The Flight of The Draykes
Clearing his throat, Sir James caught our attention again.
Speaking carefully, he stressed the importance of each word, “You will now be left in a place. Your goal is to reach the ‘little master’s den’ which is located in the southwest of the city. You will have 1 hour to reach the place from where you are and you are not to ask for any directions. If you need to memorize the map of the city that you drew, you are welcome to do it in the next 5 minutes.”
Saying so, he handed our drawings back to each of us but obviously paused when it came to my turn, and dubiously said, “Perhaps you might want to share Alessia’s map for the lesson to come!”
Nodding in embarrassment, I looked at Sia who generously opened up her map and began scrutinizing it with me.
5 minutes later, four guards appeared like ghosts and blindfolded us before knocking us out.
An indefinite time later, I awoke in a dingy alley that was completely empty. This was a part of the city that I had never stepped foot in and apparently, other people didn’t either.
For there was no sound.
Which I recognized as being a very good thing.
After all, I just had to follow the source of any sound that I heard and I’ll come to areas that I recognize right?
So I did just that.
I walked aimlessly for nearly 10 minutes, but I heard not a peep. Suddenly, I realized that perhaps this wasn’t going to be so easy after all.
Looking at the sky wisely, I examined the position of the sun and where I stood. Only to be befuddled.
I didn’t know how to tell the direction from those things!
I couldn’t even see the palace because of the densely packed buildings!
Steeling myself, I apologized to whoever was the owner of the house that I was right now crawling upon like a drunken spider and shimmied upwards.
A lookout point!
That’s what I’m after!
Soon, I reached the top of the building, and looking at the horizon, I nearly fell down.
I was close to the palace but near the heartwood forest which ferocious beasts called home! From where I am, the ‘little master’s den’ is diagonally opposite!
A distance of close to an hour in itself and I’ve already wasted close to 20 minutes doing my shenanigans.
Gritting my Teeth, I once again confirmed the direction and then jumped down, fearful of the fall but more fearful of wasting more time.
With a crash and a jolt that hurt my legs, I landed and jumped back up like a spring before sprinting towards the southwest.
Lungs burning, halfway there, I saw brilliant blonde hair sparkling with sweat running in front of me.
With a burst of speed, I pulled up next to Sia and gave her a nod before running as fast as I was before.
Breathless, the two of us reached the southwest quarter with barely 10 minutes to spare.
Chests heaving, warforce activated in the case of Sia, almost triggered in my case, we stood and looked around with confusion.
Where in Bal is this shop?
‘Little Master’s Den’, little masters…
But this southwest quarter is entirely military!
Looking askance at the big burly men and women that made up the population of the quarter, I couldn’t even begin to imagine them frequenting this “little master’s den”!
Squinting my eyes, I scanned all the shops and streets as we ran desperately but within a minute, I came to the realization that this was impossible.
Looking at Sia, I mouthed, 5 minutes - split up and regroup.
So we split up.
I ran and just as the 5 minutes were close to an end, I spotted one of the guards who had ‘kidnapped’ us.
Stopping as though struck by a bolt of lightning, I paused to contemplate.
On one hand, I could finish the mission by possibly following the man back.
On the other hand, Sia would fail.
I paused for as long as a heartbeat, before decisively running...back to where I agreed with Sia to meet.
Reaching there, flecks of saliva on the corners of my mouth, I didn’t say anything but grabbed Sia who had just reached, and took off after the Guard.
1 minute to go.
Then I spotted him.
Entering into a large establishment.
One last sprint with Sia and we were outside the place looking slack-jawed at the tavern - for it was a tavern which had the image of the most buffest man ever docilely drinking a tankard of ale - and the patronage that was heading inside which comprised of military men and women with brutal scars who were scratching their head good-naturedly as they nodded at the beautiful serving maids outside.
The ‘little master’s den’ - the tavern - stood in all of its glory in front of us.
Gulping, I grabbed Sia’s hand even tighter and stepped in bravely.
Only to freeze at the spot as nearly all the pairs of steely eyeballs inside turned towards the two of us in unison.
Then they all turned back to what they were doing and we unfroze in relief.
Looking nervously around, two of the would-be kidnapper guards suddenly appeared behind us, including the one we were following and led us silently to the backroom where Sir James was raucously laughing with a bald dwarf-like human with a massive scar over his bulbous nose.
“You made it!” He said with a grin, as he stood up like a drunken rogue.
Correction. He was drunk.
Sir James the noble knight tottered his way towards us and enveloped us in a bear hug before mumbling, “Ish good that you reached here on time”
“Elshe, this fleabag would’ve fleeched me of my pantsh too!” He said as he shot a dirty look at the dwarf-like human.
Chuckling, the dwarf-like human gave us the once over before saying, “These are the seeds you were talking about? Most impressive. Another minute and forget about your dirty pants, I would’ve had you coughing out that bottle of rosewine of yours!”
“You wouldn’t have dared,” Sir James said, wide-eyed.
“I wouldn’t, but you would have,” The dwarf-like human retorted.
“You would accept that bet, Edwin!?” Sir James asked, with a wounded expression.
“I would accept any bet,” Guffawed Edwin.
“How low. How truly low can you be. Especially in front of my disciples.”
Once again, furiously digging my ears reminiscent of a few months ago, I gave a blank look at Sir James.
Looking around, I saw Sia digging her ears even more furiously than I was and shooting the same blank look at Sir James too!
Coughing, Sir James started, “I am the teacher, you are the disciples. What are you getting into a huff for?”
Stupefied, I looked at the shameless rogue who was standing proudly despite swaying all over the place and then at Edwin who was clicking his tongue, then back at Sir James who looked at me as if to say, “What? You got a problem with my magnificence?”
Sighing, I knelt down first in defeat to the hand of fate - then to the man who called us his disciples, followed shortly by Sia.
“Teacher!” We cried out!
So now I have two teachers.
One a devil, the other a rogue.
Life is looking quite interesting.
“Good, good, good.” Our magnificent teacher slurred thrice.
Then he keeled over like a dry log.
Soon snoring sounds came from him and the four guards who were part of the operation marched in and carried our newest Teacher away as though it was a mission they performed on a regular basis.
Efficient, I mused.
For a long moment, there was only silence in the room which was eventually broken by Edwin who introduced himself.
“So I’m the barkeep of this fine establishment here. Anything you want, you probably won’t get it here. Anything you don’t want will be given to you in spades. So be careful, young un’s” He cackled.
“As you heard, I’m Edwin, and remember boy, if you make fun of my height - I am in the perfect position to kick you between the legs. So keep that in mind aye?” Goodnaturedly he sprang off the seat and walked out of the door with a spring in his step.
Sia and I looked at each other in silence.
“What do we do now?”
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