Horsemaster

I rarely enjoy meeting with the kings. If it wasn’t so necessary to my cover job and my secret work, I would avoid it like I avoid riding into low tree branches at high speed. So here I am, the sun beating on my face as I tower over every other person on the crowded street, making my way to the castle. I don’t usually have to weave through the people as they see me coming and give me room, as is the case today. I’m built like I could scoop any two of them up, one under each arm, and carry them with me. The handle of my two handed sword shows up above my left shoulder and daggers nearly as long as butcher’s knives hang around my belt. All this is why I wear only leather armor in the city. I get enough stares without wearing my plate mail.

“Perhaps you could shorten your stride just a little, Sir,” said the soldier walking next to me. He comes up to my shoulders and is being a bit more jostled by the crowd than I ever am.

“Sorry, soldier, I almost forgot you were there.” I slow my steps a bit, and notice everybody going about their business also suddenly seem calmer. They know me, I think. How can they fear a man who’s served so visibly in Rambestar for two years now? The breeze picked up and the canvas that makes up most of the walls on Rambestak’s two to four story homes and shops flaps even more loudly.

I slow even more as the cobblestones on the street grow noticeably in quality, much more even under the soles of my boots. Moments later we’re passing by the guards at the entrance of a sprawling castle. Standing only two stories tall at its highest point, Rambestar’s castle covers an entire city block, with open courtyards and gardens between buildings linked by covered stone walkways. Interior walls are almost entirely fabric or canvas, taking advantage of the constant breeze in the warm climate.

Striding straight south from the front gate I quickly reach a large square structure that peaks in the center and is covered with wooden shingles. Three wooden stairs lead up to the wooden floor standing a few feet off the ground. Otherwise, only the supports for the roof are wood, but the canvas is extra thick and held with steel cables that can be quickly tightened against colder weather.

This morning nobles and soldiers mill around the throne room in this unique castle, entirely different in design than in the twelve other human kingdoms. King Vedelbred stands from his cushioned throne when I enter, slightly raised on a dais and covered in gold fabric striped with gray. “Ah, Aquendar! Don’t bother bowing,” His Majesty begins as he makes his way to me, “I need you to follow me.”

“Yes, Your Majesty,” I answer as I follow the otherwise ordinary looking man with his pale skin and slightly graying hair. The soldier that fetched me has vanished as the king and I reach another small building.

As he sits at the head of the small conference table, Vedelbred gestures I should do the same. My curiosity is definitely piqued. “Aquendar, I’m ashamed to admit it, but my other commanders in Rambestak have refused to take on the task I’m about to assign you,” Vedelbred shook his head but I waited for more. “Oh, perhaps Commander Xin would but he’s on the coast and there’s no time to recall him.” Another pause, but I wait again. “We have a dragon problem. It has been reported that a very large red dragon is causing trouble southeast of here, attacking towns and stealing children away.”

“You know I don’t come here to serve in your military, Your Majesty. I am friendlier with you than most kings of Li, so I have told you I will only fight with a gray army. What is it that you are asking?” I answered.

“I want you to go take care of this dragon problem, Aquendar. Yes, I realize you will only do training, of both horses and men, when you work for kingdoms, but I am asking for an exception. I know of no more capable warrior in all of Li for a problem such as this.”

I pause in thought for a moment before saying, “Yes, dragons are a unique problem, Your Majesty. Besides the fear they induce, their breath weapon and huge size make them quite formidable. Part of the reason I’m alive is I’ve never challenged one.”

Vedelbred sighed. “Dragons usually do no more than steal livestock either. It’s rare to even see one, but it happens often enough for everybody to know they’re real. Do you think they can be negotiated with?”

“I’ve heard legends of people talking with them. There were stories of a magician training with a gold dragon long ago,” I answered.

“Then, I ask you, no, I’m at the point of begging you, to go see the situation, see if this dragon can be reasoned with, and if not, try to kill it if you can,” said Vedelbred. “I can’t have that kind of terror in the kingdom. It’s bad enough that evil infested forest covers my southern border.”

“See if you can get twenty soldiers to sign up at quadruple pay to join me and have twenty one shields made of steel. The shields should completely cover a crouched man and have cushioning between the metal and straps to protect from heat. Once that is done, I will lead them to go find out what this lizard is up to,” I said.

“Thank you, Aquendar, I will get the smiths working.” King Vedelbred stood. “We will be forever in your debt.”

Read more about Aquendar and help me out at my author page on Amazon 🙂

Trilogy Ad Picture

Conclusion

I never thought I’d feel relief to be back in the fort in Seftrel, surrounded by human and neftir officers, but I did. The surviving kids back in their homes, we gathered to discuss next steps. Prince Zif looked at me and said, “Tell us what happened please, Ofeldar.”

“I won’t bore you with the fighting our way out,” I began. “Apparently Captain Hundle had been duped into thinking he could get his child back by helping the credarils capture me.”

“You believe this whole kidnapping of children tactic was to get to you?” asked Zif.

“Me and other people Rangdor fears. The sorcerers told me Rangdor is trying to take potential commanders off the field, the ones with reputations. They arrogantly felt sure I would never escape,” I answered.

“This has to mean the child of prophecy is close to being revealed,” said Tendelbro. “We have to warn the others.”

“Do we even know who they all are?” asked Zif.

“You and Ofeldar are two of them,” answered Tendelbro. “You are legendary for your mountain command skills, Prince Zif, and Ofeldar has proven herself as well, in many conflicts. This escape from the credarils will only enhance that. Those kids she rescued couldn’t stop talking about her killing credarils in the dark, without being able to see them.”

“The other two I know of are Aquendar of Concrof and Sir Xalt of Polentair,” I said. “If we warn them, they may know others to pass the warning on. I’m sure the mendar, thrandrils and endarils are all aware of the prophetic birth.”

“And safe in their enchanted homes,” said Zif. “I will have messages sent to Aquendar and Xalt. From now on I’ll approach each encounter as an attempt to kill me.”

“I am going to disappear and be near where I expect this prophetic warrior to appear. If Rangdor wants to kidnap and kill children to get my attention, he’s going to get my skills used against him,” I said.

“The credarils retreated with the death of their sorcerers and the neftir have secured the tunnels. The attacks won’t come from there. I’ll make sure my fellow commanders are informed of this new effort by Rangdor,” said Tendelbro.

“Since their failure to capture Ofeldar the xadineft have begun migrating north, in huge packs. We’ve harried some of them over the last two nights, but they come in numbers from as far south as the thrandril haven. That doesn’t mean I’m safe, but it does confirm what the sorcerers said, that Rangdor believes his last battle is coming,” said Zif. “I will prepare Seftrel to be there when that happens.”

I stood. “Then let us get to it.” The others all stood as well and just like that, the meeting was over. I returned to my rooms, packed, and headed for Polentair, the kingdom closest to the endaril’s hidden valley.

Want more Ofeldar? She’s in First 2 volumes Available at my author page at my author page on Amazon.

 

Rescued

I whipped two arrows out of my quiver, behind the fletching, one on either side of my middle finger. In the same motion they were on the bow and flying. The credaril wizard heard one bow twang and burned one arrow to ash. The second took him in the chest.

As blades came out of scabbards in the dark, two more arrows left my bow and I dove to my left. Short crossbow bolts screamed past my ear, but two bodies made a thudding sound in the dark. I knew they could see me, at least the heat shape of me. The children with me had slid into the tunnel Josha had disappeared down, silhouettes in the light of her bobbing torch as she returned.

I could sense them, like the ripples in the air or the vibrations of their step told me their location. Only four left in front of me, but dozens of neftir to my right. “Run to Josha,” I shouted, then dove towards the tunnel, bow in my left hand, my next arrow in my right. The children reacted out of fear, fortunately not freezing. They sprinted away from me.

Leaving the bow and arrow where my hands landed, I stood up and drew my blade. I placed my back flat against the wall of the tunnel where the credarils couldn’t see me until the turned the corner and looked left. Men who would not stand as high as my shoulder leaped over the running wall of kids. In the brief light I saw thick brown and black beards, scaled metal armor flapping as they jumped. Dangerous looking axes glinted in the torchlight.

The first credaril turned the corner and my sword cut him in half with my swift stroke. An axe flew close enough to my face to feel its breeze and the second credaril fell. The neftir could see heat too, but now the credarils knew they faced more than children and one human. By the time the short, powerful warriors reached me, I could hear the feet of the remaining credarils fading away back up the other tunnel.

I used the cloak of the credaril I nearly cut in half to clean my sword. “Just in time, though you proved some credarils are more honorable than others.”

Reichet looked at me in the light of the torch, Josha now standing behind the dozen neftir. “They have no honor, Ofeldar, don’t be daft.” The neftir pulled his axe out of the dead soldier.

“A credaril got us to this tunnel. Yes, he did it knowing he was going to die, but he did exactly what he promised. Knowing he was going to die he could have led us into a trap, and let me finish him.”

“If it was any other human telling me this, or even a neftir, I would think it a lie,” said Reichet. “Did you find out anything? Why are they doing this?”

“Rangdor wants anybody who could command troops out of the way, according to my torturers. They underestimated me while Rangdor does not,” I said.

“You? No offense, but you’ve never wanted any command,” said the neftir commander.

“If Rangdor is trying to kill those he thinks would do a good job commanding, then the one prophesied to end him is getting ready to do so. And I would gladly serve under him. I hunt xadineft better on my own than answering to some prince or lord, but the one to end Rangdor would be worth serving under,” I said.

“He already pulls on the credarils to return to the light then, at least some of them. Come, let’s get you to the surface. We’ll help these children get someplace safe.”

The other neftir lit torches. I followed lost in thought. What should I do now? Is he ready for me to come to him? I barely remember the rest of the trip to the surface. As the neftir grew in number and then led us to a town near the tunnel we exited on the surface, I still struggled in my mind.

Want more Ofeldar? She’s in First 2 volumes Available at my author page at my author page on Amazon.

Brave

A couple of the kids turned out to be teenagers, so I had them walk in back of the sixteen of us. I figured their nerves would be steady enough to not be on the edge of panic, therefore able to listen for anything behind us as Shan’tar led us out what he claimed to be the back side of the dungeon. I didn’t trust the credaril, nor did I want to be using the torch, but every time I turned to look at the young faces following me, I knew darkness would scare them even worse than they clearly were.

We came to another intersection, our third in the seemingly unbroken maze of gray stone tunnels. In a few places beams held up dirt with long planks of wood or steel between them, but for most of it we only saw gray. I made sure to nick the wall at a height and spot I knew without the jet-black skinned soldier noticing, in case he merely led us in circles to keep us trapped. “How much further?” I asked quietly.

“This is as far as I can go,” he replied. “Walk down that way,” he pointed right, “for one thousand paces and you’ll be in neftir territory.”

“Unless you encroach more than ever before, that doesn’t seem possible that they should be there after such a relatively short walk,” I said.

“It is the neftir that have grown toward us. That is a debate that would rage for days between our races if negotiation was even possible. It’s not under Queen Lotha, may she live forever. I am ready,” he finished.

I looked at the credaril for a minute trying to figure out what he meant. Then it dawned on me. “Josha, take the others down the tunnel until you run out of light.” The oldest girl began quietly herding the children around the corner. I held the torch to light both their tunnel and the one Shan’tar and I remained in. “I will remember what you did if we make it to safety. If we land in a trap, I will personally peel the skin from your body.”

“I would expect no less,” he said, barely flinching as my right, leather gloved hand struck him across the head, while wrapped around my sword hilt. The credaril slumped to the floor.

For the first time in a while the children had stopped moving, and I heard it. Faint shuffling reached me from far down behind us. No, I corrected myself, running, but still far off. I sprinted to the kids. “Follow me at a run, try to run quietly, make no other noises. We must reach neftir soldiers or a good place to make a stand.” They all nodded.

I jogged at a pace that would be running for the younger ones, I knew they couldn’t take much distance at their speed, but if the credaril told the truth we didn’t have far to go. We ran past a tunnel to the left and I stopped, kids crashing into me and each other. I waved Josha over.

“Yes, Ofeldar, what is happening?” she asked.

“I need you to take this torch down that tunnel. Count your steps. When you reach a turn, go down it fifty steps, prop the torch against a wall and come back. It will be dark, so remember how many steps back. Can you do that?” I asked.

“I’m scared. What if credarils are down there? Why don’t you do it?” she asked, her voice trembling. I could see her brown eyes wide in the dark.

“If you see credarils, don’t scream whatever you do, but do turn and run back here as fast as you can. I’ll know that means I need to help you, but I need to stay here with the younger kids in case what I know is coming reaches us. I need you to be brave,” I said.

She slowly took the torch. I’m not sure a man could have convinced her, but seeing a woman like me taking charge and being brave inspired her. With one eye I watched the black haired girl walk down the tunnel, while using the rest of my senses to monitor the tunnel behind us. The children shuffled, but made me proud how otherwise silent they stayed, even the ones crying into their sleeves in fear.

Long moments passed and I feared I’d lose sight of that small light before she reached a turn, but suddenly it went left and vanished. I counted it out in my head and listened. I prayed to the One God that Josha’s footsteps would be the next ones I heard.

Want more Ofeldar? She’s in First 2 volumes Available at my author page at my author page on Amazon.

Save the Kids

I knew right away I wouldn’t be able to stay in a closed room with the torch for very long, so with the torch in my left hand and the sword in my right, I pulled the door open and went back into the tunnel. Like most dungeon or torture areas, not a lot of traffic came through. I listened for a moment, trying to determine what was in each direction.

The left seemed quieter, so I walked down the gray stone tunnel to the next door, this one on my right. After using my senses to check inside, I pushed the door open. Upon seeing the contents of the room, I quickly put the torch in the holder for it carved into the wall just inside and shut the door. Piled carelessly on tables around the room was clothing from prisoners, including mine. Once fully wearing armor again, including my own sword on my hip and bow and quiver on my back, I looked through the other belongings.

It didn’t take long for me to realize the rest of the cloaks and coats were child sized. I took a little comfort that almost all of it would go over other clothing. Walking back to the thick wooden door, I listened again, and then pulled it open. Turning right, I went to the next door on the left, also made of wood but with metal bars in a window high up on the door. Well, to be honest, it would have been perfect height for a shorter credaril.

Before I could look through the window, however, I heard the stone door of the torture room start to open. Whipping off my bow, I already had the arrow nocked as the soldier I hamstrung limped into the hall. Since I carried the torch, he looked my way first and held up his hands when he saw the arrow. “I speak common,” he forced out.

“Why should I care?” I asked.

“I can help you if you’ll keep me from bleeding to death,” he answered.

“Why should I trust you and why would you help me?” I asked.

“Credarils are not, how would you say, death lovers, any more than you are. We don’t embrace it or seek it. I do know I will bleed to death if you don’t bind this up for me,” he said, looking down at his leg. “We can’t help the kids already taken to the breeding camps, but I will help you get the ones down here up to the surface.”

“Lay face down and grasp your hands behind your back. If they come apart before I’m standing on you, I will put an arrow into the back of your skull,” I said. The credaril complied, head facing me. I stepped one foot onto his back and put enough pressure on to keep him down, but not crush him. The torch lit the hallway from where I dropped it.

I used a bandage wrap from my pouch to wrap the wound, a heavy knee in his lower back. Then I used another one to tie his hands together. Slinging my bow over my back, I stood up and drew my blade. “I’m going to help you up, if you try anything I escape on my own with four dead credarils behind me, got it?” I asked.

“Yes, I understand,” he said and I used my left hand to pick him up. He limped ahead of me to where the torch lay on the ground. “This is one of two rooms with kids in it.”

I scooped up the torch, never putting myself in a vulnerable position. The credaril stuck out his right hip to me, which is when I noticed the keys. Six kids under ten staggered out into the hallway, wearing bed clothes. “Go into that room over there and find more clothing,” I told them, pointing to the door where the credarils kept their clothing. They complied silently and quickly, as I hoped they would. I felt sure a little shock and abject terror had made them quite eager to obey a pale faced human holding a sword to a captor.

Gesturing to the credaril that he should move to the storage room, I followed him over. I did not want kids ending up between me and any guards that might come into the tunnel. “How often do guards and others come down here?” I asked, while the kids rummaged through the clothing in the light of my torch.

“My partner and I are the only soldiers assigned for this shift. Sorcerers only come down here for torture, but wouldn’t come check on their fellows not reporting,” he answered.

“How long do we have?” I asked.

“Long enough to get the second group of kids dressed and up the back side of this part of the credaril kingdom,” he answered.

As I walked to the second room of kids, I hoped he told the truth.

Want more Ofeldar? She’s in First 2 volumes Available at my author page at my author page on Amazon.

Captured?

I kicked and fought so hard as four xadineft carried me to the cave that even they were having a hard time holding on to me. So the sorcerers cast a spell to make me sleep.

Demons.

I woke in a dark cave, in some unknown place in the mountain. My scouting abilities let me know that another was in the room, taking advantage of their ability to see heat to see me. I acknowledge it’s a human weakness to start to freak out in complete and utter darkness, and I am no exception to that. I closed my eyes and pretended it was night, holding on to that part of my mind.

“Ah, you’re awake,” said a credaril in common.

“Yes, I am, demon dung,” I said, keeping my eyes closed.

“Good, then the torture can begin,” he replied.

“Nothing can be worse than listening to the slave of a demon talk in broken common,” I said. Mentally I still wished I could control my smart tongue.

“General Ofeldar, there is much worse we can do to you,” said the credaril, who then began to chant, blue light around his hands illuminating the room.

My skin burned. Part of my mind knew it really didn’t, but the pain sensation of flame ripping away my flesh was real. I screamed, but the echo from it told me the chamber they held me in had been sealed.

I would not let them win. “As you can tell from my sass, if you idiots even know what that means, I’m not telling you anything,” I said through ragged gasps for breath, the sensations gone.

“That’s just it, human scum, I don’t care if you do. My superiors want to know what the plans are before taking you off the board for Rangdor. I, however, would just as much love to torture you whether it works on you or not,” said the credaril. “I happen to know even this complete darkness is torture for you, while I can see every detail of the walls and the heat from your racing, frightened heart.”

“Maybe that’s just intense love for you,” I quipped. “It’s probably hatred though, so I’ll go with that.”

The credaril’s hands lit up again as he began to cast. Nothing happened. “Ah, so you are going to be resistant to some of my spells,” he mistakenly said. Now I knew I could fight them. “Let’s see if you can resist two of us.”

I sensed him walking to the other side of the room and used every scout sense to measure the distance. A stone door swung open on metal hinges and the light of a torch briefly lit the opening. Quickly flexing my body so I could slip my bound hands under my legs and out in front of me, I traced his steps. It was at this moment I realized how oppressive the darkness was, as they had removed all my clothing. It made no sense to me as my heat outline would be the same. I’d only look better to them with light in the room. If it was to shame me, why would I feel shame if they couldn’t actually see me.

In the brief light when he left I had seen a hook hanging from the ceiling, high enough up to be very uncomfortable for torture. It was a shame, for them, that they hung it so close to the door on a spike drilled into the rock ceiling. I jumped up and hooked the ropes around my hands on it, giving myself a good cut on the left one. Then I twisted and swung my legs up on the wall less than a body length away from me and climbed it.

Some of the blood from my hand pooled on my chest. I thanked the One God for a bountiful bosom, as it needed to stay there. If that dripped on them when they came in I wouldn’t be able to kill them. I stayed perfectly still as the door swung open again. The fools failed to look up, but they did panic.

The two sorcerers began to yammer in credaril, clearly wondering what happened. Just one more step into the room, I thought. They complied and I swung down, catching the closest one to the door with the ropes around my legs, wrapping them around his neck. I made sure that as I twisted and snapped his neck he slammed into the other sorcerer, interrupting his spell.

While the sorcerer who had begun the torture fought for balance, I unwound from the neck of the dead credaril, swung up to the wall and pushed off. Swinging from the hook, I planted both feet in his face full force. The sorcerer flew back against the stone table I could see in the light from the door. If the crack of his skull I heard wasn’t deadly, it was enough to knock him unconscious.

I had felt the hook turn with me as I spun, so pushed off the wall and kept going. As I guessed, the spike unscrewed from the ceiling and I dropped. Needing someplace to put it while I used the hook for my purposes, I shoved the spike through my torturer’s heart, just to make sure. I carefully used the point of the hook to fray the ropes on my hands and freed them. Legs also free, I wondered at the lack of guards. Either they didn’t believe a woman to be a threat, or these two sorcerers had way too much confidence in their abilities.

A piece of cloth ripped from the robe of one of the credarils served as a bandage for my hand. I heard voice coming my direction. While I could speak the language of the good daril races on the surface, credarils had changed it too much. From the tone and volume, they spoke casually. I realized they must be coming down a tunnel, so I sprinted to the wall next to the door and flattened against it.

The footsteps and speaking stopped at the door and I heard what in mind translated as “What the . . . ?”, though I couldn’t be sure. I heard swords come out of scabbards and two credaril soldiers ran in and straight to the corpses on the floor. The first one to turn and look my direction took a right uppercut to the chin. Each stood shorter than me, height not a daril trait, especially for credarils.

Once again they underestimated me and the second one charged me. With a quick pivot to my left I dodged the sword thrust, grabbed my attacker’s wrist and used his momentum to flip him onto his back. His sword now in my hand, I met the first soldier’s swing with it as he recovered from the vicious punch.

I drove the soldier back with a flurry of blows that surprised him and made him play desperate defense. Keeping my senses alert, I knew the soldier I disarmed had got up and now charged me. At the last moment I dove to my right, tucked and came up as he slammed into his partner. With a lunge I sliced through his hamstring muscle and he collapsed as the still armed soldier struggled not to be knocked over.

As the wounded soldier fell on his face, the other one dropped his sword, the tip of mine pressed against his neck. The credaril on the floor tried to reach for me, but without moving my blade I kicked him in the face, knocking him out. “Do you speak common?” I asked. The credaril shook his head, so I ran my blade into his neck and back out. I didn’t need a hostage, I needed a guide.

I ran out to the hall and grabbed a torch, went back in the torture room and closed the door. I’d have to wait for the soldier bleeding from the back of his leg to wake up, if he ever did. I also worked on a plan for if he didn’t.

 

Want more Ofeldar? She’s in First 2 volumes Available at my author page at my author page on Amazon.

Treachery

I glared at Prince Zif while collecting my thoughts to present my strategy. I had only moments to do so, as I had just started the sentence to tell them. “I will scout the locations of all the joint xadineft and credaril camps, based on the abduction reports. Once I have found each one, I will pass this information on to Tendelbro. The neftir can then secure the tunnel escapes in those areas,” I began.

“Where do the rest of us come in?” asked Captain Hundle.

“I’m getting to it, Captain, please don’t interrupt. While the neftir are getting into place, I will put together an attack plan for the Seftrel forces to best take them all down at once. I’m confident the xadineft haven’t started gathering in large groups,” I replied.

“So where do you want the army for now, General?” asked Prince Zif.

“Patrol near the homes of the humans who have children that haven’t been abducted yet. Do it in a way that it looks like that is all you are doing,” I answered. “It will take a few nights to find all the nests of xadineft. We’ll review my progress and next steps in the morning, when the xadineft have retreated to their hideouts.”

The meeting broke up, so I headed back to my room to get some sleep before my night time scouting. Before I did I pulled Tendelbro aside, out of the hearing of anybody else. “Something doesn’t sit right with me about this, Commander.”

“What is it, General?”

“Ok, first, don’t call me that. Second, I have a nagging feeling here about this disruption by the credarils,” I replied. “If you don’t hear from me for more than two days, send an overwhelming force to find me.”

“Why aren’t you telling this to Prince Zif?” the neftir asked.

“I trust the Prince has nothing to do with this, but he would have to involve his men. I trust you more than any human here,” I said.

“I understand, Ofeldar. Two days of no contact is all you’ll get,” said the Commander.

 

The sun had been down for a quarter of the night when I finally crouched behind a tree, looking at the dozen or so xadineft squatting around a deer they had killed. Their cave entrance stood a few yards away, and a robed credaril stood there in the moonlight, leaning on the rock wall. He wouldn’t be part of eating raw meat like that and a fire would give them away even more.

Marking the geographical features in my mind, went to stand back up to leave, but I couldn’t. My legs wouldn’t move, and my even my head seemed frozen. I could still see the cave entrance, though, and the second and third credarils coming out, chanting with blue light flickering around their waving hands.

They came over and stood over me. “You are creating a lot of havoc,” said the first credaril, not part of the spell the other two still wove around me. I could feel the cocoon of energy growing stronger.

“You haven’t seen anything yet,” I replied, surprised I could speak.

“Your days are numbered, human scum,” said the credaril.

“Oh, so you’re not going to kill me immediately? First mistake,” I said, while my brain screamed at me to drop the swagger for once.

“We need more information from you. Torture comes first,” the coal black skinned man said. “You can come out and collect your daughter now, Captain,” he shouted.

I watched Captain Hundle walk into the clearing from the other side, hanging his head. “You fool,” I shouted. “Do you think you or your daughter will live through this?”

He looked up at me and I could see his tear-stained cheeks. He stopped walking, though only feet from the xadineft, and looked around. Without questioning the absence of his daughter verbally, the soldier took two steps back and drew his sword in one fluid motion. The Captain had fought the ape men before, but never with these odds. I watched him riposte and parry their attacks, killing three before they could get him completely surrounded.

I only knew the battle ended because the xadineft backed up from his dead body. “Good for him, five fewer xadineft for you,” I said. “So, where is his daughter?”

“Already on her way down to the queen,” said the credaril, the other two apparently having to keep the chant up to keep me paralyzed, for now.

“Why go to so much trouble for me?” I asked.

“Rangdor has his purposes,” he answered, turning and walking away. He made the disgusting guttural noises that passed as speech for the xadineft, and they picked up ropes and came towards me. Once fully bound by the filthy creatures, the sorcerers stopped and put their hands on their knees in exhaustion. Rough hands carried me into the cave.

 

Read more about Ofeldar in The Lerilon Trilogy