Haidley LIII-LV

People may ask
where’s the magic?
I say nothing.
So you believe
we don’t have
magic already in
our lives that
we seek more

as if existing
somewhere,
elsewhere, anywhere,
outside of ourselves
would bring meaning
and purpose into
our precious lives
.
What does that
say about you?

LIII

Common gates allow anyone

and anything access. Locked

gates, only at set

times. For Delog the

warehouse where they had

stored their loot was

heavily locked with chains

and large iron locks

that daunted even the

more venturous of thieves.

The patrolling guards acted

only as a visual

deterrent. But just in

case, thought Delog to

himself as he alighted

outside the main doors

and produced a ring

of keys from his

saddlebag. “Delog, what’s up?”

said a small man,

appearing from around the

corner. Several others were

with him. “Anything wrong?”

“Anyone been inside, Chay?”

asked Delog as the

last lock clicked open.

Some of the men

began sliding the doors

back on their runners.

Grabbing a torch, Delog

entered. The cargo was

already unloaded and stacked

neatly. Delog and his

men had not bothered

to check the contents

apart from verifying the

stamped emblem of the

river snake on each

crate. He grabbed a

crowbar and selected the

nearest one. He nodded

and four men hoisted

it down and stepped

back as Delog himself

jimmied open the lid.

It contained a few

stands, ornately done and

seemingly of the high

art favoured by the

nobility: lots of decorative

animals in expressive poses.

He lifted one piece

up and immediately knew

something was wrong. He

unsheathed his knife and

carefully scratched the supposed

dark wood stain. Underneath

gleamed gold. Delog’s face

lit up. He chose

another area of the

stand. Same result. “Oh,

blessed serpent,” he said.

He selected another stem.

It too when scratched

showed gold. He made

sure it was gold

and not gilt. A

deep golden hue shone

through. “What is it,

Delog?” asked Haik. “Look!”

was all Delog said

as he ordered another

crate opened. Haik’s expression

now matched his boss’s.

The next crate opened

contained a disassembled table.

The top must have

been in a separate

crate. Delog handed Haik

the dagger and pointed

to one of the

legs. Haik knew what

to do now. Gold

showed through the paint.

“We’ve struck it rich,

boys. We’ve hit the

big one!” Haik shouted.

The others started to

laugh and cheer. Delog

sat down and shook

his head. “Juniss only

protect that which is

precious to the kingdom.

Seems like we got

a king’s ransom in

these boxes, boys.” Chdi

came up. “What do

we do?” Delog looked

up at his best

friend. “What do we

do? We make sure

no one, especially that

pig Thormo knows about

this. I need to

make some plans first.”

Chdi agreed. “We need

to double the guards

then. I’ll make sure

of it.” Delog nodded.

“Just make sure they

can be trusted, Chay.

Like I said, I

don’t want word of

this getting out. On

pain of death, ok?”

Chdi nodded. “Don’t worry,

brother. I’ll take care

of it myself. Personally.”

“Haik,” said Delog as

Chdi barked orders. “go

back and get the

others. Leave your men

here. They’re going to

be busy for a

while.” Haik laughed. He

understood. “Right-o, boss.”

And he left. Delog

noticed that day was

already here. He called

for those left behind

to go through every

crate and verify that

what he now had

was worth a king’s

ransom.

 

LIV

Minister Oka was not

happy. Not happy indeed.

The news bought to

him by the Juniss

had been extremely disappointing.

Half the convoy had

been snared and no

one knew by whom.

“You say they ambushed

you among the hills

just outside of the

capital, commander? Did you

not think to send

an advance group ahead

to clear the way

thoroughly. I thought the

Juniss were efficient at

this sort of thing.”

“Minister, our mission was

already secret. Any advance

reconnaissance on our part

would have alerted anyone

to our arrival. We

were told to keep

this low-key. Besides,

we were assured that

there would be a

local presence. It was

not there. In fact,

it was totally absent.

I had my mission

to complete and I

couldn’t await till light

as it would have

alerted whoever was watching

the riverfront. In my

report to the King,

I will make him

aware of this.” The

look she gave the

official spoke of her

contempt for him and

his station. Oka smiled

coldly back at her.

“Commander, your mission was

to deliver the goods

in perfect order and

conditions. In my report

to the King and

your superiors, I will

make mention of this.”

Lyll stepped forwards. “Minister,

what my colleague was

pointing out raises the

serious question of who

might be behind all

of this. I can

surmise the Guild chose

this occasion to flaunt

their charter and transgress

upon this serious mission.

I recommend we commence

proceedings against this blight

on our society….sir!”

Oka smiled at his

guard commander. “Your recommendation

is noted, Commander Lyll.

Perhaps, under the circumstance,

it might be appropriate

to pursue an active

course against the Guild.

But I thought they

were compliant and that

we had an arrangement.

Has Thormo chosen to

turn his back on

that arrangement. Perhaps he

should be summoned here.”

“As you wish, Minister.

Do I have your

permission to prosecute the

Guild for information on

the shipment? I’m sure

they’ll know who was

so bold enough to

act this way.” Oka

merely dismissed them both

with a wave. “Indeed.”

 

LV

Tuniss dismissed the guard.

Her apartment, facing the

south, was spartan at

best. But she was

accustomed to such conditions;

after all, she was

Juniss, elite of all

the Serpent King’s forces.

She felt tired though

and wanted nothing more

than a hot bath

to shake off the

six days in the

saddle. It might have

been less if not

for one of carts

breaking down as they

crossed the mountains. She

removed her outer armour

and cleaned it, like

she’d cleaned her helm

and blade. She made

sure to hone it.

She lay down in

her overgarments and wondered

about the ambush. She

had discussed at great

length with him. He

thought it was prudent

to act swiftly and

press the Guild for

answers. She agreed and

had been present when

they interrogated the prisoner.

At first he’d been

stubborn, but eventually Lyll

broke the young man.

It wasn’t a pretty

sight, she recalled, but

necessary. She had thought

he was handsome enough

in a rakish sort

of way. And the

puppy look he kept

giving her unnerved her

a little. She thought

of the shipment, what

it really meant, and

the consequences of her

failure. Yoona would be

celebrating, no doubt. They

were never friends. This

setback would only serve

Yoona well in her

quest for candidacy as

next commander of the

Juniss, a role Tuniss

also desired but never

openly admitted to except

to a few. She

knew she had to

recover the gold but

first they had to

find its location. And

she knew Lyll could

be very persuasive when

he chose to be.

That thought seemed to

help. The morning was

already well into its

orbit when she closed

her long-lashed eyelids.

 

© 2017 L. Tafa

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Author: b20f08

I enjoy solo wargaming and writing. The first caters to the boy that never grew up; the latter satisfies a deep desire to communicate. Cheers.

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