Shakedown Cruise


The going was slow that morning, as they tried to thread their way through other departing merchants and guests of Montfort's Festival. Wagons and pedestrians crowded the roads out, and riders had to weave through them carefully. After a couple of hours, however, traffic thinned out. Sammel threw a grin over his shoulder at the others and kicked his horse into a gallop; the others followed his example.
As Melyda had promised, Ari kept up with them easily. In fact, she often made forays off to one side or another, as a scent or sound in the trees caught her attention. However, she would soon be back running alongside Melyda's mare, her head even with the stirrup. And so the morning passed, as they trotted or cantered through forests and fields, following the bend of the road southwest. Towns and villages, too, went quickly by, with only a passing wave to a merchant here or a group of children there.
As the sun stood poised and ready for its slow downward slide, Sammel pulled up by a clearing. A stream sparkled in the sunlight, marking the edge between clearing and forest. "Perfect place for a picnic," he remarked to the others as he dismounted. The others followed his example, and soon everyone--even the animals--were lunching.
Wren ate his meal standing up. He did not dare sit down and put any pressure on his sensitive buttocks. The morning ride on a bouncy horse had been quite an ordeal for his behind.
After the others had settled down to eat Fontaine finally rode up. Her attempts to ride at a gallop had been short-lived - first her glasses had threatened to fall from her nose, and then she had threatened to fall from the horse. With a quiet "whoa" she pulled the little grey to a stop, and carefully began to dismount. A procedure that nearly ended in a fall as her abused muscles protested any movement, but by some miracle she swung clear and managed to stand on both feet. The dark-haired girl noted everyone else was eating and pulled out a oil-wrapped pack from her backpack. "Sorry I'm so slow," she murmured, and went to prop herself against a tree while she unwrapped her lunch, which allowed the pungent scent of dried fish to waft around her.
"Welcome to the camp!" Wren greeted Fontaine. "I guess I had a little better luck than you on the horses, thanks to our elven warrior sitting over there," said Wren, throwing a sideways glance toward Raidenaru. Of course, Wren forgot to mention that his behind was still smarting. Also, he was still on his feet.
"Thank you," the dark-haired girl said, with a quick smile, and a firm push to her glasses. "I've better sea legs than a riding seat."
"So," he continued, "what you eating?" Wren squatted down next to Fontaine and peeked at the wrapped lunch on her hands.
"Dried fish," she answered. "Would you like some?"
Sammel had sat down by Raidenaru, and after a moment's silent eating, he turned to him. "I have to admit it--I am just too curious," he said to the half-elf. "Can you tell us why you didn't say anything last night?"
[Raidenaru Blitzkiri]
The mage-priest looked up at the sun high in the sky and began to tell the story.
"O.K. I will tell you the story that was told to me by my master, the great sorcerer Takanori Hashimoto.
The story, or more aptly the legend, took place many centuries ago, in my home world, Japon, where a powerful sorcerer, Kazayoshi Nakamura was secretly looking and working to find a more efficient and powerful way to tap into the magical energies around us.
After years of hard work and tedious notetaking, his studies paid off. He found a way to tap into an almost infinite power source. The only problem he had was that it could only be tapped for a limited time per day, and it only worked on the lower level spells relative to your understanding and usage. Nevertheless, he was joyful at his discovery, and finally broke the silence to tell his protege, Toshihiko Nishitani.
For many weeks all seemed fine and the technique stood with no room for improvement, speaking after sunset was normal, until one night Kazayoshi's tongue turned to dust. It happened while he was talking to someone after the sunset. In short, his life as a magician ended. He later died a horrible and disturbed death. A week later, his protege feared for his life, and the secret power that he thought was evil, tried to hide his master's notes, but he too died after he accidentally talked after the now sacred event.
Sadly enough, Kazayoshi and his protege weren't the only ones to die or have "bad luck". Over the years and centuries, many magicians and sorcerers who have used the technique have had many unusual things happened to them, to some even death, under certain circumstances. For example, wearing certain color of clothes, speaking after sunset, eating meat, etc...
Luckily, in the past 400 years, we have been able to "sense" what _not_ to do. However, as we become more experienced, we each sense these different taboos at different times in our lives.
So in short, it seems as though, as the theory stands now, is that the magical energy that Kazayoshi tapped into, though for the most part unharnessed, seemed to incorporate into his daily, life and into all of our lives."
The half-elven mage-priest looked up to see that the sun has moved a little from its previous position.
"I will say this, for the most part, many of my type of magicians, don't say much nor do they live near others. Instead they prefer to live as hermits. So you are lucky to have ME here."
The half-sylvan elf grinned and continued. "I guess it is time for me to eat, traveling does make one hungry. By the way, is it all right if I sleep away from camp tonight, I mean it won't be like 100 yards away, more like 20 yards?"
The half-elf then smiled to all who were listening to him and his story, then continued to drink his self brewed ale.
Melyda swallowed the last of her lunch as Raidenaru finished his tale. "Very interesting," she commented. "I guess it's true--the more powerful the magic, the more powerful its restrictions. Certainly your type of magic is a good case in point."
"As for sleeping away from us," Sammel interjected, "does that apply to inns? We won't have to camp out except on our third night out, and the night before we reach Tyndar."
Reflecting on what the elf warrior just said, Wren thought about the various "accidents" that he had caused in his master's magic laboratory. He felt both an inkling of fear for the power that magicians wielded and a surge of excitement at the power that he could come to wield some day. He just hoped that his body had not been the victim of any ill magical effects. Continuing to chew on a bit of dried fish, Wren thought over the various spells that he had learned as an apprentice to that old stingy wizard.
Fontaine stared at her satchel, and pondered the fact that she hadn't sought to be different. That her grandmother, a Selkie it seemed, had laid a "helpful" spell upon her kin - on the chance that one might be fool enough to nearly get drowned. Now she must never let that satchel far from her sight; for it contained her seal hide, and to have it stolen meant that she could fall into the power of whoever had taken it. To have it destroyed meant that she would condemned to the land forever....The dark-haired young woman momentarily pondered if that was a bad fate - for her it would simply be returning to her original state.
She shuddered, bushed her glasses up her nose, and finished the last of her fish sandwich. It would be a horrible fate....for now she couldn't be bear the thought of not swimming free. The Mother Ocean truly had laid a spell upon her blood.
[Raidenaru B.]
"I would say 'yes', but I have not had any problems while sleeping in inns. As long as the _females_ were not in the immediate or conjoining room(s). Just to make things clearer, I can not sleep within 20 yards of the members of the opposite sex," the half-elf grinned. "It really puts a damper on trying to love them, but my love for magic is a lot greater. Thus, it really doesn't bother me!" The mage-priest smirked and continued to eat He then took off one of his rings, and put on another one where the former had been. He looked up to his companions and smiled again, and again continued to eat. "Ring of Sustenance, great for long journeys and traveling, and to save food... all of it I mean," explained the elf.
Sammel nodded to Raidenaru. "That's good. The fewer complications--for now, anyway--the better." He smiled and swallowed the last of his lunch. Looking around, he saw that the others were mostly done, so he stood up and brushed the crumbs from his lap. "Okay, folks. Time to get moving again." He walked over to his horse as the others began gathering their things. He knew he was pushing them a bit hard, but it was so...exhilarating to be on the move again. It would be so hard to contain himself and his planning until they reached Tyndar. And the longer they took, the more the villagers and Chaer's people would suffer.

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