Back on the road
Lockford reappeared after the battle in the arenas was over, with not a scratch on him nor a hair out of place. He returned Tarnah’s dagger, murmuring, “It turned out I didn’t need it after all, but thank you all the same.”
Both Tarnah and Caliric wanted to know how he avoided harm, let alone death but the only reply he would give was, “It’s not important.”
“He’s always done that,” remarked Garfan, “it would drive me mad. I pestered him in the beginning, didn’t I, Lockford?”
“Quite vigorously, sir.”
“It seems disrespectful that he should not tell you,” said Tarnah.
Garfan shrugged. “I suppose. But when you’ve been tossed in the cells of the Deep Under-Dungeons of Apnar and Lockford shows up with the key to get you out, you’re just glad he did.”
“Indeed sir, you are wise as you are valorous.”
Garfan snorted, he had eventually conceded that any real evidence of his wisdom was not arguing with his valet.
He also made Caliric his squire, officially, which pleased everyone. He felt as though he had been manipulated by fate and Lockford; but as things seem to get more complicated when he disagreed with either, so he just went along with it.
The next morning, riding westward, our heroes left the City of the Cat Folk. At the last night’s feast, King Mitt-Aans had presented them each a saddlebag full of GDW jerky. Right after that, she told them her people sensed a disturbance in the world in the north.
Tarnah stared at Garfan as if she wanted to shout at him, which she then did.
“If the evil that took my sweet sister lies in the north why do we go to the west?”
“The Citadel of Darkness is in the north, it’s most likely that the Master of Evil is behind the kidnapping.”
Caliric’s eye grew wide. “The Master of Evil? He whose name is not uttered lest it brings his baleful gaze to you?”
“That’s the guy.”
Tarnah pulled her horse ahead and blocked the rest of them. “Hold! Do you flee? Has your courage broken at last?”
Garfan sighed. “No.”
She pulled her battle-axe from her back, swung it through the air and pointed it at him. “Then let us ride northward and let Evil tremble at our coming!”
“First, I’m not fleeing away from anything, the Master of Evil is dead.”
He held up his hand, “Not finished. Balor-Nar,” Tarnah didn’t scream when he spoke that most feared of names but her eyes did go wider than he thought they could, “the old Master of Evil is dead. But there is, most likely, a new one.”
“A new one?” whispered Caliric.
“There is always a Master of Evil. I want to know who it is before we enter his realm.”
“Could it not be a Mistress of Evil?” asked Tarnah.
“Sure, why not?”
“Then where are we going?”
“Have you heard of Commonwealth’s Orb?”