The Knight and His Squire 3
Copyright© 2015 by Spherical Spoon
Rohea, Maes and Pyar exited the cave, and went to the horses tied nearby.
"Mud!" Maes said. "Where is Mud?"
"Mud is alive and well," Rohea said. "He is with the soldiers."
"Are we headed there?" Maes asked.
"Yes, we cannot travel quickly to Wolle with only two horses. We would be much faster with three. If we leave now, we should make it to the soldiers' camp before dawn."
Rohea rode with Maes on Feisty, and Pyar rode on her own horse. The trio made their way back to the soldiers, and as Baiffer rode up to them once they were spotted on the road.
"Sir Rohea," Baiffer called out.
"Lieutenant Baiffer," Rohea replied. "You have returned."
"Yes, Sir Rohea, we received your message about negotiating a truce, and so I led the cavalry back here."
"Very good," Rohea said. "How do the negotiations go?"
"The enemy was wary of our first messenger, but he returned safely to us. It sounds like they are also keen to end the long war, even if it may only be temporary."
Rohea nodded. "Some peace will be good for both our nations. The people have had war for some time now."
"I only pray that the peace will last," Baiffer said.
"As do I," Rohea said. "As do I."
Rohea left some further instructions with Baiffer and Kaliv, as Maes went to ready Mud for the journey. Soon after, Rohea, Maes and Pyar continued on their journey back towards Wolle.
They rode as hard as they could, and only stopped to make camp after the sun had set and the moon had risen into the sky. They tied their horses to some trees, and made a make-shift camp to rest for the night. Pyar seemed slightly uncomfortable sleeping in the open, but she fell asleep quickly from the weary day.
"Maes," Rohea whispered.
Maes was only slightly drowsy at this point, and sat up. "Yes, Sir Rohea?"
"Come, there is something we must discuss," Rohea said, leading her a distance away from Pyar.
"What is it, Sir Rohea?" Maes asked.
"Do you remember how you communicated with me from Riloo?" Rohea asked.
"Yes, I remember. I calmed my mind and suddenly I was floating above you," Maes said.
"Do you think you can do the same to communicate with Parym?"
"I don't know," Maes replied. "I've only ever done it with you. But what should I ask Parym?"
"Ask him about what Grizol told us. I've learned that mages tend to speak half-truths to suit their purposes."
Maes said, "I'll try."
Maes sat down on the grass cross-legged, and closed her eyes, concentrating on communicating with Parym. A furrow appeared on her forehead as she tried harder and harder.
"I don't think it's working," she said after some time.
"Maybe you're trying too hard?" Rohea suggested. "Try to relax and calm down."
Maes took several deep breaths, and tried once more. Instead of focusing on communicating with Parym, she thought back to the lessons that Parym had taught her, about the various herbs that existed and their properties, and how healing worked in theory, before she ever managed to heal.
Maes felt her spirit shifting and closed her eyes intuitively. When she opened them, she saw that she was floating above her body, or more precisely, above Rohea.
Hello, Sir Rohea, Maes thought out loud.
Maes? Rohea replied in thought. Look like you did it, although you found me again.
Maes laughed to herself, and Rohea could feel the laughter even though no sounds were heard.
See if you can find Parym this way, Rohea suggested.
Maes nodded, somehow knowing that Rohea would sense it as well. She closed her eyes again and thought about Parym, hoping that would lead her to wherever Parym was. She felt the shifting again, and opened her eyes.
Maes was floating above a well-decorated room. Several large paintings hung on the walls, and the bed looked soft and inviting. There were two people in bed, and from their body shapes, Maes could tell that one was a man and the other was a woman. Both are lying sideways, and Maes could not tell their identities, although she was certain neither was Parym.
Suddenly, the man turned his face towards the ceiling at Maes. Maes gasped, it was Puccar! Puccar opened his eyes and stared right at Maes. His eyes no longer looked completely dark, and now had their original blue pupils.
So, you've figured out how to communicate with me, Puccar thought at Maes.
Sir Puccar! Maes said in surprise.
Puccar chuckled inwardly. You seem surprised. So you didn't do this on purpose after all.
What do you want? Maes asked.
Me? You initiated this conversation with me, Puccar replied. All I want is to enjoy my time here.
And kill innocent people?
Puccar laughed. No one is innocent here. And besides, I have to eat something sometimes.
Maes gasped and asked, So you are a wight?
Indeed I am. Looks like someone has filled you in. Did he tell you about the great things we can accomplish together?
Maes shook her head. How do I send you back?
Puccar seemed shocked. Why would you want to do that? Together, we can achieve anything we desire. Wealth, power, women, men, anything! Mastery over death.
Mastery over death? Maes asked.
Ah ... now you're interested, aren't you? Everyone wants to live forever. By working together, we can. All it takes is for me to absorb a life force, and give some of it to you. Nothing to it, really.
What happens to the person you absorb? Maes questioned.
Well, he's absorbed, Puccar replied. If it makes you feel better, we can find a peasant or slave. Someone whose life doesn't matter. All that matters to us is the age and relative health.
Why would you help me? Maes wondered.
If you die, it is only a matter of time before I return to the abyss. It is in my best interest to keep you around as long as possible.
Do I have to be present physically?
Yes, I can only transfer the life force to you if we are physically connected, Puccar replied.
Where are you then? Maes asked.
Back in Wolle. I am a knight, after all.
I will return to Wolle then, Maes declared, and shut her eyes.
I hope you'll take care of Sir Rohea before you return, Puccar replied.
She felt her spirit shift again, and when she opened her eyes, she was back in her physical body.
"Did you do it? Did you communicate with Parym?" Rohea asked.
Maes shook her head. She described her communication with Puccar.
"Are you planning to kill me as Sir Puccar suggested?" Rohea asked.
"What? No! Of course not," Maes replied angrily. "Why would you think that?"
Rohea patted her shoulder. "I'm glad to hear that. But you've giving up on an ever-lasting life."
"I wouldn't be able to live with myself if innocent people had to die for me to live," Maes said.
Rohea smiled and said, "I chose a good squire."
Maes blushed and replied, "I have a good master. What should we do when we return to Wolle?"
Rohea thought to himself for some time. "It will be difficult to prove that Sir Puccar is a wight, especially if his eyes have returned to normal."
"What if King Wespil catches him in the act of absorbing someone's life force?" Rohea suggested.
"How would we manage to do that?" Maes asked.
"I'll be the bait," Rohea said. "Sir Puccar will likely want me dead anyway. If we can get him to do the deed, then his identity will be exposed."
"We can't sacrifice you in that manner!" Maes said.
"If you stop him early enough, I should be alright," Rohea replied.
"It sounds extremely risky," Maes commented. "If anything goes wrong, your life would be gone."
"That's a risk I'm willing to take, for the sake of Wollior."
"I'm not willing for you to take that risk," Maes retorted.
"Well, unless we come up with a better plan, that's all we have," Rohea said.
They returned to their spots around the smoldering camp fire and quickly fell asleep.
The next morning, Rohea woke up before dawn to begin his daily exercises. Maes woke up from the noise and felt compelled to join him.
Pyar soon woke up as well and commented, "I don't think your swords are going to be of much use against the wight."
"We are training using our swords," Rohea started, "but we are actually training our minds."
Pyar stood up, stretched her arms, and yawned.
Rohea continued, "Fighting a battle is more about wits than brawn."
"Funny," Pyar commented dryly. "I've never won a sword fight, even though I believe I was more intelligent than my attackers."
"It's not about intelligence," Rohea replied. "It's about wit. The quickness of your mind."
Rohea gestured to Maes, and Maes walked over to Pyar, handing Pyar her sword. Pyar looked at it in wonder.
"Go ahead, hold it," Maes said.
Pyar took it in her hand, and swung it around to feel its weight. She looked at Rohea and said, "Surely you don't expect me to fight you, do you?"
Rohea smiled and nodded. He beckoned her forward with his left palm. Pyar raised the sword up above her head and charged at Rohea. Rohea took a step to the left as she approached, and hit her gently with the flat of his blade.
"I could see you coming long before you were near me," Rohea commented. "Also, raising your sword like that only leaves you open to attack."
Pyar turned around and faced Rohea again. She started to raise her sword again, but caught herself and instead held it slightly in front of her. She clenched her left fist briefly, and slowly opened it. Then, she closed it again. Pointing her sword towards Rohea, she suddenly opened her left fist, and a flash of light erupted from it, temporarily blinding Rohea. He brought his left arm to cover his eyes, and Pyar took the opportunity to strike.
Rohea took a step to the right, and again hit Pyar with the flat of his blade.
"How? I know my spell hit you and you were blinded," Pyar said.
Rohea chuckled. "That was a good move you did. However, I can fight without my eyes. I could hear you coming at me."