It isnít glamorous; I know. It isnít the kind of
occupation that is going to leave a heavy mark on the history of the Newborn.
The king isnít going to run up from Drake's Nest to ask my opinion on how heís
running the kingdom; My family isnít going to parade through the town singing
my praises. No, it isnít heroic or glamorous. But, it also isnít farming; I
can say it with a clear conscience and no apology. What am I? Iím a clerk.
I am the largest of my brothers. My mother once
measured me standing in bare feet at six feet three inches. Draped fairly
nicely on that frame I have spread some two hundred thirty pounds and, no, I
don't yet have the beginnings of my father's pouch. I have the sandy brown
hair most of us northern Newborns are blessed with that I like cut short on the
neck and short on the top. All those tresses and curls hanging down my neck
annoy me more than most of the other men around here so I cut mine
Two of my brothers got the blue eyes I should
have. Mom drank something wrong while carrying me so I sport the brown eyes of her side of the family. I
guess they do blend in pretty well sitting under the sandy eyebrows that are
very thick and bushy making my face of a single color sort of passing from shade
to shade. If it wasn't for the crookedness of my nose I think the girls would
approve of my appearance but, then, this nose is pretty bad. It starts out okay
but it soon takes a major detour to the right side of my face and then cuts back
drastically to the left. Why? If you had three brothers you wouldn't have to
ask. I don't remember which one is responsible for the curve in my nose. In
memory, they all are. At one time or the other they all exercised the
Anyway, I became Mr. Browning's clerk. He runs a
dry goods enterprise in the village of River's Bounty. Mr. Browning is getting
on in years, you see. He wasn't young when he opened his store and he hasn't
made any progress in getting younger or staving off advancing age. I see this
as fortunate for I think it is this fact of life which prompted Mr. Browning to
Mr. Browning serves the Vale, the
massive farmland that sits below the Treebreak Forest. Mr. Browning has served
my family and neighbors for thirty years, a good man, an honest man, a man
valued by the other Newborn of the Vale for his support and his interest in
their success. Examples of his concern come easily to mind. There was the
flood of "34 that could have wiped out the the Vale. Instead, Mr. Browning
extended credit, got us through to the decent crops of "35, and the farms
survived. That was twenty-three years ago but the Newborn of the Vale haven't
The relationship has not been
one-sided. Mr. Browning's store burned to the ground on a hot summer night in
"46, victim of overabundant lightning and insufficient rain. The Newborn
re-built Mr. Browning's store, paid bills they did not owe for goods he could
not provide. Somehow, when stock was replenished, accounts were balanced and
business has continued thus for the last twelve years.
In the beginning, Mr. Browning had me convinced
that I had chosen poorly. Lifting and carrying are precisely the tasks his
advancing age makes difficult and precisely the tasks for which he hired me.
Cotton bales should have taught me better but I must ruefully admit it came as a
shock to discover how much crates of calico dresses weigh, how barrels of flour
belie the powdery nature of their contents to place a strain on the back I wish
In the beginning, I said. I should have said in
the beginning, in the middle, and even to the present because I still have the
honor to perform the lugging, the toting, the lifting, and the storing. In the
present, though, I am compensated by the training Mr. Browning gives me in the
numbers and the plans and the management of his business. I learn quickly.
Given the opportunity, I believe I could operate his business as well as Mr.
It doesnít matter. At this moment my future
prospects are no more than what Mr. Browning terms a 'thought experiment," Mr.
Browning will work till he dies, that much I know. He'll not retire to a life
of ease and relaxation. He tells those who suggest he do so that he has no
sympathy for ease and relaxation. A man is put on this world to contribute
something, he says, not to take something. Mr. Browning has every intention of
contributing as long as he lives.
I suspect there is a connection there. Heíll
work as long as he lives; heíll live as long as he works.
Looking at Mr. Browning it's hard to put your
finger on exactly how old he may be. He is a little shorter than the average
Newborn and a little less stocky. He carries more weight these days than he has
in the past but he attributes that to advancing age and the fact that I am the
one doing the hard labor. Like me, he has deep brown eyes that are sometimes
hidden by the spectacles he wears. He says the glasses are for reading and that
explains why they spend most of their time perched on his eyebrows rather than
on his nose where they might do some good..
Unlike me he lets his hair grow
where it will. I don't think he's cut any part of that mat in the last four or
five years. It would drive me crazy to have hair like that but he doesn't seem
to notice. Of course, the arms of those glasses he wears do tend to keep the
side tresses under control. His hair is a brown much darker than mine, sort of
the color of oak after you work some oil into it. At least that is the base
color. There is a lot of gray mixed into the base. His sideburns and eyebrows
are wolf gray now and the outer fringes of the thickness of hair are more gray
than brown but the top of his head is fighting a war of resistance against the
change of color and doing pretty well.
I admire Mr. Browning.
I respect him. I believe he is satisfied with my work. But, we are not
friends. He lacks the patience to listen to my dreams and speculations. I lack
the single-mindedness to listen to his assessments of the day's business and the
probabilities for tomorrow's business and the estimates for next month and next
year and the year after that. While Mr. Browning reviews his accounts, I spend
my evenings in the River's Bounty, our town's only inn. While Mr. Browning
sates his mind on accounts received, I sate my thirst on the Bounty's mead, not
to excess, but to pleasantness. It is true: I am not Mr. Browning's friend; I
am Mr. Browning's clerk.
The River's Bounty sits astride the Road as it
splits our small town into uneven shares. The oldest building in the town, the
largest building in the town, the most comfortable building in the town, the
center of political and social discourse in the town, the source for our town's
name, the River's Bounty reflects more than a century of comings and goings,
dinners and ales, talk and song and rumor. What an inn should be, the family
Innkeeper have made the River's Bounty. Fifth generation ownership, the
Innkeepers maintain the comfort of the facilities and the quality of the food at
a constant level of excellence earning a reputation far beyond the limits of our
small town, even to Drakeís Nest and beyond.
The family name, Innkeeper, derives from their
chosen occupation and serves them now as surname, title, and self-image.
Regardless of schedule or time of day or anything else that might keep a person
on the Road, travelers put aside other considerations to stop at the Riverís
Bounty because it is the smart thing to do, because the family Innkeeper has
made the River's Bounty one of the world's great pleasures, a pampering of one's
self not to be denied.. Bypassing the River's Bounty is unheard of perhaps
because no one bypassing the inn would ever admit having done so.
That area of the ground floor not occupied by the
kitchen is home to the great room. From fireplaces on each wall and lanterns at
appropriate spacing dangling from the ceiling, from the windows on the east and
north walls, the room is always comfortably lighted. The Innkeepers maintain
the gathering place at comfortable temperatures banking fires when the crowd
overpowers the winterís insurgence or bringing those fires to a snapping,
crackling frenzy when winter takes advantage of a thinning crowd to makes its
presence felt in the great room. From wall to wall, fifty Newborn can share
meals and drinks and conversation without straining the great roomís capacity.
Most often, ten or fifteen town people and fifteen or twenty guests while away
the evening singing, talking, and dining.
We citizens of Bounty are not a forward people.
Guests in the Riverís Bounty engage us in conversation or ignore us; it makes
little difference. We townspeople talk quietly of the day's events, of the
status of crops in the Vale or the weather, or the stage of the great River.
With more gregarious guests, we are content to listen to news of the outside
world or news of the day's travel on the Road or news of the guest's family,
whatever topic the guests is inclined to explore. The Innkeepers believe it a
major part of the attraction of the River's Bounty, the chance to regale
townspeople with whatever and be heard respectfully and fully without fear of
contradiction or ridicule or disbelief. What we might truly think, custom has
trained us to keep to ourselves. We have little need to embarrass strangers or
to put pop-in-jays in their place. For they are in their place, you see. They
are center stage in the Riverís Bounty and the world is as it should
Tonight, I am seated alone but not alone at a
table for two near the north fireplace away from the major door at the
southeastern corner. My conversation is supplied in spurts by members of the
Innkeeper family as they move around and about the great room waiting on their
customers. We know each other well, the Innkeepers and I. Our friendship more
than compensates for the distance between Mr. Browning and myself.
It is cold outside, a late blooming
snow storm howling a pointed reminder that the winter of "58 still has a share
of calendar to spend before it yields to spring. The essence of toil from three
wagons of goods from the capital is like smoke from tired muscles in my back,
shoulders, and legs joining the rising heat from the fireplaces to work their
way through the lumber and flooring into the rugs of the second floor. Wearified
smoke or smoked weariness, depending on your state of mind, will infest the
carpets of tsecond level to be unsuspectingly trod on by the night's guests.
The carpet doesn't mind. I don't think the smoke or the expelled weariness will
Saja Innkeeper, sixth generation,
opted to wait my table this evening, a special blessing for me. Her winter's
dress is pale brown and sturdy discreetly hiding a body that provides not a few
of my more pleasant daydreams and quite often my night dreams. She knows this
in the manner all Newborn women have of knowing the minds of Newborn men. The
knowledge doesn't seem to offend her but, other than the occasional waiting on
my table, she does nothing that I could call outright encouragement to make my
fantasies reality. Still, I am willing to take blessings as they
She is dark, this Saja of mine.
Dark complexioned, dark hair that reaches mid-back when she allows, dark eyes.
Yet, her demeanor is far from dark. She laughs easily and often and smiles when
she is not laughing. She brings humor to my meal that transforms it from a very
good stew into a fantastic stew for which I ask her to be sure to send my
compliments to her aunt who is doing the cooking today. Saja doesn't linger
long in our chat; she has other tables to attend to but she does smile and she
does accept the compliment and seems to know the compliment is intended as much
for her as for her aunt.
"The mead and the stew and Saja
Innkeeper," I think to myself, "what else could I want?"
As if in answer, the River's Bounty door bursts
open. The storm prevents a dignified entry. The slightest freeing of the latch
transforms the great door into a tiny foresail for the sloop that is the inn.
Riding the gales of this winter blast, the door flaps in the breeze and even the
strongest of men can barely contain its antics. This time the door blows free
of the hand that released it allowing three travelers and their personal wind
and snow to blow into the great room. The last one in darts after the door and
snares the beast against the wall before managing to wrestle the door closed.
She manages the deed quickly with only a small inconvenience to the patrons of
the inn so that the River's Bounty patrons are soon able to concern themselves
with the newly arrived travelers, not the all too familiar weather.
The travelers are an unusual set of
visitors to Bounty. One is a Newborn man which, of course, is not unusual.
But, this man is accompanied by a Duorph and an Elph and such a trio is
unusual. We see Elph and, occasionally, we see Duorph. We sit on the Road, you
know, and most travelers follow the road and, as I mentioned, few travelers
bypass the River's Bounty. So, we have seen them all, Elph, Duorph, the rare
A dozen quiet conversations come to life as Vale
men and guests begin to speculate on the composition of this party. To my mind,
it is a comic exercise, table after table speaking in muffled voice about the
newcomers while obviously not wishing to be thought discussing the obvious.
They are unsuccessful, of course, but their lack of success does nothing to
discourage their attempts.
The man is huge, a tree, topped off by long curly
tresses which spray snow onto the floor as he removes his cap and shakes his
head to rid himself of the unwelcome adornment. Blond hair marks him as
Southern Newborn as opposed to us Northerners of the Vale. Our hair tends from
a sandy brown to a river brown. Southerners explain this is due to our close
association with Vale's soil inferring, I suppose, poor hygiene. We, on the
other hand, explain this somber coloring as strength of character derived from
cooperative association with the land of the Vale allowing Southerners to draw
their own conclusions as to what this might suggest of light colored hair.
The traveler removes his outer coat,
it seems to be deerskin but a kind of deer I am not familiar with, to reveal a
uniform, bright green with gold lacing and trimming on sleeves and trousers. A
crest rides prominently on his right breast, a Drake's Nest set over crossed
long swords on a shield of gold. We know this crest.; it is our King's crest.
The king these days is Garren N'Drake, a man who has yet to grace our town with
his presence even though he has sat his throne these fourteen years.
Saja and her cousin, Rakel, have
gone to the party now bidding them welcome. Saja takes the man's cap and
coat; Rakel accepts coats from the females. I didn't mention that, did I?
The Elph and the Duorph are women. The two cousins head for the southeastern
corner where hooks abound to bear the outerwear while guests enjoy the comfort
of the inn.
Having shed their outerwear, the newly arrived
females assume positions to either side of their male companion, turned outward
from him, each engaging a portion of the great room, as if protecting his back,
from what I cannot imagine. The man also engages the room, sweeping his gaze
back and forth, measuring what he sees, drawing conclusions only he may
Saja returns to the travelers to
inquire after their needs; rooms, meals, or both? Her voice is low and private
not wishing to share their desires with the congregation without leave to do
so. Among her many talents, Saja is a consummate hostess. This might be
hereditary among the Innkeepers but I think of it as a special gift of Saja's.
Rakel could perform the service as well, I suppose. Rakel is every bit as lovely
as Saja but Rakel is....well, Rakel is not Saja. You know what I
The man listens to Saja without
looking at her, hears her words, attends her meaning, understands her attempts
to provide the party a meager privacy despite the fact the entire room is
staring but not staring. The man disdains the offer of privacy in order to make
answer to the room in general. As strong and as solid as the beams of the River
Bountyís walls, his voice fills the room in tones that ring with the timbre of a
deep bass bell. "We have need of food and lodging...." he says in a quick nod
to Saja and then his head comes up allowing his eyes to roam the room taking
each patron into his command.... "but, further, we have need to make
announcements, announcements better left till we have eaten and you have eaten
but announcements which affect all here and all in the Vale."
Having startled those already
seated, myself included, evidently satisfied with the impression they have made,
the party allows Saja to escort them to a table in the center of the great room,
a selection which seems to me to be not in character with the females' earlier
behavior. From protecting his back to having all their backs open to the
congregation suggests a great inconsistency. I am unequal to the task of
The man takes seat. In the process he must
adjust his saber to what should be a more comfortable yet accessible position.
With his size, it is not a graceful exercise yet he accomplishes the feat with
an accustomed lack of fumbling matched by his total disregard of any impression
he may engender. He may think our opinion of him unworthy of consideration or
he may be truly unconcerned with appearances. Whichever he might think is not
discernible to me.
The Elph sits on his right. She
wears no saber though a dagger rides her hip. The Duorph also carries no saber
and what weaponry she may carry is invisible to me. Their table is round in
the manner of all our tables so they are able to space themselves evenly. I
note that the spacing they take at the table provides the trio unimpeded view of
the entire room. Perhaps their efforts at security have not been
Saja decides that she, and only she,
can provide the proper service to these unusual guests. Rakel is left with
responsibility for the rest of the room as she moves quickly here and there and
to meet this need. Rakel is a good match for her cousin. It is like having two
jewels to compare. See, this one glints gold and silver and sparkles in the
light while this second glints silver and gold and sparkles in a different way
in the same light. Did I not love my Saja, I would surely love her
Saja instructs the newcomers in the
intricacies of todayís menu. You may order stew and receive bread and pie to
accompany the pivot dish or you may order carving from the elk roasted this
afternoon to which the Innkeepers will add hearty portions of potatoes and green
beans and cover them all with a gravy beyond words. Of course, Saja doesnít
describe the gravy as beyond words; I supply that definition in the privacy of
my own thoughts.
Saja accepts their
orders and, as she heads for the kitchen, she passes my table and proffers to me
a raised eyebrow as if to ask what I think of this. She does not pause for my
"What do I think of this?" I ask
myself. ďA noble, a Duorph, and a Green Elph? Not that there is enmity between
these races. None such. There has been more than two centuries of amicable
relations. Not what you would call closeness but a reasonable relationship. We
are Newborn and they are what they are and common interests do exist. Mostly,
though, we seem content to let each go its own way. The borders are not too
strictly held and commerce is meagerly encouraged. Oh, a year or two ago there
were rumors of our normal friction escalating into something more serious. A
messenger rode from Garren N'Drake to alert us to a White Elph menace but
nothing happened and we haven't talked about that for almost a year. It was
exciting when it happened but without reinforcement such excitement drains
itself over time.
In my mind I think of the world as it stands
today. We are the Newborn; they are the Elder Races. Our Newborn history goes
back twenty centuries or twenty-three centuries depending on the school to which
you subscribe. The Elder races trace their history much further into antiquity
but I do not know how far back that might be. The histories of the elder races
are not an interest of mine. They are the Elder Race;. that's seems simple
enough to me.
A noble, a Duorph, and a Green
Elph. Not since the Coblan War have the three races traveled together. This
isn't based on enmity; it's based on lack of mutual interests. Now, such a
threesome ventures into the River's Bounty with announcements to be made. To
answer my Sajaís unvoiced query my thoughts respond ďWhat I think is that I
want to know much more of what is going onĒ. At the same time, I also have
this thought that poor Mr. Browning's fascination with his books has left him
out of the mainstream on this evening. He will not be happy to have missed this
Conversation resumes its low murmur. We Bounty
townspeople afford the trio the courtesy of an uninterrupted meal. My neighbors
may be as curious as I am but they have this history of allowing travelers their
privacy, you see, and it is not easily put aside. We are not a forward
I persuade Saja, in a quiet moment
between serving the newcomers their mead and, then, serving their dinner, to
bring another mead to help me occupy the time the strangers need to receive and
devour their meal. I say 'devour'. Their manners are impeccable but their need
appears to be great. They are eating a lot of food and doing so more quickly
than a child forced to have his breakfast before he can ride the new pony Dad
brought home last night. It adds to the circumstance, whetting my appetite the
more to hear these announcements.
"Announcements," I dream, "of calls to glory for
surely such as these bring news of war and tragedy. They are hardly couriers of
arrangements for Birthday celebrations or appointments of new tax examiners or
the opening of a new ferry on the Great River. The walls of my mind reverberate
with horns and drums and portentous conclusions. "These are the minstrels of
dangerous times, of heroic missions, and hopeless causes," I hear myself think
and a trace of color blushes my cheeks as I realize the pomposity of my
These are the kinds of musing I am
prone to which cause Mr. Browning such disappointment; which caused my poor
father to throw up his hands in disgust and herd my brothers off to the fields
mumbling that disgust to the winds; which caused my mother to shake her head and
turn back to the cleaning of pots and pans; which caused my brothers to shake
their heads making faces to one another as they trailed my father to the
fields. These are the kinds of musings which set me apart from other Bounty
townsfolk, which cause me to have dinner this night with only my own company to
fill out the table and, truth to be told, the kind of musings which all too
probably have kept Saja Innkeeper - her cousin Rakel, too - at a sociable
We in the Vale have no weapons to engage in war,
no training. We in the Vale have had no war in so long a time I think we do not
know its meaning. We in the Vale are thoroughly unsuitable for war. Yet, this
trio of messengers seems to be bringing news of war to we in the Vale as if
there is truly some connection between war and us. It is absurd. It is high
farce. Yet, here I sit, waiting for these strangers to announce war and eager
for the message.
Throughout their meal they rarely
speak, not a word to one or the other, only a "thank you" to Saja as she sets
down a bowl of steaming stew and a second and then a third pitcher of mead.
Fork after fork of stew, sip after sip of mead, eyes roaming the room taking in
everyone, measuring, calculating, concluding, but a not a word. Sustenance in,
nothing out, so that I think when they finally speak so much energy will have
been stored their announcement will explode from them in a one great burst of
words that will blow the room into very small pieces.
Hard faces, I think. No give in
them at all. The Duorph seems angry. Though their home is a short distance
away in the forests above Bounty, I am not so familiar with Duorph manners that
I may be wrong in this estimate. I judge that she is barely restraining a
raging temper. Her golden eyes are difficult to measure because the brow is
eternally clenched, narrowing the ports from which those eyes stab the food, the
surroundings, the people. Her movements with the fork from plate to mouth are
quick, staccato punctuation marks to that unspoken fury, or so it seems to me.
The Duorph's golden hair is cut very
short as if she is the male and her Newborn companion the female. Half his
height yet more than half his weight. Broad shoulders, broad hips. Strong
arms, muscular arms, a weight lifter, perhaps, if female Duorph lift weights.
As I said, I haven't seen many Duorph before but I have heard rumor. Their
endurance is legendary; their strength the compensation for their stature. And
something else but it escapes me now.
The Green Elph, green because there
are five Shades of Elph, is slender or maybe just in comparison to her
companions. As tall as the man but not near his weight. Green hair - the
green of hers is light, nearly translucent, the green of rainbows -.framing
emerald green eyes, the hair and eyes set off by the amber of her skin. The
Elph is a portrait of light and delicacy but prolonged observation hints at
something strong and unyielding. She seems like an island in the Great River
that makes you wonder how it holds position as the power of the water hurries
past. She takes her food from plate to mouth every bit as quickly as the Duorph
yet she adds a delicacy her companions lack, an innate grace she probably
cannot shed even with determined effort.
They finish their meal. Saja clears
their plates. Now, I suppose, now comes the announcement.
The Newborn stands, removes his sword belt taking
the belt and the sheathed saber into both hands. Most eyes are drawn to him but
for those which have not yet noticed his bid for attention, he raps the point of
his sheath on the table, once, twice, and a third time. Now, all eyes are on
His delivery is stern. The message
his words carry to our ears is equally stern so that delivery and message are
properly mated. "I am Kal n'Drake, brother to your King. You may doubt this.
Your doubts change nothing. I am Kal n'Drake."
The man ignores our reaction to his opening
sally. We feel the challenge in his words, the almost insult to our
intelligence and heads bob and whispers cross tables. Our faces do not mask our
resentment to this prince's implications.
"I said we bring announcements," the
brother to the king continues, "and so we do. They are these: War is upon us.
The White Elph are marching. They are now at the far borders of the Treebreak
Forest and only the help of the Duorph has kept them there. But, the Duorph
cannot hold and the White Elph will come. They will come to Bounty, continue to
Drake's Nest, continue until they have taken and slaughtered Garren and every
Newborn he commands. That is the first announcement.
ďThe second announcement is that an
army must be raised; the Newborn of Vale must be that army. This is why my
companions and I are here, to raise this army and then to meet the White Elph
and make them pay blood price for their advance. We may not stop them. They
are many, the entire White Elph nation. We are few. If we cannot stop them; we
can make them pay dearly for their uninvited trek through the Vale."
Till now I had dreamed these announcements
garnishing my dreams with wonder and glory and honor like Auntie Innkeeper
garnished todayís elk. But, now the dreams are reality and the beauty of the
dream has vanished into dim memory overshadowed by gathering clouds of alarm, of
While I try to absorb what these
announcements mean, my fellow townspeople do likewise. We are not a forward
people but these announcements have prodded my neighbors to question, reasonable
questions reflecting the confusion our minds are straining to convert to order.
A whisper of "When do they come?' contends with an astonished "Why do they
come?" which battles an angry "Why us?" which drowns out a disbelieving "What do
we know about being an army?" Questions flow into questions, mating,
germinating, birthing new questions. There is no order, no organization to
the questions. They rise and die, rise and die.
Kal n'Drake observes the onslaught like that island in
the river with water pounding the shoreline knowing he cannot stop it, merely
observe it. His companions watch the crowd should any of the patrons make an
unwelcome move towards their table. No one does. We are content to question
from a distance.
For three, then four minutes, the
questions bombard Kal n'Drake. For three, then four minutes, he stands there,
two hands on sword belt and sheathed sword, sheath pressing into the table as if
anchoring the Newborn to his place in the midst of this consternation, denying
the tumult the opportunity to wash him away. It sinks into us he is not
answering our questions. Sinking in, it begins to mute our voices, the roar of
confusion dissolving into a quietly tense expectancy. The flood having passed,
Kal n'Drake speaks again. His words speak of an impatience that rankles even
the most tolerant of my neighbors.
"My companions and I have no time for
foolishness. You have had your time. From this instant, no one questions what
I say, what my companions say." A murmur of protest, of dissent, of rebellion
begins. These are townspeople and farmers but they are Newborn. Newborn cannot
be treated as children. Not even the King's brother can treat them
A startlingly smooth gesture separates saber from
sheath. The sheath drops to the table, cannot maintain its purchase, and
clatters to the floor. The saber is raised in a two handed grip toward the
ceiling, the pure Crystal Blade catching light from fire and lantern and tossing
it around the room, playful under other circumstances, riveting under these.
Murmurs are cleaved and scattered like the reflected light beams. Quiet
Kal n'Drake's voice shows no strain,
no edge, no anger. It is as soft and as hard as the great River's surface. It
fills the room with absolute certainty that Kal n'Drake is speaking and he
intends to be heard. "You have questions and they will be answered when
appropriate. I will determine when it is appropriate. I determine that now is
not an appropriate time. I determine that now it is appropriate that you, each
of you, spread the announcements to Vale. Tell your families, your neighbors.
Tell every Newborn in the Vale that the Army is raised tomorrow at noon, here,
in Bounty. At noon."
The Crystal Blade descends in a slow
arc still slicing fire light and lantern light, still spewing it around the
room, and then the blade rests, point down on the table. Kal n'Drake looks
expectantly around the room. Quietly, no murmur of protest, with only the noise
of scuffling chairs and shuffling feet, my friends and townspeople begin to
gather coats, scarves, caps, and boots. As do I. No cheerful farewells and
"come back soon" from the Innkeepers. No slaps on the back and "see you
tomorrow." No last minute chugging of unfinished mead. The Crystal Blade made
Because it is the Crystal Blade, you see. Baring
that blade was all the argument the prince needed. We may be leagues from the
capital and generations from war, but we are Newborn and we know the import of
the Crystal Blade. Only the King's Champion may carry that blade and no one
questions the King's Champion.
As I step out into the storm, my
overcoat almost buttoned, my cap mostly tied down, I think to myself that calls
to glory are supposed to be more glorious.
To Chapter 2