To read the previous adventures of Sabine, click here. The story continues below. *** A tall, black-cloaked wall of a man stepped into the Stubborn Ass, his stride both quick and confident. Just at his
To read the previous adventures of Sabine, click here. The story continues below.
A tall, black-cloaked wall of a man stepped into the Stubborn Ass, his stride both quick and confident. Just at his heels came a pair of teenagers, a wisp of an ebony-haired girl and a boy with the constitution of straw. The boy carried a sword half as long as himself strapped to his belt. The cloaked man, over seven feet, easily, drew a few raised eyebrows from the rest of the tavern. With his dark raiment, bushy beard, and powerful physique, a few of the bar’s seasoned mercenaries rumbled to themselves about new competition rolling into town. But no one knew what to make of the two youths just behind him. Except for Sabine, who nearly choked on her draught of Ableman’s Cider.
“What in the hells is she doing here?”
Dahkhal asked, Who? The Girl?
Sabine squinted her eyes and nodded to herself. “That’s Princess Byrns Wheraipee.”
From the Wheraipee kingdom to the south? Daughter of King Hertz?
“That’s right,” she said. “Mom and Dad used to schmooze with their kingdom, and they’d leave us to play together.” Sabine paused to think about it for a moment, and followed with, “Sometimes we’d play knight and lady. She always made me play knight because she was sure no one would ever bother kidnapping me.”
Sabine’s beating on his ring was only half-focused. “I think I know that boy too, but from where?”
Slizzer, nonplussed as ever, cast the leader only a passing glance. “What are you drinking?” He then caught sight of the two behind his guest, scowled, and said, “This better not be a ransom exchange. I lost my neutral territory certification three months ago.”
“I am known as Onandon, the Loquacious Mystic.” The black-cloaked man spoke as if his mouth was half-full of pebbles. “My charges and I have travelled many hundreds of miles across the Mountains of Carpesshag, the city of Glockenshire, and the Swamps of Creole. It has been a perilous journey in the effort of—”
“I asked what you were drinking,” Slizzer said. “Most of our clientele are mercenaries here. You want someone to moan about your problems to, there’s a pleasure house across the square.”
Onandon, clearly put off by being interrupted, snarled at the barman and said, “Three glasses of ale.”
“This is a lager establishment.”
“Which was why I made my request, three glasses of ale.”
Anyone who hadn’t been paying attention to the giant and his companions before froze and slowly turned to look in his direction.
A blood-boiling hatred that made Slizzer red faced emanated from the bartender. With a thwak, Slizzer slammed down the glass he was cleaning, raised a finger toward the stranger, and erupted. “You damned adventurer types are all the same! ‘Ale this’ and ‘ale that’ as if it’s some kind of catch-all term for anything boozy, well it isn’t! Any bloody minger in this country can make ale. You need a temperature-controlled environment to bottle lager in, I maintain a glacier-fed lake a mile from here—”
From behind the big man, the dark-haired girl whispered to her companion, “never seen anyone out windbag the old mystic before.”
The boy tried to stifle a laugh, but couldn’t stop from saying, “I’ll say. There is something he didn’t know, apparently.”
The cloaked leader jerked his head around and growled, “silence yourself, Billy. And find us a table.”
The young man swallowed hard, and said, “yes sir.”
Across the tavern, Sabine snapped her fingers. “That’s it. That’s Billy Flion, Shane Flion’s son.”
Ah, Dahkhal said. So, who exactly was Shane Flion?
“The Flions were close with the Leach family.” Sabine cast a look at her left pinky, where an emerald embossed with the Leach family crest presided. “Mellon…”
Ah, right, Dahkhal said. Have to be honest, I barely remember that one.
Mellon Leach was the second of Sabine’s husbands. Dahkhal hadn’t bothered to innovate at that point, his second abduction was largely a rehash of the first. But Mellon was still a good, gallant husband, and she wasn’t too jaded to love him with all of her being. And little Billy had been at her wedding to celebrate. As Sabine tried to shake off the haze of old memories, she wondered to herself what could have brought him here.
Billy looked back through the tavern. The men who sat nearest to the bar were all muscular and showed him scowls of disdain for getting Slizzer started on his rant. Billy walked past Admi Kang, the saw-toothed yeti. Beyond him was Jackson Garreth, the Lethal Chef, who mistook a set of hibachi tools sold by a foreigner for weapons, and then grew brutally efficient in slaying with spatulas and pliers. Billy froze, however, when he noticed the curling finger of Sabine beckoning him over.
The girl behind Billy leaned over. “Is she motioning to us?”
“I—I think so?” He stepped forward to the rough-looking young woman with a jewel on each finger. “Erm, hello?”
“Hey there,” she said. “Are you Billy, by chance? Billy Flion?”
“Eh? Yes, yes I am. But who are—”
She leaned to the side to look past him at the girl behind. “And you. Isn’t your name Byrns Wheraipee?”
Blood rushed into the younger girl’s cheeks. “What?! How could you—”
Onandon crossed from the bar and started to lead his charges toward the door. “Seems we are not in a welcoming place,” he said. “The man behind the bar is still ranting.”
“—And I’ll bet you walk into mignon houses too and figure asking for the ass of the cow is the same as the rest of the beef!”
“We should be gone from here,” the mystic said.
“Wait, Onandon,” Billy said. “This woman, I—I think she might be a seer. Didn’t you say my father ran into a seer on his great quest?”
“Two seers on two quests in a row seems excessive,” Onandon said. “I’ve overseen the ventures of your family for generations, and two seers back-to-back has never been before.”
“I’m not a seer,” Sabine said. “I’m just… well informed.” She looked down at the sword in Billy’s belt. “Where are you headed? I’m a mercenary, maybe I can lead you there?”
“We—we couldn’t ask that of you,” Billy said. “Our party was ten-men strong when we left Carpesshag, and now we’re,” he hesitated and motioned. “We’re all that’s left?”
Their party was slaughtered in Carpesshag? If Dahkhal still had eyebrows, it sounded as if they’d be raised. By what? There hasn’t been a monster sighting there in decades.
Despite his ward’s protest, Onandon seemed to take Sabine’s measure. “We could, perhaps, find use for a sellsword. But I must warn you of the perilous journey ahead. We are journeying north to the ruins of the Mystic’s Pylon, for the phantom of the evil Evoker Liege Groan’Ugh haunts that once-sacred place.”
… Sabine, take the case.
“Eh?” She raised a finger to the old man and said, “hang on.” Leaned down to Dahkhal’s ring, she asked, “why do you care all of a sudden?”
I used to know that bastard, Groan. Me and all the dark lords always hated him. His criticism at our yearly conventions was never constructive, and he was always indignant about anything the rest of us had to say. When I heard he was dead, I was bitter I didn’t get the chance to spit in his eye one more time. This is the opportunity.
Sabine had no interest in Dahkhal’s squabble, she just knew that two people she’d once cared about, however little, might need her help. Whether they remembered her or not. “Take me with you.”
“Very well,” the mystic said. “I am known as Onandon. This is Billy, whose father failed to defeat Groan’Ugh years ago.”
Billy looked up at him in pain. “Do we really still need to keep going over that?”
“And this is Wherie.” Onandon clasped the princess on the shoulder. “His sister.”
“Oh, come on!” Billy threw his arms open in the air. “Sooner or later this quest is going to be over, do we really have to keep—”
“Silence yourself, Billy,” Onandon said. “And show her the blade.”
With an, “Ugh,”, Billy tried to do as he was asked. But the weapon was too long for his arm, and the blade stuck when it was only halfway out. “Um—Wherie—a hand?”
She titled the sheath to give him more room to draw, and Billy pulled the great sword free. Sabine raised an eyebrow at its rusted bits and chipped finish.
“This is the legendary Sword of Flion,” Onandon said. “It is a magical weapon of splendid purpose. For generations its brilliance has combatted the dark of ignorance and—”
Billy lost his balance, tumbled forward, and fell on his face.
With a grunt, Onandon beckoned them out. “I will tell you the rest on the way.”
To be continued…