The last shrill cries of the swifts died down as the sun dipped below the horizon. From the window of his room at the Inn, Rogan surveyed the blue-gray valley beyond the city walls. He idly inspected the orange tiled roofs of Oxted, then directed his gaze further past the city. Rogan admired the white rock of a not-too-distant mountain and how it reflected the pink orange glow of the setting sun. “That’s the mountain they were talking about,” thought Rogan, “it does look like a Great White Throne.” The Innkeeper also told him that an ancient temple occupied the “seat” of the throne, adding nobody had ventured the climb in all his years there.
His contemplation was interrupted by the sudden entrance of his traveling companion. Entering brisky, Thorne found the first thing she could see, a small porcelain bowl on a side bench, and smashed it against the wall. The fragments fled between the cracks of the wooden floor. Rogan closed the shutters as Thorne paced the floor. Then she told him the grim news she had gathered, “It is confirmed, UR has been taken!”
Rogan sighed as he sat down. “Not only that, it was taken by someone called Axewolf. They say he holds UR by magic but will legitimize his rule through marriage to UR’s princess, whom he’s captured. It’s only a matter of time.”
Thorne kicked the chair, “So that destroys my errand. By all accounts, Bardulf is a cruel and wicked master. He will never come to the aid of another country.”
“He may or may not help us.” Rogan answered, lighting an oil lamp. He adjusted the wick, the flame’s reflection grew in Thorne’s dark and angry eyes.
Thorne got up and replied with contempt, “If you beg favors from a barbarian as a diplomat, you are a great fool and no friend of mine!” She started pacing the floor, looking like a caged animal. She tugged at her chamis, “Curses—these clothes bind so. I wonder how maidens manage. Just get me back into my armor and my sword and let ME deal with Bardulf!”
“Hush!” Rogan warned, “Keep it down. Do not speak so rashly and so loud. Tomorrow, we will make alternate plans.”
Thorne plopped herself onto the chair and began tugging at her dress in disgust. Rogan watched her silently. In that frock, she looked weak, perhaps even helpless. But would be deceiving and far from the truth. Thorne was not a trifle. In fact, she was a force to be reckoned with. She could master a sword as well as he. Before his eyes was a first-rate Armildian Battle maiden and one with an important mission. Thorne was an ambassador on an errand for her country. Her diplomatic errand was furtive. Its secrecy prevented her from marching along with dignity in her customary armor.
Thorne’s frustration at her manner of dress amused Rogan. But he sympathized with her when it came to not being able to wear her sword. He knew she concealed at least one knife.
“I saw soldiers today.” Rogan remarked at length.
“Yes, Bardulf’s men after something up the mountain,” Thorne replied. Rogan opened the shutters to take another look at the mountain. It still glowed dully against the evening sky. “Do you know what they want?”
“Very strange…” she answered, “I believe they are looking for a maiden in white.” Rogan responded by pulling on his cloak.
Thorne announced, “I’m returning to my room. I guess I’ll speak with you in the morning. By the way, climbing rocks at night is not recommended.”
© 2018 DARLENE