Just before sundown the guard at the main gate
to the city Tarsus noticed a groups of riders walking up the road. He could
see they were a large group and called for reinforcements. Four more guards
came from the barracks and posted themselves in front of the gate. As the
group got closer the guards could see they wouldn't be any trouble. The group
was led by a mercenary with short blonde hair and a look that would make
most sane people run. Next in line was another mercenary, dark of hair with
a mustache and an honest face. He was riding next to a young man that he
was holding upright in the saddle. The guards could see the dark haired youth
was barely conscious from the wound in his shoulder. Tied to the saddle of
the youths horse was another one dragging a litter. They couldn't see who
or what was in the litter. Next came a large man in the robes of a magic
user sitting in front of him was a female elf child. He was also leading
a horse. The guard took a closer look at the unconscious form draped over
the horse's mane and realized it was an elf. Bringing up the rear was a black
cleric from the southern Ergoth. He'd never seen one before and was surprised
that the cleric was riding with the group. The blonde leader stopped his
horse in front of the guards.
"My friends need a cleric," Chris said in greeting.
"There are plenty in the temple," one of the guards said off hand. Chris
gave him a deadly stare and he back away.
"Where are you from?" Asked the guard captain.
"My name is Chris, and these are my men," he answered. "We come from Four
"Your reputation proceeds you, I'm Hugh," the captain said. He could hear
his men mumbling about the magnificent seven behind him. "I will escort you
to the best Inn and dispatch one of my men to send for the clerics from the
temple of Paladin."
"Thank you," Chris said glancing at Buck.
"How much further?" Jaydee asked in a whisper.
"Just a little more," Buck said holding his arm.
"Can't.....sorry Buck," Jaydee said as he passed out. Buck grabbed him and
gently laid him across the horse's neck like Vin.
"I can lead him sir," A youthful guard said staring worshipfully up at Buck.
"It's alright, son, I've got him," Buck said and the youth sighed. "But you
could take the lead to the horse pulling the litter."
"Yes sir!" he said and untied the reins from Jaydee's saddle.
They followed the captain to the Swan Inn. He entered and made arraignments
for rooms. When he came back out he led them around back to the stables.
Once the young guard gave the reins of Ezra's horse to the stable hands he
dashed around the building and disappeared. The Inns blacksmith moved to
take Vin and was greeted by angry hisses, as Mystra became visible lying
across Vin's back.
"Whoa!" he exclaimed as he hastily stepped back.
"Josiah see if you can get her to leave Vin," Chris said as he came over.
Buck was already carrying Jaydee inside. The captain assisted Nathan as two
more guards carried Ezra into the Inn. Josiah tried to coax Mystra off Vin
but she wouldn't. Chris even tried to take Vin off his horse and Mystra scratched
him. Josiah was standing just behind Chris holding Greylin in his arms. She
tugged on his sleeve to be let down. They watched as she walked to Vin's
horse and held out her arms. She whistled and Mystra chirped back. Greylin
stomped her foot and Mystra flew to her. Chris, Josiah and the smith looked
at each other.
"I won't tell if you don't," Chris said with a smile. The other two men laughed
Chris helped Erik, the smith, carry Vin inside. Josiah took Greylin's hand
and followed. They brought Vin to room with two beds and a large window over
looking the stable yard. They placed Vin in the bed closest to the window
and Chris thanked Erik for his help. When he was gone Chris moved to Vin's
side and began to strip off his clothes and the blood bandages. Josiah came
in a few minutes later with Greylin. She moved to bed and crawled up by Vin's
"Buck has Jaydee taken care of in the next room with Nathan," he said as
he poured water into a bowl. "Ezra's sound asleep in the room across the
"How long will it take the cleric to get here?" Chris asked as he picked
up a cloth and ripped it in half.
"The temple can't be too far," Josiah said placing the bowl next to Chris
on the table.
Chris soaked the cloth then started to clean the blood from around the exposed
shaft. Vin tried to pull away and Josiah was forced to hold him. Vin cried
out in when Chris hit the shaft by mistake. Greylin and Mystra hissed at
Josiah and Chris.
"Stop that," Chris scolded. "Both of you."
"They giving you a hard time?" Buck asked as he stuck his head in the door.
"What do you think?" Chris asked exasperated.
As Chris was cleaning the wound the pain was forcing Vin back to consciousness.
He began to fight them and Buck quickly moved in to help when he saw Greylin
go to bite Josiah. He grabbed her and they wrestled.
"Vin!" Chris called as the ranger woke. "It's alright you're safe."
"Greylin?" Vin mumbled as he went slack in their arms.
"Ow!" Buck yelled. "She's right here."
Vin chuckled weakly when he saw Greylin pulling Buck's hair. Just as Vin
went to call her the door opened and a beautiful woman with long black hair
walked in. She was followed by a large mountain cat. She glanced towards
Buck and her eyes grew wide.
"I never expected to find one of her kind here," the women said in surprise.
"You've never seen an elf before?" Chris asked warily.
"If that's what you insist she is I'll kept your secret," she chuckled. "My
name is Shandra high cleric of Paladin."
"My personal cleric," said another female voice at the door. "I'm Baroness
Tomlin. You seem surprised."
"Yes, my lady," Josiah said standing and finding his voice. "We never expected
to be greeted by the ruler of Tarsus."
"Normally I wouldn't but my son brought news of who entered my city," Tomlin
said. "Your reputation proceeds you."
"I never knew we had one," Chris said under his breath.
"Your son?" Buck asked confused.
"The young guard that escorted you here," she answered.
"We can discuss this at another time," Shandra said. "My clerics are seeing
to your friends in the other rooms. I sensed the half elf was sorely hurt
and came to tend him myself."
She placed her hand on the large cat and he led her over to the bed. When
she got closer they realized she was blind. Chris raised an eyebrow to Josiah
and her rich laughter filled the room.
"I see you are surprised at my condition," Shandra said.
"How could you tell?" Buck asked.
"Oh small things give people away," she smiled. "I wasn't always blind. I
was an earl's daughter kidnapped and left for dead. When I was found I realized
Paladin took away my sight but granted me much in return."
She placed her hand on Vin's forehead and his eyes rolled back as he relaxed
against the pillows. Greylin whistled shrilly and tried to struggle out of
"Easy little one he only sleeps," she said. "Gentleman if you would dig out
the arrow I shall heal him."
Josiah took the knife she offered and carefully removed the arrow. Chris
was amazed Vin didn't sir while Josiah performed his grizzly task. Buck said
he'd check on Jaydee and the others as he placed Greylin back on the bed.
As Buck left the room he gave the Baroness a nod and she smiled. He went
next door to find Jaydee sitting up in bed flexing his shoulder. A young
male cleric sat on the bed next to him.
"Best you take it easy for awhile," he said.
"It's perfectly fine now," Jaydee said rotating his shoulder.
"You lost a lot of blood," the cleric warned.
"Yeah Jaydee," Nathan added his two coppers. "You can't take that lightly."
"The goes for you too," the young cleric said.
"Don't worry, son, they'll both stay in bed," Buck promised. "If not I'll
hit them over the head and knock them out."
"You wouldn't?" he said shocked.
"Don't worry Brother Cory he won't do it," said a female cleric as she pushed
her way past Buck and into the room.
"You're sure Miranda?" Cory asked.
"She's right I'd never actually do it," Buck smiled.
"How's Ezra" Nathan asked.
"The bard, he's fine," Miranda said. "Hell he's more than fine. He became
angry when I woke him. I can tell he likes his sleep."
"Miranda you know Shandra doesn't like us to curse," Cory said.
"Hey Buck," Jaydee called.
"Come to think of it so am I," Buck admitted.
"Come on handsome," Miranda said grabbing his arm. "Let's go see what they're
cooking down stairs."
They watched as Miranda pulled Buck out the door. Nathan shook his head and
"I think Miranda likes your friend," Cory said blushing.
"I think so too," Jaydee said laughing.
Once the arrow was removed Shandra shooed Chris
out of her way and closed her eyes. Her hands began to glow as she placed
them over the wound. The Baroness kept watching Greylin as she moved to the
side of the bed. She sat down in a chair next to the bed. She reached towards
Greylin and the little elf hissed.
"Well," she said pulling her hand back. "Not very friendly."
"She's just frightened," Josiah said hastily and went to pick her up.
Greylin scrambled back from Josiah's hands as Mystra lashed at him with her
tail. Greylin didn't realize the edge of the bed was so near and tumbled
"We mean you no harm little one," Shandra said as she finished with Vin and
turned to Greylin.
The cleric leaned over and picked Greylin up off the floor. Mystra gave an
angry hiss and Shandra turned to look at her. The pseudo dragon cocked her
head as if listening to something. Shandra smiled and held out her hand.
Mystra butted her head against it to be scratched. When Shandra was finished
Mystra lay across Vin's chest watching her. She sat Greylin in her lap and
turned to the men.
"You know this room isn't big enough for her," Shandra said staring at them.
"She can be a little wild but this room is fine," Chris said defiantly.
"Shandra what are you trying to say?" Tomlin asked.
"The little elf isn't what she appears," she answered as Greylin played with
"What do you mean?" Tomlin asked surprised. "Have they brought something
"Evil?" the cleric laughed as she lovingly stroked Greylin's hair. "No something
"How can you tell?" Josiah asked in wonder.
"I can 'see' her magic. She may be in a different shape but I can see her
"We found her and we're taking her to the wizards conclave," Josiah said.
"Josiah!" Chris warned placing his hand on his dagger.
"Easy Chris," Josiah said as the cat began to growl.
"I wish her no harm," Shandra said placing her hand on the cat's head.
"I know my lady," Chris said with a sigh. "But we've been guarding her secret.
Vin almost died protecting her."
"I know," she said as she watched Greylin curl up next to Vin and fall asleep.
"I can feel their bond."
"What are you talking about?" Tomlin asked confused.
"I will explain in the morning," the cleric said as she rose. "When I bring
Master Aemon back with me."
"The Master Mage, why?" she asked.
"Because he will help them get to the wizards conclave," Shandra said. "And
he would be very vex with us if he didn't get to meet her."
The Baroness didn't always understand the cleric. Shandra was sometimes very
mysterious. She nodded to the two men and she followed the cleric out.
"What do you make of it Josiah?" Chris asked.
"I'm not sure," Josiah admitted.
"Well there's nothing we can do about it now," Chris said. "I don't know
about you but I'm beat."
"As am I," Josiah agreed. "I will see you in the morning."
Josiah left and pulled the door closed behind him. Chris sat on the bed and
pulled off his boots. He pulled his tunic over his head and threw it on the
end of the bed. He glanced over at Vin and smiled. Greylin and Mystra had
themselves draped over the sleeping ranger. Chris grabbed another blanket
and pulled it over Greylin. Chris knew it was early and he hadn't eaten anything
but he could hardly keep his eyes open. He knew Mystra would warn them if
anyone tired to come in. He pulled the covers on his bed back and climbed
in. He was asleep before his head hit the pillow.
Chris woke with a start. He quickly looked around
trying to remember where he was. He sighed in relief when he realized he
was at the Inn. Chris racked his fingers through his sleep-matted hair and
glanced towards Vin. The mercenary shook his head at the chaos across the
room. During the night Vin flipped the bed onto its side so Greylin could
change back to a dragon. She was contentedly curled against the wall. A pile
of blankets and pillows were next to her and Chris could only assume Vin
was under there somewhere. Mystra was sitting on the windowsill and she thrilled
to Chris. He got out of bed and walked over to her. As he reached to open
the window Mystra licked the scratches she inflicted the day before. Chris
accepted her apology and scratched the ridges over her eyes. She purred her
pleasure then spread her wings. Chris stepped back as she flew out the window.
He looked at the sky and saw there was still a few hours until dawn. Chris
left the window open and turned back to his bed. He sighed as he settled
back on the feather mattress. 'I'm getting too old for this,' he thought
as he drifted back to sleep.
"Master Aemon, please wait," Baroness Tomlin
The master mage quickly left his study when he heard the news. Tomlin couldn't
believe how fast the old man could move. Master Aemon was a tiny man with
long white hair and a flowing beard to match. He was always trying new
experiments and his latest left his hands purple. The Baroness and the cleric
came early to Master Aemon's stud and told him about the travelers and described
the elf child. When he heard he ran out of the room. Shandra laughed and
followed him. Tomlin tried to get him to slow down but he wouldn't hear of
"Master Aemon please," Tomlin said taking his arm. "These men are all fighters.
If you burst into their room there will be trouble."
"But this is wonderful news," Aemon said. "I can't wait any longer."
The mage snapped his fingers and turned into a sparrow. Tomlin cursed and
called for horses. The mages study was at the castle and they chased him
as far as the drawbridge before he turned into a bird.
"What are you laughing at Shandra?" Tomlin asked. "If he burst into their
rooms they'll kill him."
"Master Aemon can take care of himself," Shandra said petting the cat. "They
won't hurt him."
"They'd better not," Tomlin warned. "I'd hate to have to hang them for killing
The guards brought the horses and they mounted. Tomlin's son, Roric took
Shandra's reins and they raced through the portcullis and across the drawbridge.
Chris wasn't sure what woke him this time but
he rolled over to see a sparrow sitting on the windowsill. The sparrow flew
in and landed on the floor in front of Vin. Chris was taken completely by
surprise when the sparrow turned into a man.
"Vin!" Chris yelled as he jumped out of bed grabbing his sword.
The ranger was instantly awake at Chris shout. He tried to untangle himself
from the blankets as he stood protectively in front of Greylin. The dragonet
tried to hide as best she could behind him.
"Oh how wonderful," The little man said.
"Don't move old man," Chris warned as he put his sword to the man's back.
Greylin peered at the man from behind Vin's legs. Chris could see she wasn't
upset only curious. An angry cry was heard outside the window as Mystra flew
through and over to Vin. She was followed closely by Shadow who landed on
the windowsill. Chris knew Josiah wouldn't be far behind. As if Chris's thoughts
conjured him Josiah imposing frame filled the door.
"I mean no harm," the old man said.
"How can we be sure," Chris said not moving his sword.
They all heard people running up the stairs and Josiah moved quickly into
the room. Vin grabbed his sword while Chris pulled the old man in front of
him facing the door.
"No don't hurt him!" Tomlin yelled as she came to a halt outside the door.
Her eyes moved towards Greylin and got wide in shock.
"Everybody just keep their hands where I can see them," Buck said coming
up behind her guards.
"Don't worry Buck me and Nathan got this bunch over here," Jaydee added.
Chris felt a little better knowing the others were around.
"Oh this is ridiculous," Shandra said as she weaved her way through them
with the help of the cat. "All of you put down your weapons."
"Shandra look at her," Aemon said happily as if Chris's sword wasn't at his
back. "Isn't she wonderful."
"Someone want to tell me what's going on," Vin demanded as he put his sword
down. "Chris put your sword down. If he wanted to he could have blasted us
"Oh I would never do that," Aemon chuckled. "The Swan is a fine Inn and serves
the best ale. Where would I go for a drink if I burnt it down."
"Who are you?" Chris asked as he lowered his sword.
"I'm Master Aemon,' he said straightening his robes.
"You could have gotten yourself killed flying in here like that," Chris said
"You see!" Tomlin shouted. "I told you."
"Mother it's a dragon," Roric said in awe.
"Shush Roric," Tomlin said. "I believe she supposed to be a secret."
"Might I suggest we all go back to the castle," Shandra said. "She'd be safer
"I ain't goin' no where until someone tells me what's goin' on," Vin said
"Of course, of course," Aemon said. "I received word a month ago from Wayrenth
tower that a platinum dragon's egg was stolen. When Shandra told me of the
little elf girl and what she suspected I had to see for myself. Now I Think
we should got back to the castle."
"Buck go wake Ezra," Chris said.
"Do I have to?" Buck complained. "Can't we leave him here and comeback for
"Buck," Chris said menacingly.
"Come on Buck," Jaydee said cheerfully. "I'll protect you from Ezra."
"I'll have my men saddle your horses," Tomlin said.
She nodded to the guards and they left. Chris started gathering their things
as Vin talked to Greylin. Aemon and Shandra stood off to the side of the
room and waited. Josiah and Nathan left to gather their things. Vin grabbed
a tunic from out of his pack and pulled it over his head muttering. Chris
hid a smile as he cursed the mage for waking them so early. Roric stood next
to his mother by the door.
"Look!" he shouted.
They watched in amazement as Greylin's form shivered as she transformed into
the elf child. Vin was just pulling the tunic down when he saw her. He went
to grab her as she ran towards Aemon but missed.
"Greylin, don't you dare," Vin warned. She stopped and turned towards Vin
with an innocent look on her face. "Come get dressed first."
"What was that about?" Aemon asked.
"I imagine she was coming to pull your beard," Chris said.
They watched as Vin tried to get the squirming Greylin dressed. She was in
a playful mood and was giving Vin a hard time. Vin would get her tunic on
then go to pull on her britches and she would pull the tunic off. Vin growled
at her and she ran away with a shrill whistle bumped into Shandra's cat.
She looked at him then threw her arms around his neck and hugged him tight.
"Is it always this hard to dress her?" Tomlin asked. Roric laughed as he
watched Vin crawling towards her on hands and knees.
"Yes," Chris said rolling his eyes as he packed Vin's clothes. "It doesn't
help that Vin and Jaydee make it a game."
"Come little one lets get dressed," Shandra said taking her hand. "You'll
have more room to play at the castle."
She brought Greylin over to the bed. The cleric took the clothes from Vin
and told him to act his age. Chris laughed and said he was. Vin ignored his
friend as he put the bed back together and tidied the room. When they were
ready they came downstairs to find Jaydee, Ezra and Nathan waiting for them.
"Where's Buck and Josiah?" Chris asked.
"Our cheerful Magic user is out with the horses," Ezra said surly.
"And Buck's trying to charm one of the serving girls," Jaydee said.
Chris shook his head as he went outside. He grabbed the back of Buck's collar
as he passed him. They walked to the horses with Buck calling back that he'd
meet her tonight. Ezra mounted still grumbling about being pulled from his
nice feather bed. They mounted the horses and were escorted back to the castle.
Shandra tried to get Greylin to ride with her but she refused. She was a
little confused with all the extra people and wanted Vin. Buck offered to
lead her horse and she accepted. As they rode through the portcullis and
into the outer bailey Vin began to be apprehensive. He pulled up his horse
just inside the gates and looked around.
"What is it Vin" Chris asked.
"I don't like it Chris," Vin said nervously. "Once we're through those gates
we'll be at the heart of the castle and behind two walls. What if it's a
"I assure you my dear fellow it isn't" Aemon said.
"Play me false mage and you're the first I kill," Vin warned.
"You have my word also," Shandra said. "I know you are only trying to protect
her but we mean no harm."
Vin reluctantly agreed and followed them the rest of the way. The castle
was square in design with four watchtowers at each corner. They dismounted
in the inner courtyard and stale hands came to take the horse. Vin dismounted
with Greylin clinging to his back. The half elf waited with his hand on the
hilt of his sword. Chris knew Vin wasn't comfortable in crowds and walked
over to him. Vin was facing away from him and Chris touched his forearm.
The ranger jumped and Greylin hissed at Chris.
"Easy Vin," Chris said. "I don't think they mean any harm. Aemon knew about
the egg that was missing."
"He could know because he took it," Vin said warily.
"I don't think so," Chris said smiling.
"I just don't like being in here," Vin said defensively.
"I know," Chris said.
"Come let us go to the main hall," Tomlin announced.
"Your pardon Baroness," Chris called. "Greylin isn't used to being inside.
Does the castle have a garden?"
"Yeah castle Skya has the largest in the province," Roric said proudly.
"Might I suggest we go there?" Chris asked.
"I would have you break your fast since we barged in so early," she said.
"We could eat out in the garden," Jaydee suggested.
"That would be wonderful," Shandra agreed.
Tomlin issued orders and the staff quickly ran off to comply. She led them
through amaze of corridors then to a small courtyard. Tomlin walked to the
edge of the tiled patio and disappeared around the corner. They all followed
and were impressed by the size of the garden. Greylin whistled and Chris
glanced at her. He could see Vin was more relaxed here and Greylin struggled
to get down. The half elf set her on her feet and she ran over to the fountain.
She promptly climbed in and tried to catch the fish. They al moved out tot
he garden and sat in the grass by the fountain.
"Alright I think it's time you explained everything," Chris said looking
"Certainly," he said with a smile tugging on his beard. "But where to start,
there's so much."
"The beginning is usually good," Jaydee suggested.
"Of course!" Aemon said with a laugh. "That's where I will start."
Aemon told them how Silverclaw, a might platinum dragon, came to the wizard
to report the egg stolen. His mate, Ice, was beside herself with worry. The
wizards offered to help but they couldn't find anything. When Shandra came
to tell him about Greylin and what she suspected he was thrilled.
"Silverclaw is a good friend of the wizards," he explained. "They will be
happy to hear she's been found."
"Wayrenth is still a long way off," Josiah said.
"Oh I can easily teleport Greylin and myself to Wayrenth," Aemon assured
"No," Vin said staring at the wizard.
"Still don't trust me do you elf?" he asked.
"We all go or nothing," Vin said menacingly.
"I could easily take her," Aemon warned.
"You'll have to kill me first," Vin said jumping to his feet and putting
his hand to the hilt of his sword.
"Really children," Shandra scolded. "Aemon, Vin can't help but be protective.
I explained the bond."
"Yes I know," Aemon said clapping his hand together. "Isn't' it fascinating."
"You were testing him?" Nathan asked.
"I was curious," Aemon amended.
"I won't be made a fool of!" Vin shouted and stalked off. Greylin saw Vin
disappear into the tress and she ran after him.
"That was poorly done my good fellow," Ezra said angrily.
"I meant no harm," Aemon said. "My curiosity often gets me in trouble. I'll
go talk with him."
"I think you better let me handle Vin," Chris said standing.
"Let me," Aemon said. "He can't hurt me too much."
"Care to place a friendly bet on that assumption?" Ezra asked with a gleam
in his eyes.
Aemon bet Ezra a ten gold crowns that's he'd be back with the half elf before
lunch was finished. They shook hands and the mage disappeared into the trees.
He found Greylin in the rose garden being chased by a large silver wolf.
He smiled as the chased each other around the garden. The mage hated to disturb
them but he needed to talk to Vin.
"Vindarin Tannerelle we need to talk," Aemon called. The wolf stopped and
looked at him.
"How do you know my name?" Vin asked as he transformed.
"I know many things," Aemon said with a smile. "But I'm always eager to learn
more. Unfortunately my curiosity gets me in trouble sometimes."
"I can understand that," Vin said with a chuckle.
"I came to apologize," he said as he sat down on a bench. "A bond like he
two of you share has never been seen before. I wanted to see how far you
would go to protect her."
"I'd give my life for her," Vin stated.
"I see," the mage said in winder.
They sat in silence as they watched Greylin smell all the roses. She went
to grab on of the flowers and she pricked her finger on a thorn. She cried
out and ran over to Vin. He wiped the blood off her finger than kissed it.
She was satisfied with that and ran off.
"Do you think all mothers have this type of bond?" Vin asked.
"In a way I suppose," Aemon said. "Dragons are somewhat different. A young
dragon's bond with its mother is a strong one. If the baby dragon is in trouble
the mother can take over its mind and force him away from the danger."
"Well I don't envy mothers this bond," Vin said. "It's driving me crazy!"
"Really?" Aemon asked curiously.
"Yeah," Vin smiled. "Whenever she's out of my sight I can't stand it. I have
to know what she's doing. You should have seen me the day I found she could
"Yes I could see how that would upset you," Aemon agreed. "Given your own
experience." Vin just raised and eyebrow but didn't ask how the mage knew.
"I guess you must be hungry."
"No," Vin said. "I'm fine here."
"Ummm are you sure?" Aemon asked anxiously. "Maybe Greylin is hungry."
"Why do you want to go back?" Vin asked suspiciously.
"Well you see," The mage said sheepishly. "I wagered with the bard that I
could get you to comeback before breakfast was over."
"Half," Vin stated.
"Excuse me?" Aemon asked confused.
"Give me half and I'll go back to the others," Vin said with a smile.
"You're a shrewd one half elf," he said with a chuckle. "Agreed."
Vin called Greylin and she followed them back to the others. The servants
brought blankets and placed food all around. Ezra sighed and handed the mage
the coins. They all laughed when Aemon handed half of his winnings to Vin.
They took their time eating as Aemon explained they should leave after breakfast.
He contacted the wizards earlier and the dragons where already summoned.
Vin glanced at Greylin. She was sitting in Buck's lap playing a clapping
game with Roric who was sitting next to them. Chris knew this would be hard
for Vin. Hell it was going to be hard for all of them. Aemon looked the sky
then looked around at everyone.
"It's time we go," he announced.