Return Of The Bulls
Chapter XXI: Evil On The Wind
After Barbod had given his speech, Lovana headed out of the room and the Lone Ranger followed.
“I’ve been called to my sister's house…” Lovana said nervously to the Lone Ranger.
“Then get on with it.” he replied.
“Sometimes I wonder if you care, Lone Ranger…” she muttered as she sped up and left the Lone Ranger behind.
Lovana soon came to a beautiful house, she approached and knocked.
“Lovana, it is so good to see you!” cried Lovana’s sister as she opened the door. Then she wrinkled her nose.
“My, my, Lovana, you need a bath. Servants!”
“I don’t have time for that, Anna…” Lovana replied.
“Fine then, let us talk in the den.” said Anna.
Lovana sighed under her breath as she followed her sister to the den. They both sat down and the servants gave them tea.
“I don’t drink tea, you know this Anna.” Lovana said.
But Anna ignored Lovana and went on talking.
“So, is it truly him?” Anna asked.
“You will find out soon enough…” Lovana replied.
“Oh! We have been invited to a dinner party that’s being held for the king tomorrow night. I must wear my best dress for it!” giggled Anna.
Lovana tried to smile but didn’t care for it.
“And I will have the servants make you a dress for the party, oh you will look so cute Lovana!”
“Megablocks Anna!" snarled Lovana, standing up, “I don't need your dresses, and I don't need you!”
Lovana walked out, leaving her shocked sister by herself.
"I haven’t been that drunk in my life…” Barbod chuckled.
The Lone Falcon and the Lone Ranger were not listening, they were looking out to sea.
“Something’s different, something is happening.” the Lone Falcon said.
“Indeed.” the Lone Ranger replied.
“I hope everyone is alright at Drullen Bell Keep…" the Lone Falcon said to himself.
Barbod stood up straight, and stared at the sea too.
“You both are as drunk as a horse's Megablocks.” Barbod laughed.
But they didn’t laugh with him, they just stood there, watching. By the time the trio returned to Highsteer Keep, most of the effects of the ale they had drunk had faded. And though Barbod had tried to laugh off the concerns of his companions, part of him still wondered if maybe there was something more to it.
As they passed the sentries at the gatehouse, Jack fell into step with them, his face shadowed.
“You missed out on some good ale, Jack,” Barbod said, still trying to lighten the mood.
“Aye, your Lordship, and some comely wenches, I’d warrant. But I was helping Gerrik and Trevelayn inventory your armory, listening to the rattle of spears and pikes. And hearing a bit more besides.”
“Oh and aye. Did ye hear the dogs barking not three-fourth of an hour past? Or the sudden silence of every bird and chirping cricket?”
Barbod blinked, wondering if his friend had gone even madder than normal.
“We were in the Trout’s Legs, Jack-- the tavern in the settlement. We heard nothing but the fiddle player's scrapings, and too much of that as it was.”
“And with the ale in your throats you’d not have tasted it either. Aye. Jack thought as much.”
“Tasted it? What in the megabloks are you going on about?”
“Magic . It stinks in the back of my throat-- like swallowing a rusty chain. And I'm not the only one to feel it, to judge by how every animal in your keep reacted. Your grooms just about had their hands full keeping the horses from bolting, and every cat in the cellars a-bristle.”
The Lone Falcon and Ranger nodded.
“We told Barbod as much," the Lone Falcon agreed. "He thought we had been too deep in our cups.”
Jack scratched his beard and nodded gravely.
“Are you a sorcerer then, too, Jack?” Barbod demanded, a little gruffly.
“Feh. I hate magic, your Lordship. It fills my head with bees and my belly with bilge-water. But I can feel it, better than most. And this particular bit of magery was the strongest Jack's felt in a long while. Something dangerous is brewing, and I’m not referring to the mead vats in your cellars.”
“At Drullen Bell Keep,” the Ranger added. “We have friends there.”
Jack closed his eyes.
“Good friends and allies? Blood spilled together in battle? Aye. That might just be enough to feel the other bend like a reed around them. And I'll tell you something else, too, Lord Barbod. Unless I’m very much mistaken, you and your folk are tied up in this knot as well. This has something to do with your cause. I don’t know how, yet, but somehow the Black Falcon has his hand in this.”
“He’s the very devil,” the Lone Falcon said, “but he’s no sorcerer.”
“Never said he was, your Falconship. But he’s a player in this, nonetheless. Pulling strings from the safety of his castle on the crag, and never dirtying his hands. But even he may be someone-- some thing else’s plaything. There’s a storm gathering-- and it may sweep away the lot of us if we don’t find its center.”
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