Tying Up Some Loose Ends

He wasn't kidding.

Brandon stood in shock as the men bustled about, obeying his orders. They braced all the doors and the archers began taking their places on the tops of the various walls and turrets. A change occurred in him that moment. A small change, perhaps, but still a change. They're really listening to me, he thought. Not only that... They're RELYING on me! And I barely know anything about ANYTHING that's going on here!

"Excuse me," he said awkwardly to an archer who looked like he was in quite a hurry. "Could you er... take me to the highest roof of this castle? I want to get a good look at... everything."

"Certainly, My Liege," the archer bowed quickly and continued half-walking/half-running toward the exit. Brandon followed him to what should have been obviously the way to the roof. They speed-walked through a great door that left the main hall and became a dark stone stairway along the outer wall of the castle.

The stairway was wide enough for five people to walk abreast, but still Brandon's stomach felt quite uneasy in this creepy passage. The torches on the wall were the only source of light, and the stairs and the shadow of the archer in front of him flickered in and out of his vision. He wondered how long the stairs could be... How tall the tallest tower actually was...

Finally they stepped out into the open night air. The other archers were lined around the perimeter, crouched down behind the wall, and staring at him.

Before Brandon could say anything, or even think anything, he noticed a massive purple object flying straight towards him.

Clover crashed gracelessly onto the tower, scaring the bejeezus out of the unsuspecting archers. He collapsed to the floor and heaved a huge sigh of relief and smoke and a few sparks.

"Clover! Where have you been all night and day?" Brandon asked. "You look like hell."

"Delivered... letter," he panted. "Flew away."

"You didn't wait for a reply?" Brandon blurted. "You--"

"I wasn't ordered to wait for a reply, Your Majesty!" Clover spat. "Maybe you don't realize the danger you sent me into!" Apparently he was capable of complete sentences now.

"Well, just so you know, My Lord... about halfway back here, another dragon caught up with me. She was yelling nasty things at me, for betraying the dragon race by not joining with her precious Master. And then she made fun of me for being reduced to a messenger boy. But I saw that she was carrying a scroll. So I asked if that was her Master's response, and I accused her of being nothing more than a simple servant. Then she attacked me."

"I'll spare you the details, but the point is: I won. No, no, I didn't kill her... although she would have gladly killed me..." Clover snorted in anger. "Anyway, I took the stupid message from her and brought it to you." and with that, Clover rolled the scroll across the floor to Brandon, and flew over the edge of the tower, presumably to wherever he normally sleeps.

Brandon grabbed the scroll, opened it hastily, and read it.

You are every bit as naive as I had expected, Tassian. I would of course be honored to speak with you in person. Meet me as soon as you get this message, at the pub on the east side of Thayer Village - which, by the way, I have recently conquered. I will be waiting for you.

The End

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