Sunday, February 10, 2008

Chapter 5: The road to Tinate (Mark I)

A week passed, and the Dragon Queen had not returned. It seemed like the old stories were true. A sacrificed daughter would appease the queen and she would not return for a year and a day. The stories did not say why she wanted the sacrifice.

Caden was there. He saw the Dragon Queen take Keilee. It didn't kill her, it took her. He knew she was still alive. No one else believed him. Even if it took her alive, it would have eaten her by now. She was dead, the town held a memorial for her, and thanked her for saving the town.
Yet no one thanked Harron.
The town did not mention the role he played in the sacrifice of his daughter. He saved them, they knew that. But no one approved. Harron returned to his homestead with the remainder of his family. No one went out to check on them. No one would consider talking with him.
In that week, the people were busy rebuilding their town. Sir Eric eventually recovered, but moped around worse then before. No one ever saw him sober anymore. He just walked around the town with a bottle of shine in his left hand. His right arm and shoulder were gone.
The stranger, Rilyn, even helped out with the rebuilding. He had recovered and was only using a cane instead of a crutch.
Caden fought a different battle. He tried to convince his father to let him go after the Dragon Knights. To get them to mobilize and hunt down the Dragon Queen, and save Keilee. His father refused. He told his father that someone had to notify the church of Father Coteson's actions. His father refused.

Caden crept into the kitchen late at night. He carried a knapsack with a change of clothes. His father had been baking a lot of stew rolls lately. Giving them to the workers around the town. It was a good bread, hard outer crust allowed it to last for days. Inside was a soft bread stuffed with meat, vegetables, gravy, and potatoes. Caden preferred the spicy and sweet flavors, but couldn't tell which were which in the dark. So he opened his knapsack and filled it with loaves from all three trays.
He moved a bench over to the ovens and climbed up. On top was a small lock box. Caden grabbed the box and brought it down. Inside was a handful of coins. He took about half. Right now, neighbors were helping neighbors. His father received free ingredients as long as he gave free bread to the people working. But it wouldn't last, and Caden wanted to leave him with enough to buy what he would need.
His father's mare, Starlight, was old, past 10 harvests. Caden walked her out of his father's back yard and through town. He wasn't going to ride her until they were past the hollows left by the dragon's attack. Instead he carefully lead her down each one and back up the other side.
He passed the temple, and saw the stone sword laying in the garden where he left it. He walked over and picked it up. He could barely lift it. He tried to swing it, but failed. He didn't understand why he couldn't lift it anymore.
"What are you planning on doing with that?" Rylin stepped out from under a tree. In the moonlight, his hat cast a shadow over his eyes.
"Protection," Caden said. "Bandits are on the highway, and I've heard people talk about the gremlins attacking at night."
"And what good will it do you if you can't lift it?"
"Hey, I can lift it." Caden strapped the sword to Starlight. "I saved the kids using this sword. And I'm going to save it Keilee with it."
"You're going to get yourself killed."
"Why are you here, Rilyn?"
"The mayor said you were going to be leaving tonight," said Rilyn. He picked up a sack, threw it over his shoulder, and tied it in place. "Asked me to go with you."
"How could he have known that?"
"I don't know, kid. So where are we going?"
"The Dragon Knights left town, heading north. So I'm going to check Fort Tinate first."
"Lead the way."
Rilyn wasn't stopping him, so Caden didn't care what he did. Rilyn followed Caden as they walked out of town. They exited the northern gate and followed the road till they reached the highway.