Sir Connery Walter Owens Hoffman III was meandering down the street, following the "Self-guided walking tour of Montfort". (Unbeknown to him, was printed in the lower left hand corner in a very small font: "A Publication of Elwynn Inc., Your Choice for Quality Magic Items.")
As usual, Sir Connery was very absorbed in his reading, fascinated by the story printed in the guide book about the downfall of the Church, that he never heard the thump of the object as it hit the ground just before his foot stepped on it. Losing his balance, Sir Connery tripped over the mysterious object and tumbled head over tail into the dirt, knocking his glasses askew in the process and letting out a short wail of surprise.
Once the ground stopped moving, the hamster reached up and righted his glasses, then looked about for the object of his downfall. The only object he found was a large, leather-bound book, with gold embossing on the cover. He gingerly picked up the book, caressing it as only a student of literature would, and opened the cover. Flipping through the book, every page glowed magically with the words, "This book has been stolen from Melyda C. If found, please return immediately."
"Oh dear," he breathed. Standing up, Sir Connery brushed himself off then picked up the book with great care, knowing its owner treasured books as much as he did. He made his way carefully making back to the Bards Hall, after only two or three wrong turns.
[At the Hall]
The two Rangers at the gate recognized the hamster immediately.
"Here he comes again, Aubrey!" Selina Rosewood said, "And look! He's got the book with him!"
The two Rangers saluted the startled hamster and proceeded to pummel him with exhaltations.
"Sir! You did it! You found the book! The Queen has had everyone out looking for it since dawn!"
"How did you do it sir? Did you defeat the Aerial Servant? What did you use? You didn't beat him off with your bare hands, did you? Hey, Rowena! It's Sir Connery! He's found the book!"
In short order a crowd had gathered around Sir Connery, cheering, applauding, and listening with rapt interest to the story which Aubrey and Selina had fabricated out of their imaginations. By the time the story reached Elwynn, (via an excited apprentice), the hamster had been credited with defeating the Aerial Servant in single combat.
The elf-maid had been sitting in one of the conference rooms with Melyda, and her friends and rescuers. She had insisted that the group breakfast together before setting out to search for the book.
"Well, it seems our work has been done for us." the elf-maid said upon hearing the story. "Come on, everyone. Let's go meet this brave warrior."
Outside, before the steps of the hall, a group of Rangers and Bards had hoisted the hamster upon their shoulders and were parading him about the grounds. Already someone was composing "The Ballad of Sir Connery" and trying out a few verses on the crowd.
[back at the Inn Room]
The ninja went back to his inn room that morning when they arrived. After he put away his "night suit", and put on some casual clothes, he took out his bracelet and put it on. He then whispered some words under his breath. One by one his katana, wakizashi, and couple of his shuriken disappeared. Instantly, three small charms appeared on the bracelet, each one resembling a katana, wakizashi, and a shuriken respectively.
He looked down at his night suit and prayed, "Mother, Father, one of these days I will find and then exact our revenge on your killers!!!"
He then turned around and headed for the Bard's Hall for breakfast.
[At the Bard's Hall]
"I guess we should check out this 'hero' fella, and then head over to the Inn for some ale," The oriental "off duty" ninja said to Brea upon hearing the story as well, "You game? Maybe while we're at it we could share some stories? But for some unknown reason I have a feeling that we will be hearing more from Kieraan, very soon."
"Oh, I'm game all right," Brea smiled, "though I think I might be up for a bit of wine, instead. It's a bit early still for ale." She frowns a little at the mention of Kieraan, but nods in agreement. "I have a feeling you're right about that one. That guy reminds me of a bad smell. No matter how hard you try to get rid of it, it always seems to linger." She shook her head with that, as if to say she really didn't feel like discussing the subject further, and went out to see what was up with the book.
Melyda watched the procession in amazement. She still couldn't reconcile such adulations with the absent-minded, scholarly hamster she'd met. Suddenly, two memories made a connection and she began to laugh, just loud enough for the others gathered on the steps to hear. "That Aerial Servant-- he *was* on our side at the end."
"Why are you so sure?" Sammel asked.
"Elinor Gammidge told me at the Bard's bonfire that Sir Connery came here from another world." She paused and saw incomprehension still on his face. "Remember Kieraan's command to the Servant? To take the book to an *otherworldly* guardian?" She grinned as understanding and delight spread across his face in a broad smile. "It's a pity we can't thank it," she said.
Melyda waited while the crowd transported Sir Connery to the steps and set him on his feet. She solemnly received the book from his hands. "Thank you *very* much for returning this to us, Sir Connery. It's a great relief to have it safe." She turned to Elwynn. "If we can go someplace quiet for a few moments, I'll remove the spell. And then," she concluded, her voice expressing both exasperation and relief, "you're more than welcome to take this frappin' thing off my hands!"
"Very well." Elwynn said. "There's a cloak room just off the Registrar's office we can use."
She followed Elywnn inside the cloak room and shut the door. "I need quiet to concentrate," she explained. "And I don't want to reveal my secret to *too* many people, though you're more than welcome to watch."
She closed her eyes and looked at the book with her mage sight. "The spell is constructed rather like a tapestry. And the more you push, or pull, or try to rip it," she said as she demonstrated with a magical 'hand,' "the tighter the weave becomes." She felt along the edge of the tapestry until she felt a thread tingle in her 'hand.' "But find the right thread and follow it in..." She followed the thread through the weave, over, around, up and down. She slipped off of it once and smiled ruefully at Elwynn. "Sorry. I'm tired, and that makes it hard to concentrate." She followed it again, more slowly this time, until she reached a section deep within the weave that tingled a little more. "Find the right spot and give it a gentle pull, and it all comes apart like a Cat's Cradle," she finished as the spell dissolved from her mage sight.
She smiled as she handed the book to Elwynn. "There you have it--my one magical trick. You're welcome to use, deconstruct, and improve it however you like." She yawned and shook her head sharply. Exhaustion, and the realization that her ordeal was finally over, was making her feel rather giddy.
The elf maid applauded the spell. "Oh that's a neat trick! I'll teach you the one that lets you know how much cash a person has on them. It's very useful for merchants."
Melyda chuckled. "Thank you. I'd like to learn that soon...assuming it's not too complicated. I don't have very much mage ability."
She hefted the book and threw it into her hat. "We have a place for such things back in Havenwood. It's where we keep stuff like tactical nukes and the Eludium Q 36 Explosive Space Modulator. You know, stuff that's too dangerous to use and too dangerous to throw away? The book will be safe there."
She led the Bookseller back out into the hallway. "I think you should go and rest for a bit, Melyda. The Queen will be making her offical arrival this afternoon, and you've been bumped up to the VIP podium. I think the Queen will be giving you an award for your bravery. Tak and Brea and the others will be getting medals or some such thing as well, but don't tell them. It's a surprise."
"Aye, I could definitely use a few hours sleep," Melyda said after another yawn. "And a hot bath, and some clean...clothes...did you say an award?" Melyda blinked owlishly in surprise. "But...I don't really deserve anything like that. Tak and Brea, and Sammel and Chaer and Karyn... *they're* the ones who deserve recognition. They got into Kieraan's keep, they had to fight that awful Beast. Other than kidnapping me, Kieraan didn't really *do* anything to me." Melyda really felt rather distressed. It was one thing to be commended for courage by one's friends, but *this* sort of recognition was quite a different matter.
The Rangers and Bards had finally set the old hamster down in front of Karyn Silversheen. The Bardmistress, a wry grin on her face, regarded the befuddled professor with a sparkle in her eyes and said, "Well, Sir Connery, it looks like you're the man of the hour. I'm sure Queen Sindella will reward you for your courage when she hears of it."
Beside the Bardmistress, little Elanor, the halfling child whom Sir Connery had befriended along with the other children of the Politi household, was gazing up at her mentor with bright eyes.
"Is it true, Sir Connery? Are you really a hero? Is it really true?"
The noise in the room dropped down to a few whispers as everyone strained to hear the answer this modest hamster professor would provide them. He glanced at the expectant faces. What could he say? The truth was he had just tripped over it because he hadn't been watching his step. He was a horrible liar. But looking at Elanor's face, her eyes full of hero worship, he was loathe to break the spell. Sir Connery cleared his throat. The audience shifted and shuffled their feet, some trying to get a better look, others elbowing them back, a few whispering amongst themselves and a few more telling them to be quiet.
"A hero is many things, Miss Gammidge, to many different people. A hero to one may not be a hero to all." He smiled then, as only a hamster could smile, and added, "I did collect the book and return it to the proper authorities. If that makes me a hero, then so be it."
Sir Connery looked then at Elanor hoping he hadn't completely lost her admiration with the truth.
"You are a wise fellow, Sir Connery." Elwynn said. "And I think you should be rewarded, if only for that. I shall send word to the Queen. In the interim, I suggest we all get ready for the ceremony. The Queen's Official Procession will be this afternoon, and as I recall we all have a part to play in it. Let's go, everyone! We've no time to lose!"
Melyda watched the controlled chaos as people dashed off to their chores and errands. She told Sammel and Chaer what Elwynn had said about an award for her, though she left out their possible part in the ceremony. She also told them her doubts about receiving it.
"You *do* deserve it, Melyda," Sammel replied. "It was your spell that prevented him from using that book in the first place. You also kept your head during the whole thing."
"Well, so did you." Melyda smiled. She continued in an arch tone. "Well, since it seems inevitable, I suppose I should accept with good grace." She grinned as he chuckled and asked, "What are you going to do until then?"
"I'm going back to the Inn to bathe and change, and then I'm going to snag a good vantage point at the town hall. This is something I don't want to miss."
Melyda nodded. "I'll see you there...though I'm going to get some sleep first. I'd rather not snore through it all." She waved to Sammel and Chaer and went back to the room she had in the Hall, with Ari and Khale close on her heels.
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