A banished prince, old war general, girl raised in the wild and a battle mage set out to help a farmer rescue his lost daughter from a secret guild set at kidnapping illusionists.

This is just a rough draft of what I have written so far. Please feel free to leave comments and suggestions.


2. Mine

Gil was ecstatic. Not only did he see some of the illusive mountain people, but he was probably traveling with some important nobles. This was the moment he had been waiting for, a time to get to know his traveling companions. While working in the stables he had talked to many of the royal messengers and they all told him the same thing; that if you wanted to be a messenger for long, you needed good connections. Messengers got paid next to nothing, but it was still a very well paying job, not because of the pay but because of the bribes. All the nobles hated each other and fought for power and position and their weapon of choice was information. And who had the latest information and would give it up without torture, royal messengers. Nobles loved messengers and would pay well for information and would fight for their loyalty with their purse. As Gil understood it, it was like a giant chess game where messengers were the pawns, except the pawns were paid. Now as a pawn you had to be careful to make sure that no nobles thought that you were the pawn for a rival family. It all sounded complicated, so he figured that his best bet would be to join the first nobles that he met and then let them handle the complicated stuff until he learned the rules and how to play the game and those first nobles were probably starting the fire about now. Gil walked over to the rest of the group and upon his arrival the rich uncle man said,” Hey you”. Gil thought the man was talking to him. He figured that this man was a noble; he did have a horse and a pack mule after all. This was his chance to get into the game and make some money. “Ho, I’m Gil royal messenger what can I do for ya?”

“Great, you're no help” said the man Gil thought was the rich uncle.

“Wait, Talc you didn't even ask him yet” said the fat man.

“He’s blustering too young, he doesn't know anything. You're just wasting your blasted time with him” responded Talc.

“I don't think that talking to anyone is a waste of time, even if they don't possess the information that you hoped to attain. Besides, getting to know people is how you make friends. Pleased to meet you Gil, I am Arac” said the fat man.

“Friends, enemies what’s the difference besides one tries to disguise a scowl as a smile when they see you” gruffed Talc.

“You see Gil, that is why you never want to get into politics because then even your friends turn against you. That is why I stick to cooking” said Arac.

Gil said,” So you're not a noble?”

“No, I am but a humble chief” replied Arac.

“Humph, yeah you are just the humble chief of Duke Pearl and are just scraping by on the bare necessities of luxury” said Talc.

The lame father walked up to the campfire and asked “So did he tell you?”

“He doesn't know squat” said Talc.

Gil said,” What don't I know?”

In a voice that any politician would envy, Arac asked,” I have been counted a story of a means by which special people, like yourself, have entered the city Pearl unharmed by the terrors of the unbefitting Darkness. Have you heard such a tail?”

Gil cocked his head to the side and said,” What?”

Talc growled,” What this fool was trying to say is by any blasted chance do you know the secret path around The Darkness that goes to Pearl? Some messengers know of it and I highly suggest you figure it out if you have to cross this way again.”

” Ohh, no I don't know of any path.”

Arac said,” Of course you don’t... , but if you did I could make it worth your time. I might be able to persuade the Duke to make you one of his own personal messengers.”

The boy who Gil thought to be the nephew of Talc raised his head for the first time since they had gotten to the mine and said,” Take it. You won’t last long in Steel Guard. Hey not even I could make it.”

Talc grumbled,” The mute speaks and more impressively he is right. You won’t last long so if by some miracle you actually know the path you better speak up.”

Gil feeling quite useless said,” Sorry, but I don't know any secret path; actually this is my first time out of the city.”

”Ohh well, it was worth a try” replied Arac.

”What was worth a try honey bear?” asked the pretty lady as she approached, being escorted by two embarrassed soldiers.

“We were just trying to find a safer way to city my dear Amber” said Arac.

Amber had a thoughtful look as she said,” Well did a servant take it?”

“What sweet pea? No, a servant did not take it, we just don't know where it is.” Arac.

Amber in a more firm voice asked,” Are you sure a servant did not take it, because I once could not find a necklace. I looked everywhere, well I didn't, but my servants did. They said they could not find it. Later a merchant came to me saying that one of my servants tried to sell my necklace. I don't know how she got it since she was one of those searching for it and could not find it. Anyway, how dare she try to sell what was mine. I of course had the servant executed. Are you sure a servant did not take it?”

” Yes, ma'am. They be wondering if I had known a secret way to Pearl” answered Gil.

“Well do you?” asked Amber.

“Uh, no I don't” responded Gil, a little embarrassed at talking to such a lovely lady without having the knowledge that she wanted.

“Honey bear, why did you hire a guide who does not know how to get to Pearl” asked the pretty Amber.

Talc responded,” Well maybe you are guiding him to Pearl so that next time he can guide you there.”

“Oh, that makes sense.” said Amber as understanding came across her face.

Arac quickly realized that his bride to be was making a fool of herself and decided to change the subject and asked,” Dear, where were you, I was worried.”

 Amber said,” Well, these gentlemen were showing me where a lady could go to powder her nose in a place like this.” 

“They did what?” came the soft voice of Arac, with a strong hint of building anger.

“We just be showing t’ lady to the loo, Sir. We ain’t see’en not’en, right Geo?” spat out one of the soldiers.

“That’s right; we waited outside of the outhouse. Tar and I didn’t see a thing” said the other soldier. 

“That is your story? You expect me to believe that there is an outhouse, here, in this cave. What the mountain people decided that it would be a good idea to just build an outhouse, since they get sooo many guests? What kind of a fool do you think ...”

“HONEY BEAR! Do not raise your voice! You could jar a rock loose and kill us all, screaming like that. Besides there was an outhouse, I went to it, I saw it and then I ...”

“You conquered it, milady?” Talc suggested with a chuckle.

“What exactly is that suppose to mean and I would choose my words carefully if I were you” asked Arac.

“You see Gil, this is why friends are of no use to me. One minute they are talking nicely to your face and then, after a harmless comment, they are threatening your life.” said Talc as he glared over to Arac, just daring him to try something.

Arac matched Talc’s glare head on. As he was rising and drawing his sword, the lame man spoke,” I came, I saw, I conquered”

“What?” questioned Arac, wondering if this cripple was offending him as well?

“I came, I saw, I conquered. Those were the words of some long forgotten general. More recently they became the motto of the Black Iron, the elite soldiers in King ForgeHammer’s army” the lame man said as he stood, holding his walking stick much more like a spear than a crutch.

Black Iron. Those words jogged Arac’s memory of whom, in the foolishness of anger, he was about to challenge to a duel. He let his sword slide, harmlessly back into its scabbard and stormed away from the group.

“My honey bear is great at making friends.” said Amber in a voice that left Gil wondering if she really meant it, or if she was being sarcastic. It was hard to tell.

Amber then continued in that same voice and asked,” So, now that we are all friends. I would like to get to know you all better. I will start. I am Amber although some people call me the black widow. I do not know why? It is not like I killed any of my husbands.”

Gil overheard Talc whisper to the boy that was with him,” No, but they were all killed by idiots, for you. All of the murders were captured and all claimed that she convinced them to kill her husband at the time. Now they said that she never told them to do it, they just knew that she wanted them too, by the sound of her voice or some other silly excuse.”

“... that it is because of my dark complexion from which I got from my barbarian mother. Now I am engaged to my honey bear” finished Amber. She then looked over to the lame man, waiting for him to tell the group about himself and he complied.

“I am Granit and this is my boy Igneous” he said, pulling the little boy from his hiding place behind his back.

“Hi Igneous. How old are you?” asked Amber to the frightened boy.

He looked at his father as if asking permission to speak to this strange lady and he told him,” Go ahead Igneous, answer the lady Amber’s question.”

“Ten” came the replay in a high pitched voice.  

“Do you have any brothers or sisters?”

The boy shook his head, answering,” No”

“What do you like to do for fun?”

Granit decided that he did not like how much attention Amber was paying his boy and so he interjected before Igneous could answer,” I am sorry, but it has been a long day and I am sure Igneous is tired, so if you will excuse us we are going to bed.” With that the man rose and hobbled off with his boy following close behind.

“Well isn’t he overprotective.” huffed Talc.

“I thought that was something fathers were supposed to do; protect their only son” said the boy next to Talc is if he were trying to make a point.

“And who are you?” asked Amber to the boy who just spoke.

“I am a nobody. A worthless, dispensable nobody. A nobody who has lost his name and any desire to stay awake.” With that, the boy turned and walked away.

“Teenagers, they are just so weird.” said Amber as if trying to make sense of what had just happened.

Talc sighed,” Thal is twenty one and he still has not got it through his thick skull that actions have consequences. I better go help the helpless whelp.” Talc got up and followed after Thal, leaving Amber, her two escorts and Gil.

“Guide, tell me about yourself?”

“I’m Gil. Born and raised in Steel Guard and am a royal messenger, not much else to tell ma'am.”

“Pleasure to meet you Gil and since you are a guide, could you tell me how to find my honeybear?”

“I be thinking he went that way ma'am.”

“Ok good night then” and then the beautiful Amber took off in the direction that Gil had pointed. Gil asked the two remaining soldiers where they found the outhouse and took off in that direction.

After walking a minute or two deeper into the mine, Gil found the weird rock that looked like a giant slug that the soldiers had told him that the outhouse was just on the other side of. He looked for the outhouse, but all he found was a pile of poop on a rock.

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