A Wylde Tale by T. J. Schaaf and Cal Westray
Chapter 12: The Morning After
I wake and get ready for the long day ahead. I brew a pot of coffee and take it outside to enjoy the morning air.
“You’re a late sleeper, old boy. I hope you have plenty of coffee in that pot, Wylde.” Thomas is outside waiting for me and smiling at his jest.
“Good morning, Thomas. I do indeed. I’ll get more cups.” I sit down the pot and return to the pantry for more cups, cream, sugar, and biscuits. I set them down and pour for us. “The women are conspicuously absent. Pity, they tend to liven my spirits yet remind me that I am only a man.”
“Perhaps they are tired from their evenings activities?” He grins as though he is baiting me with a little secret.
“Perhaps. I don’t think any of us keep regular schedules. Feeling better?”
“Much, thank you. The night air was regenerating. Your woods seems to be teeming with activity.” He chuckles at a private amusement.
“The Armagh Valley. It is indeed. A wide variety of wildlife can be found there, so I’ve been told. I plan to spend some time there, checking out things for the upcoming invasion. What are your plans for the day?” I drop three cubes of sugar in my cup.
He sips his coffee, pondering his answer. “I would like to become familiar with Talladale and the people.”
“That’s easy enough. A bit of sightseeing and getting acquainted with the indigenous population, excellent idea! We can cover the town anti-clockwise.” As I stir my coffee the same way. “We’ll start at Days Dunn after coffee. First, I’ll introduce you to Talissa.”
“Sounds good. Another of your lovely ladies?”
“Quite.” We finish the coffee and make our way to Days Dunn Stable and Smithy. I see Cole Dunn leading a horse out for a customer. After he is done, I introduce him to Thomas. “I am taking Thomas on a tour of Talladale.”
“Good day for it.”
“How is Talissa this morning?”
“Quite well, she’s a frisky one. Do you need her today?”
I smile. “After lunch, I suspect. I’ve been ignoring her horribly. She needs ridden badly and I plan to keep her out quite late tonight. Maybe until tomorrow.”
“She’s not under a curfew.”
Thomas looks at me in confusion.
“Come inside, she will be glad to see you then.”
We follow him inside and we find Talissa getting a drink while a stable-hand is brushing her down with a curry comb. “Talissa, this is Thomas. Thomas, this is Talissa.” She raises her head and neighs. “We have been together since my second day in this world. Since I found an alternate form of transportation, she’s been getting less exercise and attention. Sorry, old girl.”
“Hello, Talissa.” Thomas looks amused about something. Perhaps he expected a female of a different species.
“Cole named her for me, quite fitting actually. He felt it was wrong to have a horse without a proper name. Everyone you care about should have a proper name, don’t you think, Thomas?”
He knew what I was referring to. “Yes, they should.”
I turn to the stable master. “Cole, Thomas or his sister may need horses. She is busy elsewhere. If they do, put it on my bill.”
“Sure, Wylde. Do you want Talissa saddled up after lunch?”
“Yes and some oats for the road. Thanks for taking good care of her for me.”
“Of course. Nice to meet you Thomas, stop by anytime.”
We begin the tour. We start at the row of stores across from the Silver Minstrel Inn and work our way around the town down the main road, Trevarthen Road.
I start at Gilpin’s General Store. It is next to the stables, convenient for the transport of goods. The horses are taken care of in the stable between deliveries. Gilpin deals in grains, dry goods, fabrics, and raw products that most shops specialize in making into something else. Thomas selects a water-skin, a few yards of white cloth, various types of sewing needles, buttons, thread, soap, and shaving material.
We continue with Caswell’s Clothier. Thomas selects some clothing: baggy white shirts, socks, and undergarments. He gets fitted and we carry the packages out.
Next door is Cobner’s Leather Goods. Thomas selects boots, leather pants, and jacket in matching leather. After getting fitted for them, he has them packaged as well. I purchase a roll of matching leather and leather-working tools, so he can make anything else that may come to mind later. He is even toying with the idea of a leather eye-patch. He may also need some scabbards, once he picks out some weapons.
The next shop is Berisford’s Blades, the weapon-smith. Thomas walks along the rows of weapons on display. Occasionally, he asks to handle one to get the feel of it. After going through each of the displays, he settles for a good quality dagger, sword, axe, and hammer. The scabbards are already available for the weapons he selected, in matching leather. It looks like he plans to be well armed.
The rest of the road has interesting places: Zulficar the Moneychanger, Redfletch’s Bowyery, Ubels Jewelers, Sklair Silversmith, Alford the Herbalist, Shendy the Green-grocer, Dinsford the Scribe, Bizeray the Alchemist, Dyce the Tattooist, and then Porteus the Barber. Thomas decides to get a haircut now and he may visit some of the other shops later.
When Thomas has everything put together, I suspect he will look quite dashing. I suggest that he take his sister around town later.
We continue to the end of the road, to the residential areas and to the Traverdale Schools, various churches and cemeteries. There are many people living in town, even though the farming community surrounds Talladale. Coming back up the road, we see the Talladale courthouse, jail house, military headquarters, courtyard, and other public service facilities. The one that I point out is the public bath-houses which is next to the gypsy caravan, a place that he already took advantage of. There are several other roads that can be covered, the town is much larger than Thomas thought. Time for a short break.
Returning to the caravan where we began, we drop off the packages. We see young Alban. “Good morning, brother Alban.”
“Good morning, brother Wylde. Is this the boy you brought back?”
“Indeed, this is Thomas. Thomas, this is Alban. The eldest son of Aldis, the leader of the gypsies.”
“I am pleased to meet you, Alban.”
“And I am pleased to meet you, Thomas. Wylde has been looking for you since his first day in Talladale, I am glad that his search is over.”
“So I hear. I’m afraid that our search has just begun.”
“I would like to hear about it. Brother Wylde, I saw that you were showing Thomas around the town. There is much more to see here, Thomas. If you like, I will continue the tour.”
I look at Thomas. “Your call, lad. He knows of places that I wouldn’t.”
“Sounds good to me.”
I grin. “I’ll meet you both at the Fox and Hound for lunch. Have a good time.”
“Great! Let’s go Thomas.”
“Lead on, Alban. Thanks, Wylde.”
“Enjoy the morning, both of you.” The two of them head down the next road and off for more interesting activities.
I turn to the military headquarters. I have arrangements to make.
Captain Jason Willows is in the front office talking to a runner, who turns and leaves to deliver a message.
“Good morning, Captain. How are things going?”
“Good morning, Major. As well as can be expected. The meetings go on and the men are kept busy with practice drills. Morale has improved since the new supplies arrived, thanks to you and the boy. What can I do for you?”
“Has Colonel Wynne told you of my plans in the upcoming attack?”
“Yes. Most of it I find hard to believe. But if the Colonel says it’s true, it must be. Besides, the other things that have happened since your arrival should convince anyone.”
“I understand your reticence.” I grin conspiratorially. “Would it help if I gave you a little demonstration?”
He looks amused. “Why, of course.”
“I want to keep word of it quiet.”
“How about a visit to my wagon for a sherry?”
“On duty?” He feigns shock.
“Sign yourself out for a bit, Jason.”
“No need, Major. I’m now officially off duty. Let’s go, Wylde.”
“Very well, Jason. Walk with me.” I take his arm and we step forward. I visualize my room. On the third step, we are there.
“What?” He looks around. “This is your place! What an odd sensation.”
I release his arm and pick up the bottle of sherry, pouring for us both. “This will help.”
He takes the glass and drains the contents. “Wylde, that was incredible! And you just learned this recently?”
“Yes. I am becoming more comfortable as a mage. I prefer to depend upon a horse and the steel of my blade.” I slap the leather scabbard that I use instead of the umbrella to carry my sabre. “Now, I try to learn spells as quickly as possible. I want to be ready to face the fire warlock.”
“Understandable. You still didn’t tell me what you came to see me about.”
I pour him more sherry. Ah yes, it seems to me that power is nothing without a plan to use it properly.”
“Agreed, you’re talking like a soldier again.” He sits down and listens intently.
“A soldier and a mage. Jason, I need a couple of your best scouts to accompany me on the road for a few days, maybe only over night. I want to become familiar with the Armagh Valley and beyond. Especially, the area beyond. I need to memorize the details of the area, find strategic places for an attack, and finds ways to cut off retreat.”
“A good plan. How soon do you need them?”
“After lunch today. I want them well fed and ready for a long ride.”
“Why don’t you just pop out there?”
“I need to be familiar with an area, before I can pop there.”
“Oh, that makes sense.” He finishes his sherry. “Consider it done. They will be ready.” He finishes the sherry, sits the glass down, and smiles. “I’m ready to go back.”
I take him by the arm and we take the express way back.
“Itis fun, isn’t it?”
“Heady Major, heady.” He sits down at his desk, smiling. “A man could get use to that, Major.” He calls out. “Private!”
One runs in and snaps to attention. “Yes, sir.”
“Send for Tafryn Jeffreys and Russ Hendry. Have them report to me, ready to travel in two hours.” He turns to me. “Satisfactory, Major?”
“Outstanding! Thanks, Captain.”
To the runner, he says. “You heard the man, move!”
“Yes sir.” He sprints out of the building and is gone.
“Thanks, Captain. We could pop off somewhere more interesting later, if you like.”
“I look forward to it, Major.”
“I’ll be back to gather them.” I leave to gather my travel gear and meet the lads in the tavern.
“So Thomas, what do you think of the city so far?”
“It seems like a nice place. I hope it stays that way in the coming weeks.”
“As do I. I have been meaning to thank you for the supplies. Not for me, but for lifting the spirits of the others. That is something that they were in great need of.”
“Why? Why were they so, I don’t know how to put it, spiritless?”
“They have heard rumors, and all have their own suspicions.”
“Of what? I don’t understand.”
“Of what the invading army is. A few weeks before we got word of the army, a crazy man came to town warning us of how his whole city was destroyed by a man who threw fire at his men. Nobody believed him. But now, after some of the visions Moonscrye has seen, and other reports, I fear what he spoke of may be true.”
“Don’t worry, you have Wylde and me.” I said jokingly, trying to lighten up the conversation. “Besides, the men here seem to be training well.”
“Yes, but one never realizes how quickly things can end.”
“True. But let’s focus on happier things at hand. For instance, tell me about the things in the city that older men with canes and hats don’t generally see.”
“Ah, I take it you have experience with cities.”
“That I do.”
“Only cities, or are you familiar with the wilderness as well?”
“I’ve been just about everywhere except for the extremely colds parts.”
“Ah, a traveler. Perhaps there is the spirit of a gypsy in you!”
“Perhaps. I have a feeling there are many spirits in me,” I responded jokingly. If only Alban knew how true what I said was.
For a good part of the day, we continued on through the town. Alban showed me many interesting places. There was nothing that really peaked my interest, though. However, our conversations were particularly interesting.
“I understand that your father is the leader of the caravan. If I may ask, how is it that Moonscrye is the leader of the clan? I don’t mean to pry, but she’s not much older than I am... is she?”
“No, no she’s not. And my mother is no longer with us. So Moonscrye has taken her place. But that is a story for another time. We do not normally speak of such things.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know.”
“Oh, it’s okay. One must always ask questions. It is good that you ask. Have you ever lost any loved ones?”
“Yes, yes I have.”
“You do not wish to speak of it either, I can tell. I will not ask further.”
“So can you tell me about your clan?”
“What do wish to know? Ask and we shall find out.”
“How long have you been in this town?”
“Only a few years. We had been traveling before I was born, as is the tradition of our people. Once day, we just stopped traveling. It happened to be here.”
“Moonscrye said so. We respect what she says. And so, we stopped. And have been here ever since. And we seem to fit well in this town, which is rare for our clans. We seem to have been chosen by the town. Tell me, do you ever feel as though you are chosen for something?”
“Sometimes, yes, I do get that feeling.”
We approaching the caravan again.
As we spoke, we came upon a wagon full of cloth. It was covered with many colors of cloth.
“Ah, I do so love that color,” Alban said pointing to a roll of cloth.
“That one there,” he said while pointing. “I believe it’s called jade.”
That was the final draw. The whole time he has been mentioning things that at first I thought were mere coincidence. But now I was sure there was something going on here that he was hiding. I figured there was a few ways to find out what, but I decided to go for the most direct approach.
“I really like that color there,” I said without pointing. “Where I come from, we call it “d’groun.”
“What an odd name. Where is this color?”
With that, I got closer to him on his right side. I then put my left arm on his left shoulder, got even closer, and proceeded to point forward. As he moved his head to focus on where my finger was directed at, I slipped my right foot behind his legs and kicked them as hard as I could forward while spinning him around so as he would land face down.
“There!” I yelled. “See it now? See the ground!”
I grabbed his left arm and twisted it behind his back nearly dislocating his shoulder. “Now! Who the deuce are you and what the blazes do you think you know about me?!” I definitely wasn’t expecting what he did next. He threw me up in the air with his twisted arm. I’m not quite sure how, but he did. Then, with lighting fast reflexes, he jumped up onto his feet and pulled out his blade.
“Moonscrye is not the only one who can use a crystal ball. I saw what happened to you. I heard what you said when you returned to your village. Chosen one? CHOSEN ONE? You couldn’t even save your village. And now you come here. It seems that death follows you, Thomas. I too receive visions. The ones I have seen show you to be a demon, killing my own people. The people of this town! I don’t know where you came from, or what you truly are, but you were not chosen to do anything but evil! If you are chosen, then you should have no problem saving your own life should you?!”
As he lunged at me with his knife, I felt the energy growing inside of me. I was kind of relieved. That meant that I haven’t completely lost what powers I had. They only come out when I really need them. After feeling it, I didn’t hesitate to call upon them. I threw Alban back as far and as hard as I could with my telekinesis. He crashed into the trunk of a tree that he coincidentally went flying towards. I then walked over and picked him up with my TK.
“You really know nothing about me. No, I guess I won’t have a problem, will I? You have no idea how much pain I am in, knowing that I couldn’t save those people. All I wanted was to get home. I let one people be destroyed, I will not let another. And as for what you saw, if you ever spy on me again, you will have worse eye-sight than I do. That is a promise.”
After giving my little speech that I was rather proud of. I carried him back to his wagon and threw him into the side of it making a crashing sound that brought out all the other gypsies.
“What is going on here?!” cried out Moonscrye.
“Thomas, what are you doing?” shouted Wylde.
“I will spare this boy’s life this time. But make no mistake, I have no problem killing anyone. Demon, gypsy, it does not matter. I know I’m new here, but perhaps your welcome wagon needs a bit of work.”
I could feel the energy leaving me quickly at that point, but I knew I had to keep it up for the desired effect. So after I thought I made my point, I threw him into the wagon again and dropped him. While everyone stared at me, I proceeded to gather up my gear and head towards the forest. Perhaps the vampires weren’t such bad company after all. I planned on returning later after everything had cooled down, especially me. While walking to the forest I glanced over my shoulder and, not to my surprise, I had a few followers. Good, I needed to talk with them anyway.