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D.T - Thrain and Company: Chapter 3

The group is formed at last and they head out to climb the tower.

Thrain and company: Chapter 3

Cambren took to a heavy knocking at the door and then pressed his ear gently to it to hear inside. From the other side he could hear the curses of a young woman as she had just been woken up and dressed to open the door. He pulled his ear away in time as it opened and Veera peeked her head out from the other side to see who it was. When she saw it was Cambren she opened the door further, her room was dark as night as she had kept the windows covered with thick curtains.

She rubbed her eyes and asked, "Master Cambren what are you doing here at this hour?"

Cambren smiled lightly and said, "You have not called me master in a long time my dear you must be tired. As for the time it is, in fact, a few hours into the morning. Shall we continue this conversation inside?"

Veera sighed, as Cambren was not going to let her go back to sleep without his word, and stepped aside opening the door further to allow him into her room. As he came in Veera snapped her fingers and over a dozen candles suddenly lit up around the room; revealing her cloth to be a thin nightgown that could be easily seen through to her naked body in the light; in addition was the mess of clothes on the floor and scattered books on her desks. Her bed was ruffled and another body lay resting peacefully in it.

"Would it be too much to ask for your guest to leave for a time?" Cambren asked half condescending.

Partially annoyed Veera complied with Cambren and walked over to the side of the bed to wake her guest. From under the covers appeared a pretty young woman with dark curly hair and fair skin. She smiled at Veera's sight and kissed her on the lips. The two continued kissing romantically for a brief time until Cambren cleared his throat in a loud manner.

Remembering her other guest Veera pulled away from the young woman, and told her she had to leave. She was a little upset but got out of bed all the same. Unlike Veera she wore nothing at all and had no sense of modesty as she stretched out; Cambren politely turned his head away. The young woman swiftly dressed herself enough to leave the room with decency but still carried the rest of her wardrobe under her arms.

When she was gone and the door shut behind her Cambren spoke, "Has Thrain come to ask you to join the company yet?"

Veera yawned and said, "Yesterday morning in fact, he showed up even earlier than you; I almost didn't answer the door. And yes, he asked me to join the company and we leave out in just six days... In the morning." she ended her sentence with heavy irritation in her voice.

Cambren lightly chuckled and said, "Well my dear you best get used to mornings for Thrain and, I imagine all the others too, are well adjusted to getting up just before dawn. No more late nights with the cities harlots for a while."

Veera scoffed and said, "Excuse me unlike many of the 'Men' in this city I don't need to pay for sex. I know how to romanticize and despite what they would tell you, many woman like the company of other woman over men; sometimes. And unlike men I don't discard them like trash when we're done."

"That's also something I wanted to speak with you about. Inside the tower I have no doubts that you will run across many other men and to you some, if not most of these men, will only see you as something to put their dick in for a time. Thrain is a great man, an honorable man and I know he wouldn't let anyone try such a thing with you against your will. And I'm sure his chosen companions will be just as good about not trying any such thing.

"But if you do get separated from the company, inside there try to avoid other males best you can. I know you can fight well but sometimes men can only think with one head and one mistake in battle is disastrous."

Veera turned away; the talk of rape made her a little squeamish. She had been no stranger to violence or gore since she had fought in battle alongside Cambren years ago when Kantor troops invaded from the Keshnir forest. With Thrain's leadership they managed to push the forces back before they could invade through the Great Elm Gate. But for the magisters the fight had seen the most violence of those battles. The scattered army forces ran straight into the first knights traps, where magisters were planted and ready to strike.

Veera's war efforts that day are what got her truly noticed by the other council members and with Cambren's recommendation she would later attain a proper seat onto the council.

Cambren grabbed her hand and said, "Veera you're only going there to gather knowledge about the tower from within. No one is forcing you to go and you're under no orders to go. If at any time you think that place is too much for you to handle on your own then come home immediately. I can go myself with greater numbers to conduct research if it is still needed."

She squeezed his hand and said, "I'll be alright, and any man that tries to force himself on me will feel the wrath of a great magister."

With that Cambren said his goodbyes and left her room. He found his way to the catacombs with an apparent leisure stroll. Down in the dank and darkened area Cambren found who he was looking for: lord Tarbeck. "Randal," Cambren said upon seeing him.

Tarbeck darted his eyes around swiftly, the only visible area in the catacombs was that made by Cambrens magic. "So then everything is in place now?" lord Tarbeck asked bluntly.

"Yes, Thrain, prince Rugal and, Garren will be off to climb the tower, leaving on the morning six days from now. I have sent my apprentice with them as well. To get her away from the chaos while we work."

"That's a shame she would have been invaluable to us in the times to come."

"Worry not, with the first knight, his squire, and the prince all gone from the kingdom our plans will follow through near flawlessly."

"And if something goes wrong then what?" Tarbeck asked nervously.

"Then we improvise and adapt. Remember we're doing this all for the good of the kingdom and all its people. We must not and shall not fail."

After finishing an early breakfast, Garren and Rugal dressed in brown ragged cloaks, pulling the hoods over their heads, before leaving the castle to walk down the city streets. "I assume we're going to see your paramour first?" Garren inquired during their walk.

"Yes," Rugal replied. "Iris is the first person I would go to for something like this, well after you or Thrain of course. Anyways Thrain only gave us a week to do this and I honestly have no one else. How about you?"

"I am sad to say I don't have anyone I know of well enough to call upon for this mission. I mean if Thrain and all his contacts were not enough to gather ten others, including us, then I doubt we can gather the rest in a week."

"I agree, and my father told me Thrain would have the team assembled in two weeks' time... doesn't that seem way off his character? He's never been the arrogant type and he should have known beforehand that it would probably take him at least a month to gather the exact people needed for this."

Garren thought about it before answering then said, "You're right it is out of his character. But if I recall he didn't want to go into the tower at all, at least not without sending various scouts in to see what we may be dealing with. Besides Jesebelle is pregnant and if I were him I wouldn't want to miss my first child's birth because I had to ascend that mysterious tower."

"Yes I suppose that does make sense, but I still don't like how odd he's been acting, regardless of his reasons."

On the west side of the city in district Celma, where the poorer folk lived, was a stable master who rented out his steeds and sold his silence. Martin he was, and if you wanted to get somewhere fast without anyone knowing you had left, he was the guy to go to. Although what he was doing wasn't entirely in accordance with the kings laws, Rugal let it slide because he often wanted to leave the city unaccompanied and silently.

Just inside the small stable hut Martin sat eating his breakfast. As his door swung open he grabbed the knife from his table and rose swiftly from his seat. Two brooding figures in brown tattered cloaks stood at his door way. "Put that down before I get mad and break that hand of yours." One of the hooded figures said.

As Martin tried to discern the recognizable voice the figure removed his hood revealing his face. Martin dropped the blade immediately and said in a quite tone so no-one would overhear him, "My apologies your highness."

Rugal and Garren stepped inside and closed the door behind them. "What's with you Martin? I have never before in my days seen you so, paranoid."

He offered them a seat and explained, "I have had a lot of customers coming to me since that dream everybody had. Some of em friendly enough but others, no some others were far more scary then people even round here I seen before. It's a little of my fault I suppose, there was more demand for horses then I had supply so I auctioned em off, in discretion of course, but not everyone was too happy about the prospect.

"After most of the horses were gone people started to fight over the remaining few and the guards had to come in and break it all up, they made me shut down my business entirely for a little while. Anyways when the guards finally went back to their normal routine of patrolling other more, wealthy, areas of the city I could open up again and had a couple more steeds to rent out; ones that had returned from the others.

"But as I said not all were too happy about the supply and demand so some of em got violent, fast. Few men broke in here trying to strong arm me but I chased em away, for now. Then just a few nights ago someone stole couple of me horses, woulda done away with more had I not heard the ruckus and gone out there to stop em."

"I fear trouble will befall many more the longer that tower remains," Rugal said. "But you know why I'm here; do you have any horses left?"

"Aye I always keep a couple of my best hidden away from the lot around here. How long you expecting to be gone with em?"

"Five days tops, I'll pay you in advance incase we're gone longer. We will need two horses, strong ones and fast ones; clean too."

"Yea I hear ya, as I said I have the best of my stock left, even raised them from young. They be my pride steeds so you be sure to take care of em and get them back to me in one piece. And don't let them find their way back home like the others would, I fear any loose horse would be immediately stolen even in the city walls."

With their business concluded at Martin's Rugal and Garren got their steeds, and with Martin's assistance, snuck out of the city. They rode west for a full day until they reached the great magister castle Les-Fyre. Home of the kingdoms greatest magister family the Zorfins, Les-Fyre was a castle built like a fortress. Standing atop a large hill its high arched walls reached eighty feet up, the only entrance a massive metal gate laid heavy with spells to protect it, and eviscerate potential intruders.

A silver bell hung from just outside the gate, Rugal removed his hood and rang it. Moments later a tall slender man with raven hair pulled tightly back into a ponytail came to the gate. He asked who it was and Rugal said, "It's prince Rugal, and his companion Garren Lockhart, we're here to see lady Iris."

The gatekeeper looked closely at Rugal and Garren (who had since removed his hood) then mutter an incantation and the gates began to open inward for them. Once inside the gates shut and they dropped off their horses. The gate keeper took the horses while Rugal and Garren moved forward briskly.

They walked on through the courtyards first two levels and stopped at the third; the entrance to the garden maze. The maze was set before the main building, and was covet thick with strong thorn vines entwined together and reaching about twelve feet up.

"Wait here for a moment so I can lead us through the shortcut, otherwise getting through will take us hours."

Rugal then took a couple steps inside and spoke loudly, "Terres Vor Kungar." With the last phrase uttered Garren could hear the vines in the maze shifting rapidly and moving about: it gave him goosebumps.

After that Rugal walked further into the maze when the sounds of it moving stopped and Garren followed right behind; his right hand cautiously placed on his sword. He kept an eye out for any suspicious movement (or any movement at all that wasn't their own).

Their trip through the maze was short but Garren had no idea how larger it was so for all he knew the 'shortcut' only saved them a few seconds. Regardless he was glad to be out of the maze and as they approached the castle's front doors he said, "I am glad I'm not a magister, this stuff is too spooky for me."

Rugal knocked hard on the great doors to the main building, and seconds later they opened up to a beautiful woman with flowing scarlet hair, and full lips. She was garbed in a special dress that outlined her slender body with a good sense of seduction but also opened her up to move freely without strain from the clothes. Rugal stepped inside and said in a half sarcastic tone, "Madam Madelyn, how good to see you."

She scoffed and said, "Likewise my prince," She then looked to Garren and said, "Garren Lockhart I presume?"

Garren bowed politely and said, "My lady."

Madelyn took another look over the two and asked, "And what is with those hideous cloaks? You two look like peasants in those things."

"That's the point," Rugal said. "We are here in secret, and haste, so as polite as I may please retrieve Iris for me."

Madelyn thought it over briefly and asked, "Yes you did send a letter saying you wanted to see her right away when you arrived. But may I know why you need to see her before I go retrieve her for you?"

Rugal stared her down coldly, he never liked Madelyn, nor did she like him. He knew if he wasn't the prince she would have tried to kill him long ago. But he was the prince and she had no right to make demands of him or refuse his. "No, you may not. And as I said before we are in a hurry so make haste.

Madelyn went to stall more (she loved irritating Rugal whenever she could since that was about all she could do given her position) when voice spoke out from behind her; half startling everyone. "My prince your visit is always a great pleasantry at our castle," Rugal and Garren turned to look at him. He was a handsome man, appearing in his forties wearing a trim silver robe. His hair was white as the snow outside and his eyes were a deep purple.

Right away Garren recognized the man, Terra Zorfin the kingdoms most powerful magister (most believed it was Cambren but that wasn't true). He was in line to the title of grand magister but turned the title down to be with his family at this castle. The Zorfin family name was carried over all the way from the great magic lands of Dorgal.

Suddenly all the powerful magic around the castle, the gate, and the maze all made sense to Garren, he hadn't know the prince's paramour was the Iris Zorfin. The young woman did well to hide her true identity and took more after her mother in terms of looks, and Garren never wanted to be rude and inquire about her family name.

"Terra, I'm so sorry for the sudden interruption-"

Terra held his hand up interrupting Rugal. "No it's alright, you are the prince you may come and go here as you please. Iris is in her room studying go see as you would. But please stay at least a day to rest properly, and let your horses rest, they must be exhausted too."

Rugal smiled and said, "You're a very gracious host we shall take you upon that offer Terra."

Terra bowed lightly and said, "It's my honor prince." Then with a dull flash of silver light he and Madelyn vanished.

Iris' door was a deep blue color with a dim luminescence to it. Rugal had removed his cloak and told Garren to do the same as he rolled it up and handed it to him. When their cloaks were off and behind Garren's back Rugal knocked at the door. A moment later the door opened revealing Iris behind it. She was very beautiful like her mother but had auburn hair and purple eyes like her father. She was in fit shape and wore a casual outfit of a long skirt and long sleeved shirt.

"Rugal!" Iris cheered and wrapped her arms around him as she went in for a kiss. Rugal did the same and they stood there kissing for a longer than Garren thought comfortable to be around. When they stopped Iris turned to look at Garren and hugged him too.

"What are you two doing here?" Iris asked, happy but surprised to see them.

"Actually it's about a mission this time, may we come in?" Rugal asked.

Iris moved out of the door way to let them in and shut it behind them. Her room was large with a feather bed in the center and the walls lined with bookshelves (All of them completely full). Most the books were for academic purposes but some for entertainment. She also had a couple large light blue desks both stacked with scattered papers and ink bottles. Her walls had numerous paintings of mystical animals, such as a unicorn or a sea serpent.

While Rugal and Iris took a seat on her bed to talk Garren pulled up a chair from one of her desks to sit in. He put the rolled up cloaks under the chair while Rugal spoke, "Well to be short and to the point we are climbing the tower to obtain the wish for the kingdom."

"Bleh that stupid thing, what need do you have of that wish, in a few short years when I completed my magister training here we can live together and we will have all we wished for already." Iris said, than she kissed Rugal some more.

He pulled away early and let out a sigh saying, "Well it's more than just that. Iris, the tower is siphoning the life from the land around its base. And every day it spreads a little further. We tried everything we could to destroy it but our best weapons and magic couldn't even scratch it.

"If the tower remains it might very well absorb all the life in this kingdom, perhaps this entire world. So we need to ascend the tower and obtain that wish to remove it. Or at the very least find a way to destroy it from within. So sir Thrain has been assembling a small team, including me and Garren, to ascend the tower. He's gotten most the members, people he knows and trusts but we're still short a few others."

"Yes I know all about the Devil Tower," Iris said. "My father has been spending many sleepless nights pouring over his older books in research of the tower. So far he has found nothing though; least to my knowledge."

"Well then it may be up to us to take care of things. Anyways this trip could be very dangerous and I can understand if you don't want to go."

Iris scoffed and said, "And miss out on my best chance to go on an adventure unlike any before? I think not, and besides I'm a Zorfin, which means I'm superior to you knights in every way."

Rugal grabbed Iris hands and said, "And I wouldn't have any better magician by my side then you my love." The two kissed some more until Garren cleared his throat loudly to remind them he was still there. "Well then now that you're in," Garren said. "We still need two more people that we can trust absolutely, but to be honest I don't know anyone more whom I can trust so well that isn't already joining us. How about you Iris?"

"Aside from my father no, and he'd be too busy to join us anyways. Who else besides us and Thrain are going?"

Rugal and Garren looked at each other then turned back to Iris, "Actually we don't know," Rugal said. "I'm assuming grand magister Cambren and his former apprentice Veera, perhaps Thrain acquired the ranger Adelin to join too but after that I cannot say."

The three of them then spent the rest of the day catching up with their lives, Rugal had already told Iris about his life during his monthly secret visits but Garren had not had a fair chance to speak with Iris about these things so he caught her up to present day in his life and she told them of the new spells she discovered and had been mastering, along with a couple minor demonstrations outside.

And as night came onto them Garren found his guest room meanwhile Rugal and Iris spent a long passionate night together in her bedroom, as they had so many times before. The next morning after breakfast they were set to leave, dawning their tattered cloaks once more. Iris meanwhile wore her battle dress, an enchanted set of clothes she designed herself. The dress was violet and blue with a dark green seven star symbol embroidered onto the back: her family sigil. And sewn around the arms and legging of the dress were dark green lines overlapping one another and curving into arcs at the joints.

The dress is designed to allow her to move completely free, much like her mother's dress. It also had protective spells woven into it, which served as her own personal armor. She designed it to nullify all known forms of magic, and reduce the sharpness of weapons and claws.

Their trip back to the capitol city took them two days, since they were no longer in such a large rush. They came in through the front gates very early morning, this time with their cloaks removed. Rugal and Iris went straight to the castle while Garren returned the horses.

When Rugal and Garren returned to the castle, claiming Iris to be their next member of the company, Thrain was little more than upset. As it turns out he had immediately changed his mind about the decision to ask Rugal and Garren to find another member, mere hours after he asked; but the two were long gone before he could take his decision back. They talked in his morning keep while Jesebelle was out for a stroll in the gardens.

"So what is it that you don't trust her or don't know her?" Rugal asked.

"Both," Thrain answered. "I understand that you know and trust her, Garren too, but it's her mother that's the biggest cause to worry about with her. Madelyn Zorfin has not always had the kingdoms, or her daughters, best interests at heart and it’s a well-known thing. How am I to know that Iris isn't accompanying us by order of her mother?"

"Okay first of all I am standing right here," Iris said joining into the middle of the argument. "Second I am not a puppet of my mother; unlike my sisters. And lastly I am here to aid, and be with, my lover during a dangerous mission. Rugal is to me more important than some Dumb wish."

Thrain glared at the two then said, "Oh now I get it you two are fucking and can't bear to be out of one another's bed for more than a few months tops. Well I am sorry to disappoint you both, but I will not jeopardize the success of this mission so you can play puppy love like some immature teenagers!"

Swiftly Rugal back hand slapped Thrain across the face hard. "If you ever question the honor of my love again then you best be prepared for the consequences. Because I will let no one, not you, not my father, not anyone question my love and its honor." Rugal had his left hand placed firmly around the hilt of his sword; he was prepared for the worst.

Thrain glared at him, and wiped the blood from his mouth, his lip had been cut during the slap. "Get out!" He said in command.

Iris and Garren left immediately while Rugal lingered back a moment to stare Thrain down. His eyes saying more than words ever could in that moment.

When they were a good distance away from the keep Garren said, "You both took that a little far, you and Thrain I mean."

Rugal stopped and looked Garren in the eyes and said, "Some times there is no limit on the distance you can go. One day me and Iris intend to marry and I will not have anyone questioning our commitment to each other."

"Well then I think we can all agree to avoid Thrain for a couple more days until we leave to the Devil Tower?"

At the same time Rugal and Iris said, "Agreed."

On the morning they left for the tower Rugal and Iris awoke and left before sunrise to leave ahead of them. Thrain decided that way was best to reduce suspicion from spying eyes. But the two knew he was still upset about what happened when they announced Iris would join them; and this was his way of keeping their distance for a little while longer.

Garren and Thrain left a few hours later with Veera in their company. She had the most trouble getting ready and was a bit of a nervous mess. Garren helped calm her down, as well as help her finish packing, for he too was nervous, but more anxious about the tower. After she was packed he managed to calm her down and since she never mastered the art of riding a horse she had saddled with Garren.

The three of them had caught up with Rugal and Iris just as the sun was setting low. They made camp for the night and set out at break of dawn the next day. When they finally arrived at the base of the tower they found a small encampment of a few others. Two tents were pitched and a small fire was kindled with the people hovered around it eating.

Rugal and Garren recognized right away the dark haired ranger, Adelin, among the group but had no idea who the smaller girl next to her was and the giant of a man across from them. Thrain rode up to them first and after a short word introduced everyone to Lessa, Adelins' apprentice ranger, and Curth the adventurer.

They all gathered around the campfire and shared a meal before they were to go into the tower. While they ate Curth entertained them with one of his adventures tales about how the boat he was on sank out on the ocean waters and he had to wrestle a shark trying to eat him. According to Curth he beat the shark into submission and rode it most of the way back to land where he continued on as if it hadn't even happened.

Of course the tale sounded absolutely ridiculous and unbelievable but stranger things have been known to happen. And Curth did have a row of numerous bite marks on his leg where, in his story, the shark tried to eat him. His tale was thrilling and his accent added a pleasant sound to it. And when they finished eating they packed their things and set the horses loose to return to the kingdom. For now it was time to begin their ascent of the Devil Tower.

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Copyright © © Jake Pendragon all rights reserved 2015

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