Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wren munched the bread set before him by the buxom kitch­en maid.
"They tell me that you are a harper."  She brushed up against him.  He swallowed quickly.
"I am."
"You play for the Warlord tonight?"
"Oh." she considered this.  "The traveling must be lonely."
"Not really.  I see a new place each night and there are people everywhere I go."
"But surely it must be lonely," she purred.  A sharp word from the head cook sent her pouting to the other end of the kitchen.  Wren offered a silent word of praise to his Lord that she left him alone to eat.  He had traveled by foot for days to reach Emberfaile.  He had been awaked in a storm that threatened to sweep him away in a river of mud, and dried out in the next two days by a blazing sun that almost made him wish for the rain again.  Such changes in weather were not uncommon for Caledon, although across the mountains in the Allied Countries the elements were in check.  This was the work of Rom, he suspected, and was trying to prove.  The Dark God of Caledon had slept for hundreds of years, and only in the last few generations had His Priests began the bloodrites that would wake him. 
     For this reason the Allied Countries had sent their most gifted spies into Caledon under many guises.  As harpers and healers they traveled, and sought out places whore Warlords were staying.  Their mission was to gather information about campaigns planned and in progress, so that their homelands might defend successfully.  Now, truly, was the time under which this war might be won; a war that had dragged on for five generations.
Wren entered the hall without feeling nervous at all.  The table at the far end was decked with fresh linen and assorted greenery.  Servants hurried around with large platters of beef dripping with juices and gravy.  At the center of the table was the Warden in a shirt spotted with grease; the man beside him could only be the Warlord called Seare.  He was tall and grim, a black cloak shrouding his lean frame.  This night will be long, he thought; but he did not know how long it would be as he took a seat by the fire, leaning the harp back into his shoulder to play.
     The first chords he struck were off, and biting his lip he took a deep breath before continuing.  Closing his eyes he did not see the girl with red-rimmed eyes enter the hall, slip­ping behind a tapestry to enjoy the music without catching the attention of her masters.

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