Location: A seaport, in the southern Dark Forest Fell Isle territory.
Formendacil wrote:It took a couple days to deliver the furniture and goods to the local people. The recipients gladly came to help, and there were more than a couple tearful thank-you/good-byes. It was only on the last night, when Thomas and Sir Dractor laid out their bedrolls on the plain floor that had once been the Brakespear kitchen, that Thomas realised that he was really and truly leaving, and not likely to come back.
Sir Dractor and Thomas took their time leaving Hemmerington. It was more of an amble up the country to the coast than a journey. Even Thomas, who had never been away from Hemmerington in his life, didn't find it too adventurous. One Dark Forest village in those parts was much like another.
The Fell Sea was quite exciting though. A massive, churning expanse of water- salty at that!- was something he had never seen before. And the ships that docked in the port, fisherman's vessels, trading vessels, a couple of Dark Forestman naval vessels, and others, were utterly strange and mysterious to him.
It was good, Sir Dractor thought, that it WAS mysterious to him. Thomas needed all the mystery and excitement he could get to distract him from his recent loss. So far, he seemed to be in decent spirits, and displayed a lively curiosity, and Sir Dractor wanted to keep it that way.
With the Dark Forest and Forestmen borders now open, they booked passage to Delvarden Gard on a Crusader trading vessel.
At their first night at sea, something rather interesting happened...
Thomas and Sir Dractor were sleeping in their cabin (Thomas had taken to the sea marvellously well), when Sir Dractor's senses were alerted. Snapping awake, he heard the muffled sounds of people in the room.
"What's going on?" he snapped. The figures fled, all but the one that Sir Dractor managed to catch by the leg as he dashed away.
"Light the lamp," Sir Dractor told Thomas, who was awake by now. Once lit, they got a look at the intruder. He was one of the Crusader sailors that manned the ship.
"What were you doing in here?" asked Sir Dractor.
"We..." the sailor hesistated at first, but Sir Dractor frowned, grasped him a little bit tighter, and he decided to squeal.
"We were after the bounty!" he blurted out.
"What bounty?" asked Sir Dractor, confused.
"The one put out in the underworld for the old man known as Magarus and his companions Elwen dan Raleigh and Sir Aethelred Dractor," said the sailor, shocked that Sir Dractor didn't seem to know about it. "The bounty posted by the Sorceror-king."
"The Sorceror-king's long gone," said Sir Dractor, dismissively. "He fled Dametreos two months ago. He won't be paying any bounties. I would have thought that the underworld was efficient enough to know things like that."
"We... er.." said the sailor, plainly embarrassed. "We, were, uh, trapped in Dark Forest territory for a few months. They closed the borders, and wouldn't let us out."
"Is the captain in on this?"
"Only a few of us."
After having wrung the names out of the sailor, and handing him over to the captain with those names, telling him that he had a pack of criminals in his employ, Sir Dractor returned to the cabin. He saw that Thomas was still awake, and rather perplexed looking at that.
"What's wrong?" he asked.
"You had a bounty on your head..." said Thomas.
"Yes, the Sorceror-king put it there."
"But... only bad people are supposed to have bounties," said Thomas.
"This bounty was posted in the underworld, remember?" said Sir Dractor. "So it's only the criminals and such who would be after me."
Thomas looked relieved. Sir Dractor suppressed a grin, and decided to tell Thomas something he didn't expect.
"There's still a bounty on my head in Leidenheim, and all across the Crusader colony," he told Thomas. Thomas was shocked.
"Why?" he asked.
"I broke the law," said Sir Dractor, shocking Thomas a great deal more. "It wasn't the wisest thing to do, but my companions and I were in a hurry, and the Sorceror-king had put a few annoying roadblocks in our way. In our haste to get out of the city, we ended up getting our descriptions posted with the sum of 500 gold marks across the colony."
Thomas seemed to be struggling with the concept.
"But, you broke the law!"
"Yes, Thomas," said Sir Dractor, "and I'm not proud of it. But sometimes breaking the law is necessary. Never pleasant, or always justifiable, but necessary. The Old Man and the Sorceror-king were closely tied ultimately. Had the Old Man arrived in Talistrand later than he did, as would have been the case if we hadn't broken Leidenheim's law, the Sorceror-king would have gone right on to the Old Ruins, and have likely been successful in his quest, therefore wiping out my entire homeland- and many others.
"Actually," said Sir Dractor, thinking about it. "The Sorceror-king stayed within the letter of the law a lot better than the Old Man or I did- until reaching Talistrand. He had Cavalier help while the Old Man was keeping the company of the likes of Jack Blackheart."
"But..." Thomas clearly had some skewed understandings here, "aren't the bad guys the ones who are supposed to break the law? Aren't the Cavaliers supposed to help those in the right?"
"Supposed to is a couple of words that you should think about for a while," suggested Sir Dractor. "The line between right and wrong is often hard to make out, and often doesn't match the line between legal and illegal. Quite often, good people have to do bad things, and something bad people will do what appear to be good things. Good and evil aren't clearcut.
"Take the BloodVaine War, for example. BloodVaine was evil, that I will not deny. But among his top allies, one was Dacker Colagart, a man who retained a good deal of 'good' in him, and helped bring down BloodVaine. And then on our side you had Lord Void, an arrogant, sarcastic sorceror who would have been fighting against us if BloodVaine hadn't come along. Good is an ideal that should always be striven for, but one isn't always successful."
"So there are no real heroes then?" said Thomas, a bit depressed. "What about Fraun Jerlock, Radjar Kath, and Valus Naras? I've heard nothing bad about them?"
"You wouldn't, living in Hemmerington," said Sir Dractor. "But yes, they are (or were) good men. And they were heroes. But no man is perfectly good. At least, no man that I have ever met. I have never met Valus Naras, but I travelled with Radjar Kath and Fraun Jerlock, and I can tell you that, while they were good men, they had their faults.
"Radjar is a great man, and a great warrior. It isn't for no reason that Queen Arabella has kept him as one of her chief advisors and commanders. But he was, and is, a man for whom peace and comfort aren't enjoyments for long. Radjar itches for excitement. That's why he abdicated. In the end, he could see that the throne wasn't going to satisfy him- and that he wouldn't do his people justice. Abdicating was a very heroic effort, one that most people don't appreciate.
"As for Fraun Jerlock, he's a good man, but he's not a responsible one in my opinion. Like Radjar, he's an adventurer, prone to disappearing off on adventures without a thought towards others. And in the matters of love, he can be hopelessly illogical."
Thomas smiled. Even in seeing his heroes taken down a notch, there was still amusement.
"I don't think that the matters of love are supposed to be logical," he said.
"Perhaps, perhaps not," said Sir Dractor, almost wistfully. "I wouldn't know."
Thomas blew out the lamp, and they settled down to try and get some more sleep. But as Thomas was starting to drift off, he heard Sir Dractor's chuckle.
"You know, I first met the man we are going to see, Lord Bjarn, from the inside of one of his prisons. He was threatening to have me killed if I tried to escape..." Sir Dractor's chuckle died off as he drifted to sleep, but Thomas was wide awake for a while.
What kind of a strange world was it out here?