It occurred to Beddigan, that the scale of the map may not have been very accurate, as he and his companions trudged through yet another broken, heat-blistered piece of tundra towards a bare horizon. It had been several days since they had departed the City of Light, and from what they had thought after viewing the map in Karrinah’s library, they should have reached the border of the Empire by now. It was possible that they had passed the border without knowing it, but it seemed odd that there should be no marker, or guard post of any type.
Beddigan pulled his compass crystal out and held it up to the light. Despite the capital city of the Empire of the Lions being almost exactly due North from the City of Light, they had been steadily angling northwest towards the Bintack Oceania, for no other reason than to get closer to the cooling breeze off the water, in an effort to help cut through the oppressive heat of the desert. Continue reading
Leaping from shadow to shadow, Shianne cursed under her breath. These are not simple soldiers, she thought. These are assassins. Though the two Wolves she had been tailing for the better part of the night wore the uniforms of standard Mormant military, their movements belied their true nature.
In the past few weeks the situation in the Republic of Katheyra had worsened. Shianne had watched quietly as more Wolves took up residence in the great capital city of San Vincent’s Port, and watched as more and more ships from Mormant filled the marina, outnumbering the local trading vessels near tenfold. She had also witnessed a great many Wolves leaving the city, which lead her to believe that the military was setting up camps elsewhere in Katheyra. A thing that never would have been permitted by the Republic’s Council of Elders before, now seemed to come all too easily to the Wolves. Continue reading
The slight knock at the doorway was enough to rouse Beddigan from the light and fitful sleep that had taken hold of him. The three companions had learned so much in their meeting in the library with Karrinah. These lands were vast and the peoples varied, with all but two countries held under the umbrella of the Empire. The land was at peace, with the Lord Regent of the Empire governing most of the lands and peoples. Aside from the Deer, the only other species to remain sovereign in this piece of the world were the Rams of Ehl-Indrah, on the western shores of the Bintack Oceania. It boggled Beddigan’s mind that from the looks of the map, it looked as though one could go to the north and west from Illensdar and reach this land of the Rams.
He had caught himself wondering more than once, if those Mice that had disappeared over the turnings hadn’t all ended up in the Wolves prison camps, as was popular belief. But perhaps some had made it through those woods and lived among the Rams. Perhaps there were already allegiances in the making. Though that wouldn’t explain why none had ever returned, unless those that had escaped their war-torn country were cowards with no intention of returning. Or if the Rams would not permit them to leave. Continue reading
Beddigan felt his stomach rumble as his gaze drifted over the expanse of stone table, littered with crockery bowls filled with steaming dishes; none of which looked particularly familiar to him, but all of which smelled delicious. He and his companions all sat quietly, waiting patiently to be joined by Karrinah. Torin am Megnarr, as it turns out, was one of her most trusted aids and advisers, and it was quite fortuitous that they had met him and his brothers at the stall market before any other members of this curious society.
After their introductions to the leader of the Deer people, they had been lead off by palace aids to separate rooms, which William had briefly protested, before Beddigan had reassured his old friend that he was sure no harm would come to them. Once in a guest room, he had been given fresh, clean water to drink, while the aid drew him a bath in a large oval bathtub that was sunk into the floor of the room. He watched curiously as water flowed from a spout at a moderate pace while the aid made frequent trips in and out of the room to come in with steaming kettles of water to add to the pool. After adding some fragrant smelling liquid that bubbled luxuriously, the aid had bowed to him and left. Continue reading
As they approached the walled city, Beddigan felt the fur on the back of his neck rise in anticipation of what they might find. The journey through the dense forest near the base of the mountains and then through the sparser, sandier country had been eerie. Back home they would have surely come across something or someone in the woods between cities or villages, but they had not seen a single living creature; nor a single cabin or camp. They had discovered some fruit trees with familiar apples and pears and had eaten their filling as they made their way towards the ever-towering wall of the city.
The wall had looked enormous from their vantage point on that final cliff part-way up the mountain, but it truly was a feet of building like none the trio had ever seen. Now, lingering in the last stand of leafy trees before the short expanse of hard-packed dirt leading to the city, all three adventurers were in awe of the massive scope of it. Continue reading
Beddigan grimaced, tipping over his sodden boot, watching the clumps of icy slush pour out onto the cave floor. The once-sparkling golden strand of amethyst crystal shards that gave him magical surefootedness, was marred and dimmed with dirty snow. The grimace turned into a scowl as he noted the deeply scarred marks of the heavy journey on his formerly pristine mahogany boots. It had been far too long since he had given them a proper cleaning; to buff out the scratches and restore the leather to its rich shine. But now was not the time or place to indulge in such things.
The journey through the Snowcap Mountains had been beyond difficult thus far; definitely the hardest adventure he had ever been on. He could easily see how few had ever even attempted this trek in the past, and why the mountains were referred to as uncrossable. He was certain that without Lady Lisanne’s magical trinkets, neither himself, nor William or Ragnon would have made it up over the craggy bluffs, through the intense snow storms, and down to the far side of the range. Even now, weeks after departing from the village of Andullin, they were just now breaking free from the frozen crags and peaks of the mountains, and descending towards the unknown lands that lay beyond them.
Shianne crashed through the door of her room at the Drunken Donkey Inn, kicking it closed with wood-cracking force. She let out a furious snarl as she threw her bag to the floor near the bed and limped into the adjoining bathroom. Wrenching open her shirt, she pulled it down far enough to reveal the sticky, wet slice she had taken to the ribs. The blood matted her fur and scorched her beige shirt a dark red.
Sucking in a sharp hiss of pain, she began rinsing the wound. Shedding the rest of her clothing she stepped into the shower and with a touch of the heat crystal, let the sputtering stream of hot water and steam clear the rage from her mind. Her muscles ached and the cut would require a healing salve, which she was damn lucky to have in her pack, considering her current situation.
Since parting ways with Beddigan, William, and Ragnon in Reene, all of Shianne’s life had become about running. She wasn’t accustomed to feeling out of control of her own life, and she didn’t like it one bit. Continue reading