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 Category:  Fantasy Fiction
  Posted: December 16, 2019      Views: 61
Chapters:
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KRPRICE 
krprice is a married mother of three grown children and four grandchildren.

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Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.
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Chapter 31 of the book Quest for the Neckulet
Quest figures out how to get to safety
"Planning the trip" by krprice
Background
The quest chases the neckulet around Mageron making friends and enemies.


Someone moving around awoke Jewelletta. She opened her eyes. Delnorra sat and combed her own hair. Climbing from her karova skins, Jewelletta chuckled.

"I thought I heard you." Delnorra walked to where the sorceress got dressed. Did I hear you laugh?"

"Yes, you certainly did," Jewelletta answered. "On our entire trek, I was always up first. The others accused me of waking the sun. I always had to roust them and believe me it didn't endear me to them." Jewelletta grinned. "It's nice to see someone gets up earlier than I do."

"I've been rising before the sun for years. It's as if I have an inner time clock that wakes me whether I need or want to get up or not. This old body requires more rest than it did when Vidad was a boy. He was a handful to keep up with."

"He still is." Chrystella climbed from the skins, smiled, and dressed.

"I'm glad he's found someone. I hope everything works out for you two. I'd like to live long enough to see my grandchildren." She ambled to the small fire and stoked it.

"So you want grandchildren?" Vidad entered. He kissed his mother, grabbed Chrystella, and gave her a big kiss. "Visnell sent me to get you ladies for breakfast."

"We shall go." Delnorra led the others from her tent to Visnell's larger one.

Someone laid bacon, boiled eggs, bread, and cheese out for them, along with tea and juice.

"It's about time you got here," Radolf taunted Jewelletta. "I'm starved. Anarra's already gone for her breakfast."

Jewelletta smiled. Have you been up long?"

"Too long. Would you believe Visnell gets up earlier than you do?" Radolf teased.

"And Delnorra beat me up," Jewelletta told him.

They laughed, and Visnell motioned for them to eat.

As they finished breakfast, several voices yelled outside the tent. Visnell rose and dashed to the door.

A man, blood dripping from his scalp, slumped on a horse. "I must see Visnell."

"Bring him into my tent," Visnell ordered. "And call our healers."

"I'm a healer," Jewelletta said. "I need my herbs and hot water."

Their packs lay in the corner of the tent, where they left them the night before. Radolf hurried and pulled out her herbs while one of Visnell's servants brought water.

"Put the water on the fire." Jewelletta pointed to the small flame crackling in the middle of the tent, and it flared up.

The men brought the man in and laid him on a pallet. Jewelletta bent over him. Blood ran into his widened eyes.

"Majutsu," he wailed and cringed, trying to move away from her. "Sorcerers, killers."

"Yes, I am. I am Jewelletta. I do not kill unless in self-defense. In fact, I am a healer. What's your name?" she asked in a soft, gentle voice.

He spoke only gibberish. He continued to pull away from her.

"His name is Vosnor." Visnell sat and took his fellow tribesmen's hand. "You are safe. She is a friend." He turned to Jewelletta. "He and five others were on patrol toward the Veda
Community."

"Patrol?" Jewelletta had been fishing herbs from her pack and jerked her head up.

"'Yes. Though they've been keeping their distance, the Aderran militia watch our settlement." Visnell wiped blood from the man's head.

"For us, Chrys and me." Vidad stood and fidgeted. "I've put everyone in danger. She and I must leave immediately."

"Sit," his cousin ordered.

"Yes, sit," Jewelletta commanded in her steely tone.

Continuing to wash the blood, Jewelletta said, "That means they're between here and Veda."

"We'll lure them away." Visnell rinsed the rag she'd been using. "We're experts at that."
"You sure are." Jahm cleaned his nails with his dagger.

Jewelletta let her jaw drop as everyone's eyes widened at the scathing remark.

"I don't mean that as a slur, Visnell. Being from the Militio tribe, I've fought your people more times than I can think of. They are very skilled at luring and camouflaging."

"Well, Jahm, I hope this is a new beginning for our people. It's the first time members of the five tribes had eaten together in this settlement. And you're friendly with each other." Visnell pointed to each one.

"It's taken several weeks and a couple of almost near tragedies to get us this way." Jewelletta dropped herbs in the water.

"Can I question him now? I'd like to find out what happened to the rest of the patrol. Visnell laid his cloth down."Although I'm afraid I know the answer."

"Dead," Vosnor whispered. "They were laying in ambush for us like they knew we were coming."

"Val," Vidad spat. "Bet he was the one who told them. But why?"

"Don't try to understand his motives. I don't and don't plan on attempting to." Delnorra drank tea.

Jewelletta cleaned and put poultices on his wounds. "That's about all I can do for him now." She pulled some paper, a quill, and ink from her pack and wrote. When she finished, she gave it to Visnell. "Please give this to your healers." She paused and asked, "Can they read?"

"Vilana can," Visnell said.

"This is what I've done for him." Jewelletta handed him the information. "And if they mix herbs together and have him drink it, he'll get better faster, though he won't appreciate the taste."

Jewelletta grinned. "We'd better leave. It's about thirty miles to Veda. That will take us the rest of the day and into the evening. Longer if we have to fight."

"We'll lure them away." Visnell turned to a servant and spoke in his own tongue.

"Why don't you disguise us in some way?" Jahm wiped his dagger on his tunic and stuck it in his boot.

"You read my mind. Possibly a storm of dust and grass. They're not unusual here this time of year." Jewelletta packed her herbs.

Anarra raced in and skittered to a stop. Radolf's eyes glazed over as he explained the situation to her.

"She's willing to help anyway she can," Radolf told them.

"Keep her close. She's your personal protector," Jewelletta said.

The ground shook, and something bellowed.

"Vatara's getting noisy," Visnell complained. "For some reason, she's awakened again after all these years."

"Yes, she is," Jewelletta said. "It's all coming together. I must get to Veda and confer with the ellders." She stood too fast and wobbled. Jahm caught her.

"Are you all right?" Jahm gazed into her eyes.

She braced herself on him. "Yes. How soon can we be ready to leave?"

"No more than an hour for us. First, Jewelletta, we must plan. Why don't you and your friends decide what you're going to do?" Visnell rose.

"Use my tent," Delnorra offered. "After all, it's still Vidad's home."

"Thank you, Mother." He leaned over and kissed her.

They left Visnell's tent. People darted around in preparation for the war party that would decoy the Aderran Militia while they escaped to Veda.

Once inside, they all found seats on various pallets.

Jewelletta took command again. "I'll create an illusion of a storm with us at the center. It'll feel very strange to you, but don't panic. You'll be safe."

"We have faith in you," Vidad said. You've led us safely through many attacks. We know you'll get us through this one too."

She smiled.

Delnorra came to the door. "Hope you're finished. Visnell wants to speak with all of you."

"Thank you, Delnorra." Jewelletta and the others stood. "For everything."

"And thank you, Mother." Vidad embraced her. "I'm sorry I brought this trouble on the tribe."

"What else is family for if you can't go to them when you need help?" She hugged her son and Chrystella. "Take care of him, will you, and come back soon. Maybe with a grandchild for me. Hm . . . "
The young princess smiled. "I'll take care of him." She looked up at Vidad. "I can't promise when we'll return, but we'll work on that grandchild."

Vidad started to say something in response, but Jewelletta gave him a look as to say humor her.
They left Delnorra's and walked over to Visnell's tent. Once seated, Visnell drew a map.

"This is where we are. My men and I will go along this way and decoy the militia." He pointed out the settlement's location and dragged his finger along one side. "Jewelletta, why don't you and your friends go diagonally from the settlement to Veda. The militia will stay away from the storm. That'll be your best protection."

"Good strategy. I couldn't have done better myself." Jahm smiled.

"About time we fought on the same side, don't you think?" Visnell returned the smile and offered his hand in the traditional handshake.

Jahm took it. "Yes, it's about time."

"We need to get away from the settlement before I can create an illusion. Sometimes, it's rather powerful, and I don't want to hurt anyone or destroy anything."

"We'll leave you here, so you can do what you need to, Jewelletta. May we meet again in peace." Visnell offered the handshake to the sorceress.

Her jaw dropped open. "Thank you." She accepted his handshake. "In all my years, I've never seen that offered to a female."

"Well, you're special." Visnell shook her hand and withdrew his.

She turned and left, her friends trailing like sheep following their trusted shepherd.

****
Outside the settlement, Jewelletta waited until they gathered around her. "Veda is in that direction." She pointed northwest of their position. "Jahm, you have a good sense of direction. Your job is to keep us on course."

"Agreed." He rubbed the sheath of his sword.

"I'll be at the very center to be able to keep up such an illusion," the sorceress said.

"Will it drain you as much as the one in the Kanballi Jungle did?" Radolf asked.

"Probably. It will take a lot of strength and concentration, so once I create it, don't speak to me," she warned.

"Radolf," Jahm suggested. "Since I'm in charge of direction, you keep on an eye Jewelletta. Assist her if she appears tired. Vidad and Chrys can help too. And Anarra can protect if necessary."

"Agreed," everyone chorused.

"I need a few minutes to get ready."

The others circled her and quieted down.

****
She closed her eyes. Reaching deep within, she pulled all her power and energy up and focused it on this vast illusion. At first, it was quiet and slowly the wind picked up. Dust and grasses from the plains swirled around them until it blocked everything from the view like a giant yellow ball, a whirlpool of fragments from the floor of the plains.

Jewelletta nodded.

"Come on." Jahm headed for Veda.

Radolf looked around and shuddered. "It feels like I'm in a tomb."

"We felt the same way when that sandstorm surrounded us," Vidad said.

No one spoke. Jewelletta listened to the swirling sound around them.

****
Visnell gave last minute instructions when a bit of dust flew around the village. "Jewelletta and her friends are on their way. That's good. We'll tell the militia we're a search party looking for a lost child. We'll even ask them for help. Doubt they'll agree, but if it keeps them occupied, we've accomplished our mission. Vosnor said there were ten who attacked his party, so at least we're even on that score. Let's go."

"I think we should attack. Not only to keep them away from Vidad, but to avenge our scouting party." Varnor spat.

"I'm not going to fight them unless it's necessary. If they attack us, we'll defend ourselves, but not until then." Visnell reined his horse around and led the 'search' party from the settlement.

As they neared the militia, Visnell held up his right hand, his index and middle finger showing the shape of a V, the planetary sign of peace. The militia didn't bother to pay attention and attacked. With both sides on horses and having swords, it looked more like a jousting meet. They were evenly matched, but the Savaecus scored more hits than the militia and trimmed their numbers.

"We're outnumbered," a militia captain shouted. "Back to Aderra."

"Catch them, cut them off," Visnell yelled to his men, knowing if the other six militias found Vidad and his friends, they were in grave danger.

****
About a mile from the Veda community, Jewelletta staggered, and the illusion broke. It left them vulnerable to the coming onslaught rushing toward them in a swirl of dust.

One of the militia shouted, "It's Vidad and the princess. Seize them."

Hearing that, Jewelletta called, "Someone get out that acciderum. We're going to need it. I'm exhausted."

Radolf grabbed the herbs, and they formed their usual battle circle.

"No, Vidad, Chrystella run to Veda. You'll be safe there. As for sanctuary in my name. Tell them our dilemma." Jahm caught the sorceress as she almost collapsed.

Vidad opened his mouth to challenge her, but in her steely tone, she ordered, "Go. Don't question me."

Chrystella grabbed his hand and pulled him toward Veda. "Come on, Vidad. This is not the time to question her judgment." They set off at a dead run.














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