Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Chapter 8: The Road Home (Mark I)

Caden rode Starlight. Rilyn walked on the left side. They crossed the hills and valleys as they returned to Tinate. They travelled an extra half day out of their way to avoid going through Sharsden a second time. The small rodent rode on Caden's shoulders. He fed it small bites of bread.

"You shouldn't feed that," Rilyn said. "It is a wild animal."
"It's okay, it's okay," Caden said waving his hand at Rilyn. "It's tame. A merchant probably carried it from the other side of the Yongsan Mountains before it escaped it's cage." Caden petted the furry creature.
"You're a strange person."
"How so?"
"You trust everybody," Rilyn said. "I don't know anyone who would go out of their way to defend someone who is accused to be a witch."
"Maybe more people should," Caden said. "How many innocent people may have suffered for a false accusation?"
Rilyn sighed. "I suppose." He walked next to Caden in silence. "You're a good person," whispered Rilyn. "I'd hate to see what you'd become if you actually join the Dragon Knights."
Caden didn't hear Rilyn, he just continued to look forward and ride back to Tinate.

When Caden and Rilyn reached Tinate, they traveled straight to the temple. Caden tied up Starlight in the temple mall. The small rodent jumped off of Caden's shoulder. Caden watched it run under a building into a sewer drain.
"I guess our friend isn't much of a temple patron," said Caden.
Rilyn sighed and shook his head. They walked over to the temple doors and Caden pulled. The door was locked. Caden furrowed his brow and pulled again.
"That's odd," Caden said.
"The temple doors shouldn't be locked."
"Tinate is a bigger place then Erdon. Maybe it's normal here."
"No," Caden said. "The book of the 3rd Sage, Chapter 18, verse 26. 'The doors of the sanctuary shall never be sealed, so that none are denied salvation.' It's a cardinal rule of the order."
"You have the sacred texts memorized?" asked Rilyn.
"Not all of them."
"Come on," Rilyn said. He grabbed Caden's shirt. "I'm hungry, and I want something other then stew bread." Rilyn dragged Caden to Starlight. "We'll get a room at the Blue Fox and come back in the morning."
"That's okay." Caden said. He continued to look back at the Temple. "We're out of Stew Bread anyway."

Caden and Rilyn sat in the common room of the Blue Fox. Caden stirred and nibbled at the stew. He looked across the table at Rilyn. Rilyn had already eaten two bowls and was attacking his third with a dinner roll smothered in butter.
"I thought you were sick of Stew and Bread?" Caden asked.
"No," Rilyn said. He held up his spoon. "I'm sick of Stew Bread. This stuff is much better."
"It's the same stuff, just the bread is a lower quality."
"Wrong, this stuff is warm." Rilyn went back to eating.
Caden picked up his mug. He frowned at the pungent smell of the brown stout, but at least it was better then the shine. He took a swig of the bitter drink, and watched Rilyn finish another mug. He drank like Sir Eric did.
A man from the other side of the common room stood up and walked over. He was a stout and overweight man. His large stomach strained the stitches on his stained cream shirt. He didn't so much walk, as he waddled over to Caden.
"You're Caden of Erdon," he said, "aren't you?"
"Yes," Caden answered. "How did you know?"
"I come here a lot. I saw you last time you passed through and overheard you talking about the Dragon Knights." He pulled up his drooping pants and stratched his shaggy beard. "So how did that go?"
"Better then expected," Caden answered. Caden looked across the table at Rilyn and raised an eyebrow.
Rilyn shrugged and shook his head.
"That's great," he said. "Next time you're in Tinate, stop by and tell me more about your journeys." The man shook Caden's hand and waddled out the door.
Caden waved Cassy over to their table. "Who was that?" Caden asked.
Cassy looked out the window and saw the man leaving the Courtyard gate. "I don't know. I've never seen him before."
Caden looked at Rilyn.
Rilyn passed a bush axe to Caden under the table. "Sleep lightly tonight."

Rilyn stayed in the common room for an hour after Caden left to sleep. She slipped into the room, being careful with the door. She closed it slowly and put the latch down. She walked over to Caden's bed and checked on him. He was sound asleep, the brush axe had fallen on the floor and was stuck in the boards. She smiled. She took off her hat and cloak, freeing her long fiery red hair. She unhooked her swords and set them at the foot of her bed. She took an ivory comb and worked it through her hair. She looked at Caden's sleeping form and smiled. She climbed into the opposite bed and went to sleep.