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Legends of Taltos:Crusaders

Steven Page

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After his brief encounter with Rai, Ben slips easily into his normal routine. He spends most of his day holed away in his apartment getting a bit of rest and putting himself through his grueling and disciplined exercise regiments. Focusing on keeping his body flexible and toned and honing his reflexes to a razor sharp edge.


Most of the evening and night are consumed with making his rounds through the city, maintaining his network of contacts and listening to the gossip of the Spire. There is some time set aside every morning at dawn to spend a little time with Teaspoon and Incognito before retiring for the day to begin his routine anew.


Ben is continually amazed at how many times in his wanderings from tavern to tavern, that his path passes by the wizards tower. Countless times his comes to his senses standing outside the tower staring in the direction of Rai's darkened window.


After several days of this, Ben finds himself sitting in his favorite tavern enjoying a brief moment of quiet time after a very late supper with a large foamy mug of ale when a familiar face presents itself in the doorway. Looking up with a large grin, Ben greets the newcomer warmly.


"George," he says, waving to his friend, "how good to see you!! What brings you to this fine tavern this evening??"

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Licia wakes early and gets ready to head down to the practice area. Ever since some of the Sisters of the Blade showed up, she has made a habit of meeting them in the morning to work out and expand on her expertise. Opening her door she once again finds flowers and basket of fruit ouside her door. Looking around from habit, she knows she will find nothing. This has been going on for several days, and so far no one has seen anything!Shaking her head to herself, she bends down and picks them up again I still think it's Fin doing this. After all it just seems his 'style' and I haven't seen him for some time? I wonder where he has gotten himself off to? She places both the flowers and the basket on a small table in her room. The flowers join the other in a glass of water. Then selecting a particularly nice apple from the basket to munch on, she hurries down to the practice area. Today Pari was going to work with her on throwing daggers and help her improve her aim.


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"Malachias, where've you been? You haven't been in to see me for five days." Yvette set Malachias's tankard in front of him and then sat down next to him at his table.


They were in The Leaky Stoat, the inn owned by Malachias's brother Enochus. It was a beautiful sunny day, and the evening rush had not yet started. The window-fuzzed sunbeams played along Yvette's dress.


"I'm sorry Yvette," replied Malachias, pondering the murky depths of his mug. "I got promoted and this is the first time I've been able to get away from the barracks."


"Really?" Yvette brightened. "Malachias, that's wonderful!"


"Wait till you hear all of it," grinned Malachias. "I'm 'Yeoman Malachias' now, and they gave me a few men to train too. Percival the squre from our last trip, and some grizzled ex-Unforgiven called Jonathan. Oh, and my friend Kenyon got into my group too. I don't know how, but I'm glad he did it. Jonny's going to drive me mad."


Yvette, sitting with her elbows on the table and her chin on her fists, looked up at him expectantly.


"Yeah, he's an ex-templar who buggered..'scuse me, 'ran' off when the Darkspawn attacked. Justicars found him and somehow he became an Unforgiven instead of getting the rope for deserting. He just now got sent to me, and he's done nothing but complain. 'The bow is a child's toy' he says, and he can't hit the barn-side of a broad..."


Yvette said nothing, but her gaze turned worried.


"What is it?"


"You got a promotion, and that's great, but I'm afraid it means you'll get busier and busier and forget about me..."




"I mean it, Malachias, you're the only friend here I have. The other girls treat me like I'm still a slave, and your brother is too busy to do more than pass the time of day or tell me to go wash something..." she trailed off, one single tear forming.


"Yvette..." Malachias tried again, stung. "You don't seriously think I'd leave you, did you?"


"It's only a matter of time," she said, droppong her gaze to the table. "You're a soldier and you'll go fight and then you'll die, just like Robert and-" she broke off, sobbing into her sleeves.


With an expression of pure panic, Malachias tried to reply. "Just, ah, like whom?"


"Just like Torrit," she replied, barely intelligible. "My husband! Do you know, nobody even asked me his name?" Several of the afternoon patrons turned around in their seats to get a better look at the show.


Malachias sighed heavily. How much more readily he would have faced the charge of the undead again than a woman who he had no idea whether was angry at him or not. "I lost my family when the Darkspawn came, all but Enochus...oh hell."


He scooted his chair over next to her and laid his hand on her shoulder. Before he could figure out what happened, she was sobbing in his arms and showed no sign of slowing. With her gaze thus occuppied, Malachias glared at the spectators, who turned back to their drinks, chuckling.


"Sir, Malachias...oh, sorry." It was Percival, formerly a squire and now Malachias's student in the Ivy Crown archers.


"No, what is it Perce?"


"It's Lord Halbarad, Sir. He wants to see you."


Yvette broke out in another fit of sobs, and almost broke the skin with her nails where she was clutching Malachias's arm.

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Ignoring the looks from the majority of patrons, George stomps his way through the tavern to where Ben is sitting.


His manner is calm and collected, the perfect personification of ease and confidence as he strides purposefully around tables, his chainmail jungling in time with his footfalls, his shield resting easily on his back and his hand resting on the hilt of his sword.


However, those who know him well enough, a group currently comprising three people, can tell he's uneasy in the tavern. And that's the picture Ben gets as the large squire-at-arms passes effortlessly around the other patrons in the tavern.


"Hello Ben, how have you been?" George asks with a smile as he sits down, facing out from the wall. He then leans closer. "We've been summoned."

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"I can assure you, my unease has to do with our location." Replies George with a smile. "And to answer your question, I have been well. They've kept me busy in the stables and the smithy and the exercise yard, but nothing I am not used too. Though I have spent many evenings remembering our journey to Port Gangrel." George's face then becomes somewhat less pleased. "Halabrad wishes to meet with us as soon as possible. Do you have a method of getting a message to M'lady Rai and Jasmine?"

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"Well, I have managed to get one message to Rai since she's been holed up in that tower. I suppose that we could go over there now and see what I can do. Hopefully at this late hour, she has finished with her studies for the day." Ben says eagerly, gathering the meager belongings that he has with him this night and leaving some money on the table to pay for his meal. "Unless of course you think that Halbarad has contacted them directly as well."

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George looks at Ben for a moment, as if considering the rougue's question. "I do not know. I recieved word from a messenger that Halabrad wished to see all who was on the Port Gangrel expedition." George's eyes squint somewhat. "Have you recieved word of Halabrad's wishes? I think it is best to make sure they have recieved the message than make a possibly erroneous assumption."

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Conversation in the Inn ceases, as a hulking half-orc and a backpack-laden, one eyed halfling enter...It is Just Plain Joe, and he seems pleased to find Ben and George..."Have you gents seen that crazy elf Fin? I got to bring him to Hal'Brad....

'n quick!"


The halfling takes advantage of the conversation to buy a couple of earthenware jugs at the bar....

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"Have you recieved word of Halabrad's wishes? I think it is best to make sure they have recieved the message than make a possibly erroneous assumption."

"You are right, George. I did not receive word myself." Ben replies. "Of course, I left my apartment earlier than usual today and I am a bit harder to locate than most. I consider it a great feat that you were able to find me, good Sir knight."


As the discussion is proceeding, Just Plain Joe and his companion enter the room (a ludicrously odd pair) and hail the two friends heartily.


"Well, isn't this the popular place to be then?" Ben remarks. "Good to see you Joe. No, I'm afraid that I haven't seen the elf that you speak of any time recently. However, after we deliver a message to Lady Rai and Miss Jasmine, I for one would be happy to help you search. I assume we've all been summoned for the same reasons."

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Heavenly Father, I thank you for giving me another day with which to do your good work. Bless those in your service, make them strong.......


"Er, excuse me....Roman Caine?"


The paladin, startled out of his morning prayer, turns to face a young priest standing nervously behind him. Roman is surprised at the man's appearance, for not many are awake at this hour.


"Yes, Brother, what is it?"


"I am sorry to interrupt, but Halbarad requires your presence, Sir. It is an important matter," the priest replies nervously.


"Think nothing of it, Brother, and please, call me Roman." The holy warrior smiles. "Thank you for delivering the message. Please tell Father Halbarad that I will be with him shortly."


The priest nods and leaves quickly. Roman rises and heads towards his cell to fetch his equipment. One thought goes through his mind as he travels the halls-Finally, it is time.

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"I've been wondering about that as well, my friend." Ben says placing a comforting hand upon his friend's shoulder. "If there is any choice in the matter, know this, my sword is with you."


"Well, the dawn is swiftly approaching. If we are to get a message to Rai and Jasmine, we had best be on our way." Ben says to George, then addresses the other two. "Good luck finding Fin. If you gentlemen need our assistance, you can find us either at Valandril's tower or somewhere between there and meeting with Halbarad. If not, we'll see you there."


With that he begins to weave his way gracefully towards the door. Waiting for George once he gets there and taking a bit of obvious amusement at watching the young knight push his way through the crowd.

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George winds his way through the ruckus that is the crowd of patrons in the tavern. His armour makes the usual jangling sounds as he plods methodically around the tables. As he nears the door he spots Ben's grin, and playfully pokes his tongue out at his friend.


As they get out into the cool night air, George turns to Ben. "Lead the way my friend, we have a mission to acomplish."

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Ben leads the way confidantly through the dark city streets. It is, after all, a path that he has come to know well over the past couple of weeks and he could almost lead the way there even if he were blindfolded.


The two men spend the time conversing with each other about what has happened since they split up and discussing a myriad of possiblilties as to the reason that they have been summoned. The eastern sky is just beginning to show the first hints of an orangy pink glow when the tower comes into sight.


As soon as the tower comes into view, Ben motions for George to be as silent as possible and the two move stealthily into the tower's shadow and around to the side of it where Ben stops underneath a specific window at which he begins tossing small pebbles.


After several minutes of doing this with no results, Ben croutches down to try to think of another way of getting Rai's attention. "If only there was a good way to get a message to her!" he says aloud.

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