All in a Day's Work [PART 3]

"I Will Do What is Necessary"


      Again, Peder was given the chance to soar above the clouds.  This time, however, he didn't allow himself to enjoy it quite as much, angry as he was.
      Peace, young Peder, said the voice of Valtiramiir.  'Tis not fitting a man a your status to hold your anger inside. 
      He sighed.
      “You're right.” The red dragon chuckled.
      Of course! The wisdom of a dragon is not often wrong, she replied cheerfully.
      “But it has been wrong?”
      Nonsense! I said 'not often', that does not mean we are not always right. Peder laughed.
      “I believe you!”
      Suddenly, the she-dragon turned serious.
      Change of plans, Peder.  It seems you may find a way to vent your anger.  Keighvyn has alerted me of a group of riders trailing your thief.  
      “And the plan?” Peder waited as she asked for an answer.
      Catch him, before they do.
      “Aye! Good plan.”

      “Peder!” Both dragons were flying side by side now.  Jaron's call reached Peder's ears despite the roaring wind. “Keighvyn and I will fly ahead.  I have a bad feeling about the riders. You are to take the thief. He is not to reach them.  Understood, soldier?”
      “Aye, aye, Captain!” He answered. Jaron's mouth twitched in a half-grin.
      “Think you can handle it?”
      “You wait and see, Elf!  Wait and see!” Peder saluted his captain with a fist to his chest, as the dragons split.
      Peder's grip on the saddle horn tightened as he felt Valtiramiir begin to descend closer to the trees.
      There is a clearing ahead.  We will land there and confront this master-thief.  Peder acknowledged her statement and stretched in the stirrups to see the lay of the land before them.  At their current height, he could see Keighvyn and rider already a dot on the horizon.  Soon, he caught sight of a gap in the trees indicating the meadow.
      He loosened the strap on his sword.

      Peder was surprised at the delicacy in which Valtiramiir landed without a sound.  He would never cease to be amazed at these creatures.
      Dragon and man stood in the quiet, grassy meadow deep in the old forests of Wyndor.  Peder moved to the center, hand on the hilt of his sword.  Resting on her haunches, Valtiramiir looked noble in the afternoon light.  At some distant sound, she became alert, then relaxed and laid her head on her foreclaws.  She spoke again, aloud, her voice soft and low.
      “This is your fight, young Peder.  I shall not interfere.”
      “Aye, Lady,” he grinned, looking at her over his shoulder.  “But if things go badly, you'll give my regards to the wife, eh?”
      “To be sure, if you were so blessed,” she answered with a low chuckle.
      Were it not for the gentle sounds of forest life, Peder would have found the wood eerily silent.
      “He is a troubled man, Peder,” remarked the red dragon suddenly.
      “How do you know?” He kept his eyes trained on the border of trees lining the meadow.
      “We dragons smell more than gold, food, and human flesh.  Emotions play a large part of our world.  Contrary to legend, perhaps we feel more than even your kynd.” Now Peder turned to her, puzzled.
      “Wait. You mean you can actually smell emotions?  Happiness? sadness? fear?”
      “Hmm, yes.  The smell of fear is usually strongest.  However, it is not just emotions we notice.  To our eyes, Light or Darkness radiates from each being we come into contact.  You, for example, Man-son, have a glow of Light that I can clearly see.  This, I know, comes from your service to Ichaldar.”
      “Fascinating,” Peder said, truly impressed.  But his muscles tensed abruptly at the sound of nearing hoof-beats and he turned to face the trees, refraining from drawing his sword. “I would wish to know more, when this business it finished,” he said, vaguely aware of the quiet stillness in the air.
      At that moment, the man burst into the meadow at a trot, his horse blowing, nostrils flaring.  Balking at the sudden sight of the dragon, the frightened beast reared, throwing his rider and fleeing at a gallop, as far as his exhausted legs would carry him.
      Despite his jarring fall to the ground, the man was on his feet, a dagger in hand.  Peder had to give him credit – he wasn't one to give up.
      “We meet again, master thief,” he called across the meadow. “I must say, I didn't appreciate the gift you left me earlier today.” Gently, he rubbed the tender spot on his scalp.  The man did not reply, but stood quietly in the shadows.
      “Look,” said Peder. “I'm willing to avoid a fight if you will give up the bundle.  However,” he continued, his tone dead serious. “I will do what is necessary to protect my kingdom.  If that means I must take what belongs to Gondoa over your dead body, so be it.” 
      Still, the man did not speak.  Peder realized he was looking at Valtiramiir, who remained prone with her head on her foreclaws.  Though she was still as a stone, her eyes were wide and bright.  Her voice reverberated in Peder's mind.
      Peder.  This Man-son has a faint Light surrounded by a Darkness threatening to overcome it.  You must help him break free from that which means to overtake him.
      The young Guard considered her words and acknowledged with a slight nod.  Moving away from his dragon friend, he called out once again, assuring the man he was safe from the red lady.
      “My friend will not interfere should you choose to fight.  On the other hand, if you manage to defeat me... I cannot promise you safety in the future.”
      Half in the shadows, the man released his cloak, somewhat reluctantly, and allowed it to fall to the ground.  He drew a second dagger with his left hand and held it with the blade pointing behind.
      “Very well,” Peder muttered, dropping his cloak and drawing his sword.  Eliadan, give me strength.
      The man charged.
      Both men met in the middle of the meadow and the resounding clash of weapons echoed in the quiet forest.  Peder was surprised by the strength of the slender man, though they stood equal in height.  There was no doubt of the sinewy power contained in the well-built, wiry frame of the man before him.  Peder suddenly realized he couldn't be but a couple years older than himself.
      Swinging his broadsword, Peder's longer weapon connected with the man's two shorter blades, crossed in a block.  Locked in place, they held.  Guard and thief.  Blue eyes glared into the bright green of a man searching for purpose.  They broke and circled, weapons always at the ready.  Peder focused on the man's hands, deftly testing their grip on the twin daggers.  He knew from now on he must be careful.  This man possessed a steady grace in his carriage.  A grace, and yet, a cold, measured acceptance. It was the acceptance that puzzled Peder, something that made him believe the man no longer cared what happened to him.  So why did he fight?
      Cautiously they fought, each testing the other's skill.
      Whirling his daggers, the man rushed, thrusting a left, feinting right, and thrusting again.  Calmly, Peder met each offensive attack, though he feared his heart would leap from his chest for fear of making a serious mistake.  Dodging a lunge, he blocked the follow-up and pressed forward, forcing the other man to back up.
 They continued for who knew how long.  Peder was beginning to tire and despite the other man's show of stamina and endurance, he knew his opponent was wearing down as well.
      He glanced at the spot Valtiramiir had occupied, but she was gone.  He didn't have time to dwell on this before his feet were swept from under him. Landing hard on his back, he grunted and rolled to the left just as a blade stabbed the ground.

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Part 2
Part 1

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1 comment

Jody Dake said...

Great story Sar! I really am enjoying it and getting into it! Come on now, keep it going! We are waiting for the next chapter! :)
In His Grace,
Mom