"Now you remember the stuff Galthur and I taught you
about pick pocketing? Well now we're going to put it in place," Shadow said,
his eyes scanning the creatures walking by. "Ah! See her right there, that old
hooded creature with the bag at her side. I want you to try and swipe something
out of her bag without he being any the wiser."
Zana nodded. "I'll go do it."
"Good luck, kid," Shadow said, and then backed
off to watch her.
Zana casually walked towards the hooded creature
from behind. She was moving really slowly, and didn't seem to have any attention
upon the bag at her side. Zana moved up beside her, and slipped a paw into the
bag, and was just about to withdraw it when without warning, the figure flipped
around, grabbing Zana, and pushing a dagger right up to her neck. "Try and thief
from me now?" I said growling as Shadow ran forward, a stiletto appearing in
"You can let her go now, or else you can feel
the cold of my blade," he said, his voice growling enough to equal mine.
I laughed. "Oh, I don't think you have to worry.
I would never harm my own daughter." At that I pulled the hood back to reveal
me face, I was grinning as I held the surprised looking Zana Taru. I replaced
the dagger and hugged her. "How I've missed you."
"Mother," was all Zana said, as she returned
"I knew that the kid was telling the truth!"
Shadow said grinning as he walked up to me He made a gesture of a bow. "My name
is Shadow, an assassin like yourself."
"Well greetings to you Shadow," I said, and
picked Zana up. "Let us continue this conversation off of the main streets."
"True," Shadow said, and I followed him as he
led us towards a shaded alley.
"So how did you come across Zana?" I asked.
"And are you trying to teach her to thief, because that is what it looked like?"
My voice held no scorn, for I was just happy enough that Zana seemed to be in
a single piece.
"My friend Galthur helped her escape from Jown,
but the two became separated, and she was beset by some soldiers. I took care
of the only one that had been able to follow her throughout the whole run."
Zana nodded. "Yes. They both saved me."
I smiled, "So why is it then that you had her
Shadow scratched behind one ear. "Heh, you see,
when there was no word that you were even coming up here, I figured that Zana
needed somewhere to stay. I took her in as an apprentice." The look he gave
me was that of someone expecting ridicule, but I gave him the opposite.
"That is great," I said smiling.
"Yes. Zana has needed someone other than myself
to train her. She needs to learn some respect, which only a good instructor
could teach her. I haven't personally seen you in action Shadow, but you have
the look of someone who knows what they are doing. Your weaponry appears large
enough." I pointed at all of the many small bulges that only someone who knew
what they were looking for would recognize them as bulges made by daggers and
stilettos and many other assortments of weapons.
He gave another quick gesture of a bow. "Thanks
for the compliment. Coming from one such as you it means a lot."
"Surely I can't be that important."
"But you are. You and Kirin and that Eyrie Dorono
are legends up here at High Reaches."
I smiled, and finally let go of Zana. "Perhaps
you could be of assistance to me Shadow." I said.
"Because you know your way around here. Kirin,
Kalzar, and Dorono will all need a place to stay, as will I. Jown should know
by now that we are here. What with my run in with Dsupa..."
"So Dorono is back!" Zana Taru exclaimed.
"Yes he is," I smiled. "He's grown a lot, too."
Zana Taru and Dorono had gone through a lot together, and after that journey
they both took, they seemed to be a lot closer, and that closeness was only
broken when Dorono had left to learn with his mother.
"Yeah, I think I can help you," Shadow said.
"Your group would be a welcome, albeit unexpected addition to the Thieves Corner."
I nodded. "Very well then. I'll go find the
others and meet you right back here. Then we can go."
A short time later found us following Shadow as he discretely led us towards
the place known as the Thieves Corner.
"You don't know what this feels like," Shadow
said. "I'm leading three legends along through the streets of their enemies,
and I was the one they asked for help."
"Three?" Kalzar said jokingly.
"Yes, I have no idea who you are, or where you're
from. The only reason I will lay my trust in you is because Zarrel is willing
to," Shadow said sharply to shut him up. "Ah, here is it, follow me!" And Shadow
walked into what looked more like a crevice than a doorway.
We followed after him, and were all surprised
to find ourselves inside of a very large common room filled with thieves, whom
were all talking loudly. At least, they were all talking loudly until we entered.
Then they were all quiet except for the occasional whisper as they stared at
Kirin, Dorono, Shadow and I.
The Wocky who watched the door came up, "Shadow,
now you are bringing even more strangers into here! Kaytaloth is going to have
your head this time."
"No, I'm not…" she said striding up. "This is
certainly the most unusual assortment of company you've ever brought in Shadow.
But still, you aren't to bring in outsiders!"
I flipped my dagger around in my hand. "We will
only be staying the night if even that long," I said. "Jown will know by now
that I am in fact here at High Reaches, and this is the safest place we could
be. However, if you want us to leave, we will." I looked at her for her answer,
still twirling my dagger in my hand.
"Fine then. You can stay the night, but only
the night," Kaytaloth said with a soft growl that dared me to say otherwise.
"Do not worry, we will be gone before the sun
even rises," I said with a grin, and then looked back to Shadow. "Lead on."
With a nod he led us past the many thieves who
were staring at the lot of us, mouth agape, and into a room adjoining his.
I settled down upon one of the beds. It wasn't
the most comfortable I had to admit, but it was perfectly good enough to sleep
upon. I was in my own thoughts so that I didn't hear Zana Taru until she called.
"Yes," I said turning to face her.
"I'm sorry…" she whispered, and I did not understand.
"What could you be sorry for? You have done
"Yes, I have," she said and collapsed into my
arms right before telling me everything from how she almost lost her humanity
to be Jown's apprentice, to her killing of the Lenny and her running away with
"It's okay, Zana. I do not blame you," I said,
and I hugged her tight. However, as I did so, I felt something push up against
my chest from underneath her tunic. "Zana, what is that?" I asked pointing to
the slight bulge.
"Nothing," she said with a sudden defense, ruffling
up her clothing to hide the dragon pendent she had kept a careful secret. I
shrugged, for one was allowed to have their secrets.
"Okay, then it is nothing." I smiled as Zana
gave me a look of relief. "I am glad to have you with me again."
"As am I too!" she said, and rewarded me with
The sun had not yet risen when I was ready to set off and leave behind High
Reaches; forever if possible. Once everyone was awake, we were about to head
out when Shadow stepped out right in front of us.
"Planning to leave without saying goodbye, eh
"I'll miss you, Shadow!" Zana Taru said, but he grinned.
"No need for a goodbye yet. I'll go as far as
the edge of High Reaches with the lot of you before I turn back," he said. "We
will enjoy your company Shadow," I said, but before we could go out the door
Galthur intercepted us.
"You are not leaving without a farewell Zana
Taru," he said, and placed his hands over her shoulders. "It was great knowing
you. I'm sure you'll grow up to be very strong. Just make sure to see me when
you are that way."
Zana Taru smiled. "I won't forget. I'll miss
you Galthur," she said, and then we were finally able to head out.
We followed Shadow as he carefully led us through
the streets of High Reaches settlement. Mostly everyone was still asleep, and
the risk of danger was low, but it was much better to be safe than to get ourselves
killed for no reason at all.
We reached the outskirts of the city and were
traveling our way through the snow wastelands of High Reaches by the time the
sun showed the first small glimpse of its face.
Unlike our trip to High Reaches this trip back
home was filled with a lot more mirth. Zana Taru was alive, and with us. Dorono
had returned with a bucket load of stories. Plus there was Shadow who seemed
to have had plenty of his own adventures himself. We all shifted turns telling
the others of things we had been through, and things we wished had never been.
The only one of us who seemed to have no stories
was Kalzar, and even when we pestered him we could get nothing from him. At
last we gave up on trying to get Kalzar to say anything, and returned to our
We continued like this until sunset when I called
for us to make camp. "I'll take the first watch," I volunteered. "Shadow, you
can take the second, and than wake up Kirin to take the third watch. Dorono
can take whatever is left after that."
Shadow let out a long visible yawn. "Okay, just
wake me when it's time." And putting his hands behind his head, Shadow laid
himself down and fell almost instantly to sleep.
"I wish I could sleep that easily," Kirin said
as he laid himself back, and I laughed.
"Don't we all?"
It was still a bit longer before everyone fell
asleep, and then once again, I was left alone to my own thoughts, as I was the
I couldn't believe how lucky I had ended up.
I had just about given up any last little trace of hope I had held when Dorono
dropped into us, and then Zana Taru fell right into my arms. Also, there was
Shadow to consider. He was quite an eye opener. He had great skill; that much
was obvious. Also, he also seemed to have a good conscious left in him. It was
a pity that he would stay up in High Reaches. If he had resided anywhere else,
I seriously would have considered having Zana Taru stay with him to train. Like
I had said, that was what she needed more than anything, she needed someone
to train her who could knock that arrogance right from her.
I spent my whole watch time staring up into
the sky and looking at the moon as it shed its face across at us. I had my ears
listening for any sound of a creature. A twig snapping, a far off footstep,
but I heard nothing. It seemed almost as if the very creatures around us were
all asleep, though I could hear the soft chirrups of small bugs that stayed
hidden from my view. The only sound that I heard was the soft breathing of the
others around me.
When I was just about sure that I had sat my
watch, I crawled over to Shadow who appeared to be sleeping deeper than I could
ever hope to. I went to shake him slightly to wake, but the second a fur from
my hand touched him, he bounded right up with a dagger already in his hands.
He did not sleep as deeply as he let on afterwards.
"It is your time to take the watch," I said,
and he nodded.
"Okay, get to sleep then."
What he said sounded really good. I fell down
upon the ground, and felt my eyelids grow very heavy, and before I knew it I
The morning came upon swift wings. I was woken
up by Dorono as he went to nudge me with his beak.
"I'm up," I mumbled rubbing the sleep from my
I pushed myself to my feet and over to the small
bag that carried our rations. There was some dried food in there that I took
out and split in several portions for each of us to have some. Once that was
done, I went to eating my portion. The others could grab theirs when they woke
It was some fifteen minutes before everyone
had gotten up and eaten their food. Dorono surprised me, he no longer acted
as young as he had, but more like a noble. If I had not known him since he was
hatched, I wouldn't have believed that it was he. It didn't matter though. All
that mattered was that all those I loved were back to me once again and we were
Jown growled at Dsupa, when the Nimmo had finished his report. "You are sure
of what you saw?"
"Yes. It could be no other Eyrie."
"AUGHHH!" with a massive sweep of his paw, Jown
knocked every last thing off of its place on his mantelpiece. "Dorono was within
your grasp and you let him escape. Imbecile!"
Dsupa cringed, but did not give an inch. "Do
not worry. He and the Zafara assassin will surely make for the pass out of High
Reaches. I'm sure that they already found their brat."
"That brat has more fighting potential than
most of your men Dsupa. Do not treat her lightly," Jown growled.
"I won't be."
Dsupa started to walk out the door with Jown
pacing behind him when the Kougra suddenly turned around to face him.
"What is it?"
"Do not leave just yet," Jown grinned. "I will
be leading this march to intercept them. Gather some of our best creatures and
tell them we leave in an hours time."
Dsupa hid a growl as he bowed to Jown. "As you
With a quick whip of his wings and tail as he
turned around, Dsupa bared his teeth as he walked out the door. Jown would ruin
it all; he would try to get by without killing the Eyrie and the brat because
for some odd reason he still thought them useful. If things were up to he, there
would be plenty of blood spilt. Especially that of the two who had abandoned
Jown's ranks. Dsupa grinned to himself. What did it matter if Jown was there,
he still could use his sword to be rid of those pests.
Yet again we found ourselves trudging through the snow as we made our way
to the edge of High Reaches so that we could return back towards Laxcorna and
our home. Back home where Kowl would be waiting to see us yet again. I laughed
to myself thinking how surprised he would be to see Dorono. He was still especially
young when Dorono left, so his memories were faint.
We had taken the long route to escape from High
Reaches, and had already spent an extra night out on the snow wastelands. There
was a reason that we had decided to take the longer route. While the shorter
one would save us two days, it also had no cover at all. The only thing the
short route housed besides miles of snow was the odd strangely tree which offered
no cover. I would rather be stuck up in the mountains for another couple of
days in relative safety, than to risk all to get back more quickly.
The route we had chosen was not completely barren;
there was actually a fair amount of pine trees, and rocks. Also, the very mountain
gave us protection with the way it loomed over us.
This did not last forever though, for as we
reached the last couple of miles of our trip the trees started to thin again.
"This is it. From here on out we will have no
cover and no protection and anyone can see us," I said surveying the open space
between our destination and us.
"We will make it." Dorono's green eyes held
no fear of what could be. I smiled.
"Let us go then."
Through some form of luck we reached the cliff
that over looked Laxcorna without running into a speck of trouble. Whatever
had given us that luck, I thanked with all my heart.
"Wow…" Shadow said looking at the view. "So
that is Laxcorna."
"Yep," Kalzar said with a nod and a smile. "Home
to Queen Laiondite, and the many famous knights who make up her army." "Yes,
I've heard all those tales about that. Most of it sounds like it is made up
though. Imagine it, a green knight and a runaway princess saving the kingdom
from an entire army all on their own." Shadow snorted with laughter.
"You're right, they didn't do it on their own,"
Kalzar said grinning. "Zarrel Charmain along with the black Uni twins helped
a great deal."
I started to nod, when suddenly it hit me. "Wait,
He turned to face me, "What?"
"How did you know that?" My voice was dark.
I had not told him of that, and the only people I knew who knew of that event
were Queen Laiondite, Corinth, Wintroq, and my own family.
Kalzar looked stricken. "Um, you see… I…" He
looked to be at a loss of words.
"Tell me now Kalzar."
"Okay, I'll say," he sighed. "You see, my father.
My father was in Teralk's army, and he told me the whole thing," he said in
"Your father was a member of Teralk's army?"
I said with relative surprise. Teralk was an evil Lupe warlord who almost killed
me, and taken over Laxcorna. It was because of him and his creatures that Tarnox
"Yes," Kalzar said solemnly. "I was afraid that
you would shun me if you found out. You see, I hate what Teralk did."
I shrugged. "You would have made a lot more
sense if you had just told us right off instead of hiding all of that," he shed
a light grin.
Shadow looked over the ridge into the vast lands
below it, and then up at the setting sun. "Are you going to scale this cliff
now? As it is, I don't think you'll make it down before nightfall."
I looked too. "You're right Shadow. Let's spend
one more night here, and then, at dawns first light, we will make our way home."
We took the night in shifts again. This time
I was the third to take watch. I sat with my back to the cliff scanning the
horizon for any sign of approaching creatures until my time to keep watch was
up. I then stumbled over to Kalzar, awakening him to take his watch before I
fell into a restless sleep.
I finally couldn't take it anymore. With a long
yawn, I opened my eyes, and the first thing I saw was that Kalzar was upon the
ground asleep. I grumbled to myself and was bringing myself to my feet when
I saw it. Coming from all sides were approaching creatures, and at their lead
was none other than Dsupa and Jown himself.
To be continued...