The Protecter Chronicles: The Beginning of the End - Part Two
"NO! Absolutely NOT!"
Algerdon waited for Fire to stop storming about
the room, and decided to try once more.
"But, I really want to buy that Thieves Dagger,
and I am REALLY good at Round Table Poker. Can't I just set aside like 400 Neopoints,
or even less, of my allowance for the Chance Games? You play Bagatelle! Why
can't I play chance games too?"
He opened his eyes as wide as they would go,
and willed them to get teary and shiny. It didn't work. Fire glared at him.
"That's different--I always make 4 times more
than what I put into it, where YOU always lose. I have already told you, NO
chance games. And that's my final word."
She turned and walked off, no doubt headed for
her study, the one room in the house where she could have peace and quiet for
her writing. Algerdon groaned and started to head out the door, when he saw
Keoyasha headed out the front door.
"Hey, Keo, where are you going?" he asked curiously.
"Oh, I'm just headed for Illusen's glade; I want
to do another quest."
Algerdon watched her, then suddenly ran up to
her. "Wait, Keo, can you do a favor for me?"
Algerdon quickly whispered hasty instructions
in her ear, occasionally glancing about to ensure that Laurel hadn't decided
to listen in. Finally, he finished, and waited, and Keoyasha frowned in concentration.
Finally, she said, "Ok, I forgot. Tell me again-where do I go?"
She smiled brightly and waited patiently, her
long, sky blue tail slowly swishing, and her huge, blue eyes blinking placidly.
Algerdon sighed, and tried to remind himself that he needed to be patient with
the Uni, and that it was hard to get a messenger that wouldn't squeal as soon
as he or she got back to the Peadackle Pub for their evening pick-me-up.
"You take Peaky Stone, that's our street, dead
north until you go past Meri Acres. Then you turn right onto Turnip Close, and
just keep walking. Eventually it will turn into Royal Parade as it passes the
castle, and after you pass the Peadackle Pub you turn left down a small side
street. My friend, erm, Chip, will be there, and you just hand the letter over
to him. After that, you come straight home. Got it?"
After a moment's thought, the blue Uni smiled.
"Not really, no. Can you tell me again?"
Algerdon gritted his teeth. The young Shadow
Zafara had never been known for his patience, that's for sure.
"OK, here it is, one more time..."
He carefully repeated his instructions and waited
hopefully, almost feeling desperate. Finally, after what felt like a century,
"OK, I think I got it this time."
Algerdon sighed with relief.
"Are you sure? Absolutely certain?" he slumped
as he watched her frown slightly.
"Well, not entirely, of course... but I think
I can manage... unless you want to go over them again...?"
"Uh, no, that, that's ok, I'm sure you got it,"
Algerdon hastily assured her, and he slumped against the doorpost and watched
her canter quietly away in the moonlight. Normally, he wouldn't have trusted
a chore like this to a commoner, but he trusted Bran to keep her out of trouble.
He turned to enter the house, only to smack his nose into Laurel's forehead.
"Uh, hi, Laurel, I'm going out for a walk, so
would you mind letting Fire know so she doesn't worry? I'd really appreciate
The green Uni was silent, surveying him slowly,
and then nodded.
"Fine. Just stay outta trouble, and don't expect
me to stand up for you when you come back six hours past your curfew, or lie
when Mom asks where you are."
He nodded. "Yeah, yeah, I know, be back by ten,
stay outta the pubs, don't go near the castle, don't antagonize the guards,
don't throw stuff at the Crokabeks, stop hanging around by the dock, and watch
my pocket. I know, I know. See ya!"
And before the green Uni could say another word,
Algerdon took off like a shot, racing down the street as fast as he could.
The Shadow Zafara slowed down to a jog, and then
a walk as he entered town, and finally ambled over to the Peadackle Pub, glancing
around first to make sure that Laurel hadn't decided to follow him. After a
moments thought he slipped inside. He had work to do, but first he needed a
little spare change.
After playing at Round Table Poker for a couple
hours, the clock struck ten and he looked up expectantly. Sure enough, a fat,
Fire Skeith wandered in, and sat down heavily next to him.
"Well, my lad, what is it tonight?" he asked
loudly, then slipped him a small piece of paper under the table.
Algerdon's heart skipped a beat, and he just
shook his head.
"Nah, not tonight, Darl. I'm late, past my curfew.
If I show up on the doorstep at three in the morning again like last time, well,
I think Laurel would just burst into a thousand pieces. She near raised the
roof with the ruckus she kicked up... and as for Fire, well, it wasn't pretty."
The Skeith threw his head back and roared with
laughter, causing the blue Wocky seated behind their table to fall off his chair
"Oh, sorry, m' lad... here you go."
Darl helped the indignant Wocky back to his feet,
and ordered him another cider. He turned back to Algerdon, who was shaking with
laughter that he was valiantly suppressing.
"What? I can't help it, ya know. Ya might think
I was one of them rogues that run about the south end o' town... you never know,
my lad, you never know..."
He trailed off and stared in puzzlement at Algerdon,
who was now howling with laughter, and leaning, over his tankard of cider, wheezing
"You... you... know that... that was the Lord
Sheriff of Meridell there, that you scared? You're going to run out of that
luck of yours, one of these days."
Algerdon took a deep breath and rubbed the back
of his paw over his watery eyes.
"Arr, now, weel, you see that 'ta poor lad was
a needing me guidance, and so ah jest steered him to the floor..."
He spoke, impudently imitating the Skeith's strong
brogue, rolling the r's, then burst into laughter again.
Darl was a leading council member with the Protectors,
and Algerdon had harbored hopes of training under him. The Protectors were an
elite league of lords, ladies, knights, merchants, commoners, pickpockets, bandits
and others devoted to fighting evil and keeping Meridell and Brightvale safe.
The Skeith shook his head in wonderment, and
"Well, now, that's an adventure I'll be able
to brag about at the next meeting. Scaring the Lord Sheriff, now, that's something
new," he said dryly.
Algerdon laughed. The Lord Sheriff, Danner, was
not known for his, ah, bravery in combat. Algerdon yawned loudly, and then groaned
as he glanced at the clock. Ten thirty. He stood up and stretched, and under
the pretense of fumbling for his wallet, slipped the note in his pouch, and
winked at Darl.
"Well, I better start heading home--Laurel's
gonna have a heyday with this; it'll be eleven by the time I get back. See you
around, and give your family my regards."
Darl just chuckled, and leaned back in his chair.
"Will, do, my boy, will do."
Algerdon nodded and stepped out into the cool
night air, and glanced around. It was dark and cold, despite the fact it was
the end of summer, but the oncoming autumn winds had already floated down from
the north, and he wished he had his cloak. Shivering slightly, he suddenly sprinted
up the street, silent as a shadow, and just as invisible.
He reached the house just as he heard the clock
strike eleven, and he quietly slipped through his window into his bedroom. He
settled down on his bed, and carefully lit a candle--it wouldn't do to wake
up Laurel or Fire. He stared at the letter in his paws, his heart thumping.
Then carefully, so as not to break the seal, he opened and then unfolded the
parchment. The missive was written in a strong, flowing hand and brief and to
To Algerdon "Ger" Xendri:
Your request has been denied. Certain dynamics
may cause your situation to change over time. Please speak to your Shadow if
you have need to contact the council. Your duties will not change, and your
valuable services are still needed for other various operations. Thank you,
Algerdon groaned, and crumpled the parchment
up in his hands, his thoughts racing. Where had he gone wrong? He wondered.
He had kept to the rules, sort of, obeyed his Shadow and trainer, usually, and
done a perfect job on all operations. He lay back on the bed, staring at the
ceiling glumly. Suddenly he sat up, almost knocking his lamp over. Darl would
know! He grinned, and settled down. Yes, he would ask Darl tomorrow night, at
To be continued...