Archives: The Golden Egg
Chapter 15: Searching the Backroads
Once they arrived, Talen dismounted in front of the house and went to the door. He had hoped that they would stay the night, but it seemed that their cause was more important. He had been looking forward to spending time with Naclia, but he might not be seeing her for a couple days now, it seemed.
Talen entered his house to the smells of dinner cooking. His mother and the staff were probably working on a meal for them, but they couldnt stay around to enjoy it.
Mother? Talen called, announcing his presence.
Hearing her sons voice, Sorilea peeked out of the kitchen at the end of the hall, then hurried down to meet her son and his companions. She noticed the absence of the two elven women. Where are the other two? Sorilea asked Talen.
Well, our plans have changed a bit, Talen said, scratching his head nervously. Were going ahead to continue our search. Im afraid we wont be able to stay for dinner. His mother wouldnt be happy to hear that, but as far as she knew, he could be under the dukes orders. How is Kima?
Shes been playing in the yard. She didnt seem to like being inside, Sorilea replied with a frown. Are you sure you want to be taking that wild child with you on such an important mission? She may be a handful, but I would be happy to keep her here for her own safety.
Talen glanced back to Aiden. It sounded like a good idea. Aiden, what do you think? Talen asked.
The elf shook his head. Kima wont be happy to be left behind, he replied. Besides, Mycen is expecting her to help, and we may need that feather. Kima wont part with it, so we need her.
Very well then. Ill leave it to you to fetch her. I dont think shell answer to me, Sorilea told Aiden, then turned and led them back toward the kitchen. Im sorry you dont have time for dinner, but I can offer you a little something to take along in your journey. Artina! Wrap up some food for our guests--about...five meals? Sorilea glanced back, questioningly.
Uhh...yes, five, Aiden replied. Eliamn and Naclia would be having their dinner in town, but Kima and Rylan would still need food. But please, no meat in two of those.
Sorilea nodded, then gave a glance to Artina. The girl nodded back in acknowledgment, then scampered off into the kitchen to get the food.
Aiden excused himself, then went out the back door. The Dreclouds back yard was quite large. There was a small pasture with four horses, a milk cow, and a few other animals, a stable for the creatures, and beyond the pasture, a larger open space. Unknown to Aiden, this was a place to land wyverns. Around the yard was a densely wooded area where Kima was most likely playing.
Kima! Aiden called.
Kima came when called, much like a dog, pouncing on Aiden and full-out kissing him on his lips. Aiden! she called back. She gave him an inquiring look but said no more.
Aiden was used to surprises from Kima, and as she came bounding out of the woods, he steadied himself to keep from being bowled over by her pounce. He drew back from the kiss uncomfortably, but said nothing in regards to it. Hello Kima, he said, holding her, if only to keep from dropping her. Were leaving now. We have to continue looking for the dragon egg, he said, turning back toward the back door of the manor as he carried her.
Kima noticed Aiden drawing back uncomfortably but didnt know how to express her hurt that Aiden didnt reciprocate her feelings, so she kept quiet. Horse, she chirped. Man, Kima chirped again. She couldnt remember Rylans name off hand, but a horse man should have gotten the message across to Aiden.
Aiden was confused for a moment. Horse man? he repeated, then realized what Kima meant. Oh! Rylan. Yes, well find him, he replied.
As Aiden carried Kima back into the house, Talen and Lyassa had been given Sorileas dinners. Are we ready? he asked his companions. When they agreed, they bid farewell to Sorilea, then went back out the front door to their horses.
Aiden helped Kima up onto Tiash, then turned to Talen and Lyassa as they prepared to mount. We need to find Rylan, so Im going to summon Sylph to look for him. Just give me a moment, he explained, then turned away and began to summon the wind spirit;
Spirit of wind, send a message post haste
Tarry not so your memory does not waste
Bring these words to our friend Rylan:
Meet us at the north gate.
Shortly after Aiden had called upon Sylph to deliver a message, a dark-haired boy in his teenage years ran up to them, stopping just shy of Tiash, looking at Aiden with wide eyes.
Wait... the human boy said, gasping for breath. He began struggling to unsling his backpack from his shoulders.
Aiden paused and looked at the boy trying to reach them, then went to meet him. Can I help you?
The boy stopped and doubled over, breathing heavily. Are...you...Aiden? he asked between breaths.
Yes, I am. What is it? he asked.
The boy stood back up and handed him the letter he had been carrying, along with the rolled up map. Message for you, the boy replied.
Oh, thank you, Aiden replied as he took the message. It had to be from Naclia. He opened up the letter, and it said that Naclia would be staying with Eliamn, as he anticipated. Aiden gave the boy a coin for a tip, then shoved the letter in his pocket and returned to his horse.
Naclia will be staying with Eliamn, so we will be conducting the search until they meet with us again, Aiden explained to Talen and Lyassa. Lets go find Rylan.
Wait sir! The boy ran after Aiden. I need to give you this!
The hand held up had a single Raiden resting in the middle of his palm.
It was all the elf lady could pay me with... but it wasnt right to take that just for an errand. Im no thief, the courier quickly said. She told me that if Id give it to you, youd provide a more appropriate compensation for my services.
Aiden paused again for the messenger. Oh, well, how much is the delivery?
Only ten silvers, sir, the messenger replied.
Very well then. Aiden pulled out his coin purse and found some change for the boy. They exchanged money, and the boy was on his way, as was Aiden and his half of the company.
* * *
Aiden and his companions rode to the north gate of Dragon Scale. Once they reached the gate, they found the centaur waiting for them.
Hello Rylan, Aiden greeted him as they rode within speaking range.
Hello Aiden. How did things go in the city? Were you able to get any leads? Rylan replied after a seconds pause. He had enjoyed his time waiting. Travelling with his new friends was fun, but he had used the wait to better work with Flau. Noticing a few less faces, Rylan looked puzzled, there were more people when they arrived. So what happened to some of the others, werent they supposed to be with you?
Naclia and Eliamn are staying behind in the city to pursue some leads; theyll join us later, Aiden explained. As for Saga, he disappeared. I dont think he wanted to join us. Aiden was a little worried about his half-brother, and he hoped to get to know him, but he didnt have the time to waste looking for him. There was a small chance that someone on Mur-Cavendrels side had taken him for some reason, but Aiden doubted it. Lets go. We need to do some searching for Roess.
I see. Then lets not waste daylight. Hopefully your brother shows up again. Where will we meet up with Naclia and Eliamn? Rylan replied as he waited for Aiden to take off. He would match his horse in speed so that they would not lose track of each other.
Theyll find us, Aiden replied, then turned Tiash back to the open road and urged the stallion on. They had to make quick time up into the mountain roads to continue their search.
* * *
Aiden led the group along the north road until they came to a trail leading up into the mountains. Aiden slowed Tiash as they approached the road, then brought out the map. The routes outlined on the map were somewhat confusing, and would require more study. Well, well head up here, then figure out how to continue, Aiden said, then lead the way up the new side road.
Rylan stopped to listen, they had a lot of ground to cover by the looks of the map. If it was this confusing, they might need to mark where theyve been. Should we mark the paths weve searched somehow? That way it will make things easier.
Yes, Aiden replied to Rylan. We should leave some sort of marker at ever entrance and crossroad we meet. First though, lets find a campsite. The elf tucked his map away again, then rode onward up the road.
After riding for a little longer, Aiden came across a little clearing off the road he was on that would make a good campsite. Aiden rode into the clearing and Tiash circled a couple times.
Alright, lets use this spot as a home base, Aiden began laying out orders. Talen, Lyassa, if you two can wait here and keep a fire stoked, we can find our way back by following the smoke. Rylan, head down this road south, then head west the first chance you have. Kima and I will take the north and do the same. Send me a message with Sylph if you find anything. Just come back when youre too tired.
Aiden dismounted Tiash, and realized that they still had to eat. But...before that, lets eat our dinners, he said. The ranger then went into his saddle bags and brought out the meals wrapped in cheesecloth that Talens mother had prepared for them.
Kima dismounted with Aiden and scampered around the ground sniffing around for her own source of food. Many years in the wild honed the little wildlings senses to figure out what was edible and what wasnt, usually through trial and error. It was still too early in the spring for any berries or fruit to be ripe so shed have to survive off of mosses, leaves and tree bark. While it didnt seem to be the most appetizing meal in the world the little wildling gathered her food and returned to Aidens side to eat it. Realizing that she should share, she offered a portion of her makeshift meal to Aiden. Eat? She chirped, as she held her offering aloft.
Aiden chuckled at Kima, then handed her one of the wrapped meals. Eat, he said.
Rylan listened and looked at the map, taking in everything. Very well, I shall mark my path with Flaus ice. Once they had a plan, Rylan took out a small bundle of gathered roots, nuts, berries, and bark. Placing it before him he started to eat. The forest would provide his meals during this trip.
As Rylan began to eat the same fare as Kima, Aiden brought over another wrapped meal and handed it to the centaur. Here, we brought one for you, Aiden replied. Its vegetarian.
Taking the offered meal Rylan, nodded his head. He was grateful for something outside of his normal fare every once in a while. Thank you Aiden. The food is appreciated. He then put his gathered food away.
Aiden had given Talen and Lyassa their food first. The knight breathed the smell of his dinner in deeply. He missed his mothers cooking. Well...it wasnt exactly her cooking. She decided the recipes, but it was the house staff that did the actual cooking. Either way, it was something he missed. He had hoped to share this dinner with Naclia in the comfort of his family home, but here he was in the cold woods, without the object of his affection, and possibly a fugitive. The food was a small comfort.
Lyassa quietly ate her dinner, pondering to herself on the events of the day. It had been mentioned that they were breaking the law by disobeying the duke. Lyassa had never broken the law, and the thought of punishment from not only the state, but her temple, ruined her appetite a bit. Her stomach was churning with anxiety now, and she carefully wrapped up what was left of her meal and set it aside.
When dinner was finished, Aiden broke out the map again and began memorizing a route. Unfortunately, they didnt have more than one map, but Aiden and Rylan were rangers. They knew how to find their way.
The elf rolled up the map and put it away in his pack, then hopped to his feet. Im heading out, Aiden announced. Kima, ready?
Rylan finished just after Aiden rolled up the map. Taking a look south, the centaur took what he would need with him. Leaving any unnecessary gear behind with the others, he looked to everyone. I will send a message with Sylph if I find anything. Remember, my trails will be marked by Flau.
Kima scarfed the rest of her food and scrambled up onto Aidens back. Kima! she declared proudly. She kissed Aidens neck with one hard long kiss and held on tight. Aiden go! She commanded.
Gah! Aiden gasped and staggered to catch his balance. After regaining his composure, he walked off, carrying Kima. Farewell for now! he called back to Talen and Lyassa as he and Kima hit the road.