The weather at the edge of the wildlands is said to be slightly unpredictable, but I seem to remember hearing something about it being the dry season here. Not to mention that it is summer. Kiran observed aimlessly as he listened to the storm raging outside. I never would have thought that iron-grey clouds and waterfalls of rain interspaced with snow would be considered a dry season or summer. I am so glad that the masters decided to use the Great Hall for combined classes– except for the fact that I have to wait in a freezing room and speak to the initiates–… Hmm, this has the markings of the masters plotting something…hmm…
Kiran opened his eyes at a small sound. The room’s door opened and an initiate stepped in. He stopped at the door, shivered, and glared at the unlit fireplace as if it had offered a personal affront, before he sat down. What was that about? Then the door slammed open and a mass of talkative initiates rushed into the room. Okay I’ll give them a moment to get situated. Several minutes passed as they sat, huddled together for warmth, and continued talking.
“Ahem,” Kiran cleared his throat, “Ello.” And none of the initiates, other than the first one in, paid any attention. This is very odd; normally initiates are well behaved and pay attention to, even when they don’t know I am an El`har’seu; so I guess I’ll have to make them. Kiran thought. Where’s that chalk... hmm, this’ll work better. The group quieted as a paperweight sliced through the middle of them and continued through the wall behind them. Oops. “Good, paying attention now? We are heading to the great hall to work instead of staying in this drafty room. Now onward!” Kiran stood and walked out the door, followed a moment after by a class of confused initiates.
Kiran guided the initiates through the cold hallways before leading them outside, onto the canvas covered walkways and finally into the welcoming warmth of the Great Hall. Inside Kiran noticed that his fellow journeymen were being carefully, so as to not cause well founded terror to the rest, separated from their students and taken to the armory. I just won a bet with myself, I’m going to have to go and treat myself and I to a nice meal and a new…Kiran’s thought trailed off as the flagstones under his feet trembled.
“Ello Kiran,” Kiran turned to see Ryan thundering towards him. Ryan was a virtual mountain of a man, towering head, shoulders, and often chest, above any of the mere mortals beneath him, and he strode through the initiates like a whale among minnows. “How was your first day with the initiates?”
“Earthshaking,” Kiran deadpanned.
“Earthshaking? Earthshaking it must be to render the flamboyant Kiran so emotionless. Tell me my friend, what revelation was so earthshaking.”
Kiran grinned up at him. “I said that it was earthshaking, and between you and the thunderstorm outside it has been an earthshaking day.”
An apprentice cautiously approached them, “Sirs, I am to take your classes. If you would head over to the armory and get your assignments.”
“Crap!” Ryan yelped and then glared at Kiran, “I assume that your lack of surprise means that you knew about this.” Ryan asked accusatorily.
“No I didn’t know about it, but I suspected that we would be having the games today. I even won a bet with myself over it,” Kiran paused, “and speaking of which I owe myself a good meal and a new rain poncho.”
“You bet against yourself again?” Ryan’s tone made it less of a question and more of an accusation. “Why do you always do that? What is so much better about betting against yourself?”
Kiran shrugged “The house always wins. And we should probably be heading to the armory, otherwise Master Evan will be livid if we’re late” And, with that he strode off. Ryan followed silently a moment later with a bemused look on his face.
* * *
“I apologize, Master Evan, we–.” Kiran started.
“If I had a hair for each time I’ve heard those words, I wouldn’t be bald.” Evan snapped. Master Evan was a small wizened man whose sole pleasure in his job, as he put it, was beating the living daylights out of disrespectful journeymen. “Now the two of you are lucky, tonight, Kiran you are assigned to Mage-healer duties on Overwatch.” He paused and handed Kiran his equipment.
“Silestra steel knife, rowan leaves…” Kiran’s voice trailed off as he checked his supplies, finally he announced, “It’s all here.”
“Good, Ryan you are assigned to healer duty also on Overwatch.” Evan continued after Ryan had checked his satchel. “All there? Good. Now your weapons,” He pulled out a pair of swords, “Healer’s blades, the lower third has a serrated edge. Report to the scorekeepers at the flare outside of the west city gate, and,” Evan began to grin, “you had better not be late.”
Their replies were smothered by the rain as they fled. They sped across the Order’s compound and the surrounding city in true journeyman style, launching themselves in shallow bounds that carried them great distances before they landed and repeated. Unfortunately when they reached the city wall, the gate it was barred shut.
“Should we unbar it? Ryan ventured after a moment.
“It won’t be necessary.”
“Whyever not?” Ryan looked over at Kiran in time to see him leap, and he vanished into the darkness that cloaked the top of the wall. There was a soft curse and a scramble a moment later. Ryan grinned, “Somebody seems to have misjudged the height of the wall, or else slipped while landing. By the way, Master Lightfoot, do you happen to have a plan to get me up there? I unfortunately happen to be too heavy to just soar up walls like you can.”
A thin rope flopped against the wall in response. “Climb up!” Kiran yelled his voice almost drowned out by the rain.
Ryan glanced at the rope, which was thinner than his little finger, and then pulled his hood off and glared up at the top of the wall. “Do you really think that this won’t break from the strain of my weight? And also, how am I supposed to grab this? It’s almost too small for me to grab on to.”
“Just start climbing already!”
“Alright, alright, I’m coming.” Ryan yelled as he began to climb, and stopped a foot of the ground to speak “And where in the world did you get this rope? It’s impressive; it’s barely stretching under my weight. And also–”
“You’re too slow!” Kiran voice filtered down through a sudden barrage of thunder.
Ryan began to climb again. “What do you mean, too slow, I can’t go any faster and you can’t make m–eeeeeeee–” and with a scream, Ryan shot up the face of the wall.
Kiran was waiting at the top and when Ryan arced over the edge of the wall, he grabbed Ryan and flung him over the other side. Kiran then stepped onto the parapet and stepped off of the edge.
* * *
Kiran found Ryan extracting himself from the mud that he landed in. “Need a hand?” he asked grinning, before reaching down and levering Ryan out of the mud.
“I really hate I when you–”
“Silestra-silk rope.” Kiran interrupted, “hundred feet and enspelled with a non-slip grip. It was a journey gift from my parents.
“A hundred feet of silestra-silk rope, about four fire-marks, as a journey gift? It really helps being royalty doesn’t it Master El`har’seu. Ryan shook his head exasperatedly.
A hilltop in the distance began to flare red, the light reflected by the rain, and as Kiran activated his mage-sight, a brilliant green.
“There is the flare.” Kiran started walking toward it. “And it’s not my fault that my father happens to be the king of El`har. I didn’t pick them, and I think that it is more of a reconciliation gift than a journey gift.
“Why a reconciliation gift?”
“It has to do with the last ball that they forced me to attend; apparently I happened to be Thee prize catch for the young ladies to show off to their mothers… I felt like I was the only fox in miles with five hunts going on.
“More like hunted by vixons.”
“So my friend–”
“You are trying to get something out of me, aren’t you?” Kiran accused, “you would never sound so wheedling otherwise.
“Of course I am, and it is this. How did you manage to fling me up the wall so easily?”
“You should know that, I’m a El`har’seu, a heir to El`har, and we are much stronger than we look,” Kiran stopped before continuing in a quieter voice, “and casting a spell of lightening on you helped as well.
By this time they had reached the Overwatch position and a black form flitted from the shadows of the trees to stand in front of them.
“Journeyman Kiran assigned to Overwatch as mage-healer.”
“Journeyman Ryan assigned to Overwatch as healer.”
“I could kind of tell,” replied the form as he removed his hood, “after all you were speaking loud enough to be heard for miles”
“Ah, Caegan,” Kiran said, “That only happened because we didn’t want to sneak up and scare you.”
“As if,” he shot back, “Now the game has just started and I unfortunately happen to be assigned to the two of you as a guard for patrol.” Caegan adjusted his glasses.
“Then guard me!” yelled Kiran as he leapt into the trees and sprang across the forest with Ryan following.
“We lost him,” Ryan said after little more than a minute.
“That is kind of sad,” Kiran replied, as he stood balancing on a branch. “I guess that while we wait for him, I should watch for injuries.” He activated his mage sight.