Wandering Through Terran–Chapter 18

January 21, 2010

Here is chapter eighteen…

And the rest of the story…

Chapter Eighteen: The Stowaways

Where All Reports Indicate

More Trouble on the Way…

With twelve thousand dwarves and seven thousand men from Falston along for the battle, Dayspring walked with Barnack through the low-lying mountains towards the pass. Their trek was to get to the peak that the dwarves called the Giant’s Stubbed Toe. According to the dwarf captain, the mountain had a long history in his people’s folklore. He told Dayspring the tales of the ancients wars with the giants of the mountains and how one was said to have injured his foot while battling a cadre of dwarves at the peak, formerly a castle of the giants.

And so Angar Whitebeard struck down the giant’s toe,” he said. “My ancestor’s strike was one that shook the monster to his core. Some say the shocks of the giant’s fall were felt back in the dwarf halls of Hearth.”

I won’t argue the point,” Dayspring replied anxiously. “So you fought the giants as the men of Terran fought the dragons and goblins?”

Aye. By then the elves had left for wherever it was they went and we were on our own against these threats. There was a dragon or two with in the mountains, but for the most part we were left alone by them. We wanted to come to the aid of your people, but we were fighting our own wars. We lost many fighting the giants. Too many.”

They remained silent for a moment.

Your people are great warriors,” Dayspring said. “I’m glad you’re on our side in this affair.”

Likewise, my friend,” Barnack replied. “You and your friends mounted an impressive defense at Falston, probably would have turned back the goblins even without the arrival of my people. If the men at Aven have anywhere the ingenuity that you have, they likely will have already defeated the enemy before we even arrive.”

We can only hope.”

The journey up to the Giant’s Stubbed Toe was a difficult one along a dangerous road, but fairly quick once the group found their footing. The wagons passed slowly, careful on the steep banked path they traveled on. It was nearly sunset when the reached the peak, the light dying down as the sun set. Looking out, Dayspring saw the army of goblins stretching across the plains that spread before Aven.

That is a very large force,” he observed.

Bah!” Barnack responded with some scorn. “If one thing holds true about goblins, it’s this: they do not care much for the finer aspects of warfare. Usually they simply try to overwhelm their enemy and have little taste for more complex combat beyond that. No great challenge to overcome when you keep you wits about you. With brave men like you, lad. We can overtake them easily.”

I’m thrilled by your confidence,” Dayspring responded. “Numbers do count for something though.”

puup

Slant held council with Herb as the Ranger built a fire on the plateau they chose for their camp. The two had been old friends before departing the Temple of the Myr, and their current adventure brought them closer together.

Have you spoken with your wife of late?” the Ranger asked.

I did,” the wizard replied serenely. “Things are well at the temple. She asked me to tell you that the scholars are nearly done with the research you requested of them. She was quite amused when I told her of her daughter’s activities. Far more amused than I was.”

Yes. One’s offspring raising a forest can be cause for some dishevelment.”

Slant laughed as he prepared the bread that was to compose their supper. He quickly put some of their spread on it and started to eat.

I actually was referring to her relations with Dayspring,” he said between bites. “She would prefer I keep the girl away from battles, but understood it was unavoidable. Dayspring… she just laughed and said something about how she saw it coming. Seemed to think it was the most adorable story she’d ever been told. She told me not to worry about Eseen. My daughter and Dayspring though… blame it on the old prejudices and grudges, I don’t necessarily trust anybody from the kingdom of Tryps.”

I was under the impression he hailed from the annexes of the Tund,” Herb said. “Though I’ve spent little time there, I always thought they were good and honorable people. I always thought the stories about Tryps were a touch exaggerated anyway. Still, he doesn’t seem the dastardly rogue.”

Quite far from it actually. He is extraordinary in his honor. No, it’s simply my daughter can be a touch willful.”

Just a touch, I’m sure.”

puup

Spread out over a series of plateaus and cliffs, the force camped out in what had once been the palace of the giants. All around them were crumbling walls and remnants of the giants’ castles. Dayspring settled in on the same plateau of his comrades, sitting at a fire with Barnack. Both were drinking wine and telling stories as the night wore on. The dwarf continued without much time for rest to tell him legends of the dwarves, not likely to stop any time soon. He managed a brief escape when the need arose for more wine.

Going to the wagon Slant had been driving up, he reached under the tarp for a new jar when his hand met something quite unexpected. Something soft and warm. He drew his hand out as he thought about what it could be. Unhitching the tarp, he pulled it aside to reveal Vera’s form lying in the wagon. She smiled a teasing grin.

Hello handsome,” she said whimsically. “Fancy seeing you here. I’ve got somebody here who likely wants to see you.”

Dayspring?”

Crawling out from the other side of the tarp was Eseen. She crawled up and over Vera so that she was looking at Dayspring face to face. Giving a sheepish little laugh at Vera’s protests, she kissed him.

You really shouldn’t be here,” Dayspring said.

You’re telling me,” Eseen said. “It’s rotten luck that we picked the wagon dad was driving. I don’t I was even that quiet when I was living in the forests.”

You know what I mean,” Dayspring said.

We talked it over,” Vera said. She shifted Eseen enough for her to sit up. “We promised Olaf we’d help him protect you. How exactly are we expected to keep our word if we’re not here with you, your highness?”

This is going to be a long night,” Dayspring grumbled to himself. He turned away before regarding them again. “First of all, don’t ever call me that. I am not likely to be crowned today, so we’ll put all that talk aside for now. Second, Olaf just needed your help until he dealt with Rick. That’s dealt with and taken care of. I’m as safe as possible, beyond the part where we’re fight an army of goblins. Second… no, third, you two are possibly the two most powerful girls in Terran right now, and the most irresponsible. Vera, you carry a holy relic. That could prove quite valuable soon. You’re putting that at risk. You’re both insane, you know that? We go out of way to protect you both and here you are putting everybody in danger! We’re trying to keep you both say and you both are, putting yourselves on the line!”

They remained silent for a long moment. Slant and the others came over to investigate, seeing Eseen as she climbed out of the wagon and jumped down to her feet. At the sight of Vera, Slant shook his head in frustration. When the two bodyguards that had accompanied the party from the temple walked up, he just shrugged. They started an explanation of their trek to catch up to the party, but Slant silenced them with a glance.

Your father is going to kill me,” he said to the princess. He looked at Eseen. “After your mother finishes with me. Come along you two, we need to have a talk.”

puup

Dayspring looked out over the plain, the lights of the goblin camps burning in the distance. The events with Eseen and Vera bothered him more than he would admit. Though he did not say anything in that regard, he was actually relieved when Slant told them to stay in Falston. It was not that he did not want them there, it was one less thing to worry about.

Olaf sat beside him, looking quietly out at the plain.

Their force looks massive,” he stated.

I think we can kill more of them before they kill all of us,” Dayspring said. “We’ll deal with them tomorrow. Plenty of them to kill.”

My apologies, I see your mind is elsewhere. When I asked for their aid in protecting you, it was intended to be for the duration of the siege at Falston. I did not anticipate them to—”

I know. They were taking advantage for their own ends. It’s not your fault.”

I know you care for Lady Eseen. I promise you that no harm will come to her.”

Oh, I think she can take care of herself.”

The sound of soft footsteps cut off Olaf’s next response. They both turned to see Eseen standing there, fresh from the meeting with her father and shaking a bit. Standing, Olaf nodded and walked away. With a calm civility, she sat beside Dayspring. She bowed her head as she thought about what to say.

I’m sorry I’ve made such a mess of things,” she said.

Not saying a word, he put an arm around her. She slid closer to him, resting her head on his shoulder.

I’m sorry I yelled at you,” he whispered. “I’m glad you’re here.”

Yeah,” she said. “Me too.”

Looking out, they saw a flash of light on the horizon of the goblin camps. Multiple flashes spread out from the first, lighting up the sky. Random spots throughout the goblin army went bright and ablaze, shooting up with lines of fire. Looking out, they both tried to discern what was happening.

What just happened?” Eseen asked.

I think Aven struck at the goblins first,” Dayspring answered. “It’s a blitz tactic… hit them, hit them hard. The goblins are going to attack the city. We have to hurry.”

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