Return to High Reaches
I trudged through the snow, Kirin and Kalzar right behind
me. We were upon the mountain and making our way slowly up to High Reaches.
The cold mountain wind washed over us, threatening to topple us over, but we
pushed on ahead, relentless of anything the mountain could throw at us.
"Is the weather always this bad?" Kalzar yelled
to put his voice above the screaming of the winds whose cold teeth bit into
us at all points.
"Usually not," Kirin said. He had had to live
up there many years trapped by Jown, until he had finally made his escape. "Don't
worry, this is just one of the worst passes. The weather really evens out as
you reach the top for some reason."
Kalzar nodded and we continued to pull our way
upward. We pushed through the snow, and climbed over some of the larger rocks
until we came up to the massive drop face that lined the border of High Reaches
on this side.
"We have to go up that! In this weather!" Kalzar's
voice gave out into a squeak as he yelled that out and I couldn't help but chuckle.
"You don't honestly think that we would attempt
to scale a cliff with the wind wanting to throw us all about do you?" I said.
"We will wait to see if the winds will die down. If not, we can just make our
way up tomorrow. However, if by then the winds are still blowing strongly. I
will not ask you to come, but I will go myself. I owe it to Zana!"
"Okay, well that's at least partially reassuring,"
he said eyeing the cliff as the wind blew bits of snow down from it.
Kirin looked at me. "Guessing by how these winds
are blowing, I don't think that this weather will clear away today. Tomorrow
it will most likely be calm, but I think our best bet is just to set up a small
camp here. At least then we can be warm as we wait out these winds.
"Good idea," I said, and turned to Kalzar who
was still staring up the cliff. "We are going to wait out the storm, come on."
And I pulled myself through the snow up to the base of the over drop looking
for anything cave like etched into the mountain.
"Look over there," Kalzar pointed, "That looks
like it will give us good enough shelter." Sure enough, he was pointing to what
appeared to be a cave. Whatever it was, it would keep us much warmer then if
we stood out in the piercing winds.
We pulled our way over to the cave, and I looked
inside. It wasn't that deep, probably only extended some ten feet, and was only
wide enough that I could lay down and touch one end with my hands, and the other
with my feet. However, the size didn't matter much, for it was warm inside.
It wasn't damp and smelly as some caves are, but instead it had an almost warm
air circulating around it.
"This is perfect," I grinned. "Wonderful eye
"Well I'm just glad that it's warm," he said,
and then laid back against the cave wall. "At least we won't have to worry about
making a fire."
"Good point," I said. "Besides I don't believe
any of us want to go searching through that wind to find a tree and then get
wood from it."
"Very true," Kirin said. "Well, let us get our
rest now so that we can make it up all the more easier tomorrow." So with that
little bit of advice, we settled back hopping to get a few winks of sleep while
Back in Laxcorna, Corinth paces back and forth across his cottage, grumbling
"What is wrong?" Wherric asks, walking over
to the general knight.
Corinth, seeing Wherric approach, stops in his
pacing. "I am sorry that I am acting so cross today. I am just angry that he
didn't tell me himself that he was leaving."
"You mean Erred don't you?"
"Yes, even though you are as good as a son to
me, he is the only one of my blood, and yet he is so…"
"Yes!" Corinth said falling back to sit in a
rocking chair. "I don't know. I guess that I always expected him to follow me,
and to take my path, but he is always much more interested in putting his life
on the line, of purposely falling into dangerous situations."
"What did he do this time?" Wherric asked. He
was all expecting to hear some dangerous tale in which Erred carelessly put
"It is Wintroq," Corinth said. "Now don't be
taking me wrong, Wintroq is a wonderful knight, and a fine friend, but I think
that Erred is much to absorbed in his stories of deeds past done, and especially
of his adventure with Zarrel Charmain."
"Oh yes, I remember that," Wherric said. He
had been naught but a pup but he had met up with Zarrel Charmain who had dropped
him off with Corinth. "If I never go through something like that again it'll
be too good."
"That is what I mean. You are much more level
headed then Erred. Well, he has gone off with Wintroq on a quest to get rid
of some of the bandits that roam about. He didn't even tell me he was leaving;
I just found this note on his bed last morning. He is going to really hurt himself
one of these days pursuing danger."
"Do not worry, I know that Wintroq will keep
"That isn't what I worry about Wherric. I worry
more about what mess he'll get himself into in the future. When he gets back
I'll have to have a talk with him. To try and explain that the life of a rogue,
or someone who constantly is in danger, is not what he really wants."
"Good luck on that," Wherric laughed. "I'll
wish you luck."
I was the first to wake up as it usually was. Reaching into my provisions
pack, I found a small biscuit, and nibbled upon the edges thinking of what we
would do next.
Slightly later Kirin woke up, and he looked
up at me. "Has it cleared up at all?"
I nodded, pointing outside of the cave where
the light breeze didn't even upset the fresh snow lying outside the cave. "Wake
up Kalzar so we can head out. Meet me outside." I said, and then standing up
I walked outside to look for a good place to climb up.
I was looking over the sides of the drop-off
when Kirin came out with Kalzar closely behind. He looked up the very steep
slope "Is this the only way up to High Reaches?"
Kirin glanced at him, "No, it is not, but the
only other path is some three days walk in either direction. This is the most
direct route, and the ones that are easier to make it up are watched. Most won't
attempt this route, so Jown sees no reason to position his creatures here. He
doesn't have to worry anyway, because the chances of someone not only making
it up here safe, but then evading all of his patrol groups are really small."
"Comforting," Kalzar said rolling his eyes.
Kirin laughed. "That is the exact reason that
this is the perfect route for us to take. We can make it up that slope, and
I can help us evade his patrols." He turned to face me, "I won't let the same
mistake as last time happen again."
"I know you won't," I smiled.
Kalzar walked between us. "Wait, so you've been
here before? And what mistake did you make?"
"Yes," Kirin said slowly. "I have been here
before. Jown held me as a prisoner to himself for many a year until I escaped
and met back up with Zarrel." He smiled, "Zarrel, her long time friend and partner
a green Eyrie named Dorono, her brother Wintroq, and a large black Uni named
Herupah ended up going back up to rescue Herupah's brother Decorah from the
fate that I had suffered. We were spotted by a patrol led by Jown."
"If that happened, how did you escape?"
"Not all of us did. Zarrel and I were the only
ones to be able to and that was just barely."
"What happened to the others, though?"
"They were captured," I said taking place in
the conversation. "Jown brainwashed Dorono into hating me, and in turn Dorono
almost killed me. Before he could do so he realized what he was doing and turned
on Jown. We rescued the others from Jown's fortress and went on a wild chase
to this summit and escaped Jown's grasp… barely."
Kalzar just nodded. "Kirin said that the Eyrie,
Dorono, was your partner. If so, where is he now?"
I sighed. "He left me some three years ago to
learn new things that I could not teach. I must say that I miss the bag of fur."
I grinned thinking of mine and Dorono's name calling we practiced.
"One more question. Why would you return up
I glared at Kalzar. "Zana Taru, my daughter,
was captured by Dsupa and taken to Jown. We are going to rescue her, or be destroyed
With that, Kalzar gave up questioning, and the
conversation returned to what path to take upward. Finally, we decided upon
the area that looked safest and relatively easy. I was to go first, so I walked
up to the first rock, looking for some hand and foot holds, and then I slowly
started to pull myself upward. Once at the top of that rock I looked back down
at Kirin, and nodded for him to follow suit. Once I saw him start his ascent,
I went on myself. I used small stones, and uneven surfaces as if they were steps,
and used some of the grasses that grew out as something to hold onto.
The climb mostly went smoothly, but there were
some difficulties. On a particularly steep area I went to put my foot onto a
small stone that jutted outwards, and it crumbled underneath me, leaving me
to dangle by my hands for a few alarming moments until I managed to pull myself
high enough to get another foothold.
Kirin took him time moving upward, checking
each hand and foothold so that they would not crumble below him. At the same
time Kalzar tried to hurry upwards. At one point, Kalzar slipped up, and started
to fall backwards, but Kirin, acting quickly, turned around and caught his paw
before he could fully fall off, and lifted him to the next flatter area. After
that, Kalzar made sure to be much more careful of how he climbed.
It took awhile, but we did finally make it to
the top, all intact and not much the worse for wear. My fingers were vaguely
sore from grappling for handholds, but it was not bad enough to make handling
a weapon any harder.
As soon as Kirin and Kalzar made it to the top
I stopped for a second to take a look over the edge of the drop-off at the land
vastly spread out below us. The view was just as magnificent as I remembered
the first time we had made our way to the mountain. The only thing the scene
was missing was to have Dorono by my side. I sighed, and quickly turned around
to catch up to Kirin and Kalzar who had already started walking, and left the
magnificent sight behind me. Perhaps forever.
Zana let her eye carry over the boy in front of her. He was older then her,
that much was obvious, but at the same time he did not look to be any older
then sixteen she guessed by the boyish features still engraved in him. He was
lean, and his short yellow fur helped add to the affect. He was tall and skinny
in a way that made him appear quite lanky, but still he held a handsome touch
of what he would become once he grew older.
"I don't even know how it is possible for us
to escape," he sighed. "Jown has his guards positioned everywhere and if they
see me in an escape attempt they will stop us."
"Don't worry Zana," Galthur the boy thief said
with a cheeky grin. "I have this all planned out. They won't even see us if
things go correctly."
"Okay," Zana sighed. She wasn't sure if she
could trust one she just met, but she had no other choice. It was trust him
or forever be trapped with Jown. Besides, the thief didn't look like he would
betray her. "Lead on Galthur."
He nodded and walked up to the door or her room,
silently opening it. He looked down both ends of the hall before motioning for
Zana to follow, and then he silently made his way to the left. Zana followed
suit, and she walked after him just as quietly if not more so. She had been
trained to go silently ever since she knew how to walk, and if she could easily
make it through a forest quietly, a building was effortless.
Soon enough, Galthur walked up to a small door,
and then after quickly peaking about he opened the door and rushed inside. Zana
followed after him and closed the door softly behind her.
Inside, she looked around, and was disappointed
to find that she was in a rather large closet, but before she could say a word
Galthur commented on her.
"I have to admit, at first I thought that you
would be trouble, making a ton of sounds and trying to start up talk. You surprised
me. Where did you learn to sneak about like that, it looked like you weren't
"My mother taught me," Zana said quickly. Galthur
eyed her, but decided against asking how her mother would know such things,
he had more pressing business to attend to. Turning his back to Zana, he walked
to the back of the closet where several dull brown messy tunics hung off of
a rack. He began to finger through them and soon emerged holding out two of
separate sizes. He tossed Zana the smaller one.
"Here, put that on."
"So that you can appear as a servant instead
of Jown's apprentice," he said simply. "These were all made for creatures older
then you, so that was the closest to a fit I could find. Give me your tunic
after you change and I'll wrap it up so that it doesn't get damaged," he said
when she looked at how big it was compared to her. When Zana stared blankly
back at him he asked. "What is it now?"
"You're looking at me."
"What does that have to do with any… Oh!" he
said and quickly turned around as his cheeks reddened. "Sorry, I'm used to working
on my own, and when someone else is with me, they're male."
Zana grinned once he turned around and quickly
changed into the baggy servants clothing. And then turned around in suit to
allow Galthur to change. "Here's my tunic and cape. She said handing him her
outfit, which he wrapped up carefully in a bundle.
"Give me your sword, too."
"Why do I need to do that!" Zana said laying
a protective hand over the sword given to her by Tron.
"Because servants don't carry swords."
Sighing, she handed it to him in its sheath
and he wrapped it up even more carefully then he did her clothes. After he had
wrapped up his clothing as well, and not even half as carefully as he had Zana's,
Galthur walked back up to the foot of the door. "And now the real fun begins."
Reaching into one of the many bags that he still
had tied to his belt, he pulled out a tiny mirror. Zana was about to ask what
its uses were when he slipped the thing under the door. He tilted it to different
angles and looked down both halls to check if anyone was coming. "Coast is clear,"
he said and wavered for her to follow him once again.
Galthur led Zana through several different halls
as he tried to avoid all of Jown's creatures. Every time they heard a voice
they would scurry into a different passageway, preferably one that looked like
it wasn't frequently used. Using this method they had thus managed to keep from
running into any guards.
They were about to turn down one hallway when
they heard a good deal of voices coming from it headed towards them. "This way,"
Galthur said pulling Zana off to the side towards a small staircase, and they
started to head down it.
The staircase was very thin, and it twisted
in a way where you could not see in front of you very far. It was that fact
that almost led to their capture. Coming up on the other end in a right old
fury was none other then Dsupa. He had his wings spread wide so that each one
brushed an end of the staircase and he grumbled to himself as he made his way
up the stairs. "Jown doesn't know what he is thinking letting that little brat
of the Zafara assassin have a position of power. She is even worse then the
Eyrie, and that Eyrie was bad enough. His policies are going to get himself
killed one of these days… I'll just wait for that day and then I'll come back
to my power."
Dsupa grumbled to himself, not paying attention
to who was coming down, just as Galthur and Zana tried to quickly get down,
only listening to see if no one was behind them. The three of them rounded a
bend in the staircase and then slammed into each other.
Dsupa cursed as he pulled out his sword. "Watch
your steps servants!" he shouted, but then he got a closer look at Zana Taru.
"Wait, you aren't servants!" he shouted jumping up at the same time.
"Run Zana!" Galthur yelled pulling her up by
her collar and running down the stairs. Shoving Zana in front of him he turned
around and threw a small dagger at Dsupa, which slowed him down some as he dodged
it. Galthur quickly turned and ran off after Zana as Dsupa pulled himself to
The two ran down the stairs as fast as they
could as behind them the shouts of Dsupa rang out. He was commanding any creatures
within hearing distance to drop what they were doing to capture Zana Taru before
she could escape.
"So much for getting out silently…" Galthur
muttered as they came to the end of the staircase and took a quick left as some
creatures were running in from the right.
"Galthur!" Zana panted as she ran. "The exit
is that way, we are going in the wrong direction!"
"I know!" he said quickly as his eyes searched
all about. "They will try and head us of that way so we can't expect to make
it out with our skins if we go straight towards the front door. Ah-hah!" he
"What?" Zana said stopping in her tracks as
"That." Galthur pointed to a small hole in the
side of the wall, a garbage chute. "What about it!" she yelled as she heard
the voices of guards coming nearer.
"It's our escape," the Lupe said grinning.
Zana gave him a look like he was crazy, but
then when she heard the shouts of Dsupa closing in on her, her expression turned
to one of fear. "Hurry," she whispered.
"Follow me," Galthur said, and then taking a
step back, he dived into the hole. Zana took one last look behind her and then
she too jumped inside.
The darkness hit her, and she blinked to try
and see, but all was black. The garbage chute shoved her in all directions and
she was sure that by the time all that was over she would have a great many
bruises. She flew through it very fast, and then suddenly, her ride was over
and she shot out the end and landed right into a very large pile of filth right
next to Galthur.
Zana flailed her arms. "Ack! This smell is never
going to come off of me."
"At least your stuff is wrapped up in a bundle,"
Galthur said, equally displeased with their landing spot. He started to pull
himself out. "We have to get away from here. No doubt they will come after you
outside of the castle soon."
Zana pulled herself out after him. "Where are
we going?" she asked.
"We are going to a meeting with some of my friends.
I think that they'll be glad to receive you."
To be continued...