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.


4. West and East

“NOOOOOO!” screamed Granit as his soul was wrenched from him. He got up and took a few desperate hops in the direction that the man with his daughter had gone before he slipped in the mud. He then started to crawl screaming as the tears rushed to join the mud below. “They couldn’t have taken her. No not her. This is all a dream, a nightmare. I need to wake up and there she will be, sleeping right beside me.” He reached out a hand covered in blood and mud for his walking stick, a boot beat him to it. He grabbed the stick and yanked and pulled. It did not move.

“Soldier! Report!” screamed the heartless man standing over his stick. Didn’t he know that he needed that stick? He had to go get his daughter. Anger swelled inside Granit. What right did this fiend have to keep him from his daughter? He rose on his one leg and tackled him; throwing both of them in the mud. Talc threw the deranged man off him and got up. Granit picked up his stick and lounged. Talc was barely able to bring his sword up, scabbard and all, to deflect the blow. Granit continued his attack, never letting up. Pounding, thrusting, left, right and then right again. Granit let it all loose until he raised his staff above his head and swung downward with all the strength and anger left with him. There was a deafening, shattering sound as the oaken staff smacked against Talc’s sword still in its scabbard. The staff shattered and the blow sent Talc to the ground, exhausted. Granit crumpled to the ground, shaking and sobbing. The red anger gone, abandoning him to leave a void of thick, consuming guilt. The guilt that now embedded in every crevasse of his form forced the thought on his mind, “I have failed”.

Talc got out of the mud and yelled, “Pick up your chins off the ground, there is work to be done. Thal go gather the horses. You two soldiers, check for survivors. Lady Amber did you see where Arac went?”

“He took off as soon as the lightning struck” said Amber.

“Ok, we will have to assume for now that he safely on his way to Pearl” said Talc.

“Over here. The messenger has been shot” yelled one of the remaining soldiers.

Gil’s eyes finally drifted down to his chest and he saw a black arrow sticking out of it. He felt light headed and collapsed back into the mud, blacking out again.

Talc shouted as he rushed over to Gil, “Thal forget the horses, come help me with the boy.”

Talc rolled Gil over and looked at the young boy. Memories flooded back into his head. Old men, young boys and every age in between, stared up at him. Blood and mud covered everything. There he was lying there in the mud with a gaping hole in his chest. Talc stretched out his hand and hesitated.

“Talc he is dead there is nothing we can do for him” said Thal as he approached.

 The words drew Talc out of the nightmare and back to reality, “There is always something to be done, even if it is only to give a proper burial. Thal rip off several strands of your shirt, we will use them as bandages.”

“What? Do you know how much this shirt is worth and you want me to rip it? Why not just use yours? He is dead anyways what good would my shirt do?”

“Because” growled Talc as he pulled out his knife “Mine is covered in mud, sweat and blood while yours has yet to see a speck of dirt.” Talc thrust his knife into the rich fabric and made a large rip from the stomach all the way up to Thal’s chin. “Now finish ripping it or I will.”

Thal complied and Talc turned back to Gil. He had the soldier hold the boy still while he broke the arrow and yanked it free. He then took the rich ripped fabric from the now shirtless Thal and shoved it into the wound. He then took several straps left from the shirt and tied the makeshift bandage tight around Gil’s chest.

“T’ ey be all dead.” said the other soldier as he walked up to Talc, giving a salute.

Talc took a glance to where the other soldiers had sunken into the mud. The soldier was right, there were no other survivors. “Thal go gather the horses.”

“Sir, who were those men?” asked one of the soldiers.

“Men? No there was but one man and the other five were women. Soldiers, what are your names and where were you born?”

“I be Tar from Bronze Hammer and t’is Geo of Hard Rock, but sir t’ey be five men, not six and they be men Sir.”

“Tar, that is not a rock nor is it a metal. It can be used to hold rocks together, but rocks are weaker than metal. Bronze Hammer was forged ... No it doesn’t matter ... anymore.” said Talc as he wrenched his mind back to the task at hand. He did not command these men, they were not his and he did not deserve their loyalty. “Geo, what do you know about illusionists?”

“Illusionist Sir?” questioned Geo, not understanding what a group mostly made up of women had to do with anything.

“Yes, illusionists, did I stutter soldier?” commanded Talc.

“No Sir, sorry Sir. Illusionists are a group of harmless women that can trick the senses Sir.” replied Geo.

“Harmless? Geo, look over there in the mud! Do you see those men? They are dead! There is nothing ‘harmless’ about how they died!” shouted Talc.

“Sir? You be t’inking t’at illusionist did t’is?” asked Tar with a look of confusion on his face.

“Yes, I am. Who else do you think could hide so well in plain sight before an ambush? Who else can make you turn to face an opponent that you thought you saw out of the corner of your eye when there was nobody there? Who else can make you think that lightning has struck a member of your group? Or Soldier Do You Not THINK?” shouted Talc as he walked back over to where Granit was still sobbing. He lifted Granit up out of the mud and slapped the man. “Soldier! Report!”

Granit’s eyes were red, raw and far away. He stood there sobbing mumbling, “I lost her. She is gone. I have failed. I have failed.”

“He is gone sir, just look at him. His heart has fled and his mind, turned to mush. Slapping him and yelling won’t bring him back. I have seen several of his kind, as I am sure you have as well sir.” said Geo as he looked at the distant Granit.

Talc walked over to the woods ignoring what Geo had said and found a solid stick that was long enough to be used as a walking stick. It was a thin little thing, but he hoped that it would support Granit’s weight. He put it in the mourning man’s hands and quietly whispered left, left, left right left. His voice grew louder as he kept repeating those words as he guided Granit forward. Granit continued his whaling but instinctively fell into step. Talc’s voice continued to grow sterner and louder, leading Granit through a series of military commands until finally he slapped Granit and screamed in his face, “Soldier! Report!”

This time Granit responded sounding distant, but no longer hysterical, “They took her Sir. I have failed.”

“Her? Soldier you mean that they took your son! Igneous!” yelled Talc.

“No Sir. They took my daughter, my daughter.  I promised her mother, my wife Sir that I would keep her safe and now I have failed. She was my angel.” replied the less distant voice of Granit.

“Just get her back” suggested Amber, “Just like I got my ring back.”

“You mean your necklace” corrected Thal.

“No, do you not remember the story I told you about how a servant had stolen a ring and how I got it back?” said Amber

“Oohh forget it” Thal said as he wandered away to where his things were to get another shirt.

“Get her back? Please tell me that you know where they are taking her. Nothing can stand between us. I will smash it down, take any road and even go into the heart of The Darkness to get her back. The only thing that stops me is not knowing where to go. Did they head west to Pear? or East to the lands beyond? or are they hiding back in Steel Guard? Tell me and my girl will be safe once again in my arms.” swore Granit.

“I have not the slightest idea where thieves like these live. What do you think that I associate with that lot? Really? Now if only our guide was not so lazy and sleeping at a time like this. He would be able to guide you to your daughter, I am sure. That is what his job is, right? To guide people.” replied Amber.

“If we are going to get your daughter back” started Talc before Amber cut him off.

“An Adventure! OOHhhh I do so love going on adventures.”

“No not you. You are going to take Gil to Pearl. Geo and Tar go with the lady Amber to make sure that she and Gil get there safely.” said Talc in a voice that left no room for discussion. “Well what are you waiting for? Go, Gil is not getting any better. Take your horse lady Amber and Gil’s horse as well. That’s it, now go.”

With that, Tar helped Amber mount her horse while Geo put Gil on his horse and strapped him in so that he would not fall. Then they were gone.

“So where are we headed?” asked Thal, now wearing a dark green shirt.

“Let's ask him” gruffed Talc as he pointed to the figure in mud, dressed in black.

“He is dead. Ask all you want he won't say a thing” said Thal.

“You have a lot to learn boy. The dead spill their guts just like the living. You ask and they are only too happy to tell you all about themselves. It is when they ask you questions when you have to start worrying” said Talc.

They walked over to where the black assailant was bathing in mud and Talc and Granit bent down to get a closer look. 

“Look at that Talc you are right, at least this one was a girl” commented Thal as Granit undid the black cloth that was wrapped around the head of the now lifeless corpse. A pretty corpse thought Thal as he gazed at the now exposed long black hair put in a ponytail that rested behind the white face with lifeless eyes. Thal imagined what she would have looked like if she was not dead, with blood flowing through her veins, bringing life and color back to her face. Even that little tattoo of an eye on the back of her neck would look nice, he thought. Talc’s voice drew Thals attention to her hands.

“Look at that, I told you that she would tell us who she was.” said Talc as he looked at the dead woman’s left hand. In the palm of her hand was a large black circle with a seven pointed star in its center.

Granit said, “I don't know that symbol. Whose is it?”

“No idea, but I know someone that would know” said Talc as he slipped out his knife and sliced off the hand. He then went over to his horse and slipped the hand in one of his bags.

“Well which way to this friend of yours?” asked Granit eager to get going.

“East, we head east” responded Talc.

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