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Posted:|| December 13, 2019 Views: 64|
Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of sexual content.
Chapter 30 of the book Quest for the Neckulet
The quest visits Vidad's mother
In his search for the neckulet, Radolf travels Mageron, making friends and enemies.
Radolf opened his eyes to the early morning sun rising like a giant yellow ball over the Tolsada Mountains. Sun beams peeked through the bushes surrounding the Quest.
“Get up.” Jewelletta called to the sleeping forms.
Radolf shivered at the thought of getting out into the morning chill. Griping and groaning, everyone climbed from their portable beds, packed, and sought something that would quiet their grumbling stomachs.
Radolf wandered over last to claim some breakfast. Anarra.
I’m eating. Are you in danger?
No. Just wondering where you were. Enjoy your catch.
“Chatting with Anarra?” Jewelletta asked.
“Yes. She’s doing the same thing we are.” He bit into a rather stale piece of bread. He made a face. “Don’t we have anything better than this?” Radolf held it up.
“Best we can do for now.” Jewelletta soaked hers in tea.
“What kind of nasty folk are we liable to find between here and Veda?” Radolf followed Jewelletta’s example.
“None, I hope.” The sorceress sipped her tea. “Maybe our ‘friends’ are way ahead and forgotten us. At least while we’re in the plains, we can see them from a distance. No sneaking up on us.
As we get closer to Veda and Aderra, we might encounter the militia after Vidad and Chrystella.”
“And we must keep them safe. They are part of our little group. We need to stick together.” Radolf crossed his arms over his chest.
“We appreciate the offer.” Chrystella leaned over and gave him a peck on the cheek.
His face tingled with warmth. Radolf turned his head away, pretending to look around the clearing.
After cleaning up their campsite, Jahm led them from the foothills, across the river, and into the plains. An occasional white puff scudded across the azure sky. The chilly autumn breeze combed through the tall, brown grass.
As the setting sun painted the sky with orange and yellow stripes, they camped.
“Not much to hunt around here. I’m afraid we’ll have to make due with what we have,” Jahm said.
Each sat and searched their packs.
Radolf brought out two slim wrappers of venison. “This is all I have.”
“Maybe we should eat only breakfast and supper,” Jewelletta suggested.
“We can get trout from the river tonight,” Jahm drew a collapsible pole from his pack.
“We’re two maybe three days from Veda, depending on how quickly we travel and how many hostiles we meet.” Jewelletta looked over the foodstuffs and frowned.
Someone kicked up dust in front of them. Radolf froze.
“Company’s coming.” Jahm broke the spell. He jumped up and
yanked out his sword.
“And they’re riding horses,” Vidad added, up and ready to fight seconds after Jahm.
Chrystella stuffed the food back in the packs.
“Jewelletta, can you see who it is?” Radolf helped the young princess stand.
The sorceress stood. She held her temples and transfixed her gaze on them.
She broke the spell and wobbled. Jahm caught her and steadied her against his own body.
“Savaecus,” Jewelletta said.
“Our renegade friends from the village?” Vidad fidgeted.
“A much larger party. Could they be from the main tribe?” She gave Jahm a kiss and pulled away from him.
“Possibly. They’re nomadic and seem to like the plains. Never understood why,” he explained.
“We’d better get ready for battle in case they don’t recognize you.” She took a deep breath.
“That might not be any good. The tribal leaders weren’t happy when my parents sold me to the royal family.” Vidad looked straight at her.
“Your parents sold you?” Radolf gasped.
“How do you think we get our guards?” Chrystella finished the food packing.
“Recruit them, hire them,” Radolf answered.
“We’ve been buying fifteen or sixteen-year-old males from them for years to be trained as palace guards,” Chrystella explained.
“Why don’t you hire them?” Radolf’s eyes met hers.
“Cheaper, I guess.” The young princess tried to defend the practice.
“But, Vidad, how could your parents sell you. I mean . . . “ Radolf widened his eyes..
“They need money. My tribe is very poor.” Vidad’s shoulders slumped.
“Mine is too, but to sell your own flesh and blood . . . ” His voice trailed off.
“I understand how you feel, but we needed the money. And I was glad to be selected. It is an honor.” Vidad stood straight. “From what I’ve heard and seen of life in the tribe, I was much better off. I got fed, educated, and taken care of. The training was tough, but my life was better than before I was sold.”
Radolf stood rooted to the spot as if planted.
“Radolf.” Jewelletta shook him.
“Sorry,” he apologized.
Jewelletta stuck her hand in her robe and handed acciderum to Chrystella. “You might need this.”
“Thanks.” Chrystella took it.
They formed their little circle and prepared for what might be an onslaught as the horses and their masters closed in and surrounded them.
Jahm struck first as one man charged him. Anarra couldn’t seem to get close enough to grab a leg. She barked and showed her jagged teeth as she stood in front of Radolf. The horses shied away from her, but ran afoul of Chrystella and her stinging tosses. They kept their distance from her too.
“Vidad, turn around,” Jewelletta shouted, ready to unleash a torrent of magic on the guard’s attacker.
He spun, sword in hand, ready to fight.
The man stopped about three feet in front and lowered his sword. “Vidad Assall?”
“Yes, who are you?” Vidad stared at him.
“Visnell, your cousin,” he answered and yelled, “Cease fighting.”
Everyone halted, even Jahm.
Visnell and Vidad sheathed their swords. Visnell jumped from his horse. They walked to each other and clasped their hands in the traditional handshake.
“So what are you doing here? Last I heard you were a guard at the palace.” Visnell let go.
“Long story,” Vidad answered.
“Let’s go back to the settlement and talk about it. Your mother will be happy to see you,” Visnell invited. “We can double up, making room for your friends.” He gave the orders, and everyone changed horses.
Once everyone was comfortable, they rode away.
The scenery didn’t change much over the plains to the main Savaecus settlement. Volcanic dust spewed in the fiery orange glow of the sun.
Animal hide tents circled the settlement as people scurried around like a disturbed ant colony.
Most gathered outside to gaze at the newcomers. Vidad waved.
Radolf’s mouth dropped open at the sight of bare-breasted women. He gulped and blushed.
What’s the matter?
The women are half naked. It’s embarrassing.
I would guess it is common for them.
But to expose themselves . . .
Radolf, we’ve seen many different customs since we’ve traveled together. Each tribe has their own and though you might not agree with them, you must at least respect them and not criticize them.
Mulling over what Anarra said, Radolf jolted to a stop. He looked around. Everyone dismounted.
“Radolf.” Jewelletta held the horse’s reins. “Are you going to stay up there? I think you’d be more comfortable down here.”
He blushed again and dismounted. “No, Jewelletta, my mind got sidetracked.”
“Quit staring. It isn’t polite,” she scolded in a whisper.
“Sorry.” He smiled at her.
“Who leads now?” Vidad asked.
“I do. Come to my tent. You can introduce your friends.” Visnell motioned them to a large brown tent. “Your mother should be along shortly.”
Radolf ran his hand over the animal skin. “What kind of animal did this come from?”
“Karova.” Vidad entered right behind his cousin. “Bit bigger than a goat or a quanya but with no horns. We use it for tents, clothes, meat, and food. They are native to Vijand and adapted easily.”
“Sit,” Visnell invited.
Karova hide mats covered the dusty floor. And I thought my tribe was poor.
Nomadic tribes must carry everything with them. They can’t have much unless they have wagons.
Vidad’s voice brought him from his talk with Anarra. He introduced each one, making sure his cousin knew they were all valued friends and Chrystella the most important of all.
All but Vidad settled in when a small, rather plump woman dashed inside.
“Vidad,” she screamed and ran to him. “It’s been so long.” She flung her arms around him, and he enveloped her.
“Mother, it’s great to see you. How are you doing? Have you seen Val lately?” He let her go with one arm but slipped the other between her body and her long auburn hair.
She frowned. “I’m fine, but Val was rather dead tired when he stopped by. On the run again and in trouble.” Her expression changed as her gaze swept over Chrystella. “Introduce me.”
He told his friend’s names and said, “This is my mother, Delnorra.”
“And what brings you here?” She snuggled him.
“A very long story, Mother.” He knitted his brows.
Radolf’s stomach growled.
“Guess I’d better feed you.” Visnell clapped his hands as Vidad and his mother found mats to sit on.
Women came in with large portions of meat along with potatoes, carrots, and mushrooms. They left and returned with cups of liquid.
Radolf shared his meat with Anarra. Two women came back in with huge slices of meat and placed them in front of the dailam.
Thank them for me.
He told them what she said.
“This meat is tender with a bit of herbs, but I can’t place it.” Jewelletta paused in her eating.
“Oh,” Delnorra said. “That’s my special mixture. I’ll share it with you if you’re interested.”
“I most certainly am,” Jewelletta said.
“And so am I,” Jahm commented. “I’m always interested in something new to be added to food.”
Radolf sipped the drink. “This is good. Just tangy enough. What is it?”
“Qualew. Grows all over the world, but indigenous to Vijand.” Visnell drank some.
Jewelletta scowled at the mention of that world. “We all know your tribe is the remnant of the people left some five hundred years ago. Do you stay in contact with them, Visnell?”
“No,” he said soundly. “We are the most backward and illiterate tribe on this world, so why would they want to have anything to do with us? They might be my ancestors, but I don’t want to live under their domination. Those savages only come to conquer.” He spat to the side.
“Yes, they do.” Jewelletta returned to her food.
“Radolf, the berries are small, round, and smoky gray. They are very bitter when raw, but get tangy when boiled and made into juice.” Vidad held up his mug and drank again.
“Thanks.” Radolf did the same. He looked at Anarra. “Could Anarra please have some water?”
Visnell clapped. “We got her food, but forgot something for her to drink.”
Three women came in. Visnell spoke in his own dialect. They left and came back with two huge bowls and set them by Anarra. She drained one bowl and drank half of the other.
Anarra spoke to Radolf. He said, “She thanks you for the food and water.”
After eating, they each told their tale in turn, explaining how they came together. Jewelletta filled in many other parts.
“So we seek Radolf’s neckulet.” Jewelletta concluded the story.
“I’ve seen it.” Delnorra’s jade eyes blazed. “Or some kind of neckulet.”
“Where? When? Here?” Radolf dropped his jaw.
“Yes. Val had it.” She moved her hands about as she talked. “I told you he was up to no good.”
“We suspected he traveled with renegades. We have been trailing them around most of Mageron. He or another demolished a jewelry store in Militar and killed a young woman.”
“Oh, no.” Tears ran down her cheeks. Holy Khlorae, what am I to do with him?” She sobbed.
Vidad held his mother.
“Val’s a grown man, at least by our standards. You’re not responsible for him. Somehow, somewhere he got tied up with the wrong people. But you said, he had a neckulet?”
“Yes.” She described it in detail.
“That’s it.” Radolf jumped up as if ready to track it down. “And he or his companion murdered my grandmother.”
“Radolf, sit.” Vidad ordered, and the young man complied, hanging his head.
Be sensible. We need more information than we have now.
“Did you see which one killed your grandmother and which one stole the neckulet?” Visnell asked.
“No.” Radolf answered. “Cowls hid their faces.”
“That good-for-nothing Vesto was with him.” Delnorra spat, as if saying his name left a foul taste in her mouth.
“Vesto’s been misleading Val for many years,” Visnell said. “I was away and didn’t see them when they came through.”
“Did they say where they were going, Mother?” Vidad wiped his mother’s tears.
“Aderra. Said they had something to deliver to someone there. I don’t know if it was the neckulet or not nor who it was for.” Delnorra took the cloth and finished cleaning her face.
“Probably stole it for someone.” Vidad eyed Radolf
“Like you said, Vidad, your mother isn’t responsible for Val’s behavior and neither are you. If he did kill my grandmother, I will exact my revenge from him, not you.” Radolf petted Anarra to calm the raging storm within him.
“If we ever catch them.” Jewelletta stood. “We must leave tomorrow for Veda. Maybe they know something there.”
“Jewelletta, you and the princess are welcome to join me in my tent,” Delnorra invited. “I’m sure Visnell can make room for the men here.”
“I can do that,” Visnell said.
She rose with her son’s help. “Do you plan to marry?”
“Eventually, but not now,” Vidad answered.
Chrystella kissed Vidad, and Delnorra escorted them from the tent. With stars overhead, the village quieted with a slight breeze ruffling their hair.
She led them to another large tent. Again, this one had only pallets.
“We have little to offer in comfort, but you’re welcome to anything I have,” Delnorra said.
“A place to sleep is all we ask.” Jewelletta yawned.
Delnorra disappeared and brought back four large skins. She laid them down.
Chrystella and Jewelletta undressed before lying down on separate skins and covering themselves with the other.
Delnorra blew out a candle. “Good night.”
The duo chorused the same.
Radolf let the information roll around in his head. Evidently, Val and Vesto either stole the neckulet or had others steal it. And they were taking it to Aderra. Someone must have wanted it badly to send those two all the way to the Landetta Valley for it. Someone with power and money. Someone with connections to the palace. Bet we’ll find it when we get there. But who or what else will we find? He let his mind drift, trying to answer that question. Exhaustion overcame him, and he fell asleep.
|The book continues with Planning the trip. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.|
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