Once we land in a clearing some distance up the road away from the East gate. Justin says, “We did make excellent time. That has to be the fastest carpet I have ever used. You two did excellent on its creation.”
I smile and say, “Thank you Master Justin.” I bend over just low enough to give Isabel a peck on the cheek. Before I move away I whisper, “Thank you Isabel that was the fourth time I tried that enchantment, and the only time it worked. I definitely cannot do that without you.”
Isabel shines at the compliment. She turns her head and catches my lips. I know this is not normal behavior for a betrothed couple. Usually any type of public display is highly frowned upon. However, I truly do not care. I love Isabel, and wish to marry her at the first possibility. If her father accepts the dowry I have gathered, it could be as early as tomorrow morning; because I am orphaned, Isabel need not produce a dowry.
Justin gets our attention. Apparently, our arrival noticed by many within the city. Several children have rushed through the gate to see the wizards and their magic carpet. The children are first, and to Isabel’s delight, one is her youngest sister. Younger girl runs to Isabel calling out to her, Isabel turns in time to catch her as the two hug. The younger looks much like Isabel did six years ago, the same black hair and blue eyes as her sister. Her younger sister says, “Isabel your back, Mommy has been so worried, me too.”
Isabel giggles at her sister’s excitement she says, “Rebecca how could I stay away from you.”
Several adults approach us at an unhurried pace. One of the first is obviously the captain of the guard; I met him once when he was a lieutenant long ago. He had been the one who arrested the Raiders. Some crimes still merit the death penalty in the city, murder is one of them. He oversaw their executions.
Justin greets him, shaking his hand and asks, “Michael, I hear my brother-in-law is in the city. I hope he is not causing any trouble.”
Michael is a good-natured man with a quick wit and goodhearted humor. Smiling he returns, “No more than usual for the old scoundrel, now what brings you here in such a rush.”
Justin tilts his head in our direction. We still stand side-by-side our hands interlaced. Michael recognizes me finally and asks, “What happened to Julius the little boy? Who is it that you have a hold of there, is that little Isabel?”
With a bright smile I say, “Michael it has been a long time, I grew up, apparently we both did.”
Isabel’s little sister is more than a little impatient interrupting she says, “Isabel you were glowing, how?”
Michael smiles and ask, “Yes, that is a very good question how you were doing that?”
Isabel blushes and ask, “When was I glowing?”
Justin answers, “They have not noticed yet, but it happens every time they kiss.”
Isabel and I look at each other. Every time we kiss, we have closed our eyes of course we would not notice. We begin to lean in for a kiss; this time with our eyes open, when we are inches from each other a harsh voice interrupts us. “Isabel Morgan, what is the meaning of this!”
Isabel backs away, her expression makes me spin around and step between her and whatever threat that needs faced. I am only mildly surprised to see the young girl slipper hand around the big man’s finger pulling on it she says, “I want to see Isabel glow Daddy.” I know now that I am looking at Jeremiah Morgan, leader to the house of Morgan, soon to be my father-in-law shortly.
I feel Isabel’s gentle hand on my shoulder and she steps around me to face her father. Justin steps between us and says, “Good to meet you brother-in-law. I do have a long story to tell you. Perhaps it is best in your tent.”
Jeremiah turns to Justin blinks in recognition then smiles, he asks, “You mean she made it to you and then here and only five days?” Justin smiles warmly at his brother-in-law.
Some of the kids have approached and nervously touched the carpet, when it does not do anything I pick up Isabel’s little sister Rebecca, and set her on the carpet much as I had Isabel. I pick up Isabel again and set her beside her sister. Jokingly I say, “Do not let your sister fly off with that thing.”
Rebecca giggles and says, “I will not let Isabel flyaway.”
Isabel’s eyes laugh but she holds her humor inside to spare her little sister’s feelings. One of the children tugs on my pants leg he asks, “Can I ride with Rebecca?”
Both Rebecca and Isabel give me a pout, but Isabel’s eyes still laugh. I turned to look at my father-in-law to be, whom laughs aloud, then says, “Welcome to my life young men.”
I take that as permission, and I begin setting children onto the carpet, I wave to clean their shoes of mud from the road as I place them aboard. Even Captain Michael has a gleam in his eye as I call him over I ask, “Could I trust the captain of the guard to watch over my carpet and its passengers as we come into the city?”
Michael chuckles and points out, “That would be hard to do from the ground.”
Smiling I agree, “Perhaps a better vantage point can be arranged.”
The dozen or so kids look wide-eyed as I gesture and the captain lifts off the ground, leaving the dirt and mud off his shoes. He flies to the center of the carpet where he lands with a chuckle. I step as if I am walking up stairs onto the carpet.
Justin chuckles and says, “Now you are just showing off.”
With everyone on the carpet that wished a ride, I begin moving us toward the East gate. As we get closer, it is easy to see that the carpet will not fit through with the normal traffic. I asked permission if I can cross the fifty-foot high wall of the captain, he merely shakes his head, he is enjoying the ride as much as the children are. I slowly rise the carpet up, and several of the children giggle as they wave and call down to their wide-eyed parents.
We cross the wall and set down near the Central fountain of the Plaza, just outside of the bazaar and only a short distance away from the gate. The bazaar has many colorful tents, all belonging to house Morgan. A wide grassy area backs up to the walls. A cobblestones street run from the gate, and creates a large central patio around the fountain. A large grassy area with other cobblestone streets is set up for a farmers market now used by house Morgan. Across a small park, is the main merchant’s quarter of Camarillo, many shops are on the street that faces the park and bizarre.
Camarillo exists because of the rich farmlands, a deep port, and its proximity to the capital of New Cowan. A River empties into the ocean here, and Camarillo city and the river share the same name. The river runs from deep in the mountains. Camarillo is the second-largest port city in northern Cowan.
If it were not for the constant danger from Raiders, the countryside would have a lot more farms in the population of the two cities could grow. Nevertheless, as it is no one wishes to live too far away from the protection of the walls. Three of the city’s towers guard the river from the Raiders. Before their construction, Raiders journeyed up river several miles and staged a siege on the city. The city built stronger walls inland, and the three towers along with a chain that crosses the river. They stop any Raider’s ship now, and the city has remained free of attack since that time.
Now look at the market that house Morgan has brought to the city, various activities have been set up. You can have an ax sharpen at the smithy, while your wife buys cloth in the next stall. Rich jewelry, to the basic kitchen utensils found among the tents and stalls, everything from armor to weapons. House Morgan not only brings a great deal of goods, they buy from the city as well, and carrying that onto the next stop along their route, they travel all over the kingdom. They purchase what one city produces and sell it in several others. As a result, anytime house Morgan merchants show up in the city they are welcome, and the market and city take on a festival attitude.
I get off walking down my invisible steps, I start reaching up and helping children more than a couple are slightly reluctant. However, I promise a second right if their parents do not object. The captain jumps down on his own power this time. Smiling broadly he says, “You got to let me take my wife and kids for a ride before you leave.”
Smiling I say, “Anywhere they want to go, we can even bring a picnic lunch if we find a day when the weather is agreeable.”
I set the carpet all the way down onto the cobblestones, which disappoints the few children still aboard, but they soon run off to tell of their adventure on a flying carpet. I lift the chest, and our three packs, the carpet I roll up and it floats along with the chest and packs. I followed behind Isabel as Rebecca rides on her shoulders.
Rebecca asks so many questions so quickly we barely managed answer before another question was out of her mouth. Her only pause was when she asked what happened to Remus. She was silent for a long time, and Isabel pulled her off her shoulders to cuddle with her. Rebecca cried for a little until Isabel told of how heroic he was. That is action surely won him an honored place with our ancestors.
I had a feeling that all her questions would be repeated several times before this day ended. We walk into the large tent; unlike the other tents, this one has no stall for selling items. It set up more like a court for a noble. A center chair set slightly higher than the others now holds Jeremiah. Justin and he talked quietly. Isabel sets down Rebecca, Isabel’s mother quickly comes from her seat near her husband. She wraps Isabel in a tight hug. She whispers into her ear, and Isabel blushes before she shakes her head yes.
I have heard that once a bond becomes more mature, the two can share each other’s thoughts. Speak to each other without words their two minds becoming so close that they truly become one. I wonder when, Isabel and I will have that power, that gift to share one’s thoughts with the one you love.
I can see where that could be handy, I remember when I was very young asking my mother for something, because my father had already said no. I doubt our kids will ever get away with that. By the time, we have them and they are old enough to ask our bond should be mature enough that we will share that gift.
Now I still have to ask Isabel, if there is something that I need to be aware. I would not want to be unaware of a situation that best handled with knowledge, and tempered with cooler emotions.
I walk to Isabel’s side, my hand slides naturally across her back and into the small of her waste, her hand is doing the same and we find that we are touching each other on our sides. We needed to be close again, I feel stronger now that we are.
Rebecca ask again, “Isabel can I see you glow?”
Isabel and I glance around quickly. The sight of her mother’s smile seems to reassure us. It has been nearly half an hour since we kissed anyway. Isabel and I lean in and our lips meet, although our eyes were open, they seem to close on their own the instant our lips touch. I am vaguely aware of the sharp gasps around the room, and Rebecca’s giggle. Even Justin remarking, I told you they were.
A disturbance in the tent causes us to break our kiss. It is a priestess of Aphrodite; she had heard the rumor and tracked us down. She had just entered the tent when we began to kiss, seeing the glow she proclaimed, “They are chosen for each other by Aphrodite. No other union can be possible.”
Isabel and I have no problems with that proclamation, although Jeremiah seems to be a little upset. The smile on Justin’s face sets my mind at ease, if nothing else he is always had my best interest at heart.
Jeremiah looks at the priestess and says, “Then you will get to inform the Duke that a union between his son and Isabel is not possible.” The priestess curtsies.
I hope that this situation will not prove disastrous. I look at Isabel and she takes a deep breath before she answers my unasked question, “I actually ran away, Remus had just found me, before the werewolf attacked us. I do not want to marry the Duke’s son, even if he will never be the Duke I wish nothing to do with royalty. Besides that he is four years younger than I am, he is closer to Rebecca’s age.”
I smile and say, “We were destined to meet, Justin and I had planned to come here leaving in a day from now. Even if you had not ran away, Remus still carried the herbs that would have brought him to his end at the hands of the werewolf. Most likely mind too, your presence there gave me the power to defeat the beast.”
Isabel says, “That was a pretty impressive lightning bolt you hit him with.” I smile feeling the confidence she fills me with, with her at my side I think nothing is truly impossible.
Realizing she witnessed my attack confuses me, I ask, “Why did you run from me then? Surely, you remember me from when we were younger.”
Isabel looking into my eyes says, “I did not believe it was you, and feared the Duke had sent a mage to force me to return. When you caught me I panicked, pulling my dagger as you turned me. I am so happy you are quick on your feet. When you cast the light spell and I could see it was you I nearly jumped into your arms.” I pull Isabel back into a kiss to more giggles from Rebecca.
After taking a deep breath or two Jeremiah rises from his chair coming over he stands in front of me and says, “Since I have no choice I should see your dowry.”
I gestured for the chest and it rises off the ground floating until it comes to rest in front of Isabel’s father. I caress the face on the chest and move the strand of hair back behind her ear once more. The lid opens revealing the ornately decorated golden box held within the outer chest. I make a gesture and the ornate gold chest rises from the wooden one, when I set it upon the ground there is many-stunned gasp around the tent. My hand runs across the lid of the gold, it again pops open, even though not in direct sunlight the gold reflects enough light to bring thousands of rainbows into being as the raw diamonds refract the light.
Jeremiah sinks to his knees, and I catch him from toppling over. He stammers, “How… how much?”
I answered calmly, “More than Isabel’s weight in gold, and slightly more than a third in raw diamonds.”
Others come forward, including the priestess who has lingered, Isabel’s mother laughs at seeing her husband brought to his knees. When he finally regains his composure and stands he asks, “How did you come by such treasure?”
I chuckle as I take Isabel back into my arms and say, “That means nothing, it is mere dust compared to the treasure I hold.”
Justin chuckles, “Apparently, the gods like him.” The priestess smiles in agreement then turns to leave.
Jeremiah questions, “What treasure is so great that this is mere dust?”
His wife slaps him on the shoulder looking into his face now that she has is full attention she says, “Are you so blind? Jeremiah he holds your daughter. Can you not see how great his love is for her? Can you not see how great her love is for him?”
Jeremiah after a moment orders, “Prepare a feast for my daughter and her betrothed. They share a love so great that even the gods bless it.”
The feast will take quite a long time to prepare, and Isabel and I are hungry now. Isabel’s mother knows her daughter well. She comes forth with a small pouch handed it to Isabel. With a smile she says, “You and your betrothed take your uncle to the inn that you like, and buy lunch. Take Rebecca along, she is really too young to help although she really wants to. Therefore, she is going to be your chaperone, so do not try to run off and leave her.”
I shake my head no, before I say, “I am really looking forward to getting to know my new family. It is something that I always wanted. Justin is the closest thing I have had to a father in the last ten years, but he and I both know our place.”
Isabel’s mother raises Isabel’s hand and looks then ask, “No engagement ring?”
Before then I could took one of the diamonds, cutting it into the perfect shape to reflect light giving it a great fire, a little of the gold and created the perfect engagement ring. However, Jeremiah has accepted the dowry; therefore, I could never use any of the stones or gold. Custom dictates, even if Jeremiah would reject the dowry it goes to Isabel.
The look on my face has Justin laughing; Isabel’s mother joints her brother-in-law laughing at my expression. Isabel’s look of desperation has me worried. I have only a few hours to provide a ring, once the dowry was accepted, the bride must accept an engagement ring before the ceremony can take place.
Justin finally says, “Do not forget young Julius the gods like you. In less than an hour, you amassed a treasure greater than many do in a lifetime. It should not be so difficult to gather a little more.”
Rebecca giggles as she slips her hand into my hand. In a bright voice she says, “Do not forget Isabel’s sisters are supposed to get a piece of jewelry as well.”
Isabel’s mother laughs and says, “Rebecca you know that is not true. Poor Julius is going to have a hard enough time finding a ring that Isabel will like. Remember Isabel you will wear it for a very long time, it should be appropriate for a queen, judging from the dowry he provided.”
Isabel pulls me from the tent saying, “You can worry about that after we eat.” We have not gone a quarter of a block before Rebecca is riding on my shoulder. Justin is a few paces back, as he watches the eight-year-old girl on my shoulder as Isabel walks on my other site. Isabel is leading the way to her favorite inn. It is closer to the docks and has great seafood. Reaching the Inn named the Sea Lion and taking the table, Isabel and I order the sea bass, Rebecca orders jumbo shrimp, Justin orders a seafood platter large enough to feed four people.
When the food arrives, the server places each order in front of us, with a smile she asks, “Master wizard you are going to eat an entire treasure of the sea platter buy yourself?”
I had not noticed, but several of the children from earlier had been following us. Mostly street urchins, children for one reason or another did not have parents watching over them. Some were because their only or both parents were working at some occupation, others orphaned with no one to care for them. Our table is outside near the street when Justin waves over the children, server smiles and brings more plates.
Justin orders a second helping, which seems to be larger than the first in the children have plenty to eat for a change. The purse had more than enough to cover lunch and Justin’s generosity. It seems Isabel’s mother knows her brother-in-law well also.
Near the end of lunch, Justin asks the question of the children, “Where can you go to find treasure? Have you ever heard of a pirate ship sinking nearby?”
The kids seemed all want to talk at once. Justin calms them down and asks for the youngest to tell the story first. We gone through about five stories all different, when Justin hears the sixth he smiles then hands each a silver piece telling them time to go play.
Isabel is confused, but it is a trick Justin has taught me. Rumors usually start from a single source and added to along the way. If you hear the rumor told enough, you can find common elements that probably are true. There is an island off the coast just over the horizon, each of the stories talk about smoke seen rising from there. Fishermen avoid the island because of the monster that resides there.
If you are not going to stay around to guard a treasure, it is good to have a monster guarding it, if not a real one a rumor of a monster to guard it. Burn a little drift wood, throw green leaves once it begins to burn and it makes a lot of smoke, throw in the rumor, instant proof a monster.
On the carpet, that island should only be a few minutes away and if nothing else, it would make a pleasant afternoon to have a picnic on the coast one day. Although today I am searching for something in particular, with a map of the coast in a scribing crystal, it seems it drops on the map just off the island. I was looking for the remains of the shipwreck that still contains gold.
Justin chuckles and says, “So you found one. Should we go check it out?”
Chuckling I say, “I do not think I have enough time to do anything else, I doubt the gods will put a streambed full of gold into my life a second time. Although the volcano still contains many jewels, it is out of reach for the time we have.”
Justin remarks, “You found the gold upstream from my home?”
I shake my head yes and say, “Thank you if that was your intent that I find it.”
Justin shakes his head and says, “I did not even know, that gold rested in that stream. Apparently, the gods like you more than I thought.”
I shrug my shoulders as the carpet lands on the street in front of us. The four of us step aboard, Rebecca says, “Goodie, I get another carpet ride.”
Before I can say yes, the carpet lifts off the ground and we head out to sea, as we raise higher, we can see the island. We take the wide circle around the island looking down into the clear water, as we move over the area indicated by the scribing we can see no indications of any ship. If one did go down there, it was not anytime in the recent past. Wide beaches with plenty of driftwood surround the island. We see the remains of fire pits obviously people use this island, to what purpose we do not know.
We set down on the beach near where the shipwreck should be. I concentrate as I cast my gathering spell; only moments later gold coins begin floating to the shore. Instead of them forming into a block like the one I did with the gold from the stream, I let them stack up on the shore. Not only gold coins, but also treasure of all types rise from the depths. The star silver sword and dagger catches Justin’s eye, jewels in necklaces, earrings, and rings glisten in the light for the first time and possibly two hundred years.
I sink to the sand as a last gold coin floats onto the stack; the piles of treasure are quite large, nearly equal to my weight. Justin examines the star silver weapons carefully; a curse or poison occasionally placed on items like that. Sometimes the curses can be very difficult to remove.
He smiles, before handing the weapons to me. “They are quite good and in excellent condition but need their handles repaired. The blades still show signs of the magic woven into them. It is quite strong and very beneficial to the holder of the blades. They were made for a mage.”
I have trained to use sword and dagger in the past, a wizard sometimes must resort to weapons, one’s magic has limitations, and you may tire in battle if you rely on your magic to greatly. It is very difficult to cast a spell in hand-to-hand combat also. Swordplay is very necessary skill of a combat wizard; offensive spells alone will not see a wizard through a long battle.
Justin begins gathering the driftwood, forming it into a square; he forms into a crate large enough to hold all the treasure. Then he shrinks the outside while the inside remains the same size. It creates an enchanted box. He does a simple lock enchantment on the lid; only three people, Justin, Isabel and I can open the box. I take several gold coins out, and a few pieces of jewelry.
A necklace with an oversized blue diamond probably five or slightly more carrots poorly cut. I turn the stone looking at it carefully. As an enchanter, one must know quite a lot about gems. I can see several flaws in the stone, with proper cut those removed easily enough. I begin removing those transforming the large stone into a more manageable size for a ring, before long a perfect diamond of about three fourths of the carrot. With what is left of the gem, I create the stones for a pendant necklace and earrings that match the blue solitaire.
I take one of the gold coins concentrating on what Isabel likes. I know she loves roses, so I create a band made completely of roses wrapping the stems around each other as they thicken to make the inside of a very smooth ring that will always fit perfectly on Isabel’s finger. I take a clear diamond shattering it into small slivers they make dewdrops that clean to the roses. Now the perfectly cut blue diamond matching Isabel’s eyes mounts to the ring held in place by rosebuds. The last bit of enchanting I place on the ring gives it the soft smell of roses in the morning. I will save the other diamonds for a later date.
Now that the ring is complete, I stand in front of Isabel and go down to one knee. I offer the ring to her, her eyes light up as she says, “It has to be the most beautiful ring I have ever seen. I love it.”
I slipped the ring onto her finger, and it adjusts fitting perfectly to her hand. I give her hand a kiss that activates the enchantments.
Rebecca grins as she looks at her sister’s ring closely she sniffs and says, “I smell roses.”
Isabel lifts her ring to her nose, and says, “You are right, I smell roses too.”
Isabel slides into my arms and we kiss, the ring sparkles as we began to glow. The longer we kiss the stronger the smell of roses becomes. After all roses are the flower of love.
We load the box onto the carpet, and fly directly back to the plaza area, once there we unload the box, roll the carpet and entered the tent of house Morgan. We are back just in time for the feast. Isabel is showing off her ring to her mother, as Rebecca tells of her day, and the treasure hunt.
People laugh and say that it cannot be true, until I spill out the contents of the chest for all to see. I would not want anyone to believe my sister-in-law makes up stories. I do allow her to gather a few pieces of jewelry, one for her mother, older sister and herself. After refilling the chest, no one who witnessed it would ever say she had lied.
Jeremiah simply shakes his head, and his wife giggles as Rebecca offers her present to her mother. During that moment house Morgan, Isabel and I know true happiness. I only pray such happiness can continue for the rest of our lives.