Michael’s two girls pet on me as I described how bad it was to be a slave. I can see anger in the guards’ faces at the retelling of my mistreatment, and then Justin and Michael and their share the story.
Finally, Isabel and I have our first meeting, and how I called her an Angel and gave her a halo. Then she recalled the events that led up to our last meeting. Justin explains about our bonding, and the events that led up to my arrest. Captain Michael begins from there telling of the wicked Duke, his misdeeds and right up to the point where Isabel and I dragged off by the Duke. I tell of the torture I suffered at his direction, Isabel tells of how they were going to manipulate her. Captain Michael puts in a few more details about how the Duke and his court had run, telling of the runner and finding his dead body.
We finally tell of the night of trial, all that we remember, and the morning after. Jeremiah explains how we defended against the Raiders, and finally our trip here.
The guards stand at the end of our telling, they bow deeply when they straighten they salute. I stand in return their salute, and say, "If you salute my rank, I salute your service."
There is crashing in the woods, as something large moves fast and not caring how much noise it creates. The guards immediately move into defensive positions, I stand with Isabel to my back, as Justin and Jeremiah moved to the flanks, and the Captain comes to my shoulder with his sword drawn and ready. Isabel stands between his wife and daughters and the rest of us.
The large black serpentine had preceded only by a four foot long forked tongue emerges from the undergrowth. A drake, not a true Dragon, but a lesser reptilian cousin, in the wild they are very dangerous. It drawn to the smell of the food, and since this area abandoned long ago, it set up its territory in the vicinity. It is possible to train them, but that requires imprinting as a hatchling. Obviously, this creature is very wild, and since were in its territory it will consider us food. If it would just Justin and myself we probably could evade the drake, but with this, large of a party that is not an option.
Before the guards charged, I bring forth a lightning bolt that strikes the drake running through its tongue directly into its body. It started to charge, however as the lightning bolt struck, its legs froze and it slid forward on unmoving limbs. The lightning bolt continues to ark until smoke rises off the tongue and around the feet. Once I released the lightning bolt, the creature drops to the ground, obviously dead.
Isabel breaks the silence, as she pats be on my ass giggling she says, "You are going to have to teach me that spell."
Justin chuckles too, "That is one hell of a lightning bolt you have."
The guards chuckle and say, "I thought it was our job to protect you. Now I feel like the one being protected."
I chuckle and say, "Those who would be great truly serve the many."
The guards give me another salute; once for sure no other creature will emerge from the woods the two guards go and begin to skin the drake. They inform me that a tannery will pay a huge sum for the skin. I tell them to use it to create a fund for widows and orphans of any guard who fell doing his duty. I tell them that we must take care of our own, I would not have a man lose his life in performance of his duty and his widow and orphans starved to death.
I think my generosity shocked the two guards more than the lightning bolt shocked the drake. As they work, I can hear them talk.
We check the box finding the grasshopper as it just begins to spring up as the door slide open. I am fairly satisfied that it is working the way we hoped, but without an hourglass at our disposal it would be much too difficult to truly estimate how well it is working.
Justin does is discovery spell on it, and his eyes widened as does his smile. He says, "I do believe is going to work just the way you wanted it to. A single grain of sand per year through an hourglass, and it did not kill the grasshopper. Although, we will have to repeat it to make sure is not a fluke."
My father in law chuckles and says, "I would appreciate one of those in exchange for a crate. Actually, two would be great, one for the ship, one that I may transport food. Besides that I think they are better because they do not kill anything you place inside."
I asked, "Now that we figured out how to change the spell, we can make the crates the same way. Only they would not be good for storing food for indefinite periods. Although, as slow as time moves once the door shut you can come back six months after leaving hot rolls to find them still too hot to eat, "
My father-in-law finishes my sentence saying, "and Rebecca about to stuff her mouth with one, only to wonder why her mother is so upset over it."
Isabel giggles and says, "To Rebecca the door shut only a second before, once it opens she would then discover the bread is too hot. I wonder if she would notice it is a different season outside."
Justin says, "At least she would be a life to notice. I think this is much better than the old way."
Jeremiah says, "I would not mind even the fact it would allow a rat to remain alive for a very long time within the crate, it could not eat much once the lid is closed."
I shake my head yes, "I have always feared what could occur with the old enchantment. At least this way a mistake would not be deadly, but it made lead to missed birthdays, not the end of them." A second thought hits me and I say, "Or seed grain that would never sprout, when you place grain in the old type crates it is dead, usable, but it will never sprout to grow again."
Justin says, "Because time slows down and does not stop within the pantry, a person could take a hundred years to walk out, but walk out a life."
Isabel says, "Surely someone would open the pantry before then, but I see your point."
I say, "We will have to ensure that the door can be open from within, and once you touch it the enchantment allows time to move normally. Who would like to take ten years to open a door?"
We modify the spell on the current pantry, and create two more. Six more crates, with the new enchantment, three for house Morgan, and three for Father, the King. Once the guards have finished skinning the drake, we leave and head back to the city, the large iron ball trailing behind. Once across the wall I take the two Royal guardsmen to the tannery, and we drop off the drake hide.
A large bag of gold I hand to the Lieutenant, and he shakes his head thinking I only said it jokingly before. I instruct him to inform me when it runs low so that I may replenish the fund.
We then moved to the smelters area, many blacksmiths and metals smiths located in this area, after finding one willing to purchase the large metal ball, I accept the one thousand gold he offers, and he produces a letter of credit authorizing the transfer. I look to Justin he nods his head affirmatively, and the guards inform him that it will be going into the royal treasury.
As we return to the palace, and I set back down in the courtyard, Father is there, I even show him the grasshopper we had left in the pantry and explain the difference between it and one of the crates with the old enchantment. He smiles and gives me a hug.
The King says to one of the nobles giving him a hard time. "Do not let me catch you in this enchanted pantry; if you go missing I should leave you there for a year or two. It would only be minutes to you but paradise for me."
The two guards addressed the King. The lieutenant begins, "Sire you wanted us to report any problems." The King nods and looks at me. The guard begins, "As we were finishing our lunch, a drake attacked sire." Given me a bow the guard continues, "Julius, hit the beast with the lightning bolt that must have lasted a five count killing the creature. He then had a skin the creature, selling the hide he wishes to create a fund for widows and orphans of the guard. We were at the old orcs campsite, he also gathered up all the old metal abandoned as they fled. He sold it for a letter of credit."
I hand my father the letter of credit, "For the royal treasury, it is from the spoils of your victory."
The guard Lieutenant says, "If I may sire, your son is a lot like you, kind and generous, courageous and powerful. I would stand at his side, any day, against any force. I would feel as I was the one being protected, much the way my father described being at your side."
Isabel wraps her arm around me. Jeremiah and Justin chuckle as they nod their head yes. Finally, Captain Michael says, "The same as I feel in his presence sire."
The King chuckles and wraps his arms around Isabel and me. He says, "I feel I have not only found my son, but my champion as well." Looking at the guard Lieutenant he says, "He killed a drake." It was a statement instead of a question.
The Lieutenant says, "Yes sire, nearly without effort, he reacted and we needed only to make him aware of any other danger. Fortunately none came."
I smile at the lieutenant and say, "The two would rush to have fought the creature to its death or their death to protect us. They are brave and loyal."
The King points out, "You will need a personal guard, men that should train with you, and know what to expect. Your strengths and weaknesses, wizards are very powerful, but an arrow through your heart and you are still just as dead as any man is."
His words are true, and they come from the understanding of a father. Thankfully, he is not over protective, under the circumstances it could easily have occurred, but I think he understands and respects my strength, my ideals, as he is beginning to get to know who I truly am.
Isabel whispers into my ear, "Husband I have yet to give a dowry, we had believed you orphaned. Will you help me gather my dowry?"
I nod my head yes, "Of course my love, I will help you in any fashion that you desire."
We possibly could remain for three more days, but I knew that soon Camarillo would require its Duke. Father was holding court; disputes either between duchies, or between matters that covered more than a Duchy brought to the King’s court. Occasionally, someone with enough power or wealth would petition the king’s court to overturn of Duke’s decision, all those matters heard, and I do realize at one time in the future I will be the one hearing the king’s court.
After presenting the pantry to father, we had to make a brief stop in the kitchen and installed it for the cook, after I explained how the magic worked, and warned her not to allow anyone to stay within, or they would have a large chunk of time missing.
The cook placed to chickens within the pantry. She wanted to ensure that it did not kill them, tossed them in the air before closing the door. When the door was open the chickens still had not landed, but clucked loudly and ran once they did.
When I explained to her that once the door is closed time slows down within the pantry without stopping, therefore it does not kill any living thing. I warn, with the door closed the person inside will not realize how much time has passed. They are aware of only a few moments that passes as the doors shuts and opens. If you do not open the door but once a season, everything you left within would be as fresh as the day you shut the door.
The cook asks, "You mean I can cook a meal on Monday and serve it Friday just as hot and fresh as it was on Monday after closing the door?"
I say, "You could prepare a pie, place it upon the shelf within the pantry, and serve it a decade later barely cooled, time only moves normally within with the door open, If the door remained open for only an hour during that decade, the pie would only cool for an hour and a minute."
The Cook giggles now that she understands; she gives me a kiss on the cheek and says, "Thank you young wizard, I think I might finally get a day off. I will make several dishes ahead of time, to serve hot and ready without me even being in the kitchen."
I smile and say, "Very true, and you can store away much more fresh fruit, vegetables, and berries that would spoil otherwise. You can have fresh berries in the dead of winter, but remember everything ages normally when the door is open. However, do not close the door thinking I can get something from the shelf on the end. That short walk would take you a hundred years to us. I think the King would be rather upset if his dinner was that late."
The cook laughs, "Very true young wizard."
The cook begins to explain to her staff, that the door is to remain closed as long as possible, opened only as briefly as necessary to retrieve or store an item. No one is to remain inside to organize the shells once the door is closed.
Satisfied that the cook truly understands and will explain it to her staff Isabel and I leave for our shopping.
We take our leave of our fathers who are talking business anyway, with the lieutenant and the other guard who accompanied us earlier today, Isabel after gathering several diamonds from the first dowry now hers, and we head to the market. She sells four diamonds, now holding a purse with over a thousand gold we buy six rugs. One will replace the rug Justin gave us. Two will be for Isabel’s father, the other three Isabel will try to enchant. Isabel buys to ornate mirrors; they are small and handheld but excellently crafted.
New Cowan, is two days walk from the coast, and two more to the major duchies along the coast road to the north another three days walk is a city of Bethany. Bethany is the major trading port for the northern half of Cowan. The next largest city down the coast is Camarillo. Only small fishing villages dot the coast to the south of Camarillo for nearly six days walk, then the city of Edmonton, along with its Duke controls much of the coast on South. They also have the largest harbor in the kingdom. A road stretches along the coast, from Bethany in the North, all the way to Edmonton in the South; the coast road connects with roads leading inland. Most of the duchies of the kingdom are rather small, some just of village with a tower for the Duke. Others have sizeable farmlands stretching in every direction from the seat of the duchy.
The problem is with a kingdom this large it takes months before word spread from one end of the kingdom to the other. With a small carpet, a messenger can make the trip within a week. Isabel bought three small carpets of sufficient quality that a single messenger with a dispatch pouch could move from Duchy to Duchy. I do believe that would be something my father would truly appreciate. He is not so much about himself as being able to serve, and protect the people of his kingdom. I am glad my wife can see that, it goes to speak of her heart as well.
When Isabel stop at a dress shop, she dragged me in with her. I was surprised when she went to the area that held dresses for younger girls. Looking through she found two of different size that looked identical in style, slightly differences in color. She asked if the Captain’s daughters about that size. I shook my head yes what I could tell the both were about that same size. The dresses might be just slightly too large for the girls now, but the girls are growing. Isabel paid for the dresses and we left.
I stopped by the tannery to which we sold the Drake hide, our two guards look confused when I began bartering to buy the leather made from it. Drake hide is extremely tough few arrows and bolts can penetrate the leather, in conjunction with chain mail, it can make a light tough armor, perfect for a mage.
Isabel spotted me the money until my treasure retrieved from Camarillo Keep, and the leather would be ready in two days. Isabel was not sure what I plan for the Drake leather. I was going to use it to protect my wife, at least as much protection as it would grant. If I cannot keep her from danger, at least I can give her as much protection that magical armor will provide. Drake leather is one of the necessary elements used in creation of magical armor.
Having set upon this course there are several other items I will need to acquire, and perhaps my father-in-law would be the best source for those items. If clan Morgan did not have the items, I am sure that they will have the contacts that can either procure them or direct me to individuals that can.
We stopped by an armor Smith, and I inquire about Elvan chain, specifically star silver, unfortunately he does not have any, and the only source within the kingdom is at Bethany, an armor Smith in Bethany purchases the star silver link material from the elves. He acts as intermediary between the elves and dwarves. The dwarves mine the raw star silver, refine it, they make some of the best swords from it. The elves on the other hand, can work it into such a fine link that the dwarves are willing to give up some of the star silver to attain the fine star silver material.
I ask Isabel, "Would you like to go to Bethany tomorrow? I have need of star silver material; it is the only source within the kingdom."
Isabel is well traveled and educated by her parents in the ways of merchandising. Certain rare items are always in demand by wizards. Drake hide leather, star silver material, diamond dust, are but a few items used in creating magical armor. Isabel says, "That is a city that we should not linger in, the clan has lost people there. They just went missing and no search can find them. There should be enough Drake hide leather, for two suits of armor. Remember, to protect me you must also protect yourself."
Forgetting myself, I step forward and give my wife a kiss causing us to glow. The Smith gasp as the scars from years of working the forge disappear from his hands and forearms. He flexes his once painful hands and smiles as he gives blessing to the gods.
He asks, "Does that occur each and every time you kiss your lady?"
With a smile I say, "My Angel’s halo is seen with each kiss. I am unsure if it heals all touched by the light."
George, our second guard pulling down his shirt looking for an old scar, he says, "It does take care of the old painful wounds."
Isabel giggles and says, "Love heals all wounds."
The Smith looks at is pleading, "Please come to my home, my son injured his arm this morning and the physician is going to take it off tomorrow. If you can help, I will do anything, I will pay any price you ask."
Isabel moved by his story, not the promise of payment. Isabel says, "We will come, if we can help you need make no payment, love is always given freely."
The Smith we learn his name is Craig, a tall broad shouldered man with black hair and brown eyes, with huge hands as we walked to his home people move out of the way. Not that he is a bad person, but the look of urgency on his face and his size give all reason to move aside. His home is not very far, in the middle of the city a middle-class neighborhood. Isabel and I are accustomed to such places, but our two guards are nervous and feel out of place. I can just hear Captain Michael scolding me for going into such a neighborhood without his protection.
The truth is in a neighborhood like this one the more guards around you the larger the target you are. If Isabel and I had our normal clothing, no one would ever pay attention to the two of us walking together through a neighborhood like this. A journeyman mage and the daughter of a merchant would be a normal site for this neighborhood. Although neither of us are that anymore, I am sure the rumors of my return are spreading through the city.
We finally reached the home of Craig the Smith, slightly larger than many around it, a small fenced yard and a stone walkway leads to the front door. Many children are in the front yard, they seem quite sad most likely the brothers and sisters of the injured boy.
Craig opens his front door and holds it for the guards, Isabel, and I. Craig’s wife a large woman herself, not truly fat just tall with broad shoulders for a woman, greets us. She looks as if she could work right alongside her husband at his Smithy. It is easy to see the distress on her face, and she steps into her husband’s embrace. He explains, "My love Jenna, I brought some people who may help. Look at my hands."
The woman examines her husband’s hands with look of hopeful wonder. She asks, "How?"
Isabel answers, "The goddess Aphrodite’s blessing, when we kiss the light of our love has the power to heal, when the goddess wishes."
Jenna practically pulls Isabel up the stairs and I follow and then Craig and the guards. In a small bedchamber, his grandmother is holding the weeping four-year-old boy; he was in so much pain. One arm is obviously terribly broken, swollen and in a wrong angle. I immediately put the boy to sleep using a simple sleep spell. I know the arm must be straight before the healing magic will work properly. I tell Craig what we need, and what we must do first. His eyes widened as I tell him what might happen if we do not.
Only a few minutes later, he comes back with the boards, and a couple sheets we move the sleeping boy, his mother holds him, even in his sleep, the pain is evident on the young boy’s face. I cast the spell the blocks pain and the little boy relaxes. Craig extends his arm pulling at least two inches longer than the other is. Unfortunately that is necessary, I concentrate on the boy’s bones within his arm, I need to set them back into place in my hands extend as they begin to glow. Once the bones are where they originally were. I direct Craig to release the tension slowly on his son’s arm using a board to support it holding it straight and then gently rapping the arm with the sheet.
Justin had took me to several healers in the past, although they were unable to help me. I did learn a few things from them. This was not the first broken bone I had set. However, it must have been one of the worst, and on a boy so young.
Fortunately, no bone broke the skin, although many have cut the muscles within his arm. Isabel and I step close together, we move into a kiss allowing our love to come forth. We do not brake our kiss until we hear the boy’s voice exclaim, "Mommy my arm does not hurt anymore! Why do you have it tied to a board?"
His Mother Jenna unwraps the boys arm once free he hugs his mother, who has tears running down her face she is so happy. The boy asks, "Mommy why are you crying."
Jenna says, "I am so happy, my little Patrick."
Craig shakes my hand so energetically he nearly pulls my arm from its socket. I smile and say, "That is better than any payment, to see you and Jenna so happy."
Isabel says, "Miracles are done by the gods. We mortals cannot take credit for what they do. No payment to us."
I smile and shake my head yes. Addressing the child I say, "Be careful little Patrick, I do not know how many times the gods will look on you kindly."
He says, "Okay, but I had to save Kitty."
Jenna explains, "Kitty is his little sister, she had crawled into the street, Patrick waved off the wagon that would have hit her, unfortunately the back will hit Patrick."
I chuckle and say, "Be careful little hero, if you save the wrong damsel in distress she may just end up being your wife."
Isabel slaps me on my ass, and I turn wrapping her back into a hug and pull her into a kiss, again the room brightens from our glow. Looking into her eyes I say, "You my love are the right damsel for me."
Isabel blushes and says, "Fortunately, you are the right hero for me."
As we lean in for another kiss, Little Patrick’s voice causes us to pause as he says, "Yuck, you are going kiss again, I like the light but do you have to kiss to make it."
Isabel and I break out laughing, smiling I say, "We have no other way to make it other than kissing."
The little boy’s voice says, "Well if that is the only way."
Isabel and I smile and I ruffle the boy’s hair, I tell him, "Just keep your sister from getting into the street from now on." The boy shakes his head yes, and Isabel and I turned to leave followed by our guards.
It is getting late so I call the carpet, we wait on the front porch has the children run in, they tackled the little boy as he emerges from the house, his father pulls them all into dinner. The carpet descends has Craig asks again, "Are you sure you will take no payment? I am sure your actions more than likely saved my son’s life."
Smiling I say, "Seeing the smile on Jenna’s face was more than enough payment."
Craig ask, "When I give thanks to the goddess Aphrodite, whose name should I give as her messengers?"
Before I can stop him George says, "Julius and Isabel of house Cowan." The large man’s eyes widened as he sinks to his knee.
Shaking my head as the carpet lands I say, "Rise Craig I am not the Prince…"
George again interjects, "yet. You are your father’s son."
The Lieutenant chuckles, "That you are. Rise Craig the son of the King wishes it." We climb upon the carpet and are quickly out of sight.
Arriving back in the courtyard, escorted into the dining hall, we find dinner in progress. When we arrive, the cook pulls me in Isabel into a hug giving us a kiss on the cheek each. Smiling she says, "I hope you do not mind the hot rolls, I made them just after lunch." With a giggle she continues, "I even made all three meals for tomorrow. They are in the pantry, and I will have a single day where all I have to do is go to the market."
The King chuckles and says, "She has not stopped talking about the pantry, to her it is the greatest enchantment ever devised."
Jeremiah smiles and says, "She may possibly be right. How many people would not starve to death if each household had a King Patrick’s miracle pantry?"
Isabel giggles, "I love the name. Sire it was your idea."
The King chuckles and says, "Isabel my dear lady please refer to me as Father, or if you like Dad. I so want to hear my son, and now my daughter-in-law refer to me as a member of the family."
I say, "For so long I have always wanted someone to call Dad, Master Justin did a very good job of raising me, but we both knew he was not my father, but now you are my Uncle Justin. Dad when you set at court I hope you do not mind that I still refer to you as my King, Sire or my Liege. Formality where it is required, is that okay Dad?"
The King chuckles and says, "You always will be my son, my soon to be Prince, but that is more than okay son."
Isabel clears her throat and says, "If you wish to be called Dad by me, I have no problem as long as you drop the lady in informal settings. Okay Dad?"
The King and Jeremiah both chuckle. The King says, "Yes, that goes for you too Jeremiah just call me Patrick because we are in-laws."
Jeremiah looks at me and says, "That means you do not need to call me your chieftain also, you may call me Dad as well, or Jeremiah."
Justin says, "Pretty good week for you, you went from an orphaned ex-slave journeyman wizard to Duke and uncrowned Prince, married with a family on the way."
Smiling I say, "I think they will only be a few more weeks as good in my entire life as this one. Those will be good weeks as well, the ones when Isabel gives me a child for us to love." Isabel pulls me into a kiss and the whole room chuckles as we glow.
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