"Neverdie", Chapter Two (Page 2 of 2)
“Oh, don’t look so surprised, lads. I told ye I’d be back, and now, here I am.” Crodin replied, resting himself comfortably in one of the rooms stuffed chairs.
“Not that it isn’t wonderful to see you, old friend,” Szark began, beginning to suspect the reasoning behind their friend’s visit. On top of whatever other powers their friend had, he had always seemed gifted with a foresight that neither man could understand. “but you never show up unless there’s a reason. It just isn’t in your nature. What’s happened? Why should the kingdom fear an attack?”
“It’s not the kingdom itself that’s in trouble,” Crodin replied, relaxing into his chair. That seemed to be all that he had to say on the matter, because he said nothing more. Moments later, the reasoning behind his silence became apparent when the two humans heard the distinctive sound of armored feet approaching the room. A moment later, the knight in question came into the archway that served as an entrance into the room. Seeing the three men inside, it took the young man a moment to recognize who they were. When realization suddenly crossed his face, he snapped immediately into an attention so rigid that Szark feared that he had strained something.
“Can we help you Sir Knight?” Rahal asked, unable to remember this young man’s name. He was one of the knights that had been sent by the church of Rah, and he was dressed as every bit the Holy Paladin. The silver armor that he wore gleamed with a fresh coat of polish, his tabard, which bore a likeness of the burning sun, the symbol of his god, was of the purest white and did not show any outward signs of misuse. His sword, which was firmly fastened into the scabbard at his side looked almost too large to be wielded by the knight. Still, none of the three men doubted his ability to use it effectively. Even the man’s short brown hair had been meticulously groomed.
“I’m sorry to disturb you, sirs.” The knight replied, still standing so rigid in his plate armor that he might very well have been a mannequin for its display. “I was told that you wished to see me and that I should find you here.”
“You must have been misinformed,” Rahal replied, annoyed at what he perceived as members of the church already causing him trouble. Standing to his full height, the king strode toward the smaller knight. Even as a middle-aged man, the king struck an intimidating figure as he stood toe to toe with the young knight who, to his credit, scarcely flinched. “Who told you to report here?”
“Ye’ll be getting off of the young man’s case,” Crodin interrupted, hopping from his chair and coming to stand between the two men. “I’m the one that was fer bringin’ him here.” He did not mention that he had also been responsible for suggesting this to the church in the first place, and that the only reason that they church had generously offered to send guards and knights to the people of Mylund was because Crodin himself had requested it “on behalf of the king”.
“What’s your name, son?” Szark asked, thinking to interject himself into this rapidly escalating situation.
“I am Sir Ashley Guildarm, Knight Protector of the Church of Rah,” the young man replied. Although he still stood rigidly in front of the king, his eyes moved over to take in the new speaker.
“That’s quite the mouthful,” Szark said, moving toward the group and placing a hand on his big friend’s shoulder in an attempt to calm his nerves. As Rahal backed away from the knight, Szark continued, “I’m sure you could relax a little bit Sir Knight. Why don’t you tell us what people who aren’t your immediate superiors call you?”
“Ash,” the knight replied, his posture relaxing.
“Well, Ash, my name is Szark and this is…”
“Ye don’t have time for this lad,” Crodin interrupted. “Yer lass is in a fair spot of trouble. Fancy you, letting her make that journey on her own. Are ye daft?”
“No, I…” Szark stammered, partly caught off-guard by the vocalization of his biggest concerns and the fact that he had indeed, done nothing to insure her safety.
“What do you mean?” Rahal asked, clearly concerned as well. Rowan was Szark’s apprentice, but had spent a good deal of time in Mylund castle and had become a fast favorite of his young daughter, Melissa.
“I can’t say for certain,” Crodin replied, “but the girl needs protection.”
“I’ll go,” Rahal volunteered immediately, finding himself anxious for a reason to leave the responsibilities of monarchy behind and head to the road, in search of adventure.
“Ye’ll do nothing of the sort.” Crodin rebuffed, wagging a finger in the king’s direction. “Ye have yer responsibilities here Rahal Diamondblayde, and here is where ye belong. Don’t ye be getting any ideas either Greengem. Ye’ll be needed here soon enough.”
“The solution is simple then,” Ash, who had been quietly standing until this point, spoke up suddenly. “I will go.”
“What could you possibly hope to gain from such an act?” Rahal snapped, whirling once again on the young knight.v“My purpose is to serve M’Lord,” Ash explained, unphased by the king’s aggressive behavior. “I serve Rah and The Church, and now, yourself, and while I admittedly know very little of your situation and predicament, I can assure you that my only interest here is in doing what is right.”
“The lad speaks the truth.” Crodin stated simply.
“Are you sure this is wise?” Szark asked once he was sure that Ash was no longer in earshot. “I could go myself…”
“I told ye,” Crodin answered with a sigh, “there are things I need from you here. Ye need simply to trust me information and me skill.” When the mage hesitated, the sage continued, his voice growing stern and his accent fading, “It’s never steered you wrong in the past, Szark Greengem. I dare say that you would not be here to question me today if you had not listened. I’ve never asked much of ye before, but I ask this now. Trust me. There are dark times ahead for Rowan Tallfelter, and darker still if you ignore me warnings.”
Without another word, the two humans left the room to follow the knight into the main hall, leaving their mysterious companion alone in the room. Sitting down in another of the room’s chairs, he began to speak, whether to himself, or to some invisible force, it was difficult to say.
“Dark times indeed for those who are unprepared. Dark times for those who hold good and kindness near to their hearts. If only you knew, Greengem, Diamondblayde, and idealistic Guildarm, just what fate had in store for you, you might not so willingly listen to an old friend. Dark times, dark times indeed.”
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