BARGO LYNDEN SAMPLE CHAPTERS

I would have liked to run this series sooner, but as usual life gets in the way. My wife and I had several heath issues, and I’ve also been extraordinarily busy with public appearances as well.  I hope to have the second part of this three book series done by February 28th, 2018, Bargo Lynden: Wizards and Warlocks.  Hope you enjoy this three chapter sample as much as I enjoyed writing this exciting, intriguing fantasy about the fight of good over evil.

 

BARGO LYNDEN:
ADVENTURE OF A LIFETIME

By

Nicholas T. Davis

©Copyright 2017
All Rights Reserved
No part of this publication shall be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the prior written permission of the publisher

Dedication

This tale of magic and faith is dedicated to Ronald Short, my seventh grade English teacher, who with his help and insight inspired me to become a writer.

CHAPTER ONE :THE NEWS COMES IN

Bargo Lynden was a young Woblo at the ripe age of twenty nine, and the son of Jeremiah Lynden, a blacksmith in Woblo Town, a small village which neighbored the Forbian forest, Northwest of the Swift River. Bargo lived and worked as an apprentice under his father, and although it wasn’t the job he wanted, it paid his rent, and fed him well. He had no wife or children, no desire to have any, and preferred his privacy. He liked to play his banjo in his spare time, and also liked to collect precious gems. It was the latter avocation which enticed him into the adventure of a lifetime.
It was on a far away world not much different than our own, in a land called the Shudolin where the Woblos resided; four feet tall furry creatures with the beak of an eagle, and ears of a rabbit. Their feet and lower legs were rigid and bird-like, while their hands were more like humans’. They also possessed the ability to speak like humans, and often did, as humans were their faithful caretakers of the land, protecting them from dangerous outsiders. Woblos were somewhat peaceful, unless provoked, and seldom traveled outside their comfort zones. They loved to have celebrations involving food and music, and were very fond of dancing and singing. They were totally oblivious to the perils beyond their harmonious land.
To their South, past Short and Great Lakes, were the Licarions; five feet tall reptilian beings who thrived on war and conquest. If not for the power of the Shudolin militia and navy, which contained humans and wood elves, they would have surely became rulers of the land. Glamara, the lizard king, fantasized of the day he could destroy the Shudolin Kingdom, and break the Royal Council of their peaceful ways.
One day, Bargo sluggishly carried some metal to the forge to make horseshoes, and turned his head quick towards the door, when he heard a sound.
“Did you hear that?” he asked his father.
“What?” his father asked, and dropped his hammer on a nearby table.
“I thought I heard someone scream for help.”
His father laughed at the inference.
“Nonsense. I heard nothing. You must be getting heatstroke, and need a rest from labor. Perhaps you’d like a break?”
“No, I’m fine. But I could use a sip of water. It’s very hot today. I will return in a short time.”
“Very well. Then maybe you can finish Mr. Bellow’s shoes by this afternoon?”
“Of course, Papa.”
“It certainly is a hot one today,” Jeremiah said to himself aloud, as his son exited the shop, and headed toward the local community well. He pulled up the bucket, and dipped the metal ladle into it, which hung from the well. He drank from the ladle, then dropped the bucket back in the well, as he heard a voice from behind him.
“Morning, Bargo, ” a young human woman said. He turned around to greet her.
It was Lilly, a local farmer’s wife, who brought some vegetables to sell in the local market. She was a woman in her young twenties with long, braided, blonde hair, and a thin, supple face which inundated her beauty. Her hands weren’t quite as appealing, and showed signs of hard, grueling labor.
“Morning, Ms. Lilly. How are you doing on this fine morning?”
“Well, Lawerence and I were hoping it would rain soon. Our crops have all but dried up. If we don’t get some soon, I fear we’ll have none to sell, or even eat.”
“Could be the wizards of the East putting a spell upon us. I hear they often do that.”
“You believe in those mystical stories? It’s just silly Elven folklore.”
“Is it just folklore no one’s ever returned from Bereuka Island alive? They say sailors often tell of monstrous beasts that live across the ocean, and demon like creatures.”
Lilly laughed at his stories, as she dismissed such misguided parables.
“Who have you been talking to? That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. The only monsters are in your mind, Bargo Lynden.”
She patted him on the head, and walked away. Bargo, disgusted she didn’t believe him, went back to the Blacksmith shop. He didn’t think the legends were false, and if there was some way he could prove it, he would; he just didn’t relish the thought of having to go there. The stories told to him by his Aunt Catherine spoke of demonic creatures under the rule of a dark sorcerer named Garlock. He had a large castle on Bereuka Island, which was surrounded by serpents in the oceans, which could swallow a ship whole.
He didn’t live near an ocean, and never saw anyone around the village perform magic, so he had no idea if the stories were true or not. He hoped one day to at least see the ocean for himself. The sea port of Riverton was located about three hundred miles North of Licarion City, home of the Licarion Kingdom, and Glamara himself. There were often sea battles in between, and although the Licarion Navy was small, they weren’t permitted to cross into the Shudolin’s waters without starting a war. Bargo knew his father fought in the battles twenty years earlier, and injured his right leg in a sword fight, which caused him to walk with a limp. Still one of the toughest wobloes in the village, Bargo always admired his father’s bravery, but had no desire to follow in those footsteps. Woblo Town was somewhat removed from battle territory, and the few Woblos who lived there kept to themselves to avoid conflict.
The truth was, he didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life. He wasn’t really happy in his current line of work, and other than music and minerals, had no other interests. Musicians performed throughout the area, but the pay wasn’t very much, usually just meals or lodging, and maybe a little pocket change for the local pub. Rocks and minerals weren’t very valuable to most people, unless they were gold, diamonds, sapphires, quartz, or crystal. With the nearest mine at least sixty miles to the North, travel proved difficult on the northwest end of Garlo Lake without a boat, or mule.
It’s not that he didn’t like to work with his father; he did, and there was mutual respect in this area. He would much rather have his own son work for him than to have to pay somebody else twice as much for less professional work, and the Blacksmithing craft
took years to learn properly. The village mostly used his services for horseshoes, tools, and things like metal kettles, bowls, and cups. Occasionally, soldiers would come to the village to have swords or knives made, and even sometimes maces or calthrops, but these weren’t his main items. That beautiful sunny March day, or the month of “Calla”, as the Elves, men, and Woblos called it, would be pivotal to the future of all of the Shudolin.
Bargo returned to the shop after his drink, and finished the shoes just as he said he would.
“Son, make sure when you lock up, and lock the back door as well,” his father said, as he prepared to go home. “I’m going to stop by your mother’s grave.”
Bargo nodded, reminded of the affliction which took his mother just two years earlier, in the darkness of a cold winter. A sweet woman, she cherished her husband’s craft, for he would often make metal lamps and candleholders for her.
Bargo had no brothers and sisters, only cousins, and most were near Riverton or Dragginbuck. Two of his cousins, Barlow Lynden, and Joeseph Garkee, were both under the king’s service in the Shudolin Militia and the Royal Naval Guard respectively, and stationed there. He admired their bravery, for he felt he would never be able to become a soldier as they were. Barlow’s father was Joeseph Lynden, a former high ranking official of the Shudolin Royal Guard, which was a special unit of the militia, and used to often address the issues of coastal territories.
The Woblo cleaned up for the evening, as he felt a strange feeling come over him. He guessed maybe the heat of the forge, or the heat of the early summer air was too blame for his sudden dizziness, and tried to go back to what he was doing. He stared at the bright orange glow of the forge, and thought maybe he was hallucinating from some bad mushrooms he ate the day before. He saw two red eyes staring at him from the fire, and felt an evil presence. ‘You’re starting to believe your own stories, you silly twit,’ he said to himself, and grabbed his broom again.
“Bargo Lynden,” a deep voice said to him from the fire. “Bargo Lynden?”
“Yes,” he reluctantly said, as he faced the forge.
“Beware the evil which awaits you.”
“What evil?”
“The evil of the disciple.”
“What disciple?”
“The disciple of Garlock.”
“But he’s just a silly legend!”
“He is no legend, for his presence is real.”
“And who are you?”
“Who I am is not important. I am the voice of good, and the arm of righteousness.”
“I like to know where I’m getting my information from, if you don’t mind.”
“You need not know who I am at this moment. Your town will be visited by a young Elf, who calls himself Glam, who brings  devastating news to the land. You will follow his instructions, and he will guide you to Riverton.”
“Riverton? Whatever for?”
“I cannot divulge that information now. He will be at the Braeca pub tonight, you must bring your father as well.”
“But he just left for the night! And he’ll never go to the pub.”
“That doesn’t matter. You must convince him his presence is needed. The future of the Shudolin is depending on you both.”
“Depending on me? You’ve got to be kidding?”
“No, now wait for Glam. He will arrive at 7:00 pm. Goodbye, and good luck.”
He grew dizzy again, having felt like he just woke up from a nap and a bad dream. He shrugged it off, as if he’d worked too hard and let his imagination run away from him. After he put all the tools back, he locked the front and back doors, and swept up the metal shavings on the floor. It was 6:00 pm, and he knew his father just sat down to his dinner of veal stew. He walked to his house, knocked on the door, and Saraphine, an older woman who was his maid, answered it.
“Come in, Master Bargo,” she said, as her silvery, bound hair glittered in the candlelight from the chandelier. “He just sat down to dinner.”
“Thank you, Sara,” he said, and walked into the dining room, which was fifteen feet long and twenty feet wide. The walls possessed candleholders about them, ten in all, and there were two windows in the front of the room. The dining table revealed its finished solid oak, fine china porcelain dinnerware, and a crystal glass, which he drank from.
“Bargo,” he said. “Please sit and have some stew with your
father.”
“I’d love too, Dad, but for some strange reason, I feel I need to be at the pub tonight. I was wondering if you’d join me?”
“Are you playing music there tonight?”
“Well, ah, no.”
“Then why the heck would I want to go there? You know I don’t drink anymore.”
“I just feel we need to both be there.”
“You’re talking crazy talk again. Are you sure you’re okay, Bargo?”
“Just trust me, Papa, please.”
“All right,” he said, and shook his head. “I’ll go if it makes you feel any better. Just let me finish my dinner first.”
“Of course. I’ll get your pony ready.”
“Thank you, Son,” he said, and took a bite of the stew.
In the evening, they arrived at the crowded pub just before 7:00pm. There seemed to be more soldiers than usual in the establishment, and all drank heavily. As the two four feet creatures entered, some of the soldiers ridiculed them.
“Who opened the pub to pets?” one tall, black haired man with an eye patch said.
“They don’t carry rabies, do they?” another jested.
The two of them shrugged it off, walked to the bar where the bartender, Robert, poured drinks for others. A burly man of five feet, his dark gray beard and mustache covered his weary face, and his ears heard too many sad tales of despair from drunken travelers from the east. He greeted them with a wide grin and an open hand.
“Jeremiah,” he said, as he shook his hand. “What a pleasure it is to see you! What can I get you?”
“Give my son an ale, and I’ll just have some water, if you don’t mind.”
“Where’s your sense of adventure? I remember when you used to be quite fond of the Strawberry ale.”
“That was years ago. And I’m afraid my son’s the one with the sense of adventure. In fact, he still hasn’t explained to me why he dragged me here tonight?”
“I’m not quite sure myself,” Bargo said. “But I know there was a good reason.”
He glanced over at the soldiers near the entrance, who continued to laugh at them.
“Don’t mind them,” Robert said. “Most of those guys are from Riverton, and they’re not used to seeing Woblos, and most Elves are about the same height as them. They’re harmless.”
“I could care less about them,” Jeremiah said, as he dropped some gold coins on the bar.
Within minutes, a tall dark haired Elf entered the bar, and walked over to the mayor, who was a thin, brown haired man with blue eyes. He whispered something in his ear, the mayor stood up, and raised his arm to address the crowd.
“May I have your attention, please?” he asked. “This is Glam, a messenger from the Royal Council in Riverton. He has some news he must share with us.”
The crowd settled down, as the elf pushed his cloak to the side. When the room grew silent, he pulled out a scroll, and began to read it.
“We, the members of the Royal Council of the Shudolin, have some disturbing news for the people of the land. The Licarion armies and navies have advanced on our land, and our defenses are faltering. They have been assisted by the Grassmen, and we can no longer maintain a stable control of the region. For this reason, the council has declared war on the Licarions, and we are now all at risk. I, Glam, messenger of the council, have been sent here to ask for five volunteers to return with me for a mission of utmost importance. It appears King Timothy was abducted by the Licarion Army and transported into their territory. We need to find him, and return him to the council unharmed.”
He glared about the room as no one raised their hand, not even the soldiers. One soldier stood up to address him.
“Why should we help a king who doesn’t care about the common man?” he asked.
“Yea,” another said. “When our crops dried up last year, was he there to bring us water?”
“He has done his best,” Glam said. “He can only do so much with the resources he has. You must understand, this war has affected all of us, and now we’re without a leader.”
“What’s in it for us?” a civilian Elf asked.
“Fifty gold pieces, food, lodging, and weapons.”
“Hardly enough. You’d have to pay me twice as much to get me to   go into Licarion Territory.
“I am authorized to pay up to one hundred gold pieces for each
man who will go. But for that, you will have to supply your own weapons.”
One man stepped up to the front of the crowd. His wavy, brown hair was a silhouette in the darkness of the pub, but his face became more visible as he approached the candlelight of the bar. It was weathered from years of hard living, and battered with a few scars on it. His eyes were dark blue, and his teeth were chipped in the front. It was obvious he’d been in a fight or two.
“Count me in,” he said. “Don’t worry about weapons, I have plenty of my own.”
“Anyone else?” Glam asked, but there was no answer.
Jeremiah turned towards his son.
“Is this why you brought me here, to take you on some crazy military mission? I’m sorry, Son, but I’m afraid my soldier days are over.”
“I didn’t think anything like this was going to happen,” Bargo said. “I didn’t know why he was going to be here. I just had to satisfy my curiosity. When I saw the eyes in the fire, I just thought I was having a dream.”
“Eyes in the fire? What in the Shudolin are you talking about?”
“Last night when I was cleaning up around the shop, I saw these eyes in the forge staring at me, and then they spoke to me.”
“Okay, I’ll play along. What did they say?”
“They said to come here because there was an evil presence coming, and this Elf would bring the news.”
“Well, it’s probably just a coincidence. There isn’t anything such as an evil presence, only evil hearts in men.”
A drunk patron turned around to face Jeremiah, ready to start trouble.
“Who you calling an evil man?” he asked, as he swayed back and forth. “Huh, Rabbit face!”
“Not you, Sir. I was talking about the Licarions.”
“What about you? Are you going on the great quest to save our wonderful king?”
“No, I’m afraid my fighting days are over.”
“You’re sure about that?”
“Positive.”
“I don’t think you could fight your way out of a chicken coop. In fact, you’d probably feel at home with the chickens!”
“I don’t wish to quarrel about it, so if that’s what you believe, then so be it.”
“Sounds like you’re insulting me!”
“I’m not. Please can we not do this?”
“Sounds like you’re afraid to fight me.”
“I just see no reason to.”
“I’ve got five big ones right here,” he said, as he took a swing for his head . The woblo ducked, and punched him in the midsection. He bent over, Jeremiah took his metal water cup, and knocked him over the head with it. He then kicked him to the floor while he was still trying to catch his breath.
“Hey, the creatures can fight!” one of the soldiers laughed.
Glam stepped away from the door, and walked over to Jeremiah.
“You’re Lieutenant Jeremiah Lynden, aren’t you?”
“Was Lieutenant. How do you know who I am?
“I’ve heard stories of a great Woblo fighter, but I never thought I’d meet him face to face. What are you doing these days?”
“I’m retired from the military, if that’s what you mean. I’m a Blacksmith now. I’ll make your weapons, but I won’t use them.”
“Not even for 200 gold pieces?”
“Hey,” another man said in anger. “Why are you giving him twice as much?”
“Because he’s twice the fighter you are, even if he is smaller,” Glam replied.
“No,” Jeremiah said.
“I’ll do it,” Bargo blurted out.
“What? No, absolutely not! I won’t allow you to go get yourself killed.”
“But it’s 100 gold pieces. I don’t even make that in a month.”
“I don’t care. The answer is still no!”
“Why don’t we discuss it over a drink, Mr. Lynden,” Glam asked.
“I don’t drink anymore.”
“Come on, just one for the old times. It’s on me. What’s your favor?”
“Well, if you put it that way, how can I resist? I’ll have a cup of the Winterberry wine.”
The bartender poured a cup for the both of them, and Glam raised his glass to make a toast.
“Here’s to old battles, fallen comrades, and the smell of Licarion blood.”
“Here, here,” Bargo said, as they toasted, and then drank their beverages.
“There is one thing I think you should know, however. Your brother and Bargo’s uncle, Joeseph Lynden, and your nephew, Joeseph Garkee, have agreed to help us. They spoke rather highly of you; it would be a shame to prove them wrong.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Jeremiah asked.
“I meant simply, they spoke highly of you, and said you were a great soldier and fighter.”
“Not anymore, and they know that.”
“There is another development.”
“What’s that?” Jeremiah could tell he was edging him to come along, when he really just wanted to go home, smoke his pipe on his porch, and look up at the night stars.
“Joeseph’s son was among those captured.”
“Barlow?” Bargo asked in shock.
“Yes,” Glam said. “He was among the troop transporting the king to Bashworth when they were attacked.”
“Well, he doesn’t expect me to rescue him, especially when he knew the risks.”
“But he’s our cousin!” Bargo insisted.
“I’m sorry, Bargo. But when all of them joined the service, they knew what they were getting into.”
“But Barlow wasn’t actually on duty,” Glam said. “He was just at the wrong place in the wrong time.”
Jeremiah slammed his fist on the bar.
“Damn it! Well, I still can’t help you. I’m sorry, but Joeseph will have to find his own son.”
“Well, I’ll be at his place in Dragginbuck for a couple of days if you change your mind. Then we’ll be leaving for Riverton, once we find a boat. Take care, and enjoy your retirement.”
“But Papa,” Bargo interrupted.
“Enough!” He slammed his cup on the bar. “You better get home and get some rest. I don’t want to have to dock you a day’s pay for being late.”
“You know I wouldn’t do that.”
“Go home!” Bargo left the pub disgusted and embarrassed, as several men laughed at him.
“He’s not as brave as his father,” one laughed. “Perhaps, he became a chicken?” The men giggled at the silly joke.
“That’s my son you’re talking about,” Jeremiah announced, and the pub grew silent. “Show him a little respect. Robert, I’m heading home myself, I’ve got a busy day tomorrow. ”
“Take care, Jeremiah. And be careful out there. I hear the Licarions have violated the treaties and are crossing into Shudolin territories. They could be anywhere.”
“Thanks for the concern, Robert, but I think I can handle myself quite well. I’m still pretty skillful with just a hunting knife. Good night.”
“Goodnight, Master Jeremiah.” The Woblo left the pub, and the men still grinned at him, but settled down to the point where they dare not say anything.
He walked his horse through the dark streets of the town, and thought about everything said at the forum. He didn’t believe in the nonsense Bargo babbled on about; such as voices from the fire or evil eyes. He began to think his son finally went insane from his own wild tales, and the rubbish he heard from others about wizards and evil creatures, such as dragons. He knew the Licarions were real, however, and were themselves, night creatures. If Robert was right about them crossing territories, he’d better learn to keep one eye open, and his right hand ready on his trusty sword.

CHAPTER TWO: THE DEPARTURE

The next morning, Bargo neither heeded his father’s warning, nor cared what he thought about the whole matter; he was a grown woblo, and didn’t need supervision. He packed up some needed gear; three days change of clothes, some biscuits and honey to tie him over until he caught some fish for dinner, a couple of small daggers his father gave him for his last two birthdays, and a small magnifying glass used to inspect stones and minerals with. He also brought a canteen of water, and a small bottle of Blackberry wine.
He raced through the village streets to get to the stable before his father saw him. Lilly waved and smiled, as he passed her by the community well. When he got there, Glam packed his gear onto his horse, and greeted the scraggly fighter he met the night before as well as Bargo, and introduced two other wood Elves, Tamarka and Pocor. Glam was surprised to see the Woblo, and extended his hand in glee.
“Master Bargo,” he said. “I didn’t expect to see you here after what your father said last night.”
“I’m my own Woblo,” he stated. “My father can’t tell me what to do, or where to go.”
“But he can fire you,” the man said, and smiled.
“Are you sure this is what you want?” Glam asked. “I don’t need any tagalongs that are going to have regrets halfway through our mission?”
“I’m certain. I’ve been living in this dull town for too long. I need some excitement in my life.”
“You’ll be wise to change your attitude, Son, ” the man said. “Or you won’t be living at all. Get this straight, young Woblo. This is going to be an extremely dangerous venture, and you’ll do exactly what people tell you to do, if you want to survive it.”
“Relax, Barton,” Glam told him, laughed, and placed his hand on Bargo’s shoulder. “I’m sure his father has taught him to fight
well.”
“When are we leaving?”
“As soon as everyone is here. We’re expecting one more person to show.”
“What’ s your rush, half pint?” Barton asked the Woblo.
“No rush, just excited to get started.”
“You didn’t tell him, did you?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“He didn’t tell his daddy he was coming with us. I guess you’ll be in trouble now by the Lieutenant.”
“That’ll be enough, Barton,” Glam snapped. “As soon as she shows up we’ll go.”
“She?” Barton asked, annoyed. “You didn’t say anything about a woman coming along.”
“She can handle herself with a sword as well as you. Perhaps better.”
“What is she, another Elf?”
“She’s a person, just like you.”
“Can’t wait to meet her.”
“Ah, here she comes now,” Glam said, as the woman approached. Bargo, just as surprised to see her as the rest of them, was used to seeing her in a dress, not dark gray pants, and found himself in complete awe.
“Lilly?”
“Bargo Lynden,” she said. “What in the Shudolin are you doing here? Does your father know you’re here?”
“I should be asking you the same question. Does you husband know you’re here?”
“Yes he does. And he is in full support of me as a warrior. He’s my love and provider, and I am his protector.”
“Great,” Barton grumbled. “Now we have to worry about pets and women! This is going to be a fabulous adventure!”
“I’m not a pet!” Bargo snapped, offended.
“Let’s go,” Glam said. “We’re wasting time bickering. We have to be at Dragginbuck by sundown, so we can get a boat down the Swift River to Riverton.”
“If your father knows you left, he’ll be onto us a lot quicker than that,” Lilly said. “And he’ll be dragging you back by the ears!”
“I’d like to see that!” Barton laughed. “He’s got such big ears!”
“Look here, Barton,” Glam said, and pointed his finger at him.
“There is no room for bigotry on this venture. You’ll learn to treat everyone with respect here, be they Woblo, woman, or Elf. Understood?”
Barton spit on the ground next to his horse.
“Perfectly. I’ll try to curb my tongue in the future.”
Glam reached inside a wagon next to the horses. “Here are your weapons,” he said, as he handed each of them a sword, a bow, and a bundle of ten arrows each in a holder.
“How are you with a sword, Woblo?” Barton asked.
“I’ve never really had to use one.”
“What about a bow?”
“I scored a 70 out of a hundred on the archery games last year.”
“That isn’t the same as a moving target, Kid. So Mr. Glam, you’re allowing us to bring an apprentice with us as well?”
“I’m sure he’ll hold his own if the circumstances call for it,” Lilly defended.
“Will you hold your own too, Lassie?” He asked, as he got closer to her young, pretty face.
She pointed the sword at his chin, inches from his jugular vein.
“You best to believe that, Mr.”
“Enough,” Glam said, and mounted his horse.
There was a smaller, white pony for the Woblo, which he mounted. He hadn’t ridden a horse or pony much before this, so it took him a few minutes to adjust himself on the saddle of the animal, and the sword tended to be a little heavy to his liking, which left him slightly unbalanced. Once he got his bearing, he followed the others down the stone path which led to Dragginbuck. After about a mile up the road, while they rode their horses along the path, Barton turned towards Bargo.
“What do you normally do for a living, Woblo?”
“I’m a Blacksmith apprentice.”
“Isn’t that rather dangerous with all the fur you have?”
“I wear gloves, and I keep back a distance from the forge.”
“Sounds like you know your business.”
“I’m learning. My father’s much better at it than myself. I’m much better at it than fighting, if that’s what you mean.”
“Just making conversation. It’s going to be a long journey, and it’s nice to get to know who’s going to watch your back.”
“And what’s your story, Mr. Barton?” Lilly asked.
“Not much to tell. My parents broke up when I was young, and I guess I’ve been on my own since then, working various jobs, mostly as a fisherman, and as a farmhand.”
“So what qualifies you to be on this journey?”
“Should I tell her, or are you going to?” Glam asked.
“I will,” Barton said. “About twenty years ago, I was in the Shudolin Naval Brigade, and was sailing on a ship called the Astenonia. When it was attacked by Licarion forces, I saved some men from drowning. It wasn’t anything anybody else wouldn’t have done in my position.”
“That’s not the whole story, however. After he saved the men, he climbed onboard the enemy ship, and single handedly did away with the whole Licarion crew of thirty.”
“Remind me not to get on your bad side,” Bargo laughed.
“What about you, Lassie, what’s your tale?” Barton asked the young woman.
“I’ve been married to my husband, Lawrence, for 10 years, and we have a farm near Woblo Town. And I’m pretty good with a sword.”
“Ever seen battle?”
“Eight years ago, our farm was attacked by Grassmen. My father trained me some before he died, but my real training was that night. There were eight of them; my husband held off three, until he was struck unconscious. I held off the others.”
“Did you kill any of them?” Bargo asked, surprised at her aggressiveness.
“Of course. I killed all of them.” Bargo looked astonished at the statement, and Barton just laughed.
“It’s seems there’s more to the Lassie than meets the eye!”
“I’d prefer you don’t call me that anymore.” He could tell she already didn’t like him much, just like other woman he met of her stature.
“Okay, you win. What would you like me to call you?”
“Lilly’s fine. Or you can call me Mrs. Tumberhill.”
“Married, huh? Okay, Lilly, it is.”
“We’d better pick up the pace if we want to reach Dragginbuck by sundown,” Glam said. “The Licarions will be out after dark, and we’re more vulnerable on the trail. Besides, I believe we’re being watched and tracked.”
“By the Licarions?” Bargo asked.
“By somebody.”
“Probably your father,” Lilly laughed. “I still can’t believe you didn’t tell him about it.”
“He did,” Glam answered, as he turned away. “He just wouldn’t listen; the same way he wouldn’t listen to his superior officer twenty years ago.”
“What do you mean?” Bargo asked.
“Forgive me. I misspoke when I shouldn’t have. That was the past, and I should bury it, along with my grievances. I merely meant your father can be a stubborn man.”
“Don’t I know that.”
“Well if it’s him, you think he would just come and take Bargo home,” Lilly stated.
“That’s why I don’t believe it’s him,” Glam said. “Let’s just get there before dark, shall we?”
While the horses galloped down the long and twisting trail, Bargo couldn’t help but sense something more than the Licarions; something which drew him towards it, but had no idea what it was. He felt an evil, dark feeling again, like someone or something watched him from afar, even beyond the Shudolin, and across the sea. It was the same feeling he had back in the Blacksmith shop the day before. In fear, he kept close to Lilly’s side, her being the most familiar to him.
By sunset, they reached Dragginbuck without an incident. They approached the large town, as the glow of orange light from the street candles dotted the landscape of cobblestone paths and rustic old stone buildings. Glam led the way, greeted by several of the townspeople, who knew him as an ambassador for the Elven folk, and a leader from the Shudolin Royal Guard.
Barton followed behind him, as several people gazed at his rough appearance with indifference; reminding them of homeless people. It was when they saw Lilly, and then Bargo, they stared insistently, as if they never saw women carrying swords, or a Woblo for that matter. Woblos simply didn’t travel this far east, and certainly didn’t congregate much with humans,-at least around here. There were a few exceptions, such as Joeseph Lynden, who they were on their way to see.
They ventured down a couple of side roads, until they came to the back door of a place called the Collena Inn. Glam dismounted his horse and tied the reigns around the post provided. The others followed, as Glam knocked loudly three times, and then once more. The door was answered by a tall, burly fellow with long, dark brown hair who was missing several front teeth from a few brawls he recently got into.
“Is he in?” Glam asked.
“Yea, but they have to wait out here,” he said, referring to the rest of them. “Except the Woblo.”
The others were surprised they allowed him to go in.
“Keep a close watch,” Glam told Pocor. “You never know what scum is lurking in the night. Saboteurs, thieves, and of course, Licarions.”
The tall man opened the door, and Bargo walked in with Glam. Sitting at a tall table with a tall glass of Winterburry ale was an older, gray colored woblo. This was his Uncle Joeseph, who once fought along side his father. He looked as rugged as his father, although quite a few years older.
“Bargo, my Boy. I’m so glad to see you! It’s been such a long time.”
“About fifteen years, Uncle. You look well.”
“As you do. I must admit, you’re the last one I’d expect to see here. Does your father know you’re here?”
“By now he does, I’m sure.”
“Come on, sit down, sit down.” He turned to the Elf who brought him in. “Glam, why don’t you fetch a couple of ales for you and my nephew here?” He nodded, and left the back room towards the bar. “You know your father would kill me if I allowed you to help us?”
“Like I told the others, I’m my own Woblo.”
“How’s your father doing these days?”
“He’s well. He works hard everyday in his shop. He’s been a little bitter since I moved out, however.”
“It’s the first time since your mother died he’s had to deal with being alone. He’ll deal with it one way or another. He hasn’t been drinking, has he?”
“No, no.”
Glam returned with drinks, and sat down next to Joeseph. “Well, here’s to forming an alliance,” he said, as he raised his glass.
The others clinked their glasses together with him. “To the son of Jeremiah Lynden. May he be as ruthless and fierce a fighter as his father.”
“Here, here,” Joeseph said, as he took a sip. “Has Glam told you anything about the nature of the mission?”
“Yes, some,” Bargo answered. “He told me Barlow and the king were kidnapped by the Licarions.”
“Yes. And it’s up to us to get them back. The last information we received was from Riverton, from a reliable source there. They said they were heading south towards North Licarion City.”
“So we’re heading to Riverton?”
“Yes, in a day or two, when we can charter a boat,” Glam said. “We’ll have to be on our toes tonight. The Licarions have spies everywhere, and some are even humans and Elves.”
“You can bed downstairs in the store room,” Joeseph said. “Glam will keep guard, half the night, and I’ll take the other half. The rest of you will need your rest for training.”
“Training?” Bargo asked Glam in confusion.
“You don’t expect to go out there without training, do you?”
“Well, I suppose not. I just thought we were leaving right away.”
“I have a man tracking them as we speak. He’s been advised to do nothing but observe. If Jeremiah shows up tomorrow, though, we could have a problem.”
“I’ll deal with my brother,” Joeseph said. “I’ll convince him I haven’t seen him. The boy has to become a man someday.”
“Good luck. My father’s not so easily convinced,” Bargo said.
“He’ll listen to me.”
“I hope you’re right,” Glam said, as he smirked. “You should’ve seen what he did to this big guy in the pub.”
“I have a way with my brother. He never gets mad at me, and even if he did, I’m twice as fast with a right hook than he is, even at my age.”
“I had no idea you wobloes were so feisty. It’s a refreshing trait.”
“I’m glad you enjoy it. Call your friends in, and show them to their quarters.”
The small troop was shown to the cold, dark cobblestone basement, with just the light of an oil lamp, which the older Woblo carried. There were various wood crates throughout the fifty by
thirty feet wide space, as well as barrels of wine and ale. Joeseph prepared a corner for them with some straw, as well as a few quilts.
“I’m sorry for the accommodations,” he stated. “But the less attention we draw, the better.”
“It’s not raining or snowing in here, so we’re fine,” Barton said.
“I’ve had worse,” Lilly added.
“Very well, then,” Glam said. “I’ll be at the top of the stairs if you need anything. Do not leave here without checking with me or Joeseph first.”
“What if we have to relieve ourselves?” Barton asked.
“Let me know, and I’ll follow you.”
“Sounds no different than the militia to me.”
“It’s for your own protection. Sleep well. and we’ll see you in the morning.”
Joeseph and Glam left the basement, as the small party got comfortable with their lodgings. Lilly laid out one quilt to lie on, and another to cover herself with, as Barton lit his pipe, and watched her.
“Would you mind not smoking while we’re down here?”
He took a puff, blew it out, and put his finger in it to extinguish it.
“Sorry. I wouldn’t want to offend you.”
“You’re damn right you wouldn’t.”
“Ah yes, and the lady curses as well. Splendid.”
“And don’t get any ideas in the night. You know what they do to men who attack women around here.”
“Don’t worry about that. I wouldn’t want to feel the other end of your sword.”
“Well, I’m happy for that. Bargo, how well do you know your uncle?”
“Fairly well, although I haven’t seen him in a long time.”
“Can we trust him?”
“Of course, I trust him with my life!”
“Well, we may have to,” one of the Elves said.
“And what’s your story?” Barton asked him.
“I am a member of the Elven Royal Guard, as well as Pocor here.,” Tamarka said. “We were sent here as backup, and are both skilled with a bow and sword.”
“I don’t understand why this Glam didn’t get more of your own people, instead of recruiting everyday town folk.”
“What, Elves? Because the Licarions are sly and resourceful adversaries, and can detect soldiers and Elves coming a mile away,” Tamarka answered.
“A Woblo will be the last thing they’d be looking for,” Pocor said. “Did Glam tell you why you’re really here, Mr. Lynden?”
“To help get the king and my cousin Barlow back.”
“Yes, but there’s more,” Tamarka said. “He needs you to find something for him.”
“What?”
“We don’t know,” Pocor said. “He won’t tell us.”
“Where is this item he wants me to find?” Bargo didn’t like where this conversation was going, and for the first time since he left, felt like he wanted to give up, and go back to Woblo Town.
“In the heart of the Licarion Territory,” Tamarka said. “I’m surprised he didn’t tell you yet.”
“He probably figured if he did, you’d refuse,” Lilly said. “You can’t do this, Bargo, it’s too dangerous!”
“Did you come along as a fellow soldier, or as his mother?” Barton asked.
Lilly grew angry with his attitude.
“Unlike you, Mr. Barton, I care about Bargo. I’ve known him since we were both young, and I would hate to see him get involved in something which may cost him his life. I thought we were all in this together.”
“We are,” Tamarka said. “That’s why you’re going to help him find it.”
Barton laughed at her.
“You asked for it.”
“What about your father?” she asked Bargo.
“What about him?”
“Have you thought about what you’re going to say when he gets here?”
“He’ll say nothing to him,” Pocor said. “Joeseph and Glam will deny ever seeing him.”
“I hope you’re right,” she said. “If I know Jeremiah, he’ll tear the place apart until he finds him, and won’t give up until he does.”

 

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SCIENCE FICTION AND SCIENCE REALITY

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