Castle Roland

Sands of Time

by Roland

In Progress

Chapter 18

Published: 9 Mar 15

Sands of Time

Copyright © 2014-2017 by Roland
All Rights Reserved

"Are we really gonna meet the Darkie?" Aegir asked his father with excitement. Excitement that was still tinged with a bit of fear, this was a Drow after all, but Father had said that the Drow was different from any of the stories they had heard before, that he was nice and kind. Aegir adored his father, and anything that man said was more then enough for the twelve-summers-old boy.

"Just remember to be on your best behavior... all of you." Falan said as she looked down at her son, and two daughters.

"Of course Mother," one of the girls said. To anyone else the girls were interchangeable since they were identical twins. Even at nine summers, their family could easily tell them apart.

Gradon, their father and Captain of the Guard in the city of Welleger, had been invited by the group to dinner. This was something that he really wanted to do, since he had so many questions about this strange group of kids.

When they got to the inn, the first person they met was Malachi. He was checking over the new wagons. Aegir couldn't help but giggle at what Malachi was saying. Not that the boy had a clue what the Dwarf was actually saying, but the tone the boy used was more then enough.

The boy's giggles drew Malachi's attention and he looked up seeing who was standing there. Immediately, Aegir lowered his head, and stepped a bit behind his father. Gone was the giggling boy now that someone's attention was on him. Malachi said something, that no one understood, then stopped, and looked around. He called to someone, and the family looked over to see a small Halfling girl come jogging over. They talked for a moment, and then they all watched as she cast a spell on the Dwarf. The females of the family took a step back, but Gradon did not, and Aegir was not about to leave from behind his father.

"Ah, that is much better." Malachi finally said as he looked over the group. "Captain, it is good to see and your family here. I hear you are to join us for dinner this evening?"

"That we are." Gradon said with a smile. "I am, of course, off duty now, so I would ask that you call me by my name, Gradon."

"As you wish." Malachi said with a smile. Then looked over at the two girls. "And who might these two lovely young ladies be?" Causing them to both giggle madly.

"These are Kiesha and Tiesha." Gradon said with a grin. "This is my wife, Falan, and my boy Aegir." The man said as he pushed his son out from behind him.

"It is an honor to meet you all." Malachi said as he motioned towards the inn. "Why don't we go in and sit down. Xavier has rented out the main hall tonight, since there will be many of us having dinner this evening." The family then followed the halfling girl into the inn, with Malachi bringing up the rear.

Once they were inside more introductions were made, as the Captain and his family met everyone else that was around, save for Xavier and Garnet, who were assisting the beggar family in bathing and dressing, as well as looking over the middle boy's injury. Syth, likewise had not arrived yet. He and Killian were making one last check of Mablin's wagons to make sure everything would be ready for them to leave first thing in the morning.

"Please feel free to sit, and order drink, you are our guests tonight." Thane said as he shook hands with the Captain, and then his son, although the boy would not really make eye contact or focus on anyone other than his father. Lucas, Olpha, and even Mablin went around offing to cast spells on people to make sure they could understand what was being said, no matter who was speaking. The Captain's family was hesitant, until Gradon nodded and let the small Halfling girl cast the spell on him. Once he did the rest of the family quickly allowed the spell to be cast.

"Sir.... I mean Thane." Gradon said, correcting himself, when he remembered that these people did not like titles and formalities. "With everything that has happened so far, I hope you will at least be able to come away with a somewhat favorable opinion of our fine city, and its people."

It took all of Thane's royal court training to keep a straight face as he thought about his response. Finally, he decided to do as he felt he should, try and keep things as close to the truth as possible, but also not insult the man. "One thing I will say, is that your ways are very strange to us. As I am sure Mablin can attest that he has, many times, had to explain what to others would be simple concepts."

"Really?" Gradon said intrigued. "Would you be willing to give me an example of what you mean."

"By the Gods... here we go..." Mablin muttered with a grin as he grabbed his ale and downed it. Immediately upon setting it down, one of Thane's 'servants' was there to fill it up.

"I would be happy to!" Thane said almost a bit too eager. He began on a rant, and although it was not an angry rant, everyone could tell how passionate he felt about it. "Take the twins that sit on either side of me. Before we got here, they were living in an orphanage that, frankly, was only one step up from a dungeon. They were being punished for a crime not of their own doing, and no one seemed to care. Where we hail from, anyone who treated a child that way would be flogged at best. Children are, after all the next generation. They need to be taught, they need to be nurtured, they need to be guided to become even better than the adults around them. For only then can a society improve itself. All adults have a responsibility... no a DUTY... to help every child that you can so that they may become better than what you are now. I simply can not imagine how a society that simply turns a blind eye to the difficulties of others can be said to be, in any way, civilized."

Gradon and his family sat there in shock, even the twins understood some of what he said, and knew that it was not something that they had even thought about. Finally though Gradon was able to find his tongue. "Okay... I can somewhat understand that.

"One thing I have often wondered though, where exactly are you all from?"

Thane was saved from having to answer that question as Garnet led the beggar family into the room. The youngest girl was absolutely radiant wearing a cute little dress. The rest of the family was equally dressed in what most people in this land would have thought of as very good clothing. The very fact that all of them had shoes on their feet was something that they have rarely felt, and certainly not since they lost everything.

Introductions were made, and it was then, once Gradon figured out who these people were, that he started to get a clue as to what Thane meant. Being captain of the guard, he made it his responsibility to know as much about as many people as he could. He knew the story of Gare, and his accident, as well as the parents spending everything they had, including giving up their small home, to pay for the Healthman to fix the boy up as much as he could.


Gradon looked on as the family moved out of their small hut. He truly did feel sorry for them. When the younger boy was injured the family never hesitated, but in the end they did lose everything. However, looking into the man's eyes as they took what little they could not sell off to pay the Healthman, he knew the man would not have made any other decision.

As the man walked past him, Gradon reached into his own pouch and pulled out two silver pieces. "I admire what you have done friend." He said as he pushed the two coins into the man's hand. "I am sorry things turned out this way."

End Flashback

Gradon shook off his memory as introductions were made. It was once again surprising that a group of children could be this... 'polished'. That the best word he could use for it. He had come from a well off family, and it was not until he was much older, that he spoke the way these children did.

The other thing he noticed while watching them was how they didn't care what caste the person was. Never before had Gradon seen an obvious member of royalty, Thane, give up his seat for a beggar woman. But that's exactly what he did. Even having a beggar in the same room, let alone sitting at the same table as someone of such a higher caste just wasn't done.

This was just one more thing that confounded Gradon. Made him want to learn about where these children were from, and most importantly why they were really here.

Once the table settled down some, Gradon began to ask his question again. "So tell me, where are you all from?" He saw some of the kids look at each other, and he knew they were trying to figure out how to answer, when a high pitched scream came from right beside him.

Had things been different Gradon would have been seriously impressed by the kids. They didn't look around until each and everyone of them had drawn a weapon. Had he not been a man who grew up in the military, he would have missed the fact that everyone of them moved to protect one of the ones that could not fight. Even his family was protected. Of course his attention wasn't really there. His attention instead was drawn to the boy who was sitting next to him, well at this point was behind him, shaking like he had just seen a demon. "Aegir! What is wrong?" Gradon demanded, as he too found he had a small dagger in his hand, one he never remembered drawing.

"Gh...ghost..." The boy trembled as he spoke, but still spoke loud enough to be heard. They followed his eyes, and they landed on Syth. The Drow had just walked into the room moments before Aegir screamed.

Gradon relaxed with an audible groan, while Falan looked at her son with barely restrained anger. "AEGIR! How many times have we told you not to make things up like that! Especially here!"

Gradon turned to Thane and while embarrassed, explained, "I am truly sorry about my son, he sometimes makes things up. If you will excuse me, I think I should take him home. And have a discussion about his acting up in public."

"Please wait." Xavier said. His eyes had never left the boy’s, after he had made sure there was nothing about to attack them. All eyes were now on him as he watched the clearly terrified boy. Xavier then looked at Syth, and allowed his eyes to get a bit distant. "Aegir, you are seeing something that is sitting slightly above and beyond Syth, my Drow friend. Is that correct?"

"Yeee... yes..." He stuttered out, not pulling his face away from his father's back.

Xavier nodded to himself. He knew everyone was full of questions, but he also knew that he could not explain a lot. At least not while things were the way they were. He thought for a brief moment, then turned to Mablin. "My friend, I am sorry to trouble you. However, can you cast a spell that will allow none outside of our group to hear what is being said."

Mablin looked at him strangely for a moment, but he knew when something was afoot, and right now, he was very curious as to what these strange children were going to do next. He reached into his pouch and pulled out his book. He flipped through it for a brief moment, and then started to cast. When it was done, everyone in the group, even the mundane, felt the magic as it took effect.

"Thank you Mablin." Xavier said then turned and looked again at Syth before he cast his own spell. Everyone in the group was able to hear the pain filled howl that erupted when Xavier was done casting. Aegir in particular seemed to echo the scream, yet his was more filled with fear, as the scream seemed to cut right through him.

Once the echoes faded, Xavier turned and looked at the cowering boy. "Aegir, if you look now, you will see the ghost is no longer there." The room was silent as Aegir worked up the courage to peek out from behind his father and look over at Syth. The boy visibly relaxed and almost smiled before he once again hid his face.

"You mean he actually did see a ghost?" Gradon asked, visibly shaken by what just happened.

"Yes, yes he did." Xavier said as he relaxed and returned to his seat, after putting his own weapons away. "Tell me, since I do not believe that Aegir is able to speak for himself, has he seen ghosts before?"

Falan, who was also shaken, but now looking at her boy differently, spoke up first. "Yes. Well we did not believe that he actually saw anything, but he would often say things about seeing scary things. He would refuse to ever go to the arena, once he got a bit older. We... we always thought he was just making things up. Are you saying that he was not?"

"Yes, Madam, that is exactly what I am saying. The reason he would not go to the Arena is simple. Every time that someone died, he watched the spirit as it left the defeated's body. And if I do not miss my guess, before the spirit was pulled into the spirit realm, it would see your son and try to attack him."

Everyone gasped, except for Aegir and Xavier's group. Gradon turned the boy around, and pulled him into his lap, after sitting back down himself. "Is that true Son?"

Aegir was openly crying now, and could only nod his head, making his father hang his head in shame, yet hug him closer. Falan though, she turned to Xavier, and spoke in the way only a mother who is protecting her child could. "Do you know how to help him?"

Xavier looked confused at her for a moment before he spoke. "Yes... train him."

Gradon's eyes shot up and looked hard at Xavier. "But he is not trainable. When we had him tested they said he had some Shaman Magic in him, but not enough to be worth training."

"What?" Xavier couldn't help but laugh out. "Of course he is not trainable as a Shaman. He is NOT a Shaman!"

"Then... what is he?" Gradon asked perplexed.

"He is a Spirit Warrior!" Xavier said as if it should have been obvious, and to him it should have been.

However, as he looked around, he saw that everyone that was from this time period did not seem to know what a Spirit Warrior was. Even Lew and Mablin were looking at him strangely. "What is a Spirit Warrior?" Gradon asked slowly. "I have seen every type of trainable being, and I have never once heard of a Spirit Warrior."

It was Xavier's and his friends turn to sit there stunned. "Never heard of them?" Xavier asked in bewilderment. "They work very well with Shaman. Spirit Warriors are able to slide in and out of the Spirit Realm almost at will. They are the primary weapon against the undead. How can you not have heard of them?"

"I am sorry my friend." Lew spoke up. "But even where I am from, I have never heard of such a being."

"You... you mean there is not something wrong with me?" Aegir asked as he pulled his face away from his father's chest, and finally looked at Xavier, yet even Xavier could tell the boy was trying not to focus on him, something that Xavier was very grateful for.

"Other than that your training should have begun many years ago, no." Xavier could not help but smile as the boy relaxed and put his head back on his father's shoulder and sighed. A great weight had just been lifted from his shoulders.

Xavier then turned to Cael and spoke. "I am sorry good sir, but the healing of your child will have to wait a few days. I do think that tonight we will be too busy, and both your boy and Aegir will need to start their training."

"He be trainable?" Cael gasped out, while Gare sat there open mouthed.

"Yes… yes he is." Xavier said while shaking his head. "I am going to assume he was never tested?"

"No… never had the coin 'nough ta do it."

"Well then…" Xavier said as he looked at Gare. "Perhaps we will have to look at getting you some training. Assuming there is an Enchanted Archer Teacher around here."

"A what?" Mablin asked slowly.

Xavier looked across at Mablin, then allowed his head to fall to his chest. "Another one…" He sighed out. "Another lost field…" Xavier raised his head, then looked around at his friends who all nodded. Finally he looked at Gare and Cael. "If you wish then, we will train him."

Gradon shook his head in confusion. "Where are you guys from?" He asked with a bit of frustration coming through his voice. "Please…." He said when he saw Xavier about to speak. "I know that young Thane here is known as a Royal, and I know he has said that his father is looking at opening up trade with our city here, but it does not make sense. I know all the areas around here, and none of them have an Elf as the Duke. It also does not make sense that you would choose Welleger as a trading point, when Junsac is much larger. You all are very good at what you are doing… too good it seems."

He paused as he took a drink from his mug trying to order his thoughts. "Professionally, I really do not care who you are, or where you came from. You have not caused too much trouble for the city, and have done things that I wished others would have done. So anything that you tell me will go no further. However as a father, you have told me that my son is not only trainable, but his actions, that have gotten him into so much trouble in the past, was not from an overactive imagination, or from simple disrespect. You are telling me he is trainable in a field that I have never heard of before. How is it that you know these things?" He said shaking his head.

All eyes turned to Xavier to see how he would answer. Xavier took a moment to drain his own mug, then waived to Thane's 'students' to fill up the mugs of everyone at the table. The time it took for all the drinks to be refilled gave him time to order his thoughts.

"Sir, you are correct, and I humbly apologize for our deception. I will tell you part of our story, but I am afraid I am not able to tell you all. Not because I do not trust you. You are one of the few people who have looked past what your eyes see, to see us as something more than a group of kids. I saw in your eyes, when the match was made with Syth, you did not like it. Not because you saw a Drow fighting your guard, but because you saw a child." Gradon nodded, but did not speak.

Finally Xavier sighed and took another sip of his ale. "As I said, I can not tell you the full story, just like I am sure Mablin has figured out there is more to us than what we have told him. The best thing I can say is that we are from a city far to the west of here. A city called Sand Storm."

"Sand Storm?" Gradon asked in shock.

"Yes. I know to those not from there, it is known only as a place of the Undead, however, that is where we came from. We have not had contact with the outside world for thousands of years, which is why so much seems strange to us. The way you treat children being one of them. Where we come from, everyone needs to fight, to better themselves so that we can all survive." He glanced at Mablin and gave a weak smile of apology.

"We can not understand everyone not working together to try and help each other. It is almost as if many people enjoy being downtrodden, enjoy being seen as better than everyone else, just because they got lucky in how they were born. That is completely alien to us. Do you have any idea how much better this town would be if everyone started to try and help each other out, not just give them handouts, but to actually help them?"

Xavier let out a long sigh. "Sorry. It is not my place to tell other people how they should live."

Gradon sighed and nodded. "What you speak of sounds grand, but… well… it is also, to use your own word, alien to us. Perhaps in the future things can get better."

"I only hope so." Xavier said softly, then turned and looked at the two boys who had just found out that they were trainable. "So, tell me about yourselves…."

Well before dawn of the next morning, everyone was outside working on loading personal items and securing the wagons. Mablin was able to buy a replacement wagon for the one he sold to Xavier, and was loaded down rather well for the trip to Junsac. Even with everything that had happened in Welleger, Mablin was very happy with his time in the small city.

Xavier on the other hand was somewhat concerned. They came into the hamlet with one wagon, and were about to leave with eight. One wagon holding the locked chests that contained the group’s weapons and armor, as well as Malachi's new traveling forge. Five wagons that held trade goods. The final two were holding the personal items of the people that they 'picked' up in Welleger. He had to deal with more than a few people who wanted to 'hire on' to his caravan. Thankfully he did not need any of them. Between Malachi, Thane's four new students, Cael, his oldest son Eleg, and Olpha, they had all the wagon drivers they needed.

They were also able to purchase a few decent horses, so that Lew and any of the others that wanted to ride could. It was also a good thing to move all the supplies that came with them, onto wagons, and use the huge pack animals they brought with them as draft horses. However, the main thing that concerned Xavier was how big their group had become, and how slow they would have to travel.

On top of those offering to help drive the wagons, Xavier had several people offering to hire on as 'swords'. Xavier had to ask Mablin what a 'sword' was, and almost choked when he found out that they were mundane people often hired to guard caravans. Xavier almost argued until Mablin reminded him that 'swords' were cheaper to hire than trained beings. Xavier just shook his head and walked away, muttering under his breath. Mablin couldn't help but laugh at that, as he got back to work getting his own caravan loaded up.

Finally, about an hour after the sun rose, the two large caravans started to move towards the gate.

Syth sat on top of his War Steed, riding next to the wagon that held their gear. It was nice not having to ride inside the back of the wagon. They had only left the market when Syth first heard his name being called. Well at least the name that had been given to him. "DARKIE!" He heard called out; when he looked he saw a group of young children waving to him. They still would not get close, as he could still see the fear they held towards him, but he seemed to have gained a bit of a celebrity status.

He tried hard not to scowl at them, as even more and more people called out to him and waved. He was very much bothered by the way that he gained notoriety, simply because of how messy he was able to kill the guard in the arena match. Deep down inside, it actually made him a bit ill to think about.

When they finally reached the gate, Syth was finally able to smile. He waved at Felix who was standing there with a large sack, and two large trunks. When they stopped, Syth jumped down off his War Steed and walked over to the boy with a grin. "It is good to see you again." Syth said as he clasp wrists with Felix. "I see the wench’s mother agreed to the terms?"

"That she did, although you should have seen how many shades of red her face turned. I swear she may have been trying to lay a curse on you." The boy said with a giggle as he reached into his belt pouch and pulled out a small bag. He glanced around to make sure no one was paying close attention as he handed it to Syth.

Looking inside the bag Syth nodded as he saw the coin inside. "Come on." Syth said as he reached down and grabbed the large sack. "Let us get your stuff in the wagon, and get rid of a major pain in my ass." As Syth walked back to the wagons, he called called out, "Thane! Can you have your new 'students' grab Felix's trunks, and put them in the last wagon, we left it mostly empty for him."

Thane nodded to the four boys, who jumped off their wagons and ran over to where the trunks sat. Carefully they picked them up and followed Syth and Felix.

"Would you like to ride in the wagon, or on a horse? We have extra horses if you would prefer to ride." Syth asked as he hefted the sack into the back of the wagon.

"Truthfully, both I think. When I am not working on something in the wagon, I would like to ride." Felix asked as he looked around the back of the mostly empty wagon with a nod. He made sure that his trunks were carefully placed in the back, and properly secured. He may not have much, but some of the stuff he had did not take well to bouncing around.

"That's fine." Syth said as he took Felix by the arm then walked to a different wagon. Opening the back, Felix saw Teasha sitting there looking absolutely miserable. He couldn't help but laugh when he saw the large chain that was locked to the side of the wagon, and went up to the collar locked around her neck. She started to open her mouth to speak, but snapped it closed when Syth raised his eyebrows.

"So Wench… while I was planning on selling you to some brothel in Junsac, I really did not want to deal with your pitiful whining the whole way there. It seems that no one here was willing to buy you either. Seems you have a reputation that makes you rather… unwanted. Finally though, we came to an understanding. You were sold back to your mother for a price that was much higher than I thought you were actually worth. I mean really five copper pieces is way more than what a whining quiter like yourself is worth. Thankfully Felix here was kind enough to offer to join up with our small group. His skills will be more than enough to make up for what I will lose by leaving you here."

Syth reached up and unlocked the chain that was anchored to the side of the wagon. He then pulled her out of the back of the wagon, and handed her the chain. "Now, go run back to Mommy." She was about to say something when Syth took a menacing step towards her. She quickly shut her mouth, backed up, turned and started to run. Syth let her run for a few seconds before he shouted loudly. "WENCH! HERE! The copper your mother paid was way too much! I would not feel right taking what little coin she has to pay for someone like you. She will surely need it to try and make up for the disappointment you are!" With that he threw the bag of coin towards her. He turned and walked back to his horse before he knew if she caught it or not. He didn't really care.

Meanwhile at the front of the caravan, Xavier watched as Mablin moved through the gate. Just as he was about to follow, he heard his name being called. He looked over and was surprised to see the Captain of the Guard, the man they had dinner with the night before, sitting on top of a horse. It only took Xavier a moment to notice some odd things. First off, he wasn't wearing the uniform they had always seen him in. Secondly, he had his entire family with him, and finally, his wife was driving a wagon that seemed to be loaded down heavily.

Xavier hopped down from the wagon and walked over to where the man sat atop his horse. "Gradon. It is good to see you this fine morning. What may I do for you?"

Gradon smiled as he dismounted. "I heard that you refused to hire any swords to help guard your caravan."

Xavier chuckled while shaking his head. "Bluntly sir, they would have been more trouble than they are worth. I can't get used to the idea of hiring mundanes to guard a caravan full of trained beings."

"Born out of necessity lad." Gradon said with a grin, then it faded. "However, if you have room for another wagon, and a Teaching Level Warrior Adept, I and my family would like to join you."

Xavier's eyes went wide. "We would love to have you, but… what about your position here. Not to mention what we will be doing is beyond dangerous. Are you sure you want to bring your family into it?"

"Well, I still do not know what it is that you are all planning…" He held up his hand to stop Xavier who was about to speak. "Nor do I want to at this point. I know you have many secrets that will be shared when you feel the time is right. However, the main thing that I do know is that you are the only one that I know that can possibly train my boy. That above everything else is reason enough for us to join you."

Xavier thought about it for a moment, then extended his hand. When they clasped wrists, Xavier nodded and grinned. "Welcome then."

Moments later the very large caravan left the city of Welleger, heading to the even larger city of Junsac.

The Gnome Smith walked out of the back of his shop when he heard the bells ringing. He almost sighed when he saw a small Human child standing there looking very nervous. "What be this Dagger?" He asked his guard with a slightly annoyed tone.

"This one say he be paid to deliver you somethin." Dagger said simply, then continued. "He say it be from the Dwarf lad."

Nodding the Gnome stepped towards the Human child. "What you have?"

The child, trembling from fear took a small package from under his arm and held it out to the Gnome. "Dwarf boy say you not to forget him. He pay a silver to make sure you get this after theys leave."

Curious now, Davnan, the Gnome smith took the package from the boy with a nod. The boy then spoke up again. "He also tell me that I should wait and see what else yous needs."

Davnan nodded absently as he moved over to his work counter and set the package down. He started to unwrap the cloth bundle wondering what the Dwarf boy had sent him. The first thing he was able to notice, even before it was fully unwrapped was that it was a dagger of some sort.

The next thing that Davnan saw was a piece of parchment wrapped around the hilt of the dagger. However, when he caught sight of the blade he gasped in shock. He felt his knees go weak and had to grab the countertop to keep his feet. "Davnan?" Dagger said with concern as he stepped closer.

"By the Gods..." He whispered out, before turning his head to shout over his shoulder. "ALBEN! Get out here!"

A moment later the Smith Apprentice and Gem Worker came out from the back, wiping his hands on a towel. "Yes Teacher?"

Davnan couldn't speak at the moment, so he just nodded towards the blade sitting on the cloth wrapping on the counter. Alben stepped closer and looked down. It took him a moment to realize what was sitting there, but when he did, he stumbled back and fell onto his backside. "Eldwar..." He breathed out.

Dagger's eyes shot open wide as he stepped closer and looked down at the dull colored blade. "This be Eldwar?"

"By the Gods, it is." Davnan said, still in shock. With shaking hands he reached out and reverently touched the blade, before taking the note off it. Opening it up he looked at the characters on the parchment and shook his head again.

"What it say?" Dagger asked, not used to being this shocked.

"It's an old form of Gnomish..." Davnan said softly as he tried to piece the words together. "It say, 'My apologies for the blade not being of the best quality, this was my first successful attempt to make Eldwar Steel. I am giving it to you in appreciation for the quality of your work, and the fair treatment you gave us. I would also ask that you take the messenger into your shop as an apprentice. I feel he would do well under a Teacher such as yourself.

'Thank you my friend, and perhaps, if the fates allow, we shall meet up again, and if you wish, I would be willing to teach you the art of forging Eldwar.'

"It is signed"


"Killian. Would you join me up here please." Mablin said as they were traveling down the road. They had left Welleger several hours before, and that entire time, Mablin's mind has been pondering what to do with a newly freed slave.

"Yes Master." Killian said as he climbed up from the back of the wagon, and took a seat next to Mablin.

"No… it is not Master anymore." Mablin said with a sigh.

"Sorry…" Killian said with a lopsided grin. "I had just gotten used to that."

"No worries my boy." Mablin reached over and ruffled the boy's hair. "However, we do need to figure out what to do with you now."

"What… what do you mean?" Killian's voice was now tinged with fear.

"Do not worry. But as a free being, you now have to opportunity to decide for yourself what it is you wish to do with your life."

"You mean I can't stay with you?" Killian's voice was almost quivering. Yes, for a time he truly hated Mablin for what the man had done. Then he realized that Mablin could have been worse, much worse. Now, he actually was thankful that Mablin had taken him for a slave. Even though he could not say that yet, he knew, deep down, that it was true.

"That is not what I said. However, with you no longer being a slave, you can no longer call me Master." Mablin was almost cursing himself. Perhaps traveling with this weird group of children was not a good idea, it was starting to make Mablin soft.

Killian was silent for several minutes, trying to come to terms with being free, after having just come to terms with being a slave. He was desperately trying to figure out a way that he would be able to stay with Mablin and his new friends. A smile broke on his face as he turned towards Mablin. "May I call you Teacher then?"

Mablin smiled a soft smile as he patted the boy on the knee. "Yes… yes you can."

Garnet nodded to the rest of his group, then moved up the wagon train till he got to the wagon that Gare and the rest of his family were riding on. Thankful for the amulet around his neck, he was able to speak to the entire family. He still found it somewhat amusing to see the entire family first try to back away in fear since he was a Dragonling, but then the father, Cael, forced a smile and spoke. "Whats can wes do for yous mastr Dragon?"

Forcing himself to not cringe at the butchering of the man's words, Garnet smiled himself, which of course made the little girl shrink back further, due to all the teeth being exposed. "Good sir, just you and your family coming along is more than enough for what you can do for me. No, now it is time for what I can do for you, specifically for Gare."

Garnet then turned his attention to the young human boy and spoke directly to him. "If you will accept me, I would like to be the one to train you as an Enchanted Archer. While I am not one myself, I have known many, and the basic idea behind them is close to what a Warrior Adept does."

Gare seemed to hesitate for a moment before he spoke. "So yous not kiddin? I really does be trainable?"

"Oh yes!" Garnet said emphatically. "You have even more Magic flowing through you than I do. If you are willing to put the work into it, you could be a very powerful being."

Cael spoke up at this point. "Mas'er Dragonling…. what's an Enchanted Archer? Me's ne'er heard bout them 'fore."

"Good question sir." Garnet said with a smile. "The easiest way to explain what an Enchanted Archer is, is to say that they have spell casting ability in which they empower their arrows with those spells. They are not as powerful with spells as a Mage is, but are still fairly powerful. Adding in the fact that they are always masters of the bow, makes them all the more dangerous." Garnet paused as he smiled at the wondering looks of the entire family, than spoke again. "Imagine if you will, Gare being able to fire an arrow and when that arrow hits, it also hits with the power of, say a fireball."

He nodded at the surprised look at the family, but the smile on Gare's face told him all he needed to know. "However, young one, I will warn you now. The training will be hard. I am not an easy Teacher. I will expect you to give more than you think you have to give. Not just physically, but also mentally. Someone who I train will be expected to learn to speak properly, to hold themselves with pride, to defend those who cannot defend themselves, and most importantly, to never stop bettering yourself. No matter what. You will always be learning something new, always pushing what you think your limits are, finally, and probably the hardest part is to know that, even though you have no idea why I am asking you to do something, you will follow my instructions without question."

"But…" Gare said not truly understanding. "I's just a begger kid… I's not good 'nough…" Garnet stopped the boy in mid-sentence with a growl.

"The first thing you will learn is that you ARE good enough. I do not care how you were born, what happened in the past. You are trainable, and if you wish to accept the training, I will give it to you, but I will not tolerate you speaking poorly of yourself, your family, or anyone else that has not earned it, by their actions, not by anything else. Do you understand?"

Gare hesitantly nodded. "Good. Facing the unknown is the mark of a brave soul." He turned in the saddle of his Dragon Steed and whistled loudly, surprising the humans, since they didn't know a Dragonling could whistle. "Braki. Come up here!"

A moment later the eight-year-old equivalent Copper Dragonling came running up to the wagon. It took him a bit as the caravan was still moving, but at such a slow pace that the boy was able to make it to the wagon. Garnet motioned to the wagon, and the boy jumped in the back while they were still moving. Thankfully the wagon was of decent quality, so when Braki jumped into the wagon, it did little more than creak. Braki was about to speak when he shook his head, stopping himself. he paused for a moment before he did speak in Northman. "What may I do for you?"

Garnet beamed with pride. "Very good Braki. You are learning quicker than I would have thought. It just shows how intelligent you really are." Braki lit up with a toothy grin and nodded. Then Garnet asked, "I assume you still wish me to train you?"

"Yes please." Braki said, while his head bobbed up and down.

"Good, than I would like you and Gare here to think about something." He turned back to Gare and his family. "Braki here is a Swordsman in training. Actually just like you, he has not started his training. Now even though you are of different Fields, much of your initial training will be done together. With that in mind, I want the two of you to spend some time getting to know each other. Do not worry about how you speak for now, but when ever we are in training I expect you both to try your best to speak properly. As long as I can tell that you are working on it, I will not say much about it." He waited till they both nodded before he continued.

"Now, for what I want you to work on now is this. You will each need to pick two subfields that you want to learn. You both do know what subfields are, right?" They both nodded, so he continued. "Good. I want you both to think about what interests you have, and we will go from there. Remember, a subfield could be just about anything you want it to be." He looks directly at Gare. "For you I would suggest learning how to make both bows and arrows, as every Enchanted Archer I have known has gone through them quickly."

Gare simply nodded and Garnet knew they were both on the edge of information overload, and he would not get much else into their minds until they processed what they had already learned. So he just nodded to them. "Well, I shall leave you two to get to know each other. If you have any questions, please feel free to speak to any of us, and we will answer as best as we can." He nodded once more to them, then nudged his steed forward. It was about that time that Xavier left the wagon that Aegir was in.

He nodded once to his Prince then looked around, seeing that the others had spoken already to those they had all agreed to train. This was going to be a long trip, especially since they all agreed they needed to train the students as much as they could before they got to Junsac.

If you are reading this story, email Roland and tell him what you think of the story: Roland

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