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Read Legends of Cobalt from the beginning:
Mugs frothed with amber ales and dark stouts. Horns ran over with golden mead and crimson wine. Somewhere in the Gild Hall, a stranger sawed away on a fiddle while another plucked the strings of a lute. The steady thrum of dancing feet and clapping hands kept time with the musicians.
Phebes and I sat at a rickety table tucked in the back corner of the room, ignorant to the jubilation around us.
“Hey, Percy?” Phebes flicked her eyes at me then back down to the table. Her cheeks turned pink in the soft candlelight. “I…”
William, a woman on each elbow, slammed mugs in front of Phebes and I. “Come on you two! You look so dour. Get drunk, enjoy the party. It’s for you guys as much as any of us.” William shrugged off one of his women and extended a hand to Phebes. “Come dance with me. I want to see if you can move those hips as well as you fight.”
Phebes’s face went from pink to dark red and her eyes locked onto a knot in the wood. “Maybe later, I don’t feel like dancing right now.”
“Suit yourself, you’ll know where to find me when you’re ready.” William and his posse walked away.
Rory the blacksmith slid into the chair opposite me. Olivia, her customary tight dress replaced by a loose blouse and trousers, place her hands on the back of the chair opposite Phebes.
“Please excuse the rudeness of my partner. Do you mind if we join you?”
“Go ahead.” I waved at the chair. “How are your wounds healing?”
Olivia held her hand to the slash wounds under her shirt. “There will be a scar, certainly, but they are healing well.”
“I think they make you look even better.” Rory leaned closer to Olivia and tried to steal a kiss.
Olivia smiled and pushed Rory away. “Later, darling, right now we’re talking.”
Rory turned back to me. “I heard you broke one of my swords.”
“Sometimes swords break when you use them, it wasn’t my fault.”
“Must have been using it wrong.” Rory wiped beer foam from her lips with the back of her hand. “My swords don’t break.”
“How could I use a sword wrong?”
Olivia swatted Rory on the chest with the back of her hand. “That’s enough. Now isn’t the time and it doesn’t matter.”
Rory feigned pain and flashed a mischievous grin at me.
Bucephalus pulled a fifth chair up to our table. Phebes scooched closer to me to make room. Tears matted the fur on the minotaur’s face.
“You look like you need a drink, big guy.” Rory pushed her cup toward Bucephalus.
“Are you okay, Ceph?” Phebes rubbed his arm.
Bucephalus sniffed and rubbed at his eyes. “I’ll be okay.” He pushed the cup away. “No, thank you. I’m not drinking tonight. It wouldn’t be proper.”
Rory pulled her cup back. “How so? You won. Isn’t that cause enough for celebration?”
“We won, yes, but I lost many I loved to get here. Tonight I mourn and remember them as much as celebrate our overall victory. Drinking and forgetting their memories tonight would not be fair to them.” A fresh round of sobs racked Bucephalus’s body. Rory fell silent. Phebes and Olivia soothed him.
The music died down. The massed patrons made up of Spinel locals, River Runner warriors and soldiers from Vercingetorix stomped their feet and chanted ‘speech’ in unison. William disentangled himself from a young woman and hopped onto a table. The crowd burst into thunderous applause and cheers. William waved his hands and the room fell into near silence.
“Take your pants off!” A gruff voice shouted from the second-floor balcony.
The crowd burst into laughter. William pointed in the direction of the voice. “Find me later tonight.” Another round of laughter shook the crowd and drifted back to silence.
“I won’t take long,” William announced. “Not only because no one wants to listen to someone brag about themselves during a celebration, but also because I’m several drinks past tipsy. Tonight we celebrate the liberation of Spinel, an event graciously sponsored by the looted stores of the former Duke Sofka. Tonight, drink deeply, dance until you can’t and find someone to share a bed with. Our job isn’t finished yet. Tomorrow, we start down the long road of rebuilding Spinel and restoring Crescent Moon Bay to glory.” William scooped a mug of ale from the table and finished it in a single swallow. He stumbled back a step and caught himself. “Maybe the next day.”
The crowd laughed and clapped. The band strummed up a new tune and some people helped William off the table.
Jacquline bounded up to our table with Katsu at her heels. She threw her arms around Olivia and kissed her cheek before doing the same with Phebes and I. Jacquline kept her distance from Bucephalus.
“Thank you for helping me back to my family.”
“Your family?” I replied, “I thought you grew up in Vercingetorix.”
That’s where the priests took me. Master Serephina, Katsu and the others are my real family.”
Katsu placed his hands on Jacquline’s shoulders. “Jacquline is one of our younglings. The night Master Orryn died she disappeared. We searched for months and couldn’t find her in the city. We owe you an unexpected debt.”
Aramil clapped me on the back. A small jolt of pain made me wince.
“And an apology. Our blind trust of Fayaad almost got you killed.”
Rory pushed back from the table in surprise. “Where did you come from?”
“I’m good like that.”
“We all made it out alive this time, you have nothing to apologise for.”
“What are your plans now?” Althea appeared at Katsu’s side.
“I think I’ve had enough to drink.” Rory dumped the last of her cup on the floor. “I’m seeing double.”
“I don’t know about them,” Bucephalus wiped his snout, “but I’ll be heading back to the Isle of the Gods on the first available ship. The Cardinal Conclave needs to know what happened here and I’ve been away for far too long.”
“I don’t know,” I replied. “Wyanet and I haven’t had a chance to talk about it.”
Phebes slid her arm around mine. “Where they go, I’m going too.”
Althaea replied, “You are welcome to stay here. Like that man said, we have a long road ahead of us. We’ll need help.”
“I would appreciate your company,” Olivia interjected. “And I know William and my Father will need your help.”
“I could always use a good sparring partner if you stick around.” Aramil thumbed the hilt of his ever-present knife.
“There is much I believe you could teach us if you choose to stay in Spinel. You are welcome among us if you choose to stay, but the choice is yours.”
Wyanet approached the table. A woman who looked and dressed in a similar way walked beside her.
“You have much to discuss.” Althaea linked her arm to a man’s heading for the dance floor. “I’ll leave you to it.”
Aramil scowled and chased after his sister. “Do you even know who he is?”
Katsu bowed to me. “Whatever you decide, you are welcome here.” He turned and bowed to Wyanet and the other woman. Wyanet returned the bow. Katsu led Jacquline away to much protesting.
“We should go as well.” Olivia pushed back from the table.
“Finally!” Rory jumped up. “I’ve been waiting to use our bed like an anvil all night.”
“How can you use a bed as an anvil?” Phebes pondered, “Wouldn’t the hot metal set the bed on fire?”
Wyanet and the other woman took the vacated chairs.
“This is Sokanon,” Wyanet gestured to the woman beside her. “She is Chieftain of the River Runner tribe and my mother’s sister.”
“You are the friends Wyanet has told me about. I wish I could say our meeting was under kinder circumstances. Two days before I led my warriors South to join William, some of my hunters rescued a horned woman and a raven-haired elf from the forest. They claimed to know my sister’s daughter and begged me to take them south with us.”
I held a silent conversation with Wyanet. She nodded and waved at the bar. Two people wearing cloaks with the hoods pulled low over their faces made their way to our table. One of the figures pulled back their hood to reveal a lavender skinned woman with a pair of ram horns curling around her ears. A shy smile showed the tips of pointed canine teeth.
“What are you doing here, Kalista?”
“Clas sent Katerina away a few days after you left. I need your help getting her back again.” Kalista grinned from horn to horn. “Are you ready for another adventure?”
Thank You for Reading
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Written by: Sweeney (@oceansoul316 on twitter)
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