September 4, 2011 by News
Iacaus turns down chance to come to Ethaia
“You should see that young lady track, Iacaus. Raul has finally had a pupil who was worth his effort. The rumor is that he bought her scout clothes when she was 13 years old. That would have been four years now. And that she is better than any other scout except the old man himself.” Utiatias circled, sword drawn. After himself, Iacaus and a elf named Janeyl were the best swordsmen in the kingdom. Janeyl beat them both with the bow. The elves lunged and withdrew, no matter what the other did, the first was unbeatable. Finally Commander Kaecon called it a draw, setting the referee’s flag down. “I wonder how she is with sword, I’m told she prefers that to dagger or bow.” The three men were walking to the commons area to go to Kaecon’s office. Utias spoke again, “Are you sure you won’t join us, Iacaus? We could use another body guard it and wouldn’t hurt to have another squad leader. I’ve got Eoske, but there are two squads.”
“No, you go play babysitter for a spoiled brat, diplomats are bad enough. I’ll pass.”
“What do you mean diplomats are bad enough? You are not guarding diplomats any more. All you have been guarding has been the lint under your bed.” Kaecon looked sternly at Utiatias, he shrugged. Iacaus was nearly killed on his last assignment when the person he was guarding insisted on going into a dangerous part of the country. He had lost his dragon friend who gave his life to give him a chance to get away. Since then Iacaus had not worked at all. Utias knew that, but his trying to get Iacaus to join them using teasing was not going to work, he would come on his own if he came at all. Kaecon was sure he would, he just needed time.
Iacaus watched Kaecon and Utiatias head back to the store room to check on some of the equipment there. He had been hearing about this project since he was old enough to serve. Many thought it was a large waste of time, waiting for the princess to come of age to serve her. That made sense, she was the only heir the kingdom had at the moment, even if she wouldn’t have her own children. But this bit about her being a leader in her own right, without a kingdom, when she wasn’t even to her majority. Just because of a ballad found on the wall of a monastery. That was too far fetched, stories like that never happened any more, even if the one it supposedly foretold was the crown princess – who didn’t even know she was a crown princess. If the one man wasn’t his commander and the other his friend he would have told them where their ideas led.
It had been over a year since his last conversation with Utiatias and Kaecon. Iacaus thought about them occasionally and this was one of the rare times he was. Suddenly Iacaus heard a commotion on the landing in front of the stables. About twenty five horses with riders milled around. Some were waiting to go into the stables, other were forming up to leave. He blinked and stared, the leader of the squad was Utiatias. He hadn’t seen him since he left on his ridiculous journey a year ago to be part of a platoon to take care of that half elf girl. He looked around quickly and saw the girl leading a black charger into the stable – followed by two large black wolves. She was dressed in black as well, with a black cloak that went to the ground and had a hood. It looked like some type of amateur attempt at being a scout. The city guard commander saw him standing and staring. “Come on, grab your horse, the Princess’ party ran into some trolls and we are going to make sure they have gone.” He got his horse and led him to the front of the stable to mount, followed by the princess who was making her way towards the commons. He glanced at her to see more what she looked at andnoticed she was staring at her escort with a yearning look, wanting to go back out with them. He then noticed her tunic was covered with blood.
Urging his horse on, he caught up with Utiatias quickly, his expression asking all. “We got into some trolls and they gave up fighting and moved on. If Aleyne hadn’t sensed them they would have been all over us before we could respond.”
“The Princess, Aleyne. Nobody calls her by her title, it’s either Aleyne or My Lady.”
Iacaus, who most of his service with the diplomatic corps, knew that the only people called by their name were not worthy of respect, “She is that bad?” he asked with doubt in his voice.
“NO!” Utiatias said almost sternly, “She is that good.”
Iacaus paused his conversation while they investigated the place where they had fought and picked up arrows. He was finding many that were not fletched in the manner of the elf ones, they had more of a twist and black fletching. Each had made a fatal shot, more so than any other arrows on the hillside. “These are odd arrows.” He held up one to show Utias, “Who ever used them killed with every shot.”
“That wouldn’t surprise me,” he replied, “She designed those arrows with extra twist for distance, the bowman makes them special, the black feathers was his idea.” Iacaus looked down the hill at the distance. “Funny thing is,” Utias continued, “other than Janeyl nobody else can get any accuracy at this distance using those arrows, and half the time she can above Janeyl.”
“Who does?” Iacaus was prepared to be impressed, nobody beats Janeyl.
“Well, the Princess of course, who else would?”
Iacaus froze, staring at Utias who was getting on his horse. “You are going to tell me that an eighteen year old girl is better than an archer who has trained her whole life and can beat anyone in the country?”
Utias looked at him seriously, “And I’ve never beaten her with a sword either.” He turned and rode up the hill where the tracker had picked up the trolls’ trail.
Iacaus put his horse in its stall and groomed him, then wandered through the barn looking at all the horses that had come with the escort. Most he recognized as belonging to friends of his, others he knew from the fields where the horses were bred and trained. He got back to the barn and there was the Princess’s charger, the two wolves resting near her feet.
“Why would anyone keep wolves.” he wondered out loud.
A voice behind him said, “They are here of their own free will, nobody has told them to stay.” said the stable girl.
Iacaus asked, dubious, “Why would they willingly come to serve a human?”
“Because the human’s heart is pure and she is a true warrior.”
Iacaus looked at her a moment and walked out of the stable shaking his head. Who was this girl, someone from a legend?
The following day he was at the stable and Janeyl came in to saddle her horse and the girl’s. She saw him and started giggling.
“What?” he said to his friend.
“I’m sorry, seeing you reminded me of something that happened at the pool last night.” He listened. Not much made Janeyl giggle, she was usually a somber girl. “Aleyne has not seen a naked man before. She jumped in the pool like it was the one at home and nearly came screaming back out when she saw that some of the occupants were undressed.”
This time he giggled at the thought of anyone being afraid of a naked body. “I bet she would stay in the pool if I approached.”
“You’re on,” Janeyl laughed. “It wouldn’t be easy, I’m going to win.” She took the horses outside and stood by the queens bodyguard, who also had two horses.
Later that day he stopped by Kaecon’s office in the commons. Quietly he asked, “Do you still need help and Utiatias too?”
Kacon looked at him and with a serious tone answered, “It’s not a job, it’s a life. It’s not something you can walk away if you don’t like your duties or the princess.”
“I know, but I’ve been watching what everyone has been doing, I think I might even enjoy the Princess.”
Kaecon considered him silently had then got a twinkle in his eyes, “I think perhaps you would.” Just then Janeyl bust into the room.
“Damn those trolls, damn that road.” Kaecon looked at her startled. “Dad, I need to leave, it isn’t going to work.”
He nodded and turned to Iacaus, “Do you think you could be a body guard for tonight, I can find someone else tomorrow.”
“OK, only for one day. But why are we guarding her in the city?”
“She has received threats from citizens that think a half elf should not rule.”
Iacaus nodded at the need. “Where is she now?”
“She was going to our flat and then the pools when I came here.” Janeyl said.
Iacaus left for the pools.
Kaecon watched him go and smiled.
“What are you thinking?” Janeyl asked.
“That he would balance Aleyne well, she is wild as a colt and he is patient as the water. They would be a good match.”
Janeyl thought of her friend of the last year, she had never thought about her some day needing a mate. Her father was nearly always right about what he saw in people, she hoped for Aleyne he was with this. “Go, find Ayondri.” He said with a smile. And she left his office heading for the stable.
Iacaus meets Aleyne
Iacaus had left the office and head up to the bathing pool, Aleyne was there with her head in a corner of the pool, trying not to see anyone but trying to rest. She would drift off and then be woken when her face hit the water. Looking at her, he saw a pair of horrible scars. One was on the top of her shoulder, the other under that same arm. They were the type of scars only caused by fighting, probably a mace in this case, and they were very old. How could an 18 year old have scars that old? Across her shoulders the skin was dimpled because the muscles were tight, he winced and entered the pool, speaking quietly as he approached. “Let me rub those shoulders for you, I know how that feels.” She jumped up to leave and then surrendered to the temptation. It would feel so very good to have the kinks rubbed out of a back that was still sore from their fight with the trolls today.
He finished and she climbed out of the pool, When he announced that he was taking Janeyl’s place for a day, she was upset but accepted it. He watched her go thinking he could watch this girl until tomorrow. She was pleasant and sounded like she would make a great companion to converse about any number of things.
In the morning he wasn’t sure what time she started her day so he got there early and leaned against the rail. A short time later she emerged wearing scout clothes and hurrying to the stable. She spoke about her animals and then mentioned her dragon. Nobody had said that she was dragon-bond, but for some reason he was not surprised. When they entered the stable there was kicking and screaming coming from the corner stall where her mare was stabled. The stable girl was working to get a halter on the stallion. Aleyne rushed into the stall and he pulled her back, there was no way of knowing if the stallion was pleasant or not.
“What are they doing?” she asked, she apparently had never seen horses together before.
“They are making a baby horse.” Iacaus said, half joking.
She looked at the mare and looked at him, “Do I need to put up curtains?” He laughed until tears filled his eyes. Then he did something he had never done with someone he was guarding before, he gave her a hug. The stable girl had things controlled so he suggested they could come back later.
As they were coming from the stable a large dragon landed in front of them. He was looking as big as he could be and menacing.
“What are you doing!” Aleyne exclaimed running to Onyx.
Then Iacaus spoke to him indragon tongue, “If you think you are going to back me off when it is my job to protect her you will have to start working at it now.” The dragon backed off and lowered his head. Iacaus’ eyes were full of tears. Aleyne looked between Iacaus and Onyx with amazement.
Seeing their confusion Iacaus said, “Cinder died saving me and the woman I was protecting from a large compliment of trolls. We were going to die, but he fought them while we ran. I ran from my best friend to save someone I didn’t even know.”
Now Onyx had his nose on the ground with quiet croon and Aleyne was trying to slow her tears. Iacaus gently nudged the side of Onyx’s head with his foot.
“Now you, you don’t have to worry about me taking your place in Aleyne’s life, you will always be her friend. But silly dragon, she will have one or many human or elf boyfriends in her life. If you ever do that again because you are jealous, I hope she will shoot you. I will lend her the arrow if she needs one.” Onyx apologized with his head again, and Iacaus shoved him off. “Go now, I want to watch a beautiful dragon fly, it’s been a while since I have.”
Aleyne asked Iacaus, “You knew my dragon’s private name?”
“Yes, I always do, I guess it is a dragon’s final reward to their friend.”
As they were walking up the steps to the housing level, Iacaus realized that he wasn’t upset about the dragon, in fact he welcomed him. He was ready to work around dragons again.
As they ascended, the girl asked again about Janeyl, and he gave the same answer as before. She even accused him of being Janeyl’s love interest.
“Me?” Iacaus said startled, “No, I am someone who is going to join your staff. I will help Kaecon with the estate, along with helping Utiatias since we are doubling the guard.”
She dropped her head and mumbled about being too much trouble.
Iacaus did something he’d not done since his sisters left with his parents when they went on sabbatical, he ruffled her hair. “So many people want to work in a job that is expected to last forever and doesn’t pay. We have to turn them away. There is something about you that is dynamic, you run the platoon off their feet and your personal bodyguard past sane. But they cry with you, they feel your anger and your sorrow, they love you Aleyne.” He paused to realized that he had learned that himself only in the last few days, and that he believed every word.
Aleyne went into her flat to deposit her sword and put on a bathing robe, she came out with a hurt look on her face. Iacaus reached for her with a question. “Her things are gone, all of them. There isn’t a note.” For the second time he gave her a hug then followed her to the bathing pool. While she bathed she asked questions about the elves and the city.
Her bath was done and she still had questions but she was getting cold. Noticing her shivering he started to suggest that he leave so she could go. Suddenly she asked him if he would come in and sit so she could ask more questions.
As they talked Aleyne grew more tired, finally drifting to sleep. Not exactly sure what he should do, Iacaus got a blanket and put it over her, then went and sat across the room. As he sat he realized that he really wanted to be this girl’s body guard. He hoped Kaecon wouldn’t mind if it did. He could do his other duties as well.
When morning came Aleyne opened her eyes and saw Iacaus sitting across from her on a chair. His soft gray eyes were watching, long chestnut hair loosely tied at the nape of his neck. “I wasn’t sure which would be proper to stay or to leave, so I just stayed. I hope you don’t mind.”
His heart jumped when she replied, “No, for some reason I don’t.”