It was a fairly uneventful trip to Delinash for Aylan.  Long, but thankfully quite uncomplicated.  He took note of an old wooden road sign marking the remaining distance to his childhood home, and almost allowed himself to smile.  His mother had passed away years ago, he knew, but his brothers and cousins and aunts still awaited him.  Though he had been but a child when he saw them last, the thought still comforted him.  As he tried to remember all of their faces, his thoughts were interrupted as the carriage jarred from a sudden impact.

            “Damn it all!”  He heard Lindar shout from the front of the carriage.  Lindar was the thin one, and Ogden was the black bearded heavier soldier.  Aylan had the fortune of actually learning their names over the last few extremely boring days.

            “Aylan, come on out here and give us a hand, would ye?” He heard Ogman call.

            Sighing, Aylan pried himself stiffly out of his seat and walked slowly around to where the two of them stood staring helplessly at the front right wheel.

            “Seems she broke on that rock there,” Ogden said, scratching his head.  “Aylan, could ye bend down and see if the axle broke or not?”

            Aylan gave him a disgusted look, but decided he may as well help the blundering fools. The cleanest road in the kingdom, and they managed to find a rock big enough to bring down our carriage, he thought.  He kneeled down to get a closer look at the wheel, which seemed intact enough.  Aylan looked a bit further underneath the vehicle at the axle but saw nothing wrong. Fools,he though. One bump and they-

            A sharp pain in the back of Aylan’s head exploded through him.  He didn’t even have time to finish his thoughts before unconsciousness took him.


            *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          

            When Aylan finally opened his eyes again, he found himself back in the same carriage again with his hands and feet bound.  Night had fallen, and the carriage was moving once again.  There were people in the cab with him now, he noticed.  It was dark, but next to him and across from him were two unconscious figures, bound as well.  Sitting diagonally from him was an armed man, sitting up and looking out the window next to him.  Aylan could not make out his features in the dark, but the man was neither Lindar nor Ogden.  He was too solid to be the skinny one and too trim to be the heavy Turothian.  Steel glinted in his lap as moonlight would randomly peek through the narrow windows.  Aylan was scared for a moment, but shrugged it off. I’ve been captive for quite some time now it would seem,he thought. What does it matter if I am a bit longer?

           “Ah, you are awake,” said the shadowy figure dryly.  “I told those two fools we should’ve given you some comanisi.  I do hope you aren’t much for conversation.”

            “My head hurts too much for all that,” Aylan spat.

            The stranger chuckled.  “I had nothing to do with that, I assure you.  Brutes, those two are.  I would’ve slipped a little something into your drink, but alas, you were in the care of those fools.  Well, you still are, partially.  They still sit together at the front of this pathetic carriage like star-crossed lovers.”

            “I can already tell I’m in better hands,” Aylan quipped, raising his bound hands up to show the man. 

            “I like you,” the man replied.  “I like a man with a sense of humor.  As for the bonds, I apologize.  We can’t very well let you run about free after you realize you’ve been kidnapped, now can we?”

            “Kidnapped, am I?  What about these two?”  Aylan nodded at the other two bound figures in the cabin, both still quite unconscious.

            “You don’t recognize your brothers?”  Aylan could almost feel the man’s smug smile.  “Ah yes, understandable.  It has been quite a while since you’ve seen them, I hear.”

            Aylan sat silently, but he raged inside.  He squinted and tried to examine the features of the boys next to him, but between the years passed and the darkness, no sparks of recognition flared for him.

            “So what if they are,” Aylan said through gritted teeth.  “What the hell are you planning on doing with us?”

            “Don’t children like surprises?” The man laughed yet again.  “I think you three will be in for a quite a big one.”

            “Cut me free and give me my sword back and we will see who the child is, you twit!”  Aylan was seething with anger in his seat, his fingers itching to choke the man.

            “I’m sure you had some wonderful lessons from your sergeant at arms, my little lordling, but I doubt you are ready for a fight with me.  Perhaps some other time.  For now you’d better pipe down before Ogden hears and comes to knock you over the head again.”

            Aylan settled back in his seat.  He was tired of being chained and imprisoned, tired of being led around on a leash.  Most of all though, he was tired of surprises. 

            “So what are you going to do when my father finds out you’ve stolen his sons?”  Aylan asked after a few minutes.

            “He won’t.  It could be years before he remembers he has sons, and by then… Well, by then, it will be too late for all of you, king included.”  The man spoke with an air of confidence.  Aylan wanted nothing more than to beat that out of him at that very moment.  “As far as he is concerned you are all holed up in your little keep in Delinash, and there is no one that will tell him different.”

            “Well, I guess that everything will work out for you, mister… do you have a name or should I call you an overconfident fool?”

            “It’s Bolden, if you must know.  Bolden Leine, your friendly area sellsword, if you please.”

           Bolden, how appropriate a name for such a confident, smug bastard, Aylan thought.   He laid his head back against the back of the carriage cabin and said no more.  As always, the dreams came quickly and unexpectedly.

The End

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