Friday, August 30, 2013
Just when things were going so well. That's the proper time to knock the protagonist on their butt. Here I inject another tiny clue of the impending climax, but for now it is still not even noteworthy. As the lesson on plots pointed out, there is a need to stack the plots like a set of nesting dolls. Each one carries a theme to connect them all, but each is unique as well. I'd tell you to find more of the clues within Uiyah's Paw, but I keep tearing that book apart to rebuild it. I just love it too much to shred it and start over.
So, here is rest of chapter 5.
The men knew their task, and had rested all afternoon as she worked. Now they had a visible goal to spur them. Soon they began pulling bodies from the snow. Human bodies. Every one of them displaying the marks of a violent demise. Horses and Humans alike had been slaughtered by some large beast. Both wagons had been smashed, and the large chest in the lead wagon, had been torn open. The prize was stolen.
As the search widened beyond the massacre, one of the scouts found a line of tracks heading Northward. Here the snow was a mere foot deep, as though the subsequent storms had missed this part of the trail. All they could tell from the tracks was that several Humans had gone toward the summit of the pass. Lightly burdened.
Spurred on by the tracks, a score of soldiers charged forward before one of them thought to look back to the foreman. The foreman started to voice his command, then stopping mid-sentence he cast a glance at his prince. Prince Moffatt waved his hand at them, giving them his permission, though they seemed ready to go regardless. Seemingly an afterthought, he called one last directive.
“Bring me word of the relic.”
Aeriona looked up at the prince. “Just what was this relic?”
His eyes had lost much of their warmth as he looked down at her. “That’s an affair best not meddled with by the Crystal Towers. Herrin, had deciphered enough of the tablet to know that concerned Dragons talking to Humans. I need that tablet to secure peace with the Northern realm.”
A thrill went through her that such a tablet existed. She had spent years searching for clues such as that, and very few seemed to still exist. Everyone knew that Humans had crafted the runes, Elves had copied them, and Dragons were just some rare beasts that caused great problems. Everyone that is, except for the authors of some ancient scrolls that she’d found by accident.
If a clever student dug deep enough into the restricted shelves of the vaults, she could find one that clearly stated how a Dragon named Delienth drew the bending shape for a group of Elven earth sensitives. Of course the student also had to be fluent in ancient Elvish to get that far. In all, Aeriona had found five such notations of Dragons being there for early magic; a time before Humans could wield the power.
“Could I talk to Herrin?”
The prince gave a short laugh. “You could, if he hadn’t vanished at the first sign of trouble. I sent him off to clear this mess, and he never reached the camp. I’m not sure how much a dirt mage could do against this, but I had just as much doubt about your abilities too. Thank you for showing me different.”
Aeriona found herself pacing back and forth at the edge of the snow, anxious for the first news of the soldiers. As she rounded about on one of her transits, she nearly bumped right into the cook holding out a bowl of potato chowder. Thoughts swirling in her head about Dragons, and missing soldiers, and thousands of years old tablets had kept her from realizing how hungry she was. The bowl served the second purpose of warming fingers that had grown painfully stiff in the frigid night air.
Returning the bowl gave her a chance to sit and talk with one of the soldiers that had remained to guard the camp. She lost track of the words somewhere between his favorite horse, and the drudgery of walking the wall. His words distracted her from fretting over the soldiers that had gone ahead, and let her exhaustion creep in.
The world was a little brighter when the shouts woke her. Blinking helped to clear her eyes enough to see the returning soldiers making their way into camp. Her spirits rose as she realized that there were more faces returning than had marched out last night. The early dawn’s light showed them carrying about half a dozen wounded and starving survivors.
Aeriona grabbed a bowl, and filled it from the still simmering stew pot quickly carried it to the men stumbling into camp. A shiver went down her spine as she looked closely into these faces that bore the blank look of exhaustion. Most of them sported make-shift bandages. Unsure where to begin, a thought struck her.
Glances back and forth between the faces. “Kyle? Kyle?”
One of them coughed. “Here.. Sir..”
Aeriona stepped over to the man leaning on a returning soldier, and held the steaming bowl out to him. It was only then that she realized his free arm ended at the elbow. A wad of cloth wrapped the stubby end. Unsure what else to do, she helped the soldier guide Kyle to a rock he could sit on. Free of his burden, the soldier rushed to help another of his comrades, while Aeriona held the bowl out to Kyle.
He started to reach with his stubby arm, forgetting that it wasn’t whole. He switched and took it with his remaining good hand, to stare at it a moment. The good one shaking so badly that it threatened to dump the stew in his lap till he set the bowl on his knees.
“Sorry, back in a moment.”
Embarrassment washed over Aeriona as she realized that she’d forgotten to grab a spoon when she’d filled the bowl. She dodged around and between other soldiers getting stew for the ones they’d brought back, and grabbed a spoon. She got back to Kyle, sticking the spoon into the thick meal, like a pennant pole.
Twice he let go of the bowl to grab at the spoon, only to have to grab the bowl again as it came close to tumbling off his knees. Seeing his trouble, she knelt and scooped up some stew, bringing it to his mouth. For the first time he looked into her face that had been shielded by the cloak’s hood, and lurched backward, nearly falling off his perch.
“Ice Giant? No, can’t be. How did you know my name?”
“Your mother asked me about you. I’m a mage from the Crystal Towers.”
“How? Mum’s a maid in the keep; what’s this costing her? From Twillingspire? She hasn’t the money to pay for this.”
“Relax, I’m here at the behest of Prince Moffatt. I just happened to meet her, and she asked me to find you.”
“She must be worried to the bone to ask that.”
“What happened anyway? I know you were taking a relic over the pass, but it’s too early for snow, and your arm. I mean it’s gone.”
“It just started snowin’ thick out of nowhere, so the Sergeant pulled the wagons up close to wait it out. Like you said, too early for snow. It was ‘bout a foot deep when them guys came charging right out of the blizzard, swinging at everything. We turned for them, and two big red demon beasts hit us from the other side.”
“They gotta be. I ain’t heard tell of nothing like that, ever. Spawn of the Deep Roads for sure. Tore my horse in half while I was sitting on her. Bit my arm clean off as I were fallin’. Once they’d about killed everything, them beasts busted open the strongbox for them Black Bloods. I played dead with the horse’s head on top of me.”
“Ebonite Elves? But they usually don’t like the cold.”
“Ever now and then you see one come through the city, but nah, they like to stay South. There was about thirty of ‘em. They grabbed them jade tablets, and… Wait, gotta tell the Prince. They handed ‘em off to Herrin! I’m sure it were him that brung this storm down around us. Or it were you! Who else could do it, but a frost witch? Get away from me!”
Kyle shoved her away, flinging the now empty bowl after her. Aeriona turned seeking help from anybody else, and found herself facing the Prince. The look on his face told her that rescue was not coming from him.
Aeriona slowly slid the cloak from her shoulders, holing it out to the Prince. He took it from her, only to hand it to the foreman standing next to him.
“Men, seize her, but be gentle.”
“I didn’t. I couldn’t have. I…”
“A gag. Now!”
Soldiers grabbed her from both sides, and a piece of rope jammed across her mouth, to be tied behind her head, muffling any further protests. A few more directions from the Prince had her mounted on her horse once more, with hands tied to the pommel. The horse’s lead rope was passed to the Sergeant that had led the way up the hill.
In short order, the Prince was leading a small group down the hill, with one wagon full of the wounded men. The rest of the soldiers stayed to load the dead on the other wagon. Aeriona’s mare was towed along behind the sergeant as he rode beside the Prince. They were nearly at the gates of the keep before Prince Moffatt dropped back to talk to her.
“Two things keep you from spending a very long time in a deep dark hole. First, you came as an emissary of The Crystal Towers. Everything points to their involvement here, but I’d need more than supposition to sever ties with Twillingspire. Second, those men owe you their lives, and I won’t taint that with your death. Jardelth will cut your bonds at the border. The next time a mage sets foot in my land, it better be to deliver the head of Herrin, and my relic.”
Monday, August 26, 2013
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
A good story needs characters. Some we like, some we hate, and some that just send a shiver through our sense or decency. These are the literal lifeblood of the story. Readers shouldn't like all of your actors.
Thursday, August 15, 2013
Morning came later than he’d been accustomed to, with the mountain at his back blocking the sun for a bit. It had been a long night for him, with every shift of his body sending pain through his chest. At least Marrow’s wound had quit seeping through the bandages. He stood patiently as John redressed the bundle, and they continued the slow trek down the mountain.
Late afternoon saw the last of the mountain dropping behind them as the rocks gave way to a few hills, and the walls of Pebbleton. The town sat close enough to the mountains that predators were not uncommon. Where the trail penetrated the wooden walls, a gate barely wide enough for a small wagon was watched over by a bored looking town guard.
Except for the color of the pennant flying over his head, he could have been a mirror of his counterpart on the other side of the pass. He perked up noticeably at the sight of John and his horses coming around the last hill. As they drew within earshot, he stood taller, pulling his jerkin straight, with a pat to the ‘P’ lettered on the breast of it as though emphasizing his official position.
“What brings you to Pebbleton? We don’t get many coming over the pass these days.”
“I have need of rest and a few supplies before continuing onward.”
“Where are you staying?”
“Not sure yet. Where do you spend your time?”
“At the Bear’s Growl, but you’ll need to unstrap that blade from your back before you go riding through town. We don’t like trouble around these parts.”
John unbuckled the scabbard from his back, and rolled the sword and bow into a blanket that he strapped behind Marrow’s saddle. The actions had drawn the gaze of the second guard, and he lazily watched from his perch in the wall-top platform. Once he had the bundle tied in place the guard lifted the bar from the gate with a parting comment.
“Ya might want ta get that horse put down. He’s looking sick.”
“You would too, if you had your neck torn open from a Wyvern claw. He’ll live. Just needs a little rest.”
“What? You didn’t know there was a Wyvern camped out in the pass?”
“I’ll have to tell the Captain. He can get some men to go after it.”
“I’m not sure how much will be left after the scavengers pick at the carcass. Should be easy to find though; I left it in the middle of a clearing.”
“You killed it? Is that what happened to the other riders?”
“Like I said, moving onward to meet someone. The extra saddle is for them.”
“But you killed it?”
“The head’s on its way the other direction I think. Something about a bounty on it.”
John passed through the gate under the astonished eyes of the guard, who was still trying to grasp the thought of a Wyvern in the pass. A now dead Wyvern.
The town inside the walls looked much like any number of towns along the roads of the Northern lands. Everywhere he looked there were signs of the impending harvest that dominated life in these farming towns. Pebbleton’s claim to a fame that probably extended as far as the borders of Huyroil, seemed to be honey.
The biggest building in town was shared by the Potter’s Guild, and Pebbleton Nectar. A seemingly perfect match, with the potters crafting every urn to be filled with honey. As he watched, a wagon passed by full of the urns cradled in straw-filled crates.
About halfway down the main street John found his first destination. The sign on the door carried just the simple mortar and pestle, with not even a name to denote the owner. He pushed through the door into the dimmer interior, where the scents of so many herbs greeted him like a rainbow of smells. Each one unique, and yet not overpowering the others.
“What is it? Bee sting, sun blisters, queasy belly?”
It took a moment for his eyes to adjust enough to focus on the shape walking out of the back room, turning it into an elderly man drying his hands on a small towel. The man showed a bit of patience, and waited for John to answer.
“Uh, no. How much coin do you have?”
“You would have been better off walking into the bank to inquire about robbery. At least there you stood a chance of grabbing a few coins before they caught you.”
“Sorry, misspoke. I have something that I’m sure you’ll be interested in, though they tend to be valuable.
“As you can see and smell, I’ve got plenty of everything worth harvesting. What I don’t have is a lot of coins for someone trying to take my life’s savings.”
John pulled one of the dull yellow spikes, that measured as long as his hand, from the pouch at his waist, and laid it on the polished wood counter. “Wyvern teeth.”
“Lots of people try faking those. Some get pretty close too.”
“Like you don’t have coins to be tossing about on wild claims, I don’t have time to craft forgeries. I have a horse outside that took a claw to his neck, and I need a poultice to heal him. I trust you can verify this is genuine.”
“You have more of these?”
“Heal my horse and we can talk.”
The apothecary followed him out to the hitching post where the three horses stood patiently waiting. It took a few soft-spoken words before Marrow settled enough to endure the poking and prodding from the stranger. Finally satisfied that he could tend the wound, the man turned back to John with a question.
“No, I meant the tooth. I can see this is only a few days old. You did a good job with the willow.”
“The tooth came from the Wyvern that clawed him.”
“I’ll give you five gold Roils for it.”
“We both know it’s worth twice that much, but work your craft on Marrow, and I’ll let you have it for the five.”
The man set to work plucking a few leaves from this plant, or that, around his shop, dropping them into a mortar reminiscent of the one on his sign. After adding a few more dashes from some powders, he ground the whole mess together. A dribble from a bottle marked as Razorjaw oil turned it to a thick paste. After spooning it into a small clay jar, he set it firmly on the counter.
“He’s not going to be too happy when you smear this into the cut, that’s why I’m going to let you be the one to get kicked. Twice today, then cut them stitches out. After tomorrow you won’t know there’d been a cut, except for it being bald.”
The apothecary stepped into the back rooms for a minute, before returning to carefully lay five shining gold coins minted in the country’s treasury. Each one would buy a night’s lodging in a fine inn, complete with meals and the stable. In some places it would pay for an entire week. Beside these he set a stack twice as high.
“Another ten if you have a second tooth. It’s all I can manage; this isn’t a big town you know.”
John nodded, laying a second dull yellow spike on the counter. “If you hurry and beat the wolves to it, you can probably still get the liver.”
Marrow snorted and danced away as John uncapped the jar of salve. The whinny of pain sounded worse that when he’d packed the willow bark and bitterroot in place, as he spread the paste across the red edges of the cut.
By the time he got to the Bear’s Growl, there were already stories starting to circulate about a grand hunter coming through their town. Over a bit of roasted chicken dinner he listened to tales that grew with each telling, until the Wyvern had carried off a horse in each claw. He just nodded every time someone tried to draw him into the conversation about how the grand hunter had saved them all from a rampaging Wyvern.
John spent the next day in Pebbleton as well, though he was itching to get moving onward. As predicted, Marrow displayed a great dislike to having the stitches cut loose so that more of the salve could be rubbed into the wound. Most of the swelling had gone down, and reopening the stitches allowed the rest of the infection drain away. John himself spent what time he could, holed up in his room to avoid the Wyvern conjectures that still dominated the idle gossip of the tavern.
By the second day he was passing through the gates with the rising sun. He still chose to walk, giving Marrow the time to finish healing. The open fields that extended past the town were dotted with the hive boxes amid the grain and clover. The smell brought with it memories of home, like it always did. He spent the night camped under a small stand of trees, with dreams shifting between Velimina and Nicquey. Three day’s ride later he had crossed from Huyroil into Saffon., just a day short of Lake Mergen and Twilling City.
Sunday, August 11, 2013
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Battle scenes are always major points in writing, yet they actually occupy little space on the page. There is the lead up to the battle, which prepares the reader for this emotional scene that pits a beloved character against the possibility of death. Follow this with a few quick strikes back and forth. End draw out the aftermath to let the impact sink home with the audience. I learned before that trying to stretch out the actual battle made it lose the impact, and people got bored with it. Got bored with a BATTLE!
Sunday, August 4, 2013
Even familiar characters can bring surprises. The revelation that came out of this part was totally unplanned until it flowed out on the page. When it did, it seemed only natural considering her background. So... The remainder of chapter 3.
The breezes lifted her skyward in the blink of an eye. The colorful spires of the towers were dimmed in the darkening sky, but still sent a thrill through her heart. Orienting on the yellow tower, which looked roughly brown in the twilight, she called the winds to send her northward. The Earth Tower stood on the toe of a mountain, with only sheep pastures beyond. A few campfires marked where their tents stood guarding the flocks. Behind her the lights of Twilling glowed bright as people enjoyed the evening repast. Food was far from the top of her list though.
She was experiencing the thrill that every airwalker dreamed of. What was the point in walking on air if you could soar? Twisting, turning, thrilling to the feel of breezes that carried her along on the playful course. Past the mountain toe that spread eastward, she was soon high above the open rolling plains of the middle country.
Excitement swelled in her, bringing with it the desire to experience it all. Down she went, to skim along the tops of grain ready for the harvester’s scythe. A few of the taller stalks brushed the tips of her stretching fingers. This would soon be filling the bakery with the sweet smell of spiced breads. Aeriona’s smile broadened even more with the imagined aroma.
Upward, through the chilling air with a spiral that threatened dizziness. The lights of a few scattered campfires seemed so very faint on the grassy plain below her. It took her a few circles to orient back on Heike, the bringer of color. That star always shined brightly in the Northern sky when it was harvest time.
The stars were all coming out now. Even Autahory, the white, though she was still low in the east. It wouldn’t be long before she chased Heike off to sulk. For now she could rely on him to take her toward Prince Moffatt’s realm.
Within a few hours she could feel the sagging feeling as her body coveted the softness of a hay pile. It was nearly flying into a tree that woke her to the exhaustion. The urgency of the scroll rolled through the back of her thoughts, and she dared not tarry on the ground to rest. Taking a bite of the first journey loaf woke her hunger, and in a few moments she had eaten half of the ones in her pouch. Several sips on the stim-draught tube diverted her thoughts from eating the rest of them for now. The bitter tasting liquid renewed her energy, and sent her back up out of the reach of branches.
Thrice more during the night flight she had to revive her energy, though the journey loaves were gone after the second. It was still dark when the last of her stim-draught gurgled in the tube. This was the time of night when the stars have dimmed, leaving only the small moon for company. She knew it was a fickle guide though, and tried to compensate for its rapid sky crossing.
Luck favored her with another guide, this one not rooted to the soil. Pale light glinted from the road below her. It took only a small change to keep that silvery line below her. A few times she lost sight of it in the dark masses of trees, but they were sparse. The big problem came when the shining road below her twisted around a hill.
She knew the road to be fairly straight, and nowhere did it make such sharp curves. Descending for a closer look revealed her mistake. Cleared roads of bare earth shouldn’t sparkle the way the Ganboat river did. She only knew the highway crossed the river twice between the towers and Frospire, not where it wandered at other times. Had it already made those crossings? Her only hope fell back to the small moon.
Dawn's early light revealed she had strayed just a few miles off course, despite the detour. The king’s road lay off to her right, marked by the few homesteads bordering the bare ribbon among the oat fields. Aeriona corrected to follow it, watching as the light brightened to bring lights to a few windows as farmers woke early for the hard work of harvesting.
The sun was coming up about the time she spied the city in the distance. She had enough energy to bring a smile to her lips, though not much else.Her stim-draught had given out more than an hour earlier, and it was sheer will that kept her going. Part of her mind was trying to convince the rest that it would be reasonable to land and beg a ride from a farmer heading into the city.
Manoga’s capitol, Frospire, claimed the top of one of the rockier hills, surrounded by rolling fields of hearty grain. Only a few leagues away lay the base of the Razor mountains. They cut like a steel edge across the Northern border of three lands. Beyond them lay the cold reaches of the Sky Bowl, a land gripped in ice for most of the year.
The highway she was following topped the hill, straight into Frospire, and continued out the other side. Her eyes followed it into the clouds blanketing the Razors. Involuntarily she shivered, knowing that was her destination. First she needed to meet with the reagent, and rest a bit. Her strength was so far gone that Aeriona doubted she could pull off a lady-like landing.
She dropped back to the ground outside the city gates, startling a dozen farmers waiting to pass through the checkpoint on their wagons loaded with the freshest produce. Her legs shared the same exhaustion as the rest of her, and crumpled with the sudden demand on them. Aeriona fell to her knees. Grasping the pike held by the gate guard.
“Miss? Are you alright? Where did you come from?”
She struggled to her feet. “I need an audience with the prince. Right away.”
“Easy now. Just who are you?”
As she turned her face up to him, he caught a glimpse of the rune etched into her cheek. He quickly wiped his palm across his eyes. It was a gesture she’d seen many times. Wiping the magic from his eyes. Well, it was better than a sword. The other guard, that had been poking the bales on the wagons, joined his partner to face her.
“Ice Giant! Hold right there, you can’t get in.”
“You’re… easily half a head taller, and you call me giant? I come from the Crystal Towers. I need to see the prince immediately.”
It had taken a lot of energy to keep herself aloft, even with the magic of the sky suit. The winds had drained her energy near completely,though concentrating on them had given a focus for her will. Now that solid ground pressed into her feet, a deep weariness was settling over her mind and body.
“My name is Aeriona; your prince called for me. I must see him, please.”
“I’m not going to spend my next month walking the spire because of this. Get her into the wagon while I send Bejorl ahead to let em know she’s coming.”
“Yeah, but she’s one o’ them mages. Turn ya into a goat if you look at her funny.”
“If she turns you into a goat you can have all the free grass ya want. Now git moving.”
She heard the rapid clomping of hooves as the rider sped off ahead. She nodded thanks to the guard as they helped her into a waiting carriage. It was a simple affair, designed more for moving drunks than visiting guests. At least the rail at the side of the seat gave her something to hold onto as the wagon bumped over the cobblestone paved street.
The streets were lining with people gathering for the autumn market. This should have been an occasion of celebration, but she could feel the undercurrent of tension in those they passed. Muted comments about early winter, and unseemly storms reached her. Occasionally there were even comments about her white hair. Those comments carried with them a note of anger.
There was barely a pause at the grand entrance of the keep as the house guards made to block the way. Bejorl had done his job though, and the appearance of the guard captain cleared this obstacle easily. He even assumed the role of escort, leading her straight into the audience chamber, where she stood waiting for only a few minutes before the arrival of Prince Moffatt.
“So, you come to us with a claim that I sent for you. Quite a bold move for one such as you.”
“I am here at the behest of the Crystal Towers.”
“You bear the blood of Ice Giants, though slightly less than their tall stature. Surely it has not escaped your notice that we are oft at odds with them. As for that mark on your face, many have forged such markings to garner favors; some even had a touch of power to aid the deception.”
“No mage would dare to invoke the authority of the Magi Council falsely. The Sonath Tumolt may have been a few hundred years ago, but it is still pounded into us as a lesson.”
“Firstly, you have not proven yourself either a mage, nor the authority of the Magi Counsel. This is my domain.”
“You sent a request for aid.”
“I sent that request four days ago. It is a four day ride each way.”
“Three days of hard riding brought your messenger to the gates of the towers. I am their answer.”
“This borders on utter insult! To answer a request for aid when the Ice Giants have ambushed my gesture of peace, they send a girl?” Not just any girl mind you, One with the ice blood so strong in her veins that size is the only marker to say that she isn’t. You would be what? A Journey mage?”
Aeriona unfastened the flap of the sky suit enough for it to fall open, revealing the twisted rune of her council brooch. “My name is Aeriona Liff, Third Master Air Mage, and council member. The Magi Council was moved enough by the plea of your messenger to send me. I was granted use of ancient magics so that I could arrive in time.”
“I must apologize; the claim seemed too wild to accept. Still you bring as many troubles as you bring possible salvation.”
“Right now I bring you an exhausted mage who needs a bit to eat and a few hours rest before I could summon a breeze strong enough to snuff a candle.”
"My breakfast is getting cold as we speak; come join me at my table while a room is readied."
She followed the prince through the side door, and down a short hall to the more private rooms of his home. A second plate was set for her as the prince whispered instructions to his chamberlain. A serving girl roughly her own age stood by to see to her needs, leaving Aeriona a little nervous at the unaccustomed attention.
Aeriona emptied two platefuls of the food under the astonished eyes of the Prince, and his chamberlain. She filled a third, taking two bites before falling forward. She was asleep with her face in the eggs.
Aeriona awoke to the gently shaking of her shoulder by a woman dressed in the uniform of a servant. Her eyes still felt the grittiness of exhaustion as she glanced around slowly. She had been moved into a bed; her clothes were hanging from a stand across the room. Her body wanted nothing more than to roll over and try to find a dream.
“What time is it?”
"I'm very sorry to have to wake you so soon. You've been asleep a bit over six hours. They have horses waiting in the courtyard, and… My Kyle is one of those trapped. Please…"
Aeriona nodded slowly, still trying to clear the sleep from her brain. She had another stim-draught in her pack, but using it like this would drain her completely in a few hours. She had to get up despite the protesting muscles all through her body. The words had reminded her of just how dire her mission was.
She dressed back into the clothes she had worn for the party yesterday. They weren't the sturdiest clothes for adventuring, but she needed to protect the sky suit. The cloak Lilja had packed snugged close around her shoulders bringing a bit of comfort. The air here was noticeably cooler than her room in the white tower.
When she dug deeper into her pack to pull out the journey bread, the maid interrupted her. "Oh, no. Put those away. I had them make you some of these."
She indicated a tray resting on the dresser that had several soldier pockets stacked upon it; small loaves of bread that the middle had been scooped out, and filled with an egg and vegetable mixture.They didn’t last as long as journey bread, but the taste was far better. They could be fixed at the morning fire, and soldiers could eat them as they marched.
Aeriona grabbed several of them as she headed out of the door. A squire waited in the hall to lead her down to the courtyard. She pulled the cloak tighter as they descended the stairs. The door opened into a wide courtyard with several men already mounted on horses. A mare stood near the front with an empty saddle, the lead passed to another squire waiting patiently.
Already her strength was returning enough that weaving the whispering wind runes was a breeze. With Gadrielle in mind she sent the whisper across the intervening leagues. They would be anxious to know she had arrived.
“Gadrielle, I arrived this morning, safe and tired. We are heading up the trail now. I think you would have loved the flight. I did.”
The keep was on the Northern edge of the city, and so there was very little riding before they had passed through the gates. The few people they passed were better at hiding their whispers, though the fingers still pointed. By the time they reached the base of the mountain trail, they passed three loaded wagons driven by some of the prince’s soldiers. Supplies for those trapped in the snow.