It was a dream. Callindra knew it was a dream because Glarian was standing at her side, one hand holding that monster Sakar over one shoulder and the other resting on hers. Even though it wasn’t real she felt like she could really talk to him and damn if she didn’t have some things to say. She opened her mouth to give Glarian the rough side of her tongue for running off or maybe to beg him to come back to her but he spoke first.
“How do you feel?” He asked, his voice rough with … was it concern?
“What do you mean Master?”
“You’ve had to defend yourself apprentice … you’ve killed and not just monsters now either.” He said, “So I was wondering how you felt.”
“Scared. Tired. Devastated. Exhilarated.” She turned and looked up into his face, her eyes sparkling, “Dangerous.”
“Oh you’re dangerous all right.” The concern was clear now, “Has the Weave been behaving? You’ve been keeping up with the Korumn?”
“Master … it’s OK. I’m OK. I practice every morning with the sunrise. We’re on a quest for-“
“Yes, I know. You’re looking for Gode. We’re all looking for Gode. If you find him, let us know.”
“Callindra?” She tried to focus on the voice, her vision swimming. “Hey, welcome back.” It was Tryst she realized.
“Thanks.” She was lying on the ground and staring up at a perfect sunset streaking across wispy clouds.
“You had me worried there for a moment. Usually the healing prayers work with more alacrity.”
“How long was I out?” She struggled to a sitting position, testing her limbs for stiffness and smiling at Tryst, “I feel as good as new, or almost anyway. It’s a miracle for real!” Most of the cuts she had gathered during the fight were healed to faded scars and her hands had a growth of new pink skin. Re-growing the swordsman’s calluses on them was going to be murder but at least she didn’t have to wait for the blisters to heal.
“You have only been unconscious for about ten minutes. Don’t push too hard yet, the euphoria is only temporary. Only half of the healing comes from prayer, the other half comes from your body.” He gave her an encouraging smile, “The real miracle is that your body knows how to heal itself in the first place; I just help it along.”
The clearing they were in was a sheltered bowl at the top of a tall hill. From here they could see the village of Vonlar below far in the distance. They could also make out a winding trail that made its way down the hills steep sides. The men had made a few rude buildings that blended into the landscape, one housed a few rather tired looking horses, another rough looking accommodations but the third and largest one had piles of boxes and stacks of supplies. Unless she missed her guess, Callindra believed they had found the missing goods stolen by the Kobolds and perhaps more.
“We should return to Vonlar and tell the villagers where they can go to recover their things.” Tryst said.
“Yeah, the sooner we clear our debt with these backwards muckdwellers the better.” Cronos muttered.
“I feel like we should get back to Tyreen.” Said Vilhylm, “She’s a Dryad, if anyone knows about legends like Elves she would.”
Callindra levered herself to her feet with a reluctant sigh. “I suppose we should at least get back to Vonlar… or maybe we could just stay here tonight. I mean it’s not like there’s anyone left to mess with us right? Besides, I don’t know about you but I’m exhausted.”
“No, we are all tired and that’s exactly why we must return to Vonlar before dark.” Vil said, “There we will be assured of at least some rest whereas here we would be forced to post a rotating watch.”
“I can see the village from here, it won’t take long.” Cronos said with unusual kindness, “He’s right, and the faster we get there the sooner we can all sleep.”
“Ok, ok…” Callindra sighed again and settled Brightfang more comfortably on her back, “Let’s go then.”
The sunlight blinked and flickered on the surface of the pool in what Callindra now thought of as Tyreen’s Grotto. Callindra was having a hard time staying focused on the conversation at hand, it was just too beautiful out. She couldn’t believe how fearless the wildlife was when the Dryad was around. Before, butterflies had landed on her, but now there were deer drinking from the pool and a mountain lion had even spent a half hour letting Tyreen pick burrs out of its coat and rub its belly.
“If you are looking for the Elves, you must go to the Grandfather Tree in the High Forest.” Tyreen said to Tryst. The big man sat in his gleaming white surcoat, not seeming to notice the small birds that were flying around him and occasionally landing on his shoulders. “I know very little of the things you seek, but I know the mistress of all Elvenkind resides there. The Goddess Jorda herself is there.”
This made Callindra sit up and take notice, “What? You say an actual Goddess lives there? I thought the Gods were…”
“Myths? Tryst asked, sounding amused. “Where do you think the magic that healed your wounds came from?”
“I… “ She didn’t have an answer that wouldn’t make her feel stupid, “I haven’t met a God before so it’s hard for me to think about them. Besides, knowing my upbringing it’s not too unusual. Either peasants like me believe absolutely in the Gods or we don’t. I happen to be of the second kind.”
“You don’t speak like a peasant.” Tryst replied, his eyes twinkling.
“You don’t seem like a priest.” She retorted, annoyed.
“Fair enough.” Said Tryst, laughing merrily, “I don’t feel much like those stodgy old codgers either.”
“So we’re going to the High Forest then?” Said Vilhylm with his usual abruptness.
“That’s a helluva long trip.” Cronos said with a frown.
“Well in that case, we should leave today. The sooner the better right?” Callindra said, standing and brushing the dirt from her pants.
“You seem to be restless young one.” Tyreen said, smiling at Callindra’s indignant look. “Why are you so hesitant to sit still?”
“I need to keep moving. The more I travel, the more likely I am to find my Master.” She said, not wanting to admit her fears, her feeling of abandonment or how useless she felt. To cover her consternation, she took her pipe from its water tight case and packed the bowl with tac, lighting it with flint and steel.
“Who is your Master?” Tyreen asked, and the others gave her confused looks. Callindra hadn’t brought him up before.
“He… taught me the Sword.” She mumbled around her pipe stem, “He wasn’t supposed to and now he’s in trouble because of me.”
“Ah, and you think you can help him?” Tyreen asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Well… I can’t…” Callindra blew out a cloud of smoke, frustrated that she couldn’t organize her thoughts better, “He’s out there with nobody to watch his back. I can’t just let him face the Inquisitors on his own.” Realizing what she had just said, she shut her mouth with an audible snap.
“By the nine hells…” Cronos said, looking at her with wide eyes. “You’re a rogue weaponmage. Do you have any idea what the price on your head is? The Order pays platinum for information on …” He trailed off, looking embarrassed.
“Of course we wouldn’t dream of turning a comrade in without knowing the whole story.” Tryst said, giving her a penetrating look.
Callindra sighed, why hadn’t she just kept her mouth shut? “He found me injured in the woods, took me in, cared for me and showed me nothing but kindness and respect no matter how often I showed him the rough side of my tongue. One day I saw him practicing and all but demanded he teach me. Of course it took me a long time to recover from my injuries, but he took me seriously and didn’t let me off easy.
“Then I guess I began to manifest powers he said I had to learn to control before they killed me. I didn’t know… but he did and he never asked me. He knew they’d come and try to kill us, but he taught me anyway. I owe him, and damn it he owes me! He should have told me.”
“Why was he exiled from The Order?” Vilhylm asked, looking dark and dangerous in spite of the brightness of the day.
“Because he wouldn’t kill someone I guess. I don’t care. If you could see him with his sword… there is no way someone who can dance that beautifully can be bad.” She knew there was a look of hero worship on her face and she forcibly hardened her features. “Besides, he saved my life. It doesn’t matter what someone says he did. When you face someone over a sword blade you get to know who they are.”
“So you expect us to just travel with you?” Cronos asked, “You should have told us.”
“Now Cronos, many of us have things in our past we would rather not reveal to certain authorities.” He raised an eyebrow, “Right?”
To Callindra’s surprise, Cronos blushed and looked away. She made note of that information for later use. Just in case.
“Look, I didn’t want to expose you to danger. That’s why I haven’t told you about it… I mean I had enough trouble keeping my own mouth shut. Secrets shared aren’t secret anymore.” She exhaled a stream of smoke from her nostrils, enjoying the rich flavor and letting the scent bring memories of her Master to the surface. “Glarian was a harsh master but also a real friend. I can’t bear the thought of him fighting for the both of us by himself.”
Cronos made a choking sound and even Tryst seemed shocked. “Glarian?” Tryst said, “You apprenticed to the Sol’Estin? The Master of the North Wind?”
“Um…. yes?” She had known that Glarian was extraordinary but hadn’t really thought much of it beyond the trouble she was causing him. “Is he really that famous? He seemed just like an old man living on his own in the woods…”
“He was the only member of The Order to ever escape their full punishment. The only member to ever leave their ranks with his title.” Vilhylm paused, “You really didn’t know? He fought in hundreds of significant battles and was credited for the victory on his side in almost all of them. Many of them were nearly bloodless with him simply defeating the general of the opposing army or his champion in single combat.”
“He’s a legend.” Cronos said, finally recovering. “My… teacher even mentioned him sometimes.”
“Where is he now?” Callindra asked, curious. “Your teacher I mean.”
“Dead.” The boy said flatly. She wisely decided to drop the subject.
“I think the girl is right though. We should leave today, there’s still plenty of daylight and we have a long trip ahead of us.” Said Vilhylm, standing and drawing his cloak about himself.
With that, they seemed to come to an agreement. The rest of them stood as well and Callindra felt her pulse rise, they were back on the road. Their time of rest was over, and she would be able to get back to fighting, training and getting stronger.