratin telling me to find cover.  Worried about another eruption of energy, I went to one brick pillar to hide behind, then darted to another staying low hoping they thought I was still behind the other one.  I turned to see Orintious release the latch to the corral.  Heratin whistled for his steed with me doing the same for mine, and with our older brother already attempting to get the animals moving they rushed from the enclosure.  Another blast of energy went off nearby as Heratin and I gained our saddles while our mounts passed.  Giving the horses instructions to flee, we raced from the temple grounds.

Actually expecting some resistance to our movement, I scanned the route ahead of us for soldiers attempting to arrest or kill us.  The sight of something in the air turning concerned me.  I guess Orintious saw my gaze, as he pointed while letting us know his plan.

“Whoever that is, the military is going to allow the person to handle us.  Let’s get out of town, then see how that goes.”

I had ask, “Whatever for?”

“Another rule of being a mercenary, Vernallor, is that if you are not being paid, see if you can get someone to pay you.”

Heratin said, “I like pegasi, Vernallor.  Let’s meet this person who uses a pegasus to power their vehicle.  They should have money.”

“Agreements like that with Heratin are what I am used to.”

We had no problem rushing through the city gates.  Horns blew, but they were not calling for action.  What I heard was simply the tones announcing the arrival of someone important.  I felt the horns should have blown when the flying carriage had been first spotted, but also allowed that they had been blown for someone else.  Wondering how this meeting would go, I noticed Orintious signal for us to slow down now that we were beyond the city gates.

We came to a stop on the edge of a large meadow.  While the flying vehicle should have had enough room to land, we wanted to be where we could safely flee again.  The winged horse pulling the wagon was a pure shade of white.  While I felt it was natural, I also had to believe the animal was very well cared for.  The wooden vehicle painted yellow and blue did have small wheels, but they barely worked better than skids in the tall grass.  When it came to a stop, a lady simply yelled out a statement.

“If you could have stalled for just a while longer, I would have been there!”

Orintious softly asked, “Do you know her, Heratin?”

He answered, “No, and I have no idea why I should.”

The lady had a nice body of dark skin, but the hair done up in some elaborate fashion of curls was gray.  I watched as she secured the reins to the vehicle, then petted the pegasus to assure it stayed calm.  Noticing a crest on the small carriage, then on her clothes, I spoke an identification of the lady.

“She’s from Nuchistern.  One of the pieces of the trunk was assigned to that land.”

My older brother replied, “And that is why you are getting paid, Vernallor.”  He then raised the volume of his voice as he said, “Dear lady, up until now we had only one voice speaking to us.”

She began to walk to us while saying, “You did not seek other voices.”

“I am a mercenary.  Going around speaking to others is usually seen as me seeking the higher offer.  I charge rather steeply, so seeking even more funds shows greed.”  I guess Orintious noticed something I did not, as he then asked, “You’re the queen?”

She curtsied while saying, “Her majesty, Queen Lonarey, at your service.”

“I normally would charge to have my youngest brother repeat the information he provided to those in the temple, but considering our recent experience there I am looking for another employer.  Consider the words as an enticement to gain my service.”

She pulled a bag from a pocket in her skirt, then tossed it in our direction before saying, “I want to hear those words, but I also want to ask questions.  Consider yourself hired, at least for the moment.”

Orintious did not walk up to retrieve the purse, but simply told me to relate the information I had told the high priest.  Having no reason to hide what I knew, I told the lady the same thing I had said in the temple.  She kept a polite smile on her face, then when I finished provided some information.

“He wanted to know about the spell on the trunk.”

Orintious added, “He could have been less belligerent about it.”

The lady replied, “You mentioned greed.  Well, greed is not only wanting a lot of money for your work, but not wanting to spend the money.  Those that charge high rates usually do not pay their employees so well.  Lord Orintious, I am told that you pay your men very well.”

“As with what happened at the temple, things sometimes go where one does not suspect.  Instead of having to constantly negotiate as things increase in danger, I simply pay a top wage.  It is to the benefit of me and my men if we come home safely to spend our pay.”

She opened a small pouch, then took out what appeared as a large medallion of crystal.  She threw this with more skill than the purse.  Orintious caught it, and as he looked at the medallion she gave some information.

“You should be able to read that.  It is the location of my home.  Give me three days to handle affairs here and get back to my castle.  We can speak then.  Now go, as temple soldiers are coming after you.”

We all bowed to the lady.  Heratin and I went to ready the horses while Orintious went out to get the purse.  As with the scene at the temple, the older brother gained the saddle of his mount as we started riding off.

I looked for the birds as we left that world for another.  There were none present.  As we rushed back to Orintious’ home, I kept waiting for my brothers to speak of what we encountered.

Coming back before his mansion, Orintious dismounted then said, “Heratin, I really don’t need you.  I however do need some of my own men.  Will be making certain decisions.  Vernallor, get back to your studies.  See you in three days.”

“Back to my studies?” I grumbled.  “I happen to have an occupation.”

Orintious seemed to understand my attitude, and not appreciate it.  “An occupation?  I need a smart head man.  That means you need to finish your education.”

“I happen to have come awfully close to being magically done with.  I did not see that coming.  You did not see that coming.  I have three days to figure out what happened.”

One of the reasons I had come to like Orintious was that he did not take things too far.  “You’re right, Vernallor.  Where are you going?”

“To Father.  He knows what I want to know.  At least my first few questions.”

“Sounds good.  I’m going with you.”  He then yelled, “THREE DAYS!  BEST, BRIGHTEST, AND MOST DANGEROUS!  Come on, Vernallor – or lead the way.”

Going to the portal, I said, “I’m leading the way.”

Moving from the foyer, I began to think of exactly what I would ask Father.  Seeing him in the front of the house however stopped me, as I was not yet ready.  When Orintious told me to ask him my questions, I turned back to the foyer deciding on a method of buying myself some time.

“Go ahead and fill Father in on what happened, Orintious.  That way I won’t have to go into detail explaining myself to him.”  When it was Father who asked me where I was going, I replied, “You’ll know when I activate the portal.  Whether or not you tell Orintious is up to you.”

And another brother is consulted.