by AJ Marks
Part 6: A Lucky Kid
Gwen slowly woke with the realization that Zoe was using her as a pillow. Looking down at the blonde hair on her shoulder, the girl still fast asleep. She took a second to look at the face, relaxed in sleep. Stretching slightly she felt all the points of contact between their bare flesh. Last night had been wonder and brought a smile to her face. Zoe had been true to her words in repaying Gwen for the bathtub earlier.
Taking a moment to look out the window at the soft glow of dawn breaking through. Realizing they would have to leave soon, especially if they wanted to make it to the next town during the daylight hours. She reached over poking at the exposed shoulder. Zoe mumbled in answer, sending vibrations though her skin. Poking again she got a better reaction. Sleepy green eyes opened and peered at her.
“It’s not morning yet,” she mumbled, putting her head back down.
“Oh no, time to get up,” Gwen said, changing the target, and going after the ribs, earning a squeal. “Oh, ticklish,” Gwen grinned at the revelation.
“Oh no, keep those fingers away,” Zoe squealed, now fending off an advance by Gwen, who found the activity quite enjoyable as she tried not to laugh.
“You were not complaining last night,” Gwen replied, finding a soft patch of unprotected skin.
“Yeah, last night those fingers were doing something much more pleasurable,” Zoe said, squealing again as Gwen’s attack hit another spot.
“I’ll stop only if you get up,” Gwen said, stopping for a second allowing Zoe to think and collect herself.
“No fair,” Zoe said. “But I’ll get up.”
Gwen watched as Zoe shifted and got up, stretching slightly giving Gwen a good view of all her curves. She fought the instinct to run her hands all over the skin presented to her. She stood up and with a slight stretch went over to pick up her clothing on the floor, where they had been strewn last night.
She looked over, knowing Zoe was teasing her with her posing, showing off. Quickly walking over she pulled Zoe close, reaching around to cup a breast, while the other hand rested at her naval.
“You little vixen,” Gwen whispered in the ear, giving it a gentle lick. She watched Zoe’s eyes close before pulling away and heading back to her clothing. Chuckling a bit as Zoe tried to regain her senses.
“That’s mean, teasing an innocent girl like me that way,” Zoe pouted.
“Innocent? Tease? Me?’ Gwen said, pointing at her chest.
“Yes you,” Zoe replied.
“I’d have to really work at it to catch up to you,” Gwen said. “Besides, we need to get going, don’t want to get to Setta late.”
“I hate it when you’re logical,” Zoe finally said, but bending down to grab her clothes.
“We’ll grab some breakfast, some food for the road and head off,” Gwen said stating the plan for the day. It would be a long and hopefully boring day ahead of them.
Gwen felt around with her aura, not feeling anything nearby and went back to listening once more to her companion. They managed to leave the inn early, the sun still rising and many in the town still waking up. They managed to leave almost before everyone else. She had not wanted to be on the road after a several wagons messed up the tracks.
Gwen figured some of the faster horses would pass her, and some of the faster carriages, but the heavier wagons would remain behind her. She also figured as long as merchants were behind her, the bandits would ignore two people walking down the path.
She tuned back in to hear what Zoe was talking about now, something about birds and their ability to fly. She spoke about where she might go if she could fly. Gwen half listened, knowing Zoe could talk for hours and not get tired. How she could talk so much, she had no idea, but it at least passed the time, and it beat Zoe complaining about how far they had walked. Gwen felt glad Zoe did not complain.
The temperature had warmed up even more than the previous day. The snow from the storm was rapidly melting snow. The closer they got to Setta and the more people the more the road would degenerate. It was a reason she wanted to get on the road so quickly.
She stopped, hearing something in the bushes up ahead. Motioning to Zoe, who stopped and remained quite as Gwen moved closer. She felt nothing threatening from whatever it was, but did not want to take any chances. Shock took over as she spotted a small body go racing away from her and the trail. Making a quick decision she took off after it.
She moved quickly catching up rather quickly and hefting the child up into her arms. The child struggled to get down, but Gwen made her way back to where Zoe stood, looking at her, then the kid and back again.
“I know we haven’t talked about kids yet, but isn’t this rather sudden?” Zoe said, causing Gwen to stop at the statement before seeing Zoe smile. She placed the kid on the ground, who looked between the two of them as Zoe walked over to them. “Hi there,” Zoe said, crouching down a bit to his level.
Gwen watched as the boy looked between them before settling on Zoe and moved closer to her. She did not blame him, as Zoe probably appeared less threatening to him. Gwen moved away a bit, but stayed in listening range.
“Where’s your mom?” Zoe asked gently, watching as the boy pointed down the road. “Is she hurt?” Zoe asked, taking a moment to remove some of the dirt off his cheek. He shrugged his shoulder causing Gwen to frown at the answer.
“Zoe, stay here with him, I’ll head down the road and see if I can spot anything,” Gwen said.
Gwen made her way down the pathway, her long strides quickly covering the trail rounding few bends and made it to a trail crossing. Signs pointing to different town, including Setta, but no indication of anyone. She could move down the trail, but without knowing which way to go she would be wasting time. She turned around to make her way back to where Zoe was.
Voices coming down the trail caused her to stop. The unfriendly tone made her jump up into the trees. Waiting a few minutes she spotted several figures coming down the path, and recognized a familiar figure. Three men, one carrying the boy, and another pushing Zoe, who had her hands tied behind her. She studied the men, their armor and how unkempt they appeared. They were anything but professionals.
“Gregory will be happy with this one,” one of the two men said.
“You bet, caught ourselves something pretty this time,” a second one said.
“Yeah, about time we find something pretty and young, be good entertainment,” the third said,
“You’d do a sheep Percy,” the second one said, slapping the third one.
Gwen watched as Zoe’s eyes went wide at that statement and her own anger at the statement almost caused her to drop down and bust some heads. However she wanted to know who this Gregory was. Gwen watched as they passed under her, dropping down a few leaves onto Zoe. She shook her head, and glanced up.
Gwen made a shushing motion as recognition was reflected in Zoe’s eyes. Zoe’s body relaxed slightly but continued on as Gwen dropped silently to the ground to follow. She hoped it would head back to this Gregory, and perhaps solve the mystery of the boy and why he was out here alone.
Gwen looked around at the camp in front of her. She had gone back up into the trees, allowing her to survey the camp from a higher angle and seeing things she might otherwise miss. It was near the crossroads, and she figured they were robbing merchants at random. Being off the roads would make them harder to spot and so far away from the cities made it hard for any city to enforce, as the governors might say it is another city’s problem.
However, the problem before Gwen was their lack of fighting power, nor did she sense a mage in the group. They appeared to be a group of petty thieves, who had amassed a large amount of plunder. She watched a large man walk out from one of the main tents and approached the group, his voice carrying over to where Gwen hid.
“Well, well, got him did you? And what is this bonus of a prize,” the man said, walking up to Zoe and looking her over.
“Found her with the boy, Gregory, might be some good entertainment, you think?” one of the other men said.
“Very nice,” Gregory said, running a hand down Zoe’s cheek, who moved back out of his reach. He stopped, and looked at her. “I wouldn’t do that, it might get you hurt, but then again, I don’t care. Hearing a girl scream in pain, exciting.”
Several men laughed at the statement. Gwen clinched her teeth at the idea of someone touching Zoe like that. She would make sure that person would suffer. Somewhere along the way she had developed some feeling for the young woman. She focused back on the events at hand and what she might do next.
“Now, for you brat. Are you ready to cooperate? If not, your mother will suffer greatly,” Gregory said, pausing for a second and turning towards Zoe. “I have a better idea, well show the brat what will happen to his dear mother if he refuses again.”
One of the guys pushed Zoe a bit too roughly towards one of the trees. They released her hands only to retie them above her head. Not willing to let anything further happen Gwen jumped down and calmly walked into the middle of the camp and waited for someone to see her. Finally one did, and knowing he was looking at her, and not her armor and weapons.
“Hey boss, we have another one,” the man said. She watched as they all turned to look at her, no one seeing her for the fighter she was, but for her feminine curves.
“Well, it’s our lucky day boys,” Gregory said grinning, even as several men laughed at the statement.
“I’d say it’s your unlucky day, especially if you don’t give me back what is mine,” Gwen said, waiting for his reply. Her statement appeared to have caught him off guard, and he looked at her then at his men before over at Zoe, who remained silent.
“You’re alone, not sure what you mean pretty thing,” Gregory replied, walking closer to her. “You’ve entered Gregory’s Raiders, and anything, or anyone, who enters our camp is ours. Guess what sweet thing that means you.”
“One and only chance, let her go and I’ll spare your lives for what you were about to do,” Gwen said, getting bored with the conversation.
Looking around she spotted several crossbows and quickly counted six of them all aiming at her. She mentally questioned why it was always crossbows. Did someone think it was a great weapon at close range or something?
“I don’t think so, you obviously have fighting power, but we know how to handle such fighters. All you have to do is dart them and even the toughest will succumb to a sleeping potion,” Gregory said, confidence bursting from him. Gwen realized they had done this before. She wondered how many times they had done this before. She let her own fighting power rise up in response to the threat.
“So, you’re not going to let her go?” Gwen replied, readying a few throwing stars.
“And miss out on our fun, are you insane?” Gregory replied, laughing a bit. He motioned with his arm, an obvious signal to the others. Gwen started moving even before the first crossbolts were released. Two stars went flying towards their targets, moving quickly and threw a third throwing star avoiding two more bolts before drawing her sword. Even the best archer would require some time before finishing reloading. She wasn’t about to give them the chance to reload.
The fourth person fell to her sword, as she turned to the fifth man having eliminated several already. They were no match at all for her, easily slicing through the man before rounding on Gregory who had his sword drawn. She waited a second to see what he might do next. He saw what she had done, and yet still charged her.
In one slice Gregory fell like the others. She glanced at the remaining men, waiting to see what they might do. There were five left standing. One charged while the other four ran out of the camp with no sign of stopping. The remaining man she quickly knocked out before turning back towards Zoe, who appeared unharmed.
“Not what I expected,” Gwen finally said, approaching Zoe and looking her over. “However, you look good tied up like that, have to remember this one.”
“Ha-ha, very funny,” Zoe replied, glaring at her.
“Doubting my honesty?” Gwen said, walking up to Zoe, taking a bit of time before finally cutting the binding holding her hands together. “Better? I cut that a bit close I think.”
“Nah, I had faith,” Zoe replied, earning a glance towards her. “Once I saw you in the tree, I knew everything would work out.”
“We got lucky that none of these guys knew how to fight,” Gwen said, only slightly concerned that they lacked the fear of confronting someone so powerful. The last guy who charged her must have thought he had some advantage the others did not. It begged the question, why.
“The boy went into the tent over there,” Zoe said, pointing to one of the larger tents.
“Stay here,” Gwen said, having forgotten about the boy until Zoe said something. Now that Zoe was safe, she could head back and see what was going on with the boy.
Pulling the tent flap aside, she walked inside cautiously in case anyone else was waiting. She spotted two cages with people inside, all of whom looked at her in fear. She saw no threat and relaxed a bit before heading over to the cages, looking at the locks. Simple locks that would easily shatter with a single blow. Quickly destroying both locks she opened the doors for both before backing away.
“Who are you?” one woman asked, suspicious of her.
“Just a bounty hunter,” Gwen replied, not trying to be a hero.
“Are you after that boy, he’s back there,” one man said, pointing towards the back.
“Shut up,” the woman said.
“Why should I, he’s the reason we’re in here after all,” the man replied back to her.
“He’s right Erin,” another guy said, as the group grumbled about the boy.
Gwen watched as they all seemed to gang up on the woman, forgetting she was even there. “Silence!” Gwen finally shouted, watching the group stop and look at her. “First off, I’m not after the boy, second you all got lucky, the boy found us, I went to investigate and they kidnapped my lover. So your rescue is because they took the wrong gal, not for anything else.”
Turning she walked back out not wanting to hear anything else. She made her way over to Zoe, who looked confused at what she probably heard.
“They think we’re after the boy for some reason,” Gwen said, hoping that explained it.
“I wonder why?” Zoe asked, a question even Gwen wondered about.
“Didn’t ask, don’t want to know either,” Gwen said. “Sometimes, not knowing like this is better, less complications.”
“I guess,” Zoe said, not sounding convinced at the answer.
Gwen went around the camp looking for anything they might be able to use. She found some coins in the leader’s tent, along with several books. She never expected the man to have such a library of books, almost a nerd of sorts. She scanned the titles, seeing a familiar one, ‘How to Defeat Powerful Fighters’, and appeared well worn. She glanced at the author, Fred Ortich, and shook her head. His tactics worked on fighters up to about level four, but anything higher, it started going wrong.
It would explain why the man thought he could win, and in the Shadowlands they rarely came across anyone who was above level five. Gregory had gotten lucky up to today having never fought against someone stronger.
Walking back out of the tent she noticed several had walked out of the tent and were going around the camp as well, gathering stuff. Two were already walking out of the camp, and probably back home. Heading towards Zoe she spotted the woman and the boy near her.
“Gwen, this boy is a latgic,” Zoe said as Gwen approached. She looked at the boy and understood they were using him for something. A latgic was a person who had high magical abilities, but no control over it. The magic could be a lot of things, from having the ability to help others, make things easier or improve magical qualities of fighters or mages. The longer a latgic was in a person’s influence, the greater the effect, and some even could develop bonds with a person. The powers were thought to weaken as one grew older, but no real research as many latgics were hesitant to work with others.
“So, what’s his ability?” Gwen asked.
“The ability to detect people,” the woman said.
“Makes sense,” Gwen said, thinking about how a group of thieves could use that ability. They would know when people were coming, and if they were heading towards the camp. It meant less time waiting and more time doing other things. A tremendous advantage over others. Add in a leader full of book smarts and he probably brought them all together, and no fighting powers no auras to trace.
“I just don’t understand, how did you get in,” the woman said. “They can feel when someone comes, especially into their camp.”
“I guess they were distracted today,” Gwen said, looking over at Zoe.
“Am I a distraction?” Zoe asked innocently.
“Well you can be,” Gwen answered before continuing, “that’s why you’re behind me in a fight and not in front of me.”
“I wouldn’t want to distract you,” Zoe said.
“I’d say you got lucky that you got close enough to help,” the woman said.
“So, how long have you been a prisoner?” Zoe asked, getting another bit of the conversation going.
“A month or so, long enough for them to have been effected by Samuel’s abilities,” she said.
“Yeah, guess we were lucky,” Zoe said, unaffected by the amount of luck they seemed to have.
“Are you headed to Setta, I would like an escort, after everything that’s happened, things are unsettling at the moment,” the woman said, hugging Samuel.
Gwen glanced over at Zoe, who shrugged before replying. “I guess, we do move a bit fast, trying to get there before it gets dark.”
“No problem I have no desire to stay out here any longer than possible,” the woman said.
“Well, let’s get going,” Gwen said.
“I’m Erin,” the woman said, introducing herself.
“Zoe, and the tall silent one is Gwen,” Zoe said, as they made their way towards the path.
Gwen put an arm around Zoe and focused on her. “You sure you’re fine, they didn’t do anything when they captured you?”
“Nothing more than a shove, and they tied the rope too tight,” Zoe said. “Nothing hit you, did they?” Zoe moved back a bit to inspect Gwen a bit closer. Gwen endured the gaze, knowing Zoe was worried over her safety. It had been a long time since someone cared enough to do that.
“Nah, I saw all the bolts, easy to avoid when that happens. Is the one you don’t know about that’s a danger. They all stood in front of me,” Gwen answered.
“I guess, though it does feel nice,” Zoe said.
“Hmm, what?” Gwen asked, looking down into haunted green eye. A blink and the look was gone.
“Helping people, feels nice,” Zoe finally replied, as they reached the path.
“Yeah it does,” Gwen said, wondering about the look. Bending down she kissed Zoe lightly on the lips, a grin appeared on Zoe’s face. She hoped the rest of the trip went by uneventfully.
Gwen looked at the wagon as it passed by heading the other way. She thought they had left late, but with the snow now almost gone they probably would be sleeping somewhere on the path tonight anyways.
“So, are you and her are close?” Erin asked. Gwen looked over at Erin, who looked at her and then at Zoe.
Gwen took a second to think about the answer. She knew they were close, lovers or partners who shared intimacies? Gwen wondered what Zoe wanted in this relationship, if anything? “Well, it’s a bit complex,” she finally said, despite knowing that to her, Zoe was more than a partner. She wanted it to be more than just a partner.
“It’s obvious you care for her” Erin said back to Gwen.
“Yeah, she is my partner, and lover,” Gwen replied, not wanting to give too much away to someone she did not know.
“Its nice to have someone you can trust,” Erin said, a bit wistfully. “I know how that is, keeping secrets is hard. Seems like everyone wants my son despite my trying to keep the knowledge a secret.”
Gwen remained quiet about that. She had secrets she kept quiet, and had a deep suspicion that Zoe did as well. Neither feeling comfortable yet about speaking about such things. Though she had to agree with Erin, trust was very important.
“We all have our secrets, some more dangerous than others,” Gwen finally replied.
“I guess so,” Erin replied, as Gwen wondered about something.
“Are you also a letgic?” she asked, wondering if Samuel got the ability from his mother, or father.
“Somewhat, though my ability isn’t very strong,” Erin replied. “I have a similar ability, though it’s for normal people to detect magical power, not people in general. And his is more developed. And he is younger.”
Gwen nodded knowing that like mages and fighters, latgic users had different levels. They were harder to determine, and certain spells could be used to determine their ability and level, but was difficult.
“I still don’t understand how you slipped in, between me and Samuel’s abilities, you should have been detected,” Erin said.
Gwen took a moment to think about that. Why had the men not detected her? True, she move into the camp with the group, but the men who took Zoe had not detected her. Were they that distracted by Zoe?
“I guess my proximity to the group hindered their abilities,” Gwen said finally. “They might have assumed I was part of the group, and they were distracted by Zoe.”
“Possible, it’s a strange ability at times, and doesn’t always work,” Erin finally said.
“I don’t understand that at all, not being able to control your magic,” Gwen said.
“You have magic?” Erin asked.
“Um, yeah, some fighting magic,” Gwen said, not stating how much she had.
“I wouldn’t know, it’s always on so there is no getting used to it,” Erin replied back.
“So, what were they trying to get Samuel to do?” Gwen asked.
“Ah, yes, that,” Erin said, now looking very uncomfortable with the question. Gwen wondered what the answer might be that had her so spooked. “Sometimes having your first sexual partner can enhance the effects of the person, both for the latgic and their lover. It doesn’t always work, and is fickle at best, but the rumor is out there.”
Gwen’s eyes went wide at that. “Um, but he’s what, five?”
“Six, but way too young for something like that,” Erin said. “There is always someone out there who will take advantage of this situation. I guess Gregory thought by doing that he could gain the boy’s abilities at his strongest.”
“I don’t understand that part,” Gwen said, her knowledge of latgics were limited at best, besides some basics, she did know their abilities seemed to diminish as they grew older.
“Its simple, most latgics’ magic decline as they age. A few get stronger, especially with the person they are with, and sometimes it is limited to that person. I don’t know the reasons why that is. When I was younger I had a strong ability as well, but during my teens it started to decline,” Erin said.
Gwen fell quiet at the explanation. How many latgics had been mistreated simply because of some rumor of their abilities? It also explained why so many were protective of the younger ones, hiding them and not saying anything. Older latgics had no problem announcing their powers, but almost never spoke of the younger ones. She looked over at Zoe who was talking to Samuel about something. The younger woman looked up as if feeling Gwen looking.
“Hey, you two hungry?” Gwen asked.
“Yeah, I could use something to eat,” Zoe replied. “We were about to eat before all this started.”
“Then I better get you fed,” Gwen stated with a slight grin. She made her way to some trees that would provide a nice area to sit.
Gwen pulled out some food of her pack, handing some to Zoe and the others. She watched as Zoe engaged Erin in a conversation as Samuel remained quiet. She thought about what Erin had said, and thought about what he might have already seen in his young life.
She tried to remember what her life was like when she was that young. Most of her memories of her childhood were of training, and things she did not wish to remember. Her uncle and his family especially she did not wish to remember, or see ever again. They always seemed bad tempered, and her cousin seemed to inherit the same attitude. Thought they were best at everything they did, despite the fact she was better than her cousin. Her father was younger than her uncle, and always told her to not get so involved in things.
Gwen ignored her father’s advice, much to her own peril. Now she sat near some road in the Shadowlands, with a woman and her son who were letgics, and a young woman she considered her lover, all while working as a bounty hunter. What she considered a lucky situation after the disaster only a few years ago. She had considered her life was over, now, it seemed better than ever.
With a great mental effort, she pushed those thoughts from her mind. A wagon appeared on the trail, heading down the trail. The driver seemed to struggle with the mud in the road from the melting snow and warmer weather. She watched the wagon and the crew struggle down the road as it approached them. One of the group walked over to where they sat.
“Howdy ma’am,” he said, taking his hat off as he addressed them. “Any problems down the way?”
“Not much, did have one encounter with bandits a bit back where the some roads met,” Gwen said.
“The midpoint,” Erin said, obviously clarifying the point in the road better than Gwen.
“Oh?” the man said, now listening to the conversation.
“Yeah, but I doubt you’ll have any problems, took care of most of them,” Gwen answered.
“Well, we’ll be careful then, anything else?” he asked.
“Quiet, but then again, just us,” Gwen replied, the guy seemed to understand the comment. “How’s the road to Setta?”
“Aside from muddy and miserable, clear,” he replied back to her.
“Good news, but we’ll be careful, can’t get too complacent,” Gwen answered, seeing the man nod at the truth.
“Never a good thing,” he said with understanding. “Well, better get back and help out before they think I’m shrinking my duties.”
Gwen said good-bye and watched him head back over to the cart, and helped it along providing eyes for the wheels.
“Well, road’s only going to get worse,” Gwen said to the others.
“Glad we’re walking, maybe,” Zoe replied, looking down at her new boots.
“Depends on how many wagons have travelled it,” Gwen said, knowing that the more wagons that used the path the worse the conditions would be.
“Then we better get going,” Erin said, finishing up her food. “I’ll repay you when we get back to Setta.
“Don’t worry about it,” Zoe answered. “I’m glad we could help.”
“I insist,” Erin said.
“It’s really no problem, we were in the area and got dragged in. You might say they caused us to get involved, started a fight and we finished it,” Gwen said logically.
“So I heard,” Erin said. “It sounded quick.”
“It was, caught them by surprise, didn’t have time to prepare for my arrival,” Gwen said.
“Yes, that still disturbs me,” Erin said once more causing Gwen to shake her head. She knew nothing she said would change Erin’s mind, so she remained quiet. Looking down the road and hoped to get to Setta before dusk.
Gwen looked around Setta, noticing the organized militia walking the streets, keeping trouble makers in check. The guards looked the four of them over, but continued on. Gwen figured they were looking for more ruffians, and they did not fit the profile. Of course if one kept an eye out trouble usually did not catch you by surprise.
“Erin! Is that you?” a voice asked in surprise. They turned to see an older man walking towards them, his hair think and scraggly but well dressed. She glanced back at Gwen who had a smile on her face.
“Poppa,” Erin said, as they hugged. She glanced down at Zoe standing next to her who looked on. She wondered if Zoe was thinking of her mother and father. Gwen wondered briefly what her parents might think if they were here.
“Are you okay? How’s Samuel? How did you escape? I tried several times to organize help, no one could find you,” the man said, before turning towards Zoe and Gwen.
“I’m fine poppa, and so is Samuel. We’re both fine, honestly,” Erin said. Gwen watched as the man’s face relaxed slightly at her words before they turned to her. “These two rescued us.”
“Thank you,” the man said, giving Gwen a hug. She felt slightly awkward at the situation but returned the hug anyways, before he released her and then did same with Zoe. He pulled back and looked them both over again. “I must reward you,” he said, as he picked up Samuel, who did not hesitate at the contact.
“That’s not necessary,” Gwen replied, wanting to get to the inn before the other travelers starting arriving.
“I insist,” he said, pleading with her.
“We’ll be at the inn,” Zoe said, interrupting any further reply by Gwen.
“Great, we’ll meet you there later on after you’ve had a chance to freshen up from your travels,” the man said.
“We look forward to it,” Zoe said, then before Gwen could reply tugged her away towards the inn. Gwen went along willingly and wondered what they would do. She hoped it was not much, she didn’t want to carry anything big around.
Standing off to the side she watched as Zoe bartered with the innkeeper for the room, and finally went up to the room. Clean and well lit, she put the backpack down and settled into a chair.
“Ah, this feels good,” Zoe said, taking her boots off and laying across the bed.
Gwen stood, walking over to look outside, seeing a few travelers walking into the town, glad they already had a room. She could see the market square, which was a medium size.
“See anything?” Zoe asked.
“Nope,” Gwen replied, a bit relieved at not seeing anyone who might be after them. She went back over to the pack, and pulled a few items out before turning back to Zoe, who appeared asleep, her eyes closed ad relaxing. “I wouldn’t fall asleep, after all, we’re meeting Erin and her dad in a bit.”
“I know, just relaxing for a moment,” Zoe stated.
Gwen sat down next to the water basin, poured some water in it and washed her face a bit. She did not want to have mud or whatnot on her face when meeting someone. Pulling out a clean shirt, and changing feeling better with clean clothes on. She sat back watching Zoe do the same thing.
“Interesting day, wasn’t expecting all that to happen though,” Zoe said,
“Nope,” Gwen answered.
“Lucky that Samuel ran into the one person on the trial that day that could help him,” Zoe said. “I mean how many others would have been able to help like we did?”
Gwen thought about that for a few seconds. True, a bounty hunter might not have gotten involved, or someone else might have charged into the camp and been detected, and still others might have passed on by without a care.
“Well, ready to meet some locals?” Zoe asked.
“Not really, but I’ll make an appearance,” Gwen stated honestly, shrugging at Zoe’s glare. “I’ll be nice, I do know how to do that.”
“You better, otherwise you’ll be sleeping on the floor,” Zoe said.
“With a threat like that I’ll be good,” Gwen replied, knowing there was no way Zoe could keep her out of the bed, but also know the threat was real.
Heading down to the tavern she took a seat and ordered a drink while waiting. The waitress took their drink order and returned quickly with them. Gwen looked up to see Erin, Samuel and an older couple enter the tavern and walked over to where they sat.
Samuel still looked at her warily, he had no fear in his eyes, but still unsure about her. He sat on the opposite end of the table as the older man sat across from Zoe while the older woman sat across from Gwen as Erin sat on the other side of Zoe.
“This is my wife, Eva, and I don’t think I introduced myself earlier, I’m Joe,” the man said, introducing themselves.
“Gwen, and my partner Zoe,” Gwen replied, as the waitress came back, looking a bit strangely at Eva, but said nothing as she took their orders.
“So, are either of you two latgics?” Zoe asked, looking at them.
“No, however my wife is a mage,” Joe replied.
Gwen looked over at Eva, who shrugged before replying. “Yes, its true, but those days are long behind me now, specialized in ice,” Eva said. “I was born in the Realm, but left when I was sixteen.”
Gwen wondered why someone so young might leave the Realm. What secrets did the woman hide? Usually those who ran from the Realm had some reason, and rarely said why.
“Really, never been to the Realm, I hope to visit one day, or at least one of the towns,” Zoe said. “They say they have beautiful buildings, amazing technology and grand markets to shop in.”
“Give you a market and you’re happy,” Gwen said, looking over at Zoe, who stuck her tongue out. Gwen quickly captured the pink muscle in question and waited a moment before releasing it.
“Brat,” Zoe said, but returned her attention back to Joe and Eva.
“The Realm was impressive back then, I don’t know now. But there I was a young girl leaving the Realm because of my ability in magic,” Eva said. “They wanted me to use it for killing, something I was against. King Percy was waging war against the Centurions at the time.”
Gwen thought back to through the names, and Percy was the current king, Rick’s father. Percy had gone and conquered territory belonging to the Centurion and the Minstrels, two of the four major powers. The Realm and the Voths were the other two. Each group had a Shadowlands beyond their boarders where the thieves and rogues hid.
“I’ve heard of that war, my father used to tell me it was a waste of resources and men, the territory he conquered the Centurions recaptured five years later,” Gwen said.
“Your father was wise,” Eva said. “I thought the same thing back then. OF course my views were not well received by others. So, I ran away.”
“Did you ever see your family again?” Zoe asked. “I mean you have a daughter, and a grandchild, did they know them?”
“My father understood why I left, and that we would probably never see each other again. He had a rare gift in magic, the ability to see the future,” Eva said.
Gwen thought about that, and wondered if Eva had a similar gift. She also wondered if he told her to leave because of something he foresaw.
“Sounds like he supported you, what about your mom?” Zoe asked. “Did you have any brothers or sisters?”
“I was an only child, and my mother, she was less accepting than my father. It’s not an easy thing to do, but my mind had been made up,” Eva said. “Fortunately I met Joe quickly, and swept me off my feet.”
“That’s sweet,” Zoe said, with a smile, her romantic side running away with her.
“Well, she was standing in the middle of the street with a herd of sheep stampeding though town. So I picked her up and carried her off the street,” Joe said with a chuckle. “Wouldn’t talk to me for a week.”
“You were persistent,” Eva said.
Gwen chuckled not expecting the story to be so literal. Joe had persistence to continue after what he desired. The waitress delivered their meal and they continued the small talk over the meal before a sleepy Samuel meant it was time for them to go back. Once more they were thanked by Erin leaving them with her parents.
“You know others will try for him,” Zoe stated, concern in her voice.
“Yes, but then again, that’s always the case,” Joe replied. Gwen had the feeling he understood the problems both Erin and Samuel faced. “This time it had a happy ending.”
“Right place, right time, lucky I guess,” Zoe said
Gwen shook her head even as Eva gave her a hug, stopping slightly. Gwen looked down at the woman who seemed slightly strange. She spoke before Gwen could say anything, her voice lower and raspy.
“Keep luck within your heart,” she said, then seemed to return to normal. Gwen looked at her, then over at Zoe and Joe who seemed to have missed the interaction. Eva said nothing else, but wished her luck in the future before she and Joe left the tavern.
“Ready to head up?” Zoe asked.
“Um, yeah,” Gwen answered, thinking the phrase over a couple of times, not knowing what it might mean. She followed Zoe up to the room, and pushed the thought aside. She had time later on to ponder the meaning.