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 Category:  General Fiction
  Posted: December 3, 2019      Views: 68
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Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.
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Chapter 22 of the book Quest for the Neckulet
The quest encounters trouble in Jahm's hometown.
"Militar" by krprice
Background
Radolf seeks a family heirloom after it was stolen. Now with friends, he seems to be a step behind the thieves.


Radolf fidgeted. He glanced over at Chrys. She couldn’t stand still either.
 
She doesn’t like to be shoved in the background any more than I do, to be protected like a fragile vase.
Jewelletta, Jahm, and Vidad began to argue in quiet tones.
“I should be the one to step out and speak to them,” Jewelletta said.
“We’re chasing after Savaecus renegades,” Vidad countered. “They’re my people.”
“But we’re in Militio territory,” Jahm said. “Let me talk to them.”
Chrys gazed back at him. She shook her head and clenched her jaw. Then she nodded.
 Radolf and Chrys pushed their way forward and through the trio. They faced the man who had directed the group.
“I am Princess Chrystella of the House of Michaelandra.” She straightened to her full five-foot height and threw back her shoulders in a haughty pose.
 
“I am Radolf of the Spatali Valley.” He stood straight. “Heir to Anisha’s Neckulet.”

Jahm dashed around them, staring straight into the leader’s eyes. “I am Jahm of the Militio tribe.”
 
“Is that really you, Jahm?” The man asked in a deep voice. He jumped from his horse, tore off his mask, ran over, and hugged the mercenary. “We’d heard you’d been killed in the Kanballi Jungle.”
 
Jahm stepped back. “Kadin, as you can see I’m still alive.” He turned around and said. “This is my cousin, Kadin.” Then he introduced the members of the quest.
 
Kadin glared at Vidad. “Strange companions, you have. What brings you all together and over to this part of the continent?”
 
“Long story and best be told in private,” Jahm said.
 
“I think we can manage to double up and ride the rest of the way to town,” Kadin said but continued to eye Vidad as if the bodyguard would yank out his sword and slaughter him.
 
“I’ll run next to the horses,” Vidad offered. “Even carry Chyrs if it would be easier on everyone.”
 
“Jahm can ride with me,” Kadin said. “Baras is small, so Jewelletta can climb up behind him.”
 
Before Kadin said anything else, another man rode up, stopped, and offered a hand to Radolf.
 
“I’m Zarna,” he introduced.
 
Baras brought his horse over, and Jewelletta climbed on while Kadin and his cousin got settled on his horse. Vidad lifted Chrys up, and they trotted off to Militar. 
The sun had barely moved by the time they left the dusty plains and entered the dirt-packed streets of the home of the Militio tribe. Chatter stopped and people paused in their errands to stare at the unusual parade as they passed the gray stone buildings. The salty scent of the Mavi Ocean traveled on the breeze while aromas of fish stew and venison teased Radolf’s nostrils. His stomach growled loud enough for Baras to chuckle. An inn stood alone with a sign of a blue fish swinging in the wind. It read The Grumpy Talkor.
 
They finally turned right and rode down four streets before turning right again, stopping in front of a three-story gray stone house. Only a few red and green flowers had managed to grow in the dry ground.
 
After Radolf and Baras dismounted, the youngster asked, “Who came up with the name of the Grumpy Talkor?”
 
“The owner,” Baras answered. “Kase Timmons, who’s just as grumpy as the fish.”
 
Both he and Radolf chuckled.
 
The rest of the quest climbed from their horses as Vidad set Chrystella down. Once they thanked the men for the ride, everyone but Kadin left.
 
“This is the home of Kleptor, our Chief Councilor and his wife, Mahanna,” Kadin said. “You will need his permission to stay in the town.”
 
He led them up to the door and knocked. As if they’d been watched, only seconds passed before a short, plump, brown-skinned woman opened the door. Her dark, brown gaze wandered over the quest.
 
She gasped when she spotted Vidad. “What nerve you have to bring that nasty savage here, Kadin, after what he and his fellow thieves did to your cousin and his jewelry shop?” She opened her mouth, which was full of saliva, as if she was ready to spit it at Vidad.
 
Jahm shoved Kadin aside. “I can vouch for him. He was not one of the thieves.”
 
Radolf pushed his way to the front. “I am Radolf, heir to Anisha’s neckulet. He was not with those thieves.”
 
“And I swear he was with us.” Jewelletta marched up to Kadin’s left side. “I am Jewelletta of the Majutsu tribe.”
 
“Your word is enough for me, Jewelletta,” the woman said. “I am Mahanna. Come in and tell me why you have come here.”
 
Radolf stepped onto the dark, brown hardwood floor and followed the others into the house. His stomach growled again and was answered by Chrystella’s, and then Jewelletta’s.
 
“Guess I’d better feed you.” Mahanna said as she led them deeper into her home.
 
Radolf glanced into the living room as they passed. Dark gray, velvet curtains covered the windows with a pale blue couch and chairs dotting the floor. The young man gasped as they entered the large dining room dominated by a light brown table and chairs made of wood from the Ventrifico Forest. 
 
Jewelletta ran her fingers over the top and widened her eyes. “How old is this?”
 
“One hundred and years old,” Mahanna answered. “My great-great grandfather cut down the trees and made it as a wedding present for his new wife. Now take a seat, and I’ll get you something to eat. After that, you can tell me what brings you here.”
 
While the men sat, Jewelletta and Chrys asked, “What can I do to help?”
 
“As a matter of fact, you can,” Mahanna said, turned around, and strode into the kitchen, her gray and black braid reminding Radolf of the way his grandmother’s silver tresses did on the afternoon before her death. He took several deep breaths to control his emotions.
 
Only a few minutes later, Chrys and Jewelletta brought in glasses of a red liquid and set them in front of everyone.
Chrys left the dining room and in a few minutes called, “Anarra. Come in for some water and food.”
 
The dailam jumped up and scampered away from Radolf’s chair.
 
“Mahanna says this is fingleberry tea,” Jewelletta told them. “The berries are sweet.” She spun around and returned to the kitchen.
 
Radolf sipped his drink. Not only was it cold, but it slid down and quickly quenched the thirst he didn’t even know he had.
 
I’ve got a bowl of water and a large plate of meat. Thank her for me.
 
Next time the princess came in, Radolf passed on the message.
 
The ladies continued to fill up the table with plates, silver, platters of meat, cheese, bread, and a crock of butter.
Once everyone was seated, quiet covered the room like a blanket as everyone filled their plates with food and began eating. When all the platters were empty, Mahanna stood and returned to the kitchen. A short time later, she came back in with dessert.
 
Strawberries covered a two inch by two-inch square of sponge cake topped with fresh whipped cream.
 
“This is more than lunch,” Radolf said. “It’s a feast.” He took a bite, chewed, and let the deliciously sweet food slide down his throat.
 
After the meal was finished and the table cleared off, they adjourned to the living room with full glasses of tea.
“So what brings the six of you to Militar?” Mahanna asked.
 
Radolf began their tale, tears streaming down his face like a torrential rain. He had just mentioned Anarra’s name when the front door burst open.
 
Two men marched in. The tallest topped Vidad by a half a foot. Short, curly, silver hair framed a square jawed face. A good thirty years younger, the other man had curly brown hair and resembled the other man.
 
Before Mahanna even got to introduce them, the elder’s gray eyes turned as dark as any storm cloud.
 
He pointed to Vidad. “While I was out hunting those bastards, you let one in my house.” He yanked out a dagger and threw it at the bodyguard.
 
.
 
 

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