The Callindra Chronicles Book 3: A Fall of Stars – Chapter 17

They followed him through the crowds to a large building with a wide open porch that stretched across the entire side that faced the street.  A number of people sat at tables lingering over drinks and plates of food.  Callindra strictly reminded herself that she needed a bath first.

“Show me to the baths first if you please Master Castille.”  She said, offering him a small stack of gold coins.

“Your coin isn’t necessary Callindra.”  He said, “If you truly have a healer his services are what I require for a night’s lodging.”

Kain stepped forward with a compassionate smile on his face.  “I will do what I can Innkeep.  Please show me to the one who requires healing.”

Thadrick gave him a surprised look, obviously not expecting the hulking half orc to be the healer.  He led them through doors and down hallways to a room with a heavy locked door.  Taking a key from where it hung around his neck he opened the door and opened it.

The scene beyond was one of horror.  A young person sat in the center of the room clad in torn rags rocking back and forth.  The figure did not look up as they entered, but kept the rhythmic motion, hands occasionally clawing at the clothing and the skin beneath.

“She has been thus ever since her mother died.”  Thadrick said softly, “My poor Lillian is the one who saw her change.  Imagine seeing the love in a mother’s face turn to murderous rage.”

“I fear there may be little I can do for her sir, but I will try.”  Kain went to sit across from the girl, folding his muscular bulk into a sitting position across from her.  She ignored him, but after a few moments of sitting silently a gentle white light began to shine around him and a low rumbling chant rolled from his lips.

Callindra was surprised to hear him speaking in his native Orcish and had no idea what the words were but they had a marked effect on the girl.  Her rocking slowed and stopped, then she raised her head to look at him through a curtain of stringy hair.  Kain reached out a huge clawed hand and she tentatively rested hers on his palm.

The light began to creep from his hand to hers, gradually flowing over her until it surrounded them both.  Kain didn’t stop chanting, but the tone became lower and slower.  After a few minutes Lillian’s eyes closed and the strain and fear on her face slowly faded.  By the time Kain’s chant finished she was sleeping peacefully, stretched out on the floor.  The scratches on her skin were healed over and she breathed easily.

“Illimin has granted me the grace to take her pain.”  He said in a weary voice.  “I do not know if it will last sir, nor do I know if taking those memories will give her peace, but I have done what I can.”

There were tears streaming down Thadrick’s face and he wordlessly took Kain’s hand in both of his.  After taking several deep breaths he wiped his face, “You are welcome to stay beneath my roof as long as you desire.”  He choked out.  “I’ll ask my boys to have a lookout for your friend.”

He picked up his daughter and gently put her in a bed on the far side of the room.  She only made the slightest sound of sleepy protest as he did so.

“Much appreciated Thadrick.”  Callindra said, drawing attention away from Kain who was obviously uncomfortable with the man’s thanks.  “If you would be so kind as to tell me where I might find the baths?”

The innkeeper carefully closed the door on his sleeping daughter and moved back up the corridor.  He opened a door to a large room with an iron key on his belt and gestured them inside.  “Ring the bell for anything you need.”  He said, “My staff will provide you with the best we have to offer.”

The others ordered food while Callindra asked to be shown the baths.  She was soaking in luxury with a tumbler of ale on the stone ledge next to her when a figure slipped in nearly silently.  If it hadn’t been for the light breeze from the outside that accompanied his entrance she might never have noticed.

“Reed.”  She said in a conversational tone of voice.  “Didn’t see you at the gate.”

“What in th bleeding hells are you doin in here?”  Reed hissed, “Takin a bath?  You getting all girly and stuff while they’re out there plotting ta kill you an yer mates?  Startin with th one what’s rotting inna cell?”

“What I’m doing is keeping up appearances.”  She said calmly, taking a deep swallow of ale.  “This is what they expect.  Once the sun goes down, we’ll go and retrieve Holt.  When we find him the next morning they won’t have anything to say about it since they specifically told me they hadn’t seen him or imprisoned him.  In front of half a city’s worth of witnesses.”

“As if they cares a rats balls for witness.”  Reed said, “They does what they wants and nobody says boo cause if they do they’re next.  You gotta get him and scram afore they burn down th god rotting inn.”

“They won’t burn down the inn Reed.”  She said calmly rinsing the last of the soap out of her raggedly cut hair.

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The Callindra Chronicles Book 3: A Fall of Stars – Chapter 16

Callindra strode toward the gate, her armor freshly cleaned, her short hair held in place with wooden pins and Shadowsliver’s jet black length settled across her forearm in a nonthreatening posture.  She was flanked by her brothers; Cronos’s sword hilts bristling over his back and his ragged cloak swaying as he walked and Vilhylm shrouded by the rippling folds of his black cloak strode confidently on the other side.  The hulking form of Kain loomed behind her; his shock of green hair standing in its usual unruly bristle and his scimitar swinging easily at his side.

They must have made an imposing sight because the soldiers at the gate began to swing it shut.  Callindra twisted Shadowsliver through a set of complex motions and when she spoke her voice carried like thunder.

“Do not close the gate.  We come in peace, merely searching for our brother in arms.”  Instead of stopping, this only seemed to make them move faster.

With a curse, she called upon the Weave again, this time drawing the winds from inside the city in a sudden burst that tore the gates free of their grip and flung them wide.  The soldiers began scrambling for weapons and shouting for backup.  By the time they arrived at the gate they faced a forest of spear points.

“There is no need for this.”  Callindra said, disdain in her voice.  “If I wanted you dead you’d be dead.  I have no desire to fight against the living.  My quarrel is with the Taken.”

“Disarm and you will be allowed entrance.”  An imperious voice said from behind the soldiers.  “We do not allow hostile strangers to enter under arms.”

Callindra flipped Shadowsliver back to rest his blade against her left forearm, cradling his hilt in her hand and gesturing with her right to show the chain.  “I cannot put my weapon down.  I am bonded to him and he is tied to me.  Answer me this; has my brother Holt been captured by your guards?”

“I know of no person named Holt.”  The voice said, still sounding peevish.  “We have no extra for freebooting vagabonds, if that is all you wanted then move along before I have my men move you.”

“If you have wounded we have a healer.”  Callindra said easily as though she hadn’t heard his insults.  “If you still take gold or jewels in exchange for trade goods or services we would like to resupply before continuing on our journey.  Also, a night under a proper roof would be welcome as would a bath.  No establishment that we stay in need fear attack; we have fought many times and left only the rotting corpses of our enemies behind.”

At the mention of the healer, whispers rippled through the assembled guards and out past them to the small crowd that was beginning to gather behind them.  The more she talked, the more uneasy the guards became.

“You’re welcome to stay at my Inn lady.”  A jovial voice called from behind the rank of soldiers.  “We don’t have much extra, but we’ll spare what we can for one what can pay and give protection.”

“I am no Lady.”  Callindra said with a derisive snort.  “I will take you up on that offer innkeep.”  Without waiting for the soldiers to move, she began striding toward their spear points.  When the first she encountered was too shocked to down his spear she brushed it aside with an open-handed smack.  To her profound relief the others parted and allowed her to pass.

The man who faced her had clearly been much heavier at some point but now his extra skin sagged where it had once been supported by fat.  Nonetheless he appeared healthy enough and gave her a wide grin.

“Thadrick Castille at your service.”  He said, extending a hand.

“Callindra.”  She said, leaving off the rest of her name but taking his hand in a firm grip.  “I thank you for the offer of hospitality Master Castille.”

The Callindra Chronicles Book 3: A Fall of Stars – Chapter 15

Once Lorin had gathered the shafts he could, they made their way through the quiet streets, barely pausing to check at intersections before moving forward.  After a half candlemark, Lorin knocked on a nondescript door set in the side of a nondescript wall and there was slight motion in an upstairs window.  The door slid silently open a few moments later and they slid inside.

A beautiful young human boy waited just inside the door with a bowl of water.  Lorin took some and splashed it on his face.  After a moment, Durrak did the same, feeling the blood of the Abyssal creatures he’d slain boil off his skin as though burned with a torch.

“Holy water?  Where do you be getting holy water?”  He asked, slightly shocked.  “I no do be seeing such a thing for ages.”

“I am a vessel that fills with the Light.”  The boy said in a solemn voice.  “The Light always shines brightest in the darkness.  I am glad that you have come Master Caverstorm.”

“No do be calling me by that name boy.”  Durrak frowned.  “We have no been introduced and I no do be taking truck with gods.”

“My apologies.”  The boy said, “I am called Kris.  Your reluctance to face your fate has but small impact on that fate.  Meaning no disrespect sir.”

“We have had a tiring few days Kris.  Please let us in and to the baths.”  Lorin said, pushing the boy gently aside.  “I have little desire to watch you and this meat grinder of a Dwarf engage in a theological fencing match in the hall’s entryway.”

Durrak gave the boy a level look but followed Lorin through a passageway and down a flight of stairs to a large communal bath.  After undressing and sluicing as much of the gore and grime first off his armor and then off his body, he scrubbed his with harsh lye soap.  It burned as it came in contact with the myriad of cuts he had earned in the fight; it was a good feeling.   He rinsed again before wading into the steaming water of the pool to soak.

“You certainly managed to make a rapid impression.”  Lorin said, giving him a quizzical look.  “What was all that about?”

“I no do wish to talk about it.”  Durrak said, laying back against the wall of the bath and reaching for his cigar pouch.  He withdrew one and took a drag on it, reveling in the harsh bite of the bright blue smoke.  “Be asking the brat if you wish.”

“Has something to do with that dragon and your clan eh?”  Lorin asked.  “I shouldn’t have asked.  Pass me a cigar?”

Durrak grunted and took a strangely twisted cheroot from the pouch that immediately burst into a copper colored flame and passed it to the Elf.  Lorin gave the cigar a dubious look but took it anyway.

“Where do those come from?”  He asked, smelling the slightly acrid smoke suspiciously.  “Why are they always lit when you take them out?”

“The do be coming from inside the pouch.”  Durrak said with a wry grin, “They do be lit because it do be a magic pouch.”

“I saw you putting things in there though.”  The Elf persisted, “Why do you do that?”

“Nothing do come from nothing.”  He said with a shrug, “The Dwarf who I did trade tales for it did be saying putting things in did be making it interesting.”

Lorin took a drag and his eyebrows rose in surprise.  “It tastes … like the heartblood of the first deer I stalked and took myself and like honey and … memories.”

Durrak lay back against the wall of the bath and tried to relax.  First he needed to find Cerioth the Black.  Then if he couldn’t kill her he would die trying and after that it would be time to settle up with Thraingaar.  Either way he would be reunited with his family soon.