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New Fiction: The Lost Heir Saga. Book One: The Heir Exiled, Part II, Chapter 1 - Show us your world through the view of your word.

namfleSep. 18th, 2013 10:43 am New Fiction: The Lost Heir Saga. Book One: The Heir Exiled, Part II, Chapter 1

The Prince has been chased from his home, running from his own army who hunt him with orders to bring him home... dead, or in chains. The Princess lies firmly within the clutches of Garunth, the man that killed their father, the King. (Read from the beginning here.)

When we last left the Prince, he had fled, with a broken arm and his feet torn to shreds, into the forest, to fall blindly into a cold river. What has become of the Prince? And what will become of his sister?

Find out... now.

by V Peter Collins

PART II: Havencliff Kingdom

CHAPTER 1: Jason

A sky of grey wept upon the land, the rain falling straight on a windless summer day. Deep within the clouds, distant thunder lazily rumbled, like a great beast grumbling in its sleep. Soaking in the rain were a trio of trees, their stony grey-brown bark made darker by the saturating moisture. These trees, the tallest of which reaching the height of ten men, were the center piece of the medium sized village known as Stoneroot.

Although it was mid-day, hardly a soul could be seen braving the weather. The lonely exception to this was a small figure huddled beside the village tavern, wearing a pile of ill-fitting rags. He seemed to be using the wooden wall of the tavern for shelter, but it provided very little.

A door behind the sodden figure opened and a thin, wrinkled fellow in short-sleeves and a leather, oil-splattered apron , stuck himself into the rain just enough to empty a vat of liquid refuse with a heave. He spied the soaked rags as he was closing the door and frowned, stretching the deep crevices on either side of his mouth. He briefly peered upward, squinting against the rainfall, then returned his gaze to the misery before him.

“Have you no home to escape this wash?” his voice was deep and gravelly, as if from three lifetimes of spirits, smoke-weed, and hollering.

The figure in the rags turned enough to reveal his face; large, wet curls of brown hair clung to his brow, and moisture hung onto the fuzzy growth above his lip. His eyes were dark and carried a deep sadness.

“Nay,” he replied in a hoarse whisper. “No longer.”

The tavern owner shook his head, feeling obvious sorrow for the young stranger’s plight. He moved to return inside, but paused before he had fully closed the door.

“Have you any aversion to hard work?” he asked at length. The wet fellow shrugged off a bit of rainwater that collected on his shoulder.

“I’ve a strong back and two strong hands,” he returned. The tavern owner opened the door again, an invitation.

“I’ll feed you and shelter you, if you can follow orders and do a good job,” he offered.

The rags sprang up into the form of a short young man. He slipped inside, through the open door and past his awaiting benefactor with such fluidity of motion as if he were made of the rainwater.

The young man found himself in a narrow space that lead into a large kitchen area. He stomped his feet and shook his coverings, loosing water all about in a wild spray. The tavern keep watched in amusement.

“You can take dry off by the cooking fire,” he said, pointing a lone, gnarled finger at the brick fire-pit and the pot-covered wire trap above it.

“Aye, and with thanks,” the wet fellow replied with a hint of exuberance mixed with his sincere gratitude.

“Call me Stel.” They walked into the kitchen, the younger moving much faster than the elder. “And your name?” asked Stel, after a moment.

The young fellow was tasting the first hints of comfort in what seemed an eternity; he was dancing before the warmth to shake even more excess moisture off and get his blood flowing again. So distracted was he that he nearly replied to Stel’s question thoughtlessly. He opened his mouth but caught himself before he could give himself away.

“I am called Jason,” he said ultimately. The name felt foreign on his tongue.

Stel nodded, possibly absentmindedly, then turned toward a set of swinging doors on the other side of the kitchen.

“Wait here a moment, I’ll bring you some clothes. Then, we’ll put you to work.”

“As you say, Master Stel,” Jason replied. The tavern keep shuffled off scratching his greying and thinning hair. Jason stretched his left arm and rotated it. He had sustained an injury months prior, although it had been properly ministered by a trained Mediciner, thus allowed to heal correctly, it still ached, especially during wet, stormy weather.

Jason took in his surroundings as he dried off. There was enough room to fit two cooks comfortably, and perhaps a third uncomfortably. Beside the cook-fire before him was a collection of pots and pans, and dishes made of wood or baked clay. On the other side of the fire was a great metal box with two doors that pulled downward to open; Jason assumed them to be ovens. A wide window over the counter, opposite the fire, offered a view of the empty dining hall that lay on the other side of the swinging doors.

The young man shivered, shaking off the last of the rain’s chill, then sighed. He was truly grateful for the reprieve from the unwelcome weather, but it hurt him at his core to be reduced to taking pleasure in what had once been a right and a privilege. He began to think of the family he had left behind, but quickly ended that line of thought, for he knew from experience that it would only lead to a deepening of his sorrow.

The swinging doors burst open then and Jason was thankful for the distraction. Stel had returned, carrying a wooden crate. On top were some old garments, and Jason could detect the sweet odor of candle wax. Stel set the crate upon the counter and beckoned for Jason with a curled finger.

“Here you go, my boy.” He pulled the garments out. They were a simple shirt, trousers and belt, all made of warn linen, their colors quite faded. Jason accepted the dry clothing and spied the familiar bright yellow of time candles. The crate was nearly filled to capacity with them.

Time candles, found in every household in The Kingdom, are no different from ordinary the light-bearing sort, save that they are graduated. The distance between each notch represents the time it takes the spinning Moon to make a full revolution. Most candle makers keep to the tradition of dying the wax yellow for rapid and easy identification.

“Get yourself into these dry clothes, and we’ll get you straight to work.”

Jason’s stomach growled embarrassingly loud. His cheeks flushed and his eyes fell ground-ward. Stel chuckled.

“Aye, ‘tis time for a meal. I’ll get something on the fire while you work.”

The job was simple enough. Jason was to carve additional notches into the time candles to indicate quarter and half turns, to make time telling for the tavern keep a bit more precise. The work went quickly enough, and as the rain continued to fall outside, Jason and Stel sat in the dining hall for a supper of stew and bread. The food was not of a quality of taste that the young man was accustomed to, but at the same time it was the first hot meal he had eaten in far too long, and for that he was quite grateful.

“Tell me,” the elder fellow began. He was watching, with a curious eye, the young man consume his stew in a sloppy, almost desperate fashion. “How does someone with strong hands and an eagerness for work find himself without a home or steady meals?”

Long, noisy moments past as Jason spooned broth and chunks of meat and vegetables into his mouth, splashing nearly as much onto the table around the bowl. Presently, he recognized that he had been spoken to. He slowed down and sat back, chewing the last mouthful. He broke off a piece of his bread and dipped it into the remains of the stew.

“Earlier in the year, they came for me,” he began. His voice had a haunted quality, reflecting the way his memories darkened his mind.

“Soldiers?” filled in Stel, intrigued. Jason nodded, sorrow writ on his face. Stel shook his head with sympathy. “I thought we had seen the last of conscripted military service when King Durst died.” He let out a long, woeful breath. “I’d thought King Jardinne was beyond that sort of thing, with all the fighting done and over with.”

The name of The King on the man’s lips brought a sting to Jason’s heart. Absently, he brought the dripping bread to his mouth. In a moment, he remembered his tale.

“It was as you say. My father refused to let them take me. He bade me take flight.” He ended his telling with a shrug. He felt tears in his eyes. He rushed to mop them with the sleeve of his shirt, but one escaped and rolled down his cheek. Stel nodded once more and finished his own meal.

“Have no worries, Jason,” he said softly. “I would not turn you in.”

The lad shook his head. “I thank you for the kindness, Master Stel, but I could not let you in good conscience.” He let out a shaky breath, and when he spoke next his, his voice held a slight quiver. “My father was killed for his effort. I could not let the same befall you.”

“Acht,” grumbled Stel solemnly. “I had a son, long ago. He was your age when he was conscripted into King Durst’s army.”

“Had… I am sorry.”

The old man shrugged. “I am told he died valiantly. At the Battle for Daughter Lake. I try not to think of it, or the grandchildren I will never have.” He leaned back as well, the corners of his mouth turned down, his eyes drifting from Jason’s face to an empty spot on the wall. “Still burns a bit, though. Even now.”

Jason tried to imagine the mans well-settled pain. The Battle for Daughter Lake was the final pivotal battle that lead to the end of the Havencliff revolution. Soldiers from Havencliff Keep won the day, driving revolutionaries from East View Village, nestled nearby in the Highreach Mountains to the west, and Rotherford Village to the east back to their homes. The subsequent peace treaty lead to the period of open trade and prosperity that Jason was raised in. It’s a point of pride to be related to any soldier on the winning side. To have lost an only child, however, and more importantly, the last to carry on the bloodline must carry far greater weight.

The young man started.

“My boy,” Stel cut into the silence that had sprung up suddenly. “Are you well?”

Jason nodded vacantly. It was long moments before he could speak. “I understand something about my father now that I did not before,” he answered at last.


Working for Stel put muscle on Jason’s gaunt body and flushed his sallow cheeks and sunken eyes. By the end of summer, he seemed as a healthy young man should. He worked with diligence at his chores, which consisted primarily of the heavy lifting and back-breaking work that was becoming increasingly arduous for the aging tavern owner, such as splitting logs for the cook fire.

Jason was performing that very task late one afternoon when he garnered some unexpected attention for himself. Three logs into a waist-high pile, he began singing The Great Ballads, the four lengthy songs that, when performed in order, told the tale of how the God Earthsea Father met the Goddess Nightsky Mother, created the world and all of its plants, animals and people with their love, then birthed a terrible creature as their first born son. So terrible was he that he was banished for his treachery, locked at the bottom of the sea. Their second child, The Daughter Moon, spent her life undoing the damage wrought by her brother, at the cost of her own life. She was preserved in the sky with her mother, turning slowly so that she may view her parents and the people she sought to protect.

A dozen or so logs deeper into the pile, Jason looked up to find an audience. The tanner and his family, the blacksmith’s wife and eldest son, and the grains farmer from the very edge of the town had all stopped In the middle of their routes to listen. Jason’s brow and exposed arms glistened with sweat, his shirt was stained with the same, and he was streaked with dirt. When his face burst into the first true smile he had experienced in fortnights, however, he looked radiant. Axe still in hand, he lifted his arms, raised his voice and finished the last verse of the final ballad in dramatic fashion, holding the last note even as his sudden patrons began to applaud. They were not alone in their appreciation. Jason realized quickly that Stel was also clapping from within the main doorway of the tavern.

“He shall be performing this evening, if you’d care to see a longer show,” said Stel proudly. He slapped his hand on Jason’s shoulder.

“I am?” The young man was quite surprised, further so to see the crowd take delight in the announcement.

“I’ll be sure to tell Edim,” said the blacksmith’s wife as she ushered her son back onto the road.

Stel and Jason watched the crowd disperse, the former waving happily and the latter smiling uncomfortably.

“You, my boy, should have told me sooner of that sweet voice of yours. You may very well sing better than the Prince.”

“Well…” Jason was abashed and flummoxed. Stel laughed heartily and Jason thought that was the first time he had heard such a sound from his employer.

“Your modesty is refreshing,” Stel said. He returned himself to the cooled inside of his tavern, leaving Jason alone to his work once more.

Evening arrived with a slight chill, forewarning all of autumn’s approach. The chill e\seemed to entice the people of Stoneyroot to venture into Stel’s tavern in greater numbers than Jason had seen during his brief time working at the establishment. All those that had applauded him from the road earlier in the afternoon were present, along with their spouses, children, and in many cases, grandparents. They were quite a lively crowd, talking and laughing amongst themselves, catching each other up on the gossip and interesting happenings that have occurred since they had last met at Worship.

They were also a hungry, thirsty crowd. They ordered meat, bread and drink frequently and in considerable volume. Jason had been assigned the task of cutting the freshly baked bread and roasts that Stel pulled out of the ovens. It was also his job to bring from the storage area behind the tavern barrels of Stel’s brewed ale. He had just finished wrestling one of those barrels, each nearly as tall as he, into the kitchen when Stel slapped him encouragingly on the back, winked, and nodded toward the dining hall, all with a bright smile on his age-marked face. Jason nodded, still trying to catch his breath. He quickly washed his face at the sink, quaffed a few mouthfuls of water, and stepped out into the hall.

The space wasn’t nearly as expansive as the hall Jason was familiar with, but it was certainly large enough to house the majority of the town’s population with room to spare. Fifteen large tables with bench seating were placed in five roles crowded together. Jason and Stel spent a short portion of the afternoon rearranging the seating to accomadate spacing for the performance. They hauled a set of old crates out of the storage area, set them before the large fireplace and covered them with an old blanket to form a makeshift stage. Jason had protested this, insisting that he did not need one to perform, but Stel could not be deterred. “You are too short to be seen from the back of the room,” he had explained bluntly. There could be no further argument.

Jason looked onto the crowd through the service window. It was surreal to see a mass of people, even a gathering as modest as what lay before him, waiting to hear him sing. It was not a very long time ago that he had been living by eating wild berries and drinking from rivers in order to simply survive and continue living. The last time he had been asked to perform before an audience felt like an entire lifetime ago.

“What be the matter, boy? Afraid of the stage?” Stel’s interjection into Jason’s thoughts were a welcome reprieve from the past that was increasingly haunting his waking and sleeping mind.

He threw a broad, confident smile at Stel. “Hardly,” he said just before plunging through the swinging doors.

A few steps into the hall, his eyes bright, he raised his hands for attention. The hum of easy conversation began to die down. He hopped onto the stage and slid for a brief, surprising moment. The blanket clung to the soles of the old boots Stel had provided well enough, but not hardly to the wooden crates beneath them. The audience chuckled. Jason recovered quickly, however.

“This may be the first time I would have to slay the stage in order to perform on it,” he quipped, pulling another chuckle from the people before him. He clear his throat and breathed deeply as the crowd quieted.

Jason began his concert with a song called “And the Sun Rose,” a trio of verses about the first time the Nightsky Mother gave light and heat to the Earthsea Father. The song was sung typically at the initiation of worship services, and thus was well known.

Holding the last note of the song, he began to clap slowly but at a faster tempo than what his last song required. He enticed the audience to clap along with him, then broke into “The Farmer Jig”, a silly song sung to children about a crazed former who would break into dance at the slightest provocation. The children in the audience sang the chorus with him, and by the time it came around for the final time, everyone was singing along.

The applause that followed was surprisingly explosive for the size of the crowd. Jason’s smile was genuine.

“Good evening, all. I am Jason. I was volunteered to be your entertainment this evening,” he announced when the clapping and cheering died down, rousing them once more to laughter. He took a request then from the grains farmer; “Foam on the Bow,” a sailing song popular in Rotherford.

“I know it. I’ve only performed that one with a lute as accompaniment, but I shall do what I can.” With a breath, he dived into the piece. By the end of the first verse, the farmer was singing along, off key and happy. He was the only person in town who knew the piece, but his fellow villagers were clapping along by the end.

Stel brought Jason a mug of ale and pointed to the carpenter, a stout, homely woman. She waved shyly at him and smiled, showing a few missing teeth. The young man was stuck for a proper response. He raised the mug to salute her and took a long pull. The liquid was sweet but burned the back of his throat and left a very bitter, almost rancid aftertaste. Jason completely suppressed his initial response, which was to cough and gasp. He cleared his throat and carried on.

The time candle burned down two notches before Stel put a stop to the show; he was tired and wanted to clean up before retiring for the evening. Jason was of no use to him for the task, however. As the evening progressed, the towns people would thank him by purchasing him ales. He felt obliged to drink them all. What had started as a pleasant, family oriented performance slowly devolved into rhythmic drunken revelry. Spirits were well lifted by the night’s close, and Stel had to escort his staggering, giddy young helper to his bed before attending to the mess that had become of the dining hall.

Sunlight stabbed through the thin, paled curtain that covered the lone window in Jason’s small room. He was roused by the painful brightness. Moaning, he turned away and covered his head with his pillow. If you asked him at that moment, he would not have decided if his broken arm had hurt him more or les than his head.

Stel chuckled when he saw his singing assistant drag his feet and shade his eyes as he entered the dining hall.

“I would have wagered on the stairs in that bout,” laughed the tavern keep. Jason had made it down the stairs under his own power and remained upright for the duration, but his poor balance had turned the simple act into an astonishing feat.

Stel was peeling a large sack of vegetables and roots at the table nearest the kitchen, using the light afforded by the open door and large windows at the front of his establishment. Jason shambled across the space to Stel’s table, kicking the stage and tripping over a chair that seemed to leave leaped out at him suddenly.

“Say again, Master Stel? Only, please, not so loudly.” He sat heavily across from his employer and laid his head upon his folded arms. Mirthful and amused, Stel slipped from his own seat and into the kitchen. He was gone for quite a while, long enough for the time candle above the front entrance to melt a noticeable amount. He returned with three mugs and a small wooden bowl filled with orange and green chips, all barely larger than a fingernail. He dropped them onto the table. Jason sat upright with a start, then immediately moaned and held his head. Stel chuckled once more.

“Might this be your first hangover, my boy?” His question was quite facetiously delivered.

“Is that what this is?” groaned Jason. Still shielding his eyes, he spied the new items on the table.

“That whole bowl, and all three flagons.” Stel pushed the items closer to Jason. The young man took a green chip and put it in his mouth. He grimaced and made to spit it out. “Nay! Swallow it, an drink the water. All of it.” The young man convulsed and contorted his face to keep from ejecting the chip, then choked as he swallowed it. He put a mug to his face and guzzled in an attempt to clear the chip but sputtered and coughed, making a mess. When his coughing fit passed, he crumpled once more, head down on the table, cradled by his arms. Stel’s amusement grew.

“You would slay me with your kindness,” said the young man through the table.

“That which does not end you, strengthens you,” was the reply. “The green chips are dried tornleaf, to cure the pain. The other is stakeroot, to cure the nausea tornleaf brings.”

"A boon from the Earthsea Father? Or poison from the first son?” commented Jason. He tentatively bit into an orange chip, and was relieved to find its taste bearable.

“Be sure to drink all of the water, or it may feel like poison,” grinned Stel. He hoisted his work and hefted it into the kitchen, leaving his helper to break his fast on medicine.

It was a slow start for the singer, but his initial bites seemed to cut the edge off his headache. He was down to his last flagon of water and the bottom of the bowl when Stel entered with a purse in on hand and an instrument in the other. Jason perked with interest. Stel set the purse before Jason; it made a pleasant, heavy metallic sound.

“That,” the older man said, pointing a crooked finger, “is your share of last night’s earnings.” The singer was surprised, further so after a peeking inside and finding a few silver pieces amongst the mound of copper coins. All had the Havencliff Mint stamp upon them, most with King Jardinne’s profile, a few with the sharp-nosed relief of King Durst. He tried a few times to express his thanks, but all that would come from his mouth was a dullard’s stutter. Stel waved him off. “We made more last night than I had all summer. You earned that bit of coin. And this…” He placed the instrument on the table beside the purse. It was a worn, mistreated lute in need of a fair amount of care. “…is from Mistress Albi, from the greens farm. Seems she had it left over from her married days.”

Jason plucked a string. It made a terrible sound. Both younger and older man grimaced. Taking it in two hands, Jason examined it thoroughly. With some oil and a bit of sandpaper, he thought he could restore much of what time had stolen from the instrument. One of the tuning settings had been stripped and would need a metal worker’s attention. He said as much, conversationally.

“Well, I’m sure if you brought it to the blacksmith, he might render some aid,” responded Stel.

The idea of having a working lute brought genuine joy to Jason.

“And I’ve coin to pay for the services.”

“You best go now, before he gets too busy,”

Jason spared one brief moment staring incredulously at Stel then snatched up purse and lute and tore from the tavern. He raced up the salted dirt road, kicking up a trail of dust.

That evening, there was another performance, after all of Jason’s duties had been tended to. The turnout wasn’t as large as it had been the night previous, but the inclusion of the lute made for an improved show, as far as Stel and the returning patrons were concerned. It was a sober evening for the singer, leaving him awake and present enough to assist with tidying up after the performance. He still had plenty of energy when it came time to retired for the night.

As sleep did not see fit to visit in a timely manner, Jason sat awake in his bed, oiling his new instrument in the dark as he ruminated on the life he once had. He thought about his sister, dreadfully fearful of what had become of her. He thought on his best friend and the girl who had his heart. Did they live still? Would he ever see them again? It was nearly impossible to see positive outcomes to either question. Finally, he thought of his father, of a grave he might never see. He also thought on the man’s final words to him.

How was he to return home? How was he to raise an army? He was beholden to the kindness of gentle strangers just to be able to eat. The mountain he had to climb to achieve to achieve goals someone else had foisted upon him seemed insurmountable.

Yet, if his sister was alive, he would find a way. His father’s Kingdom held no sway over him, save for the desire to continue the legacy and to honor the man. The life of his only family, however…

Jason was driven from his misery by an unexpected sound. The large wooden bolt that kept the front door secure after hours had been thrown. He heard voices immediately after; he recognized his employer, but not the intruding party. He crept to his door in the darkness and pressed his ear against it. His room was on the second level, adjacent to the stairs, which allowed him to hear with little obstruction. The stranger’s tone made Jason think of Havencliff soldiers and the brusque way many of them spoke while on duty.

“I assure you, I have seen no prince!” exclaimed a very agitated Stel.

Jason caught his breath. Either he had not run far enough or he had lingered for too long in on place. He had no resources to fight armed and armored solders, leaving him but a single recourse.

Stel was utterly incensed at the gall the soldiers had displayed. Rousing him from his sleep, plaguing him with questions he could not possibly have answers to, then demanding to search the premises at the points of their five swords. And so many! If it were true that they sought the Prince of Havencliff Keep, they certainly did not require five soldiers ready for combat to seek out and bring home one lost little boy.

He stood by and scowled as they searched beneath every table, inside every cupboard and closet, opened every bag and large container. He lost some of his anger to surprise when Jason’s room appeared empty by the light of their candles.

“Did you not say your errant boy slept in this room?” questioned their captain, a tall, burly woman with an ugly scowl befouling a pretty face. Lost for words, Stel’s response was an indecipherable stammer. “Disassemble it,” the woman Captain ordered.

In short order, the orderly room was rendered into an unsightly mess as if a great windy storm had blown through. No one was found hiding.

“When was the last you laid eyes upon the boy?” demanded the Captain of Stel while her men worked the room.

“No more than a full notch ago. We had just retired, after a long…”

“Nothing,” came the report to interrupt the tavern keep. He watched, his knees shaking, as the Captain stepped into the room with purpose. She put her hand gingerly upon the bare straw mattress.

She suddenly snapped up and barked orders at her men, startling Stel. Following her instructions, two of the soldiers rushed into the hall and began searching the remaining rooms, while two raced back into the night with their Captain. Weakened by the fright, Stel’s heart raced in his chest, forcing his blood to pound his pulse into his ears. His legs gave out from beneath hima dn he collapsed, unattended, in the hall of the second story of his tavern.

Captain Liendra was sure her prey was close. After long weeks on the road, traveling across the land from town to town, harassing everyone they encountered for the smallest cloue towards gaining knowledge of Callan’s whereabouts, they had tracked him to the very bed in which he slept. She could not, would not let him slip away now.

She lead her men around to the rear of the tavern, searching for footprints in the darkness by flickering candlelight. She was not disappointed, but she was surprised. She expected them to lead into the woods that bordered the village, some forty paces away. Instead, they went around the building, leading her in a circle.

Liendra followed the footprints at a run, careful not to destroy them. She had one of her men light torches. The footprints were difficult to perceive in the firelight, but she managed it. They lead her into the town square, where they joined the impressions of everyone else that lived in the Gods-forsaken village that had trampled the dirt. She swore loudly.

“Mind the tracks!” she yelled at her soldiers, halting them. Crouching low, she examined the dirt around the stoneyroot trees, looking with nearly maniacal desperation.

Time seemed to stand still for the Captainn of Havencliff’s Army. She traced every line and pattern in the dirt with her eyes straining against the dull, flickering fire light. With care not ot disturb the area, and still in a crouch, she performed a mad, slow dance, until at length she spied that which she sought. A trail of small impressions, leading from the tavern into the square, then out again, strides at a run. There ws a curved impression, a scuff in the dirt showing where the boy had slipped… no, as he suddenly changed direction. More tracks, each footprint even farther apart than before.

Liendra moved quickly now, striding alongside the tracks, torch still held low. The length of each stride shortened suddenly, and she found herself starting at the prints made by herself and her company. The tracks she followed stopped there. She raced alongside the bootprints, heading back up the road to where it entered the village, but she could find no cross-prints disturbing the tracks, or indications of any one walking over them. She ran for the edge of the village, strands of her dark hair slipping free from her helmet. No trace of her quarry could be found.

She spent the next notch of the candles searching the perimeter of Stoneyroot Village, hoping to find a place where the Prince had slipped into the woods. When no such trail could be located, she had her men knock upon every door of every home. Every bed and closet in town was searched. By sun up, every single person in Stoneyroot Village was grumpy, most of all Liendra. The boy had slipped away again.


That's the end of the first chapter of Part II. Welcome back, and thanks for reading. Comments are welcomed and encouraged.

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