Friday, July 25, 2014

The Great Weapons: Beyond These Walls 05

Miledha watched the rider descend from the dark eastern sky. Galloping, the horse had left a trail of fire behind it, like a comet; but it slowed and descended as it reached the keep, and now she could see the tiny puffs of flame where each hoof struck sparks from the empty air. She settled herself on top of the wall, with her back against the crenelations, as it touched down near the center of the courtyard.

It wasn't a natural animal of course; it was something created, or more likely conjured. Miledha knew almost nothing of those arts; she could almost hear Sister Naggia repeating her opinion of such things: Why would you want such a beast? A horse'd carry you there just as well, draw less attention to you, and be far less dangerous to manage. Miledha smiled to herself. Unless, she answered her teacher's imagined question, you needed to get from Boeringen to Langoish Keep in a single night. It was quite a sight, whatever it was and however the Order had come by it: horse-shaped, but flat black -- even to its eyes, which were only visible when it turned its head enough that she could see their shape at the edge of its silhouette. It looked like someone had carved a hole in the world where a horse should be... and by its nature it couldn't be entirely in the world, not if it could run across empty air.

The rider dismounted, pulling a set of saddlebags from his mount's back as he stepped away. The beast shimmered, folded in on itself, and was gone.

Miledha nudged the winds to carry words from the center of the courtyard to her place on the wall, and was gratified to hear the gasp of surprise from the assembled guards and council members. Then Brother Wend stepped forward and said, "Addis?"
She couldn't decipher everything in his tone, but she thought she heard surprise, pleasure, and maybe a touch of worry somewhere down underneath it all.

"Wend!" The other man sounded relieved. "I came as soon as I heard."

"You can't dream how glad I am to see you. It's been..." There was a pause, and then Brother Wend said, "This is Viscount Roberr, the lord of Langoish Keep."

There was a brief pause as Roberr stepped forward.

"Be you welcome, and at your ease," said Roberr. "The Shadir have already sent us one messenger this evening; I doubt they'll bother us again. Come into the keep with us. We have food and drink -- not fancy, but filling. If you've come representing the Order, we have a great many things to tell you."

Wend continued, "This is Brother Addis, master sorcerer of the Renowned Eastern Order of the Hidden Arts."

Brother Addis offered Roberr his hand. "I'm grateful, Viscount; that was a difficult ride. I'd appreciate a bit of refreshment before we move to matters of sorcery and war."

Miledha grumbled to herself. No doubt the entire privy council would want to meet this sorcerer Addis, and no doubt they would have plenty of questions for the adept. It would not be a short meal, and it would not be a short planning session. Even more annoying was that listening in on them would considerably harder with everyone inside the inner keep; out here, she could use the night breezes, but in there she would need a mouse or something similar. She could try to follow them unseen, of course, but with a new adept of unknown abilities that seemed a foolish risk: likely he wouldn't notice her, but if he did then it would be that much harder to get Roberr out of the keep later on. It wasn't worth it.

Instead, she rose and started for the barracks, trying to reconcile herself to the fact that they weren't leaving the keep tonight.

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