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.


7. Spider

Once again Aeschylus started to wake up and the little group of strangers had to set up camp. They found a nice clearing not far from the path. They tied the girl to a tree and set up camp. She was screaming and throwing a fit during the whole process. They built a fire, but set up camp a little ways away so that they could see the fire, but were hidden in the darkness around it. This let them see a little in the darkness, but prevented others from seeing them. Talc cooked something for dinner. They let the girl have some. Then Talc tells her that she has to wash the dishes.

The girl responded in her usual voice,” I no know how to. I can’t!”

Thal said,” It’s not hard, you just put water in the dish and scrub until its clean enough that you would eat from it.”

”Fine” said the girl as she shuffled over to the pile of dishes. She picked up a pail of water and dumped it all on the pile of used dishes. She then picked them up one at a time, looked at them and put them down in another pile. She then smiled and said,” Done, not bad”.

Thal looked at the pile of dishes and said,” Done, are you kidding me? You just dumped water on them. You did not even scrub them.”

“I do what you told. I put water on and looked at dish. I would eat from dish, so it clean.” replied the girl.

“Ahhrg. I would starve before I eat anything out of those and what are you laughing at?” asked Thal as he look over to where Granet was trying, unsuccessfully, to hold back his laughter.

”You two” replied Granet”she did do what you told her to do. I saw her look at each plate and pot very carefully before deciding that she would have no problem eating from it. Then she nicely put it down in the “clean pile” before going on to the next one.”

Talc said” I have a brilliant idea, one that will get those plates clean enough, even for your high expectations Thal. You help her.”

Granet said, still trying not to laugh,” That’s a great idea. You can teach her how to wash the plates properly.”

“What! You cannot be serious. If my father knew what you were suggesting he would..”

Talc cut him off and interjected,“ He would do what exactly? Unbanish you and call you son again. I don’t think so. Get it through that thick, self inflated skull of yours; you no longer have family or father to solve your little problems. You threw all that away. You had your chance for a pampered life and now it’s gone. I am all that you have and you’re stuck with me, so you darn better get used to getting your hands dirty and man up.”

"I could leave” whispered Thal.

"Oh yeah. Go ahead, leave and see how long it takes for the vultures to find your dead, starved corpse. You idiot. You don't know how to find food or how to cook it. You don't even know how to start a fire. You wouldn't last a day by yourself. But go ahead, leave. It’s just one less problem for me.”

Hatred and rage burned in the prince's eyes, but deep down he know that Talc was right. He didn't know how to live on his own without servants caring out his every command. Right there and then he decided something; he would never be so absolutely dependant on someone else again. He would learn how to survive out here. He would learn how to do more than survive; he will learn how to thrive. That will show him. Teach his father that he can learn; that he is not a useless brat. Once he learned he will find a way to defeat The Darkness that has pelage his land for years. Then he will return home with glory and honor. That should show his father that he deserves the crown. Not only will he restore the trade routes lost to his kingdom for years, but he will also prove his innocence. But now he had to learn, he will have to adapt to his surroundings and to these fools around him. He will learn from them what he can and then have them executed or banish for the things that they will force him to do. So Thal walked over to that poor excuse of a girl to teach her how to wash dishes properly.

“Give me that.” barked Thal as he picked up one of the plates. He took the rag from the girl and put the plate in another water bucket. He scrubbed it properly, until every piece and particle of dirt or food was erased from existence. Only then did the prince see the pity that shown through the eyes of that crazed girl. How could someone like her pity him?

“You no have family?” asked the girl. All sharpness and anger that had been so prevalent in her voice disappeared.

“No, not any more” replied Thal with his own sharpness starting to fade as he looked into those deep brown eyes of sadness. It seemed that the sadness never ended in those never ending pits. Then it was gone. Replaced with a big smile that was so big that it helped him feel the slightest bit better.

With a smile that only an innocent child could match she said, "Now we your family. I no have family, only Klitso but he gone. He wife dead and daughter gone.” she said and pointed to Granet. “He too old to have family” she said and pointed to Talc. “Now we family” she said as she put a plate in the clean water and brought it up quickly and splashed Thal.

“What was that for? You just said that we were family.” asked the startled, wet Thal.

She replied with a wide grin and matted hair, "I watched many families and they annoy each other. So we family because we all hate each other.”

Granet sighed, "And I was just warming up to that girl.”

That blasted girl was right. None of them had anyone else, but she was wrong that they all hated each other. Even though he hated most people; he did not hate this group thought Talc. He was hard on Thal, but he only did it for that boy’s own good. He had to face the reality that he was no longer prince and that his family would no longer help him. He did not hate Granet either, but that could be due the massive guilt that he had felt for the past ten years. And the girl, well she was as annoying as heck, but she had spunk. He would give her that much. No he did not hate this group, but he would never tell them that.

Granet leaned over to Talc and asked, “So what’s the plan?”

“We rescue your little girl and safely return you safely to Duke Pearl.”

“Thanks. I would however, like to know how you plan to do that. This is my daughter that we are going after and I would like to know everything that you are planning. I can’t be left in the dark.”

“Well what do you want to know?”

“Let’s start with where are we going and what we are going to do once we get there?”

“We're headed to the small village of Milkstone to find a mage that owes me a favor.”

“Do we need him? I mean he is a mage.”

“Yes we need him. He knows people in Arlinian who should be able to tell us to who took your daughter. Don't worry about him; he’s trustworthy and handy in a fight.”

“If you say so, I guess I will just have to trust your judgment on this one. But do we really want to draw that much attention?”

“We need him. He can be inconspicuous if he wants to be.”

“And you're sure that he will be in this small town? The town’s people could have killed him already.”

“Maybe, but I don't think so. He likes to travel, but he will be here. He wouldn't miss the festival there. They hold it two days early so you can hit this one and then go to one of the bigger cities and celebrate again.”

“I still don’t like ...”

“Oh Uncle Redstone’s petunias what is that!” screeched the startled Thal as a spider crawled up his arm. It’s long, thin legs carefully caring its oversized abdomen and fanged face.

“Food!” exclaimed the woods girl as she dropped the plate that she was washing back into the bucket. She then stealthily snuck up on the spider like a hungry snake sneaks up on an unexpecting mouse. Her head turned sideways and slowly, but steadily moved towards the spider that was crawling up the arm of the prince. He could not believe what was happening. One moment he was scared for his life from a little spider and the next he was petrified of what would happen to him if he disturbed the sacred hunting ritual of a crazed women. Just look at those eyes, they did not blink; they did not have hesitation, just that constant stare of a predator watching every slight movement of its prey. Then she struck. Her head came forward and her mouth engulfed that helpless creature. A few crunches and a swallow later it was over and the merciless predator picked up the plate that she dropped and began washing it again as if stalking and eating spiders off of royalty was an everyday occurrence and did not even merit a second thought. He wanted to scream, to run away from her but he just stood there dumfounded. What just happened and what is that thing next to him with those intense eyes? A shiver ran down his back as he imagined her hunting him down in the middle of the night and snapping his neck and eating him raw like a rabid animal; all the while staring him down with those eyes of hers. He had to get away from that crazed animal. “We can’t keep her” he exclaimed.

“Did she hurt you? I mean besides your pride?” grumbled Talc as he saw the white faced prince walking towards him.

“No, not yet. But did you see that. That’s not normal.”

“Yeah, your right. That was not normal. How the ex-heir to the greatest kingdom on the planet shrieked like a little girl because he saw a spider and then what makes it even more embarrassing was that the girl took care of it for you.” huffed Talc.

“Did you see those eyes; they are not the eyes of a girl, but of a killer. We are not safe while she is here.” replied Thal.

Granet looked over at the girl. He saw those eyes, how they watched that spider and how she struck and ate it. It had scared him, but now as he looked at her he just felt sorry for her. She was unhealthily thin like that messenger boy Gil. It looked, and smelled, like she had never had a bath in her life. Her hair was a matted and an uneven mess. She wore ripped up and torn rags that barely covered her boney frame. He thought she looked to be about 19, not old enough to be wandering through the woods by herself, stealing from royalty. Where was her family what would her father think if he saw her like this? With a lump in his throat as he pictured his little girl looking like the creature in front of him he asked her, "Who are you?”

“Who cares who she is. Let’s just get rid of it.” exclaimed Thal. He was confused; did he hear compaction in the farmer’s voice? This creature did not deserve pity. They had to get rid of it. It was dangerous.

“I Sidi” She replied in that strong, confidant voice of hers.

“Well Sidi where is your family?” asked Granet, still with that sympathetic voice that the prince did not understand.

“You my family now” she said.

Granet could almost see the walls come up and block memories that she did not want to remember and so he left it at that. The conversation was over, either she would tell them when she was ready or they would never know what brought her to steal from the Ironhand family that landed her with them.

Talc was considering just letting the little brat go. She was a nuisances and that would have been fine, but if the prince was going to become one as well. He only had so much patience. Then he saw the look in Granet’s eye. He knew that look. It was the same look his parents had given him when he said that he was joining the army with or without their permission. It was the look of a concerned parent.

She wasn’t the psychopathic killer that Thal thought she was. He had seen enough of those to recognize that this girl was not one of their ranks. She was a predator no doubt, but not a cold blooded killer. Starvation had probably driven her to the point that she was at and a few good meals would probably cure her of her desire to devour spiders. “Nope, she stays. She doesn’t let little things like stupid spiders distract her from her work. You on the other hand ... need to get back to work”

Luckily they were almost done with the dishes when it attracted the spider. So the Thal quickly and quietly finished the rest of the dishes with that animal next to him. He of course kept one eye on her, just to make sure she did not decide that he too was food.

After the dishes were clean they got ready for bed and extinguished the fire. Thal had first watch for bandits and the girl tied to a tree. He thought that they should have used more rope but Talc did seem to know what he was doing. She was able to lying on the ground sleeping, but was still securely tied he hoped. He hoped that she did not give him any trouble during his watch. All in all, it could have been worse for them, passing through The Darkness and all. To have survived The Darkness was a miracle all in itself. Yeah, he got a little sick, but they got to the other side and those leaves that Talc gave him really did the trick. They not only survived The Darkness, but also were able to avoid the ghost that haunts the woods on this side of The Darkness. At least the prince hoped that they were far enough away from The Darkness to be safe from the ghost. It did not kill mercilessly like The Darkness did, but it would take all of your provisions from you before you knew what was happening. He had heard of several stories about the ghost and how it had stolen a wide variety of things from travelers. It took anything from a morsel of bread to a whole herd of cattle. Once it even stole a whole bedroom set that some duke had bought for his daughter. 

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