Part 69 of Quest
(Preceded by: What Letters Name)
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The Watcher nodded, his shoulders slumping. He closed his hand into a fist and pounded it into the earth. “I hate them. So long as their cloth protects them I can do nothing against them.”
“Their cloth?” Chero looked away from the six murderers making steady progress up the mountainside.
Six clad in orange,
death hikes the mountain path as
“Their vows protect them.” The Watcher lifted a stone and turned it. “None of my kind can harm a cleric, even one as hateful and deserving of harm as those damned Seekers.” He set the stone down. Throwing it would have alerted the Seekers to their presence. Not something any sane creature should ever do.
“Are they all dead?” Was he orphaned now for true? Chero watched the Watcher, who shrugged. Let there be some survivors. Let the Seekers not have killed them all.
“I don’t know but I think not. Your kind are canny and small, and the small are easily hidden.”
“You knew.” Two words, one accusation, Chero glared at the Watcher of the Moon. The six orange-robed Seekers continued their hike up the mountainside, their ultimate direction still unclear.
He accused a god–
twelve inches of winged justice,
dwarfed by the divine.
The Watcher opened and closed a bony hand. “No, I saw it just before I pointed it out to you. That’s why I followed you. I wanted a better vantage and ah, even the god-born can take only so much screaming.” Beneath the Watcher’s spangled hood, he cocked a rueful grin.
Chero regarded the Watcher for a moment longer sifting his words for truth. That cloaked godling’s power burned silver with the purity of the moon’s light. Beings that exuded a white magical aura cleaved to the truth not by choice but by design. Their magic allowed no deception in words or deeds. That meant he hadn’t known of the attack before it had happened.
At the rate they hiked, the six clerics wouldn’t reach the spur where two trails met for another hour or two at the very least. Stay and watch the Seekers? Go warn the others? What should he do now?
“Why did you help us with the Sun God?”
The Watcher shrugged. “Because I could.”
“You haven’t told us the price for your help.”
“Why do you think that is?”
Chero shrugged. Whatever the reason, it had nothing to do with him. It couldn’t; he was twelve inches tall and not likely to grow beyond that. Whatever the Watcher wanted, it had to be something large; a task he’d need a full-sized mortal man to tackle, someone like Henneth. His shoulders slumped and he sat on top of the cairn to do the only thing someone of his size could do–watch and wait. In his next life, he’d come back as full sized man–one of the magic races of course, not a regular non-magical human, but someone with real hero potential.
“Time,” said the Watcher. “When you have as much of it as I do, you learn that all things have a time and a place. When both’re right I’ll tell you my price.”
The Watcher didn’t answer; he stared out westwards in the opposite direction of the Seekers. West towards the rest of the One Continent and troubles that lay beyond Shayari’s borders. West, where Chero’s family had immigrated from and where his home had been overrun.
A piercing cry stopped the Seekers, freezing them mid-step as their hooded heads turned seeking the source. The mountains bounced echoes of the baby’s wail until the child cried out again. The Seekers moved as one with renewed vigor up the trail, their eyes fixed on the trail that led to Chero’s friends.
Chero leaped off the cairn, wings beating a frantic tattoo. He had to warn them.
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“Zerose?” Henneth regarded the baby who shook his head and then glanced at Anasril for help. What now? They had gone through the alphabet once already and the babe had rejected every single letter. She raised both hands in defeat; her wings were a blue blur behind her.
“You have to have a name. Everyone has one.”
Henneth juggled the babe to free an arm so he could wipe his brow. Between the spring sun’s rays beating on him and the frustration of finding a name for a child who didn’t want one, he’d had enough. His feet ached from walking and his arms arms ached from carrying a twenty pound baby.
No name for baby,
who rejects all names supplied;
nameless he remains.
“Maybe he already has a name?” Anasril suggested and the baby did a curious thing; he tiled his head to one side, eyes narrowing as he considered that concept.
If the child did have a name, how on earth could they guess it? Maybe the Watcher of the Moon could do his god thing and divine it. Henneth glanced around for a lean man in a spangled cloak but the Watcher had disappeared.
Anasril had the same thought judging from her creased brow and quick survey, or maybe not. A moment later she darted upwards towards a black blur against the cloudless blue. Either a crow flew overhead or Chero had returned.
Five minutes later, the sky’s shadow resolved itself into Chero. “We’ve got a problem,” he announced as he dove down to hover at eye level for Henneth.
The mere mention of that order of magic-hating zealots made Henneth’s blood run cold. He possessed no magic but the baby did. Both Chero and Anasril were Magic Kind and perhaps so too was the baby.
“They know we’re coming,” Henneth paused, his throat had dried up from all the talking and maybe from fear as well.
Chero nodded. “They heard the baby’s crying and they’re headed this way.”
“Can we evade them?”
Chero shook his head, his eyes bleak.
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Find out next week when the Quest continues…
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