The Gauntlet Thrown - Chapter Thirty Four


Chapter Six 


Chapter Seven


Chapter Eight 


Chapter Nine


Chapter Ten


Chapter Eleven


Chapter Twelve 

Chapter Thirteen


Chapter Fourteen 


Chapter Fifteen


Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen


Chapter Eighteen


Chapter Nineteen


Chapter Twenty


Chapter Twenty One


Chapter Twenty Two

Chapter Twenty Three

Chapter Twenty Four


Chapter Twenty Five

Chapter Twenty Six


Chapter Twenty Seven


Chapter Twenty Eight


Chapter Twenty Nine


Chapter Thirty


Chapter Thirty One


Chapter Thirty Two


Chapter Thirty Three






As they topped out on a rise and finally got a good look at the ocean, Toryn looked upon the small town of Darii with no expression. It did not look like any seaside town he had ever seen. There were no seedy taverns along the waterfront and only three small ships bobbed at the dock.

“It seems to be thriving,” Toryn commented to Daryna. She did not, apparently, recognize the sarcasm.

“They support themselves by catching fish to trade for cattle. Once a year, all of the Thalarii gather here for a festival to worship Shahar and honor Thalar. Each tribal chief boards a ship and travels to the Isle of Tears to pay their respects to Ilyna,” she said, gesturing to the hint of an island barely visible across the water from Darii.

“Ilyna?” he questioned, vaguely recalling hearing the name from Haaryd. Thalar was the legendary founder of Thalarii—the Redolian founder of Thalarii, odd as that seemed. “Thalar’s wife? Why?”

“She is buried there.” Daryna shrugged, but Toryn could sense sadness in her voice. He knew she would not tell him the tale and he was in no mood to drag it out of her. He only nodded and touched his heels to Bloodsong; they galloped down to the small village. The center of town was not a marketplace, but a temple. It was made entirely of shining white marble. A carved representation of Thalar mounted upon Avani-tor-Shahar adorned the front steps of the entrance.

Toryn gazed up into the strong face of Thalar, founder of the Thalarii nation. The features of the statue reminded him of Morgyn. He wondered what his brother was doing at that moment. He banished the thought.

“Where do I find the ship captains?” he asked Daryna.

“If they are not aboard ship, then they will be in the Shipwrights’ Lodge.” Her tone was breezily condescending. “It was especially built for them. Many benefits are given to those who choose to work upon the sea. Thalar saw to that, so that there would always be ships to carry us to Ilyna’s resting place.”

Without another word, Daryna led them through the streets, waving at the handful of townspeople who paused to watch them pass. She rode to an imposing building near the waterfront.

“The Shipwright’s Guild,” she announced, dismounting. Toryn and Garyn did the same. Daryna smoothed down her braided hair and walked up the steps. Inside, they entered a large, well-furnished room with a huge fireplace that dominated the scenery. Two middle-aged men sat upon large pillows in front of the unlit logs. They stared at the low table before them, intent upon a game board. Both looked up as Toryn and his companions entered. Poodik had peered at the building distrustfully and remained outside.

“Greetings, Captain Kor, Captain Loryn,” Daryna said politely. Both men rose.

“Daryna, Chief-daughter! How fares Haaryd? What brings you to Darii? The festival is not for two months more,” said one. He looked shrewdly at Toryn and Garyn. “You have not come to wed, have you? Which of these is the lucky man?”

Daryna flushed to her toes, a sight Toryn was amused to see. He bit his tongue not to comment about the “lucky” part of the man’s statement. She glared at him as if sensing his thoughts.

“No, Kor. I have not come to marry,” she said coolly. “These men wish passage to Silver and I have come to request this of you, by my father’s command.”

Kor’s brows lifted in surprise. “Silver? No one ever goes there!”

“It is very important,” Toryn said.

The other man studied him for a moment and then spoke. “You are not Thalarii,” he said belligerently.

Daryna looked at him and smiled beatifically. “Why do you think we want them out of the country?” she asked sweetly.

“Are they criminals?” Kor asked, his attitude suddenly less cordial.

“No. Father even gave this one our best stallion.” She could not conceal her annoyance at that, but it had the desired effect.

“Bloodsong?! Haaryd gave you Bloodsong?”

Toryn nodded, feeling uncomfortable.

Kor sighed. “If Haaryd is willing to trust you with that horse, the least I can do is take you to Silver,” he said. “We will leave on the morning tide.”

“Thank you, sir,” Toryn said in relief. “What payment—?”

“Do not insult a Thalarii, youngling!” Loryn growled. “We do this for Haaryd as a favor and do not forget it!”

“What do you mean ‘we’?” Kor demanded. “It’s my ship!”

“Not if I win this game, it isn’t,” the gruff Loryn retorted.

Kor’s brows drew down. “I haven’t bet the ship, you old birdherder!” he yelped.

“You will.” Loryn snorted. “You will.”

As it turned out, Kor bet the ship and lost it, but Loryn graciously allowed him to stay on board as the first mate. So it was with much grumbling and swearing that Kor admitted the four of them—and the three horses—on board the next morning. Poodik, after one terrified look at the ocean, climbed rapidly to the top of the forecastle and stayed there, looking ready to jump ship and swim for shore as the slightest hint of danger.

Kor looked at him in disgust. “Is he going to stay up there the whole trip?” he asked.

“Probably,” Toryn replied pragmatically. The little Voor that had been so fearless in the deadly jungle was like a fish out of water beyond the borders of his homeland. Toryn did not know why Poodik continued to travel with them, but they had been unable to persuade him to return home. It was likely he feared that his countrymen would open his chest for helping them escape.

The ship swung about on the swells and headed for the Isle of Tears. Daryna had decided, much to Toryn’s outraged disgust, to accompany them to Silver “just to make sure they really did leave Thalarii”. An hour’s worth of arguing had not swayed her.

They were only at sea one day, just past the Isle of Tears, when Toryn found himself on top of the forecastle with Poodik. He felt gloomy, largely because the sky was overcast and grey. Poodik chattered, as usual, and made gestures with one hand. His other held the railing in a death-grip.

Toryn heard his name and looked around for Garyn. The Bodorii man stood with Daryna and Kor by the railing on deck, paying Toryn no mind. None of them looked at him. He shrugged and decided he had imagined it.

Toryn? It came again, louder. He scowled and swiveled his head once more before he realized the voice was in his mind.

Who is this? he sent in surprise.

Toryn! I thought I would never reach you!

BRYDON?! Toryn launched himself to his feet as he shrieked the name both aloud and mentally.

Yes, I—

“You’re alive?” Toryn yelled as he threw himself off the forecastle, almost breaking his neck in the process. He flung himself at the railing. YOU’RE ALIVE!

Brydon laughed, a warm sound that filled Toryn’s mind and senses. His throat tightened with emotion.

Yes. Reed tried—and nearly succeeded in killing me, but not quite
, Brydon returned. Where are you?

I was in Thalarii, but now I’m on a ship. Garyn and Poodik are with me because Garyn finally tired of Sellaris and Poodik helped us to escape and I cannot believe you’re alive!
he babbled.

Brydon laughed again. I see we have much to talk about when you get here.

Where are you? Are injured?

I’m better now. Healing. I’m still in Tyvestyn, but I’ll be leaving for Ven-Kerrick soon. Reed has Shevyn and I have to get her back. Thank Adona I reached you. Davin went looking for you. I’ll try to contact him next.

Toryn could not believe his words. You are still in Tyvestyn? How can that be? You could never send so far!

Things have changed. It isn’t easy, though. You are on the water?

Yes. Heading for Silver.

I will try to contact you again later. Thank Adona you are safe
, Brydon sent, a bit weakly.

And you, Toryn sent with feeling and then the Falaran’s presence was gone.

Toryn slowly became aware that Garyn and the others stood near him, looking worried. He smiled at them dazedly, almost giddy with joy. He hugged Garyn gleefully and began to laugh, softly at first, and then stronger until his sides ached unmercifully. He clung to Garyn, laughing and hiccoughing while they all stared at him as though he had gone completely insane.

At last, spent of emotion, he sent one last prayer of thanks up to Adona and then staggered down to get some sleep. It was not until he woke at midnight that he realized he had forgotten to ask Brydon about Alyn.

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