In our last chapter the rescue of Lady Carissa, seem to generate more questions than answers. Why would she not want to go home? Why was her father not searching for her? Why had her father not asked the King for help in finding her? I wanted answers to those questions before I would force Carissa to return home and face her father.
Magical hearts chapter 9.
A Lady misplaced:
As the sunset, I carried my wife back to our bedchambers, on the way we passed Rebecca. Rebecca ran to catch up, but seeing how upset Isabel was, she remains silent. Rebecca opens the bedroom door for us and turn down the bed. With a wave of my hand, I undressed Isabel before sliding her under the covers. Rebecca’s eyes widened for only a second, before she retreated. Now alone, I undressed the same as I had for my wife, I slip beside her. I hold my wife as she cries herself to sleep.
It is a long night, and I am tempted to erase Isabel’s memory of the previous night. I could not tell you why I did not, but each time I started to do the spell to make Isabel forget I could not. I lay there and cuddle to her, wanting to remove her pain but could not.
When Isabel finally woke, it was long before dawn I still had not slept. As always, when Isabel and I cuddle together a soft glow surrounded us. Isabel turns to look in my face. She asks, “You wanted to erase my memory of last night, but you could not. Why?”
I say, “I have been asking myself the same question. Each time I start to spell to remove the memory from you, I cannot.”
The room brightens, and sitting on the foot of our bed is the Goddess. Looking at the two of us she says, “I am sorry to burden you with such memories, but they are necessary. Those who have raided your lands have offended me greatly, and through you, I will punish them. I was the one who brought you back in time so that you could destroy those who would destroy my children. The memories of what could have been gave you the strength to destroy them. It is not done yet, when it is I will release those memories and burden you no longer.”
As suddenly as she came, she was gone. I hold Isabel, and she looks into my face before she says, “I have never hated anyone before. Not even the evil Duke who lived here. Those Raiders filled me with such anger, it frightens me.”
I tell Isabel, “Before we attacked the ships, I reached out to find if any innocence were aboard the ships. You know well what I found. Only evil, the men aboard had no love or kindness in their hearts. They wanted only to cause harm, it was only right that we prevented them. Do this for the love of our people, not hatred. Having anger is not the same as hatred.”
Isabel finally whispers, “You need your sleep my husband. I feel they will be much for us to do today.”
I relax holding Isabel. I finally let the stress of the day go. Falling to sleep as she too goes back to sleep. My dreams filled with beautiful and peaceful faces, the women we rescued no longer scream in horror. Many sleep soundly in the homes of their fathers or in the arms of husbands, with their family alive and well around them.
In the morning, Isabel looks at peace, looking at me she says, “I dreamed of the women we saved. That makes it a lot easier, knowing what good we done. I would never want to take another life, but I will not allow this evil to take the lives, and destroy the happiness of others.”
I kiss my wife, the door opens and Rebecca runs in. Giggling she runs and jumps on the bed. Excitedly she says, “You to hurry up and get dressed there is things to do. Your son is with Mom, and he wants his Mommy. Hurry up.” Rebecca jumps off the bed runs out the door shutting it behind her.
We wash and dress quickly, down off the great Hall is the dining area. Unlike in New Cowan, breakfast is a shared event here. Many members of house Morgan, along with father, Jeremiah and Mom, and our son Patrick are already in the dining room. Little Patrick is in his grandfather Jeremiah’s lap, it looks odd to see the King without my son, but Dad knows how much Jeremiah loves his first grandson. The two tried to share the boys affections, and Isabel and I encourage Little Patrick to do that.
For Dad’s part, he tried to spend as much time here as he could, allowing us to spend time with Isabel’s family too. We spent so much time here, that we had designated rooms. Christina and Rebecca had the rooms closest to us, and father was closest to Jeremiah and Mom’s room.
The guest quarters were in a wing by themselves, and Lady Carissa is just making her way from her bedroom. She looks much more rested, and wears an elegant dress. Very different from yesterday, she now carries yourself with the bearing of a Lady.
She goes to her knee in front of the King, and gives bow to Jeremiah and Mom. Dad pulls her back up into a hug and says, “This is an informal gathering we are all friends here. We do not stand on formality Carissa, I am sure there will be times when we do but not now. After all, you are part of my family. Your father was not only a friend, but also my cousin.”
Carissa hugs my father back, unsure what else to do. Dad gives her a kiss on the forehead and sets her down beside him. Isabel and I moved to set down beside Carissa. Before we can take our seats Carissa again comes to her feet, the remembering what my father said she simply step forward and gives Isabel a hug first then me.
Carissa says, “I am sorry I did not think you properly, I was so confused about what occurred. I now understand I not only owe you my life, but you saved me from a month of torture.”
Dad chuckles and says, “Apparently, it was a lot more than just you. The Raiders had orders for a hundred and twenty slaves. When they take a slave, they will kill everyone of no use to them. A family of five may have only two survivors if that. By destroying the two ships, they may have saved as many as a thousand lives. I am very grateful you were one of them.”
Isabel and I are a little shocked at my father’s words we had not thought it so great. However, our dream showed us last night the truth in our King’s words.
Jeremiah and Mom laugh at our expressions, Lady Carissa smiles warmly and says, “They will always be my heroes. Now I know you are heroes to many others that will never know of your heroism, like me you change their path for the better.”
Dad toasts, “To the Prince and Princess Heroes both recognized and hidden.”
Isabel and I lean in and kiss, the glow that reaches out heals the rope burns on Carissa’s wrists. Carissa’s eyes widened as the marks fade leaving only healthy skin. Rebecca giggles and says, “I never have to worry about a skinned knee with those two around.” The room breaks out into laughter, causing Isabel and I to break our kiss.
Ben chuckles and says, “You should see the crowds that come to the temple of Aphrodite every Wednesday when those two are in town. The priestess gives her sermon, and thanks to the goddess as those two kiss, and the crowd shuffles past being healed as they do.”
Ruth asks, “Are you two even aware of how many people you have touched, how many lives have been changed by you two.”
Isabel says, “It is the goddess’s love that changes their lives, not us. We are only the instruments for it to shine through and bless those deserving.”
Samuel chuckles, “I do not care if it is you or the goddess. I just know. People are much better off now, our King’s home, with his son. The Prince and Princess can destroy many of our enemies with little help. I am just glad I can be helped to them.” Our guards nod their head yes, and I can see that they would gladly give up their lives in defense of us. Maybe because they know, we would do the same for them.
Father with pride in his voice says, “You should saw the two ships they destroyed. I seen catapults do less damage to ships, than these two did in seconds. The prisoners fear you more than death itself. They tell of how you flew past, and destroyed them in only two passes. How your lightning bolts nearly ripped the ship from bow to stern, then two fireballs killed nearly every raider aboard.”
One of father’s Knights says, “If we had these two during the Orc war, I doubt it would have lasted more than a week, if they were the spear point to our Army.”
My father looks at him and chuckles, “If the gods have been so kind to send them back to us, perhaps we could have met them at the borders and saved many lives. We probably could turned the Army of orcs away from our land, and away from the lands of the allies.”
Jeremiah points out, “Isabel was not born then. She had not drawn her first breath until three years after those battles.”
The King looks at Jeremiah and says, “Perhaps, that is why the Gods saw fit not to give us their aid, because their help did not exist yet.”
Justin says, “It is too great of a think to change. Not so much time has passed, from when the ships would have made landfall to today, and see how many lives have changed. How much more would have changed, if Isabel and Julius prevented the invasion of orcs. Not just a thousand, but hundreds of thousands of lives, too great of a change even to imagine.”
Mom says, “One of those changes would have been us not losing my sister.”
Justin says, “If I could I would change it all, but because I did not have your sister I was in the market the day Julius came up for sale. Apparently, the Raiders had tried to sell him in their homeland, and could not because he was too young. They brought him here and no one recognized who he was, when I saw him my heart went out to him. He looks so afraid, so hopeful that someone would take him away from those who killed the man and woman acting as his parents. I brought forth the images from his mind, showing the entire crowd the evil the slavers had done to him. They freed him, and all the other slaves. The people here insisted that this Duchy never allow slavery again, that was under the Duke you placed here sire. Later he was replaced by one appointed by Duke Egger.”
Father says, “That was one of the rare times I was in the kingdom. When several slavers came to me to get the Dukes law over turned, I heard the story. I searched out other slaves, after freeing one she too told me of how she and others were treated. That is when I decided to make it a kingdom wide law, to abolish slavery. Son I had no idea it was because of you.”
Justin says, “Perhaps his suffering was not for nothing. It ended the suffering of many. As Julius grew into a man, he saw himself the same as any other. He respects one’s deeds more than royalty or wealth. He would help any in need be they peasant or King. He would not claim the title of hero but he acts as one.”
The Knight who my father claims his friend says, “More his father son than any would suspect. I swear I saw you drop more gold sire than you ever collected. If I did not know better, I would say you were clumsy and careless, but you mastered that act. I think you could roll a gold piece around two corners if you wished.”
This is the first time I actually saw my father blush, and his Knights chuckle and nod their head yes. My father finally chuckles along then says, “And I thought I really mastered the art of secret charity.”
The Knight speaks again, “It is our job to watch, no one else knows how truly generous you are.”
My father chuckles and says, “You praise me for a few gold coins, and my son and daughter sets at the temple for hours as the sick and injured pass by. They ask nothing of them, and they will not even allow the priestess to demand tribute, or even announce them as the Prince and Princess.”
George smiles and says, “The first time I saw them heal it was Craig the Smith. Learning that they had the blessing of the goddess, he begged him to come to his house because his son little Patrick had been injured. His arm was broken so badly the physician so no other treatment than to remove it. Prince Julius set the bone, and then he and Isabel healed the boys arm. I do not think they were going to take credit preferring to give it to the goddess.”
Ben says, “It was George that name them, when Craig ask who they were. It is because of that the entire city knows who sets behind the screen in the temple.”
Lady Carissa says, “Their fame has spread far past the city, even unto Edmonton all know the Prince and Princess are blessed by the goddess. My father has considered requesting that you visit, so you can do for the citizens of his dukedom what you have done for the capital.”
Isabel and I look at each other and a smile crosses our face as returned back to Carissa. Isabel says, “That would be a far better reason to visit than any other I know. We could easily make the journey on the carpet. It would be but a few hours, then to stay overnight visiting the Temple, and then return to New Cowan.”
The look on Carissa’s face gives me no doubt she does not wish to return to her father. I am not the only one who sees it, Dad asks, “Carissa could I get you to accompany me back to New Cowan. Perhaps sometime in the Capital before you return to your father. I would love to get to know the daughter of my old friend. There is many things there to I would love to show you. Did you know that you are the namesake of Julius’ mother?”
Carissa’s eyes widened for only a moment, apparently, she did not know who her namesake was. Once over her shock Carissa smiles brightly and says, “I would love to accompany you sire. I understand the Palace of Cowan is quite beautiful.”
Father smiles and says, “It settled then, Julius and Isabel can travel on South checking for more Raiders, hopefully none, when they reach Edmonton they can stay for the night, the priestess of Aphrodite can easily arrange accommodations for them and their guards for tonight. The priestesses arrange for the healing services tomorrow. Additional service another time to return in possibly a month, perhaps at that time you may wish to return with them Carissa.”
Carissa asks, “If I find I love it in New Cowan, may I stay?”
Dad senses there is something wrong, why would she not wish to return to her family? Perhaps in time she would feel comfortable enough to share her reasoning. Dad says, “You are family young lady, although a bit distant but I feel that is my fault. Therefore certainly you may stay.”
Carissa visibly relaxes having my father’s assurance that she need not return to Edmonton. However, that only deepens my suspicions of what is occurring in that city. Father must feel it too, because he suggested we stay at the temple, not at Edmonton keep. We probably can get away with it because we are going there for the temple. Father also knows the temples have a way to communicate with each other outside of any normal fashion. A visit to the temple here and we can have word sent before we reach Edmonton, if we delay a day, word could be sent back from Edmonton. Perhaps that may be best.
Our little Patrick seems to like Carissa, although he is having trouble with her name. He calls her Cary, which causes her to giggle. Isabel and Carissa take the youngster off to play with him for a while.
I wish to speak to my father, and Jeremiah, we need to go to the map room I know there is more than one island like the one here off the coast. If Raiders have been using this island, there possibly use another further south. Even if they are not active, we could identify the ones they use, and arrange for better fortifications to deny the Raiders their use.
I know a little of the trade winds, and their best at this latitude, that is why they made landfall on the island, and leave from it later. However, further south there are others the Raiders still can use. Rebuff their use of this one would only cause them to use one not as favorable further south.
Second thing we need to find out, is it just that one Dukedom of Izmira, or the entire country. That is a job for our diplomats. Visit their King and discuss with him the problems we have occurring with Raiders. Then inform him where the Raiders originate. I am not sure if their kingdom has done away with slavery, possibly they have. Of any accord, I hope they would mind their ships not welcome in our ports or shores, turned away without resupplying. That will close trade with his kingdom, cutting them off from the source of star silver.
Perhaps that will be enough to stop the Raiders for a few seasons. However, the life of a slave a short few last more than a decade. Therefore, there is always a demand for new slaves. Babes and toddlers seen as useless; therefore, slaves are not allowed to reproduce. The societies that uses slaves get there from Raiders most often. Even if the King decrees our territories are off-limits, eventually we will still see Raiders on our coast. If not from Izmira then elsewhere, many of the Raiders have no true homeport or country they simply contract out to whoever needs slaves.
The Raiders without homeport could be the worst to deal with. They serve no King, accepting no King’s rule they would come to any kingdom, which allow them to buy, sale, or is easy enough in the capture of slaves. The only good part, they also are under no King’s protection, no threat of war for destroying them.
In the map room we looked at the maps closely, it is remarkable how poor our maps truly are, several show islands were others shown none. Many are misplaced, showing the same island with the same name only hundreds of miles apart from each map. Father shakes his head and says, “I am ordering a new set of maps made. We will use one of the carpets, along with a mapmaker perhaps we can come up with something a little less confusing.”
I finally say, “I wish I had the luxury to wait until they were complete. I will have to check out each area that even indicates the presents of an island, even those we believe is false. I will make notations on each I find, perhaps that will help the mapmaker complete their work quicker.”
I start going to the maps again, some do not have longitudinal and latitude lines they predate the use of those. It was a new discovery compared to most of these maps. Using one from our coastline, I give a best estimate on where each of the suspected islands could be located. Most are located between twenty-five and fifty miles off are coast. Therefore, if we fly in a pattern down a coastline we should locate most of these islands. With the view the carpet gives us, we should be able to spot most at a great distance.
We can easily see the island from above the city, were going to take a short trip today and check out some of the suspected islands, fishermen from the docks have confirmed that one located to the South West, of course the one due West of the city. Considering they sail these waters but not to a great distance from the city, I am sure will find another island to the Southwest.
Flying west out to sea, just keeping the coastline insight, only a few minutes before the island comes into view. We change the course of the carpet now flying directly towards the island. High above, we can tell that this island is not suitable for the Raiders. Its coastline is rocky and provides no safe harbor. Is rather small probably less than an acre in size, due south of this island we can see another island possibly larger difficult to tell from this distance. Readjust our course heading due south now. We make note of both.
We find it large enough, possibly one hundred acres or more in size, a safe harbor on the south side of the island show signs of the Raiders not of this season but possibly as many as four years ago. A hill overlooks the harbor. It would be a great place for a tower, both on the west side of the island and denying the use of the harbor. With a protected harbor here, this would be a great place for a fishing village, enough arable land for a few small farms.
The island has three other hills, only one higher. The northern coastline is unsuitable for landing a ship and the West coastline only a little better, most captains would avoid both. The Eastside of the island has wide Sandy beaches, but a reef offshore would make landing anything other than a small boat nearly impossible. Perhaps this would be a good place to harbor a few ships to intercept any Raiders attempting our shores. The two hills on the west side of the island would provide excellent ground for our troops, given them the advantage of height over any landing party. The beaches there walled off by steep bluffs, with only a few passageways inland would give the advantage to our troops.
Half the day we spent plotting location of small islands, only a few are large enough, and even fewer show signs that Raiders have ever landed there. Return to Camarillo with our notes, we flown back and forth from the coast several times to get an idea of exactly where the islands are in comparison. Father reads my notes smiles and says, “Perhaps, you should be the mapmaker. I know little of navigation, and I could find all the five larger islands you wrote about.”
I smile appreciating my father’s complement. I say, “If that is what my king desires. I am sure it would not take Isabel and me but a few months, certainly not more than a year.”
My father laughs, “No, I have better use of you. I would not see you away that long my son. Besides that, your son is a better artist than you.”
I chuckle at my father’s joke, along with everyone else in the room. I say, “That is true. I would probably go through all the parchment in the kingdom just to draw the outline of a single island.”
Isabel hugs me and says, “No one can be perfect in everything. Even your father’s son, but what you can do you do very well.”
Soon we have our dinner, conversation is light and we distract ourselves from the events of the previous days. After dinner Isabel and I again wonder to the tower, this time we join father along with Jeremiah and Mom. Rebecca and Chris brings Carissa just before sunset. We all watch in silence as the setting sun paints the sky, and great shadows cast after the sun has set.
Rebecca, Chris, Isabel and I walk Carissa back to her rooms. The five of us set and talk, for nearly an hour before Rebecca and Chris begin to fall asleep. We take our leave of the Lady Carissa, tomorrow she will be traveling with father to New Cowan. We will spend another two days checking the coast before we visit the temple in Edmonton.
The high priestess had sent word, and a message returned just before dinner. The temple suggested that we allow them time to spread the word of the healing services. That would allow time for the outlying communities to send their sick and injured. Carissa did not seem upset by this perhaps that is a good sign.
The next day we start by just flying over the larger islands, we still check for Raiders although very seldom they send more than one ship during the year. The two ships this year was probably because we had captured the one the two years before. We find no other sign, and spot nothing out of the ordinary. We left shortly after breakfast; we have a lunch packed, after we have crossed the most southerly island we have found so far. We continue on South a large gap is in the chain of coastal islands, both by our maps and what the fisherman from several villages have described.
An hour passes before we come onto the next island. Little more than just rocks breaking the surface, but we can see others to the south. After another fifteen minutes, we spot a huge island. As we approach, I can see that we are on the eastern edge, the western edge disappears over the horizon, as we crossed the most northerly part of the island. We can see a little line of blue on a southern edge along with another island easily as wide. Judging from the distance, we can see from this height, I would believe it to be nearly twenty to twenty-five miles from northern edge to the channel. Probably more like 30 miles east to west, possibly slightly more. Flying to the western edge, my estimation is nearly correct I had under estimated it by a few miles.
This island has several high hills, and a wide Valley are part of the terrain. A clear stream runs the length of the valley and flows into a bay on the southeast coast. As we fly over the island Isabel asks, “Was this on the maps?”
I remember the maps, this part of our coastline curves into the east one of our larger rivers empty into wetlands along the coast. Even the coast road moves inland quite a distance. Because we flew south, we could be more than an hour away from the coast here. I shake my head and say, “I do not think so.”
The next major landfall is much further to the west, a whole continent easily double the size of the continent that contains Cowan and the land of the elves and dwarves. There is a narrow sea to the south of it, and yet another large continent in the southern hemisphere further to the west.
Flying over the land now, I slow the carpet. We see ruins of buildings, mostly stone fireplaces whatever was here has been gone a very long time. Head towards the bay, we see the remains of a large settlement, on both north and south of the channel. Stone walls with trees growing right up next to them. The outer walls of a collapsed building, with a tree growing in the center give the impression whatever happened here was well over a century ago judging from the size of the tree.
A wide channel divides this island from the next that is easily as large. Remains of a huge stone bridge is evident; a smaller ship could easily pass under the arch. Other than that, there is not a single home, farm or anything else on this island. The two islands together would be the size of a small duchy. However, when you add the fisheries off its coast a large population could have lived here.
We circle both islands a couple times, we spot nothing larger than a rabbit and we had a fly extremely low to find that. The southern island is actually larger; hills create two wide valleys both with clear streams that join before running into a bay. We fly due east from the channel to our shoreline, there is a small fishing village three and a half hours from that island. That would most likely equal to a four-day walk with only water between.
Talking to the local sailors, they have no idea that it is out there, none fish out at sea that far. We speak with the village elders at a small inn in the village. None ever remembers hearing any stories about a large island due west. The local sailors say there is no islands close to the coast here. From what we saw, that seems to be true. We ask if they saw any sign of Raiders. With a smile, the oldest says, “Not this year. I hope never again. The sea take them.”
Perhaps someone in Edmonton where more long-distance shipping occurs, possibly sailors or navigators who travel more than the coastal waterways would know.
We continue down the coast, and it curves to the east before turning south again, Edmonton sets upon a wide isthmus that jets to the west and spreads out. A large bay on northeast side of the city provides a protective harbor. A clear stream runs into the city from a valley that starts midway on the isthmus. Aqueducts provide clean water for most of the city. The stream quickly becomes a filthy sewer that empties into the bay.
The west side of the city is obviously the wealthier section. The keep on the far west side is a prominent feature; it overlooks the sea and the city alike. Not far from the keep is the temple of Aphrodite, slightly east by a few streets is the central bazaar. There is a marked difference between the areas west of the bazaar and further east. The homes near the bay, although well-kept are rather small, obviously those of sailors and laborers.
The city nearly covers the entire end of the peninsula, the high city walls end at the dunes that run along the beaches. The southern edge of the peninsula is marked by high cliff that drops directly into the sea, a tower set back from the edge of the cliff. A large magical fire burns atop; a wizard nearly two hundred years ago built that tower. The legend has it, she loved a sailor and she built the lighthouse to ensure his safe return. The fires has burn steadily all that time. He was lost at sea and she had enchanted it to burn until her love returned.
Tower’s name was eventually change to, the tower of eternal love. A small shrine to Aphrodite is located near it. A place traditionally where many couples come for their honeymoon. They give offerings at the shrine and pray their love last as long as the flame. Magic seldom last longer than the wizard’s life, for this flame to burn this long it had to be with the blessing of Aphrodite.
Isabel and I decide to give an offering at the shrine. We both know our love will last as long as our lives, it is not for the wish for a long love, or long life we simply want to give thanks. Isabel and I had dressed not in our Royal garments, but like we would have if our lives had not changed. I dressed as a wizard, and Isabel was dressed as a journeyman wizard.
The shrine have several couples there giving their offerings, Isabel and I actually recognized a few of the young women from our dream. We share a smile and realize why the goddess had wanted them saved so badly. Love nurtures Aphrodite, much as a plant nurtured by sunshine. We too can actually feel the love radiating from these couples.
Isabel and I step forward in place are offering on the shrine, as tradition dictates we share a long kiss. Isabel and I are accustomed to hearing gasps caused by the glow that surrounds us; it is slightly unusual not to hear them. As Isabel and I break our kiss, the couples there still linger in their kiss. It is our turn to be shocked. They each glow as we do. As we return to our companions Samuel jokes, “You two are contagious. I think even Ben and Ruth are catching the love bug.” They blush but to not release each other’s hands.
We walked the rest of the way into the city. Ben and Ruth still hand-in-hand lead the way. We follow behind, and a rest of our companions walk together. Reaching the gate, two guards stand outside checking people as they enter. Samuel and Martin carry our chest. We have created a special compartment within it to hold the carpet when not in use. Our guards still wears their weapons and light armor. Only our companions’ behavior marked them anything other than our outward appearance.
The two guards realize we are not who are what we look like on the surface. They stop Ben, who glares at them, of course they do not recognize who we are, is the first time we been in the city. I placed my hand on Ben’s shoulder and step around him to face the guard. I ask, “Is there a problem guardsman?”
The guard looks at my group and ask, “Who are you, and what is your business in the city?”
I smiled at Isabel and say, “My wife and I have come to the temple of Aphrodite to give thanks. We travel with our friends, and need only lodging for the night before we leave tomorrow.”
The guard looks at me a little confused, my words were true but missing many details. The guard says, “In that case there is a small fee to enter the city, ten gold pieces for your group.”
I reach into my pouch, retrieve the ten gold pieces, and hand it to the guard before anyone in my group could object to me paying. We make our way through the gate. Short way inside Ben asks, “We are friends now?”
Chuckling I say, “You always have been. I have never seen a reason not to consider you as my friend.”
Ben smiles, Ruth gives him a nod and he asks, “As my friend would you stand for me at my wedding?”
I turn and shake his hand, as Isabel gives Ruth a hug. I say, “I would be pleased my friend.”
Samuel chuckles, “You only been waiting a week to ask. We all told you he would.”
As we walk to the marketplace I ask, “Have you picked out the date yet?”
Ruth walking with her arm interlaced with Ben says, “We would as soon as we can.”
Isabel giggles, “There is a perfectly good temple of Aphrodite here in the city.”
Ben and Ruth looked a little surprised before Ruth says, “I do not have a dress to wear.”
Isabel had been in the city before, pulls Ruth away and we move quickly to keep up, Isabel stops in front of a dress shop she says, “They make the best dresses here. As my gift to you, I wish to help with your wedding.”
The rest of us men, wait outside as the two disappear inside. Isabel pokes her head out and asks, “Ben is there not something you are supposed to get, a ring perhaps?”
The two big man wait outside, Ben, Bill, George and I go and look for a jeweler. Then nervously goes through the selection he has. He found a stone he likes, but mounted on a ring he does not. He keeps going through several. I know exactly how he feels, if I did not have the magic that allowed me to make Isabel’s ring I probably been doing the same.
He finally takes the one with the stone he likes and looks at me he asks, “Could you change the ring? Ruth likes emeralds; this is the closest they have.” He is right is actually a diamond cut the way most emeralds are cut, slightly lighter green in color than an emerald with no imperfections visible to the eye. I think he chose well for the stone. I shake my head yes with a smile.
The jeweler smiles, given us the price Ben’s eyes go wide. I look at the jeweler and say, “With a price like that you must think I am the Prince. I do not mine you making a profit. Nevertheless, do you have to make your year from me?” George and Bill chuckle despite themselves.
The jeweler lowers his press slightly I look at the ring closely before I nod. I reach into my coin pouch and withdraw a large diamond. It is one from the treasure, I recovered the day before Isabel and I were married. Now it is the jeweler’s turn for his eyes to go wide. I point to a couple more pieces, a necklace, earrings, and say, “Those plus the ring for this.”
The large stone easily is worth more than all three pieces combined. Jeweler shakes his head rather quickly knowing he has the better of the deal. George chuckles and asks, “Where did you get that?”
With smile I say, “Found it on the bottom of the ocean, went down with some ship a couple hundred years ago.”
The jeweler’s eyes widened as he looks at me suspiciously he asked, “What is your name?”
George always loves to watch the shock of others says, “He is Julius Cowan, High Prince to the kingdom.”
The jeweler goes to his knee, and I immediately say, “Rise, sorry for my little joke earlier. I trust the deal is still good.”
When the jeweler comes to his feet, his eyes looked pleading and I ask, “What is the problem? Is there any way that we may help?”
His reaction was not something I quite expected. He looked around almost fearful before waving us in to his shop, when we followed him in deeper he closed the outer door. Once he was certain of our privacy. He begins in almost a shaky voice, “Sire, please leave the city. If I am the only one to know, there is yet a chance you may escape.”
I ask, “What dangers there here? Why would I need to escape?”
In a quiet shaky voice the jeweler continues, “If I am found out, my life will be forfeit. However, I must tell you. The Duke here has lost his mind. He gave his daughter to the son of the traitor. His guards are all foreigners, from Izmira. He arrested all the priestesses from the Temple of Aphrodite today. The priestesses had spread word of your coming to provide a healing ceremony. If you go to the temple you will surely die.”
I reach into my pouch and find the mate to the diamond I gave him earlier. Handing it to him and close his hand around it. I say, “For the risk you took.” Looking at George I say, “It is a good thing we did not change before entering the city. If we leave quietly, we may send word that we were unable to come today.”
Turning back to the jeweler I say, “My good man, perhaps it would be a good time for a business trip. I happen to know the Princess is in the market to sell some raw diamonds. Of course that would mean a trip to New Cowan.”
The jeweler chuckles and says, “I will tell a few of my friends, with a stone such as this I am sure the guards will not pay much attention to our leaving.”
George says, “Keep your party fairly small, and meet us up the road in two days, at the inn in the village do north across the great Bay.”
I warn Isabel through our mental connection. (Be warned the Duke here seeks to arrest us. If you are recognized, we will need to leave immediately.)
Isabel communicates back mentally. (I know the dressmaker I should be safe enough.)
Mentally I ask Isabel. (Nothing is out of the ordinary then, the dressmaker has not sent someone away or is taking longer than normal?)
We take our leave of the jeweler, moving silently yet quickly through the crowd headed back to the dressmaker. Mentally Isabel answers after a pause. (She does seem to be working much slower than she has in the past.)
I communicate back. (Make some excuse for the two of you leaving. Give Ruth a hand signal for evasion. She will know what it means. We are on our way.)
Around the corner after leaving the market and nearly run straight into a large patrol of guards, we fade into the shadows. They head towards the market, possibly the dressmaker was the source of their information. However, I still worry for the jeweler who gave us warning. Once they pass, we continue to the dressmaker with all haste. I give Isabel a mental warning. (We just passed a large patrol heading towards the market. Are you out?)
Isabel mentally replies. (We are clear the dressmaker’s shop. Ruth punched her knocking her out cold when she attempted to restrain us leaving. We have Samuel and Martin. Should we had to the market?)
I ask mentally. (Do you know of a quiet place nearby?)
Isabel’s mind flashes on a small cul-de-sac with fountain at its center. It is in a middle-class neighborhood, where two the houses stood are empty lots. One house empty, and in disrepair, two more of the houses on the street are empty too. Isabel’s mind shares with me her knowledge of the city, and I turned us down an alley. I can feel Isabel smile, as she too slips away from the main streets.
It takes us half an hour, and George asks, “Do you know where you are going?”
I smile and say, “Isabel knows, clan Morgan would winner here. She played on these streets as a child.” Then we make the last turn into the cul-de-sac. The four are looking at the abandoned house as if considering buying the property. Isabel does not even need to glance over her shoulder to know I approach. The light is beginning to fade, once it becomes fully dark, we will open the carpet and make our escape.
I step into the yard, reaching out first to see if anyone is nearby. Only three of the houses on this quiet street have older couples living there. None of them has seem to notice our presence. We walk into the yard of the abandoned house, moving around to its rear. A narrow gate opens onto a leave-covered patio; a dead lemon tree is to the right. After the gate closed, I whisper a spell that removes all traces of our path here.
Simon and Martin set down the box. Simon opens the lid removes and unfurls the carpet in one motion. The carpet actually never touched the ground, and only its unfurling blows a few leaves away. Ruth still holds the partially finished dress, as she and Ben move together. We all climb upon the carpet to wait silently until darkness for our departure.
Once the sun is fully set, we still wait another hour until the clouds above the city have darkened. We move straight up for a time until the city is small beneath us. Then we set a course for New Cowan, and my father.
We will return in two days, I have a plan already forming in my mind. We will need some information from Carissa; I would know if her father were a hostage or conspirator, I fear the letter. The carpet seems to fill our haste, even the star seem to shift we are moving so quickly. Before the moon is full on its rise, we have made half the distance, at this pace before midnight we should reach New Cowan.
On our way is the house of master wizard Justin. Isabel and I both wish to have his counsel. The carpet descends into his yard. We knock at his door, seen Isabel he throws his door wide again, I had our companions enter following Isabel. We quickly explain what we have discovered about Edmonton, the warning from the jeweler, guard patrols, and how the dressmaker attempted to hold Isabel.
Justin orders, “We must bring this word to the King.” We again climb aboard the carpet, this time with the master wizard Justin on board. We fly directly onto New Cowan with amazing speed. Even our short delay has not placed us at too late of an hour for our arrival. Landing in the courtyard, I send my companions off to their beds. I will have a word with my father at dawn. It is too late to do anything else tonight other than to destroy what good sleep he may get. I do have two guards placed outside of the Lady Carissa’s rooms.
I take a subdued Isabel to our rooms, we quietly looking on our son who sleeps peacefully, before we moved to our own bedchambers. I snuggle close to my wife, but we both cannot sleep. I finally tell her, “It will take two days to prepare. At night we will come into the keep, and either paralyze or put to sleep every guard, noble and servant. We will bind all the guards and gag them. If it works, there should be very little if any bloodshed. After we clear an area large enough, we can call father to bring his troops to secure the Castle. His troops can take all of the captured guards and ensure they do not escape to warn anyone else. We will continue moving through and subdue all with little or no violence.”
I pray the jeweler makes his escape, and he may be the best source of information. We need to know how many of Izmira’s troops are within the city. He and his companions may know that. It is his warning that allowed our escape. I am sure they still search the city for us.
Isabel giggles, “If they tried to scribe for you, they will never locate you. The Goddess’s blessing still hides you. I know I could not find you that way.”
Isabel and I move closer together, kissing gently and more passion begins to flare between us. Isabel and I gently make love. Glowing with the power of love, we finally fall asleep. We both awake at the false dawn, wash and dress. Little Patrick runs into our room and jumps into his mother’s arms. Followed quickly by his nurse she asks, “My lady when did you arrive? We are not prepared for your return.”
Isabel smiles gently at the young woman and says, “It was very late last night, and I did not wish to disturb you or any other.”
Little Patrick hugs his mother around her neck. He gives her kisses before saying, “Mommy I missed you.”
Isabel gives him a kiss back and says, “I missed you too. I love you Patrick.” She gives him a few more kisses that causes him to giggle.
I chuckle and say, “Let us go find some breakfast, what I have to discuss with father I do not want to do it on an empty stomach.”
The cook was a little more than surprised to see us, but she managed to get us some breakfast rather quickly, after we finished at a table in the kitchen. Isabel and I took our dirty dishes to the sink, and a servant waved us away. I catch the tray meant for my father; the serving girl only rolls her eyes as she releases the tray. Isabel and I go to my father’s quarters, tray in hand.
Knocking on my father’s door, after hearing him call Isabel and I enter. In the room, I bring light into existence, which rather startles my father. He asks, “Why are you two back so soon?”
I say, “Eat your breakfast first. We have much to discuss afterwards.” I do not think my smile convinced him.
In a fatherly tone he says, “Do not hide things from me son. No matter how bad I would know.”
Setting at my father’s table, I pull Isabel into my lap before I say, “There is trouble in Edmonton.”