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Entry 3256 (22/07/11 20:48) 22/07/11 20:47
Flaid was only just realising what Lekz was calling out to him before his companion was stopped dead in his tracks. A large bandit grapped hold of the top of Lekz' head and snatched the scrolls from his small hands. He waved them at Cedric, who took them and opened them slowly. As his eyes began to pace over them, everybody fell silent. Sanye grew visibly nervous, and the bandits stopped to watch. 

"And what did you find?" Cedric finally asked, not looking up. "Some kind of epic poetic nonsense. What does it mean?" He looked to Lekz and then to Flaid. 
"Give it back," Flaid said as sternly as he could. 
"Why?" Cedric asked. He briskly rerolled them and held them out of their reach. "I think for the time being these are safer if they're with me." He paused and looked at both boys. "So are we continuing to Marachanditis' tower? Or... This was it, wasn't it? This is what you wanted! Am I right?"
Flaid hesitated, and then nodded. "But, sir, if I may propose some modifications to our deal," he added. "After we obtained those scrolls, we were going to go to Hieril, near the northeastern sea. The rest of my... family is there, and they are very wealthy." He stopped to let Cedric's imagination fill in some gaps. "Do you understand? We need an escort, and you want treasures."
Cedric seemed half convinced. He shifted his gaze to Lekz. "Is your friend lying? Or is there any truth in what he says? Come on, rat! Speak up!" [1]
 
Entry 3259 23/07/11 23:19
Lekz faced Cedric, but his eyes looked to Flaid. The child replied slowly, "No. Wait, I mean yes. No, I mean... he's not lying." His eyes darted back to Cedric. With a wide smile Lekz nodded nervously. In an attempt to escape the bandit's suspicious eyes, he stated, "Well, let's get going then!" Quickly, he darted back into the carriage.

Inside, Sanye sat with her arms crossed tightly against her chest. She looked in every direction but his. After some more words were spoken outside, Flaid too joined them in the cabin, and they were once again in motion. Lekz looked at him pleadingly. "Sorry. I'm really sorry," he tugged on Flaid's sleeve, "At least we don't have to go to the tower now." Flaid remained quiet.

Lekz repositioned himself against the seat's side in a huff. The boy propped his leg upon the upholstery before noticing Sanye was watching him. "What?" Lekz inquired annoyed.

[1]
 
Entry 3267 30/07/11 10:39
At first Sanye did not reply to Lekz. It wasn't until Flaid got up and left the room that she began to talk. 

"This is far from ideal," Sanye said. "You push me into this situation and expect... what? Gratitude?" She crossed her arms tightly across her chest. "I am a merchant. I am an escort for goods, not for people. You and your friend should hope to reimburse me for all of this trouble. Do you realise how much money I have already lost by being forced into your games?"
 
Entry 3283 (30/07/11 21:56) 30/07/11 21:55
Lekz shut his eyes and spoke plainly, "I expect nothing." The day's events began to weigh upon him. Leaning his head against the seat's padded back, he stretched his shoulders outwards and earned a satisfying crack from his neck. The boy then leaned in and propped his elbows upon his knees. He gave the woman a very sincere look. "I'm sorry you were caught up in this, but maybe it wont be so bad. What if we could get Cedric out of your hair for good? Wouldn't that be worth the trouble?" Lekz tilted his head and offered a gentle but weary smile.
 
Entry 3296 12/08/11 10:30
A glimmer of consideration flashed in Sanye's eyes. Her mouth began to creep into the smallest smile, but then she pulled it straight again. Drawing herself upright and clearing her throat, she glanced to the small windows on either side from the corners of her eyes. 

"Out of my hair," she said. "And what... No, I see. Do I have your word that no others will find out? Will you keep my reputation safe?"
Flaid looked to Lekz and then to Sanye. "Of course, madam. Of course."
"Very well." She pushed back her chair and stood. "We can easily draw more speed from my orcanor. It will save us at least a day or so. I shall assist Cedric in getting us all to Hieril as quickly as possible." With a quick negotiation at the door with the guard, she was let out onto the deck where she vanished from sight. 
"Cunning," Flaid said, smirking at Lekz. "My only concern now is that Marachanditis will come in search of these." He patted the sachel looped around one shoulder with both the copies and the incomplete translations inside within. "If such a situation were to arise, do you think you could fight for your life? You are somehow less clumsy than when we first met."
 
Entry 3299 (21/08/11 00:17) 21/08/11 00:16
Lekz tilted his head in consideration. "I can fight until I can flee," the boy replied. With that, he provided an unconfident shrug. "Maybe we should practice some tonight."

Lekz  withdrew the partial translations and spread the pages between them. The words had very little meaning to the boys, but still, the poetry was soothing. "It's hard to imagine these pages are so important." To Flaid's objection, Lekz quickly regathered the pages. He handed the stack of incomplete translations to Flaid. "In case we get stopped again."
 
Entry 3300 (22/08/11 00:59) 21/08/11 00:28
"With both Sanye and Cedric driving, I can barely imagine somebody more... somebody with enough will to slow our progress." Flaid went to the small flanking cabin that had been given to them to sleep in and stashed the sachel under his bed, sliding a heavy chest in front of it to hide it completely. He went back into the main room of the train. "Let me give you some advice on defending yourself..."

They had the table against the wall and used the small space within the room to practice. They both used wooden handles as short swords. Each time, Flaid would force Lekz into a common situation and help him work his way out of it. Some of them had Lekz pinned down, facing either away from or towards the attack. Some of them had Lekz disarmed, and some had Flaid disarmed. As night began to sweep over the train and Lekz became visibly tired, Flaid presented one final circumstance. The bigger boy got himself a broom and held the back end up. 

"This is a spear," Flaid said. "It's sharp, strong, long, and could punch through your guts with one blow. I am an armoured knight." He held the shaft back and prepared to thrust it into Lekz. "What will you do...?"
 
Entry 3303 21/08/11 00:44
"Beg for mercy?" Lekz replied with a cheeky smile.

Immediately, the tip of the broom thrusted quickly towards his chest. In reflex, they boy threw his shoulder towards the shaft. Although the broom only grazed his bicep, it quickly retracted for another strike. Instinctively, the blond boy followed it. Lekz quickly closed the distance between them. It struck again, this time for his abdomen. The threw his forearms into a spin, sending the broom along his thigh.

As Flaid moved to retract it once more, Lekz wrapped his fingers around the wood. Moving with Flaid, he pushed the spear back, wedging the broom's bristles into the wall behind Flaid. For a brief moment, Flaid had directed his attention behind him, and Lekz exploited the lapse to drive the broom stick into the ground. With one foot on the end the blond child close the remaining distance. Gently, he put a fist on Flaid's chest. "I win," he returned with a smile.

After a disapproving sigh, Flaid twisted the broom and swept it beneath Lekz' feet, sending the boy on his backside.
 
Entry 3305 21/08/11 00:50
Flaid tapped Lekz on the head with the 'spear' and shook his head. 

"Too confident. Try again." He let Lekz crawl back and stand. "This time, don't work against the energy of the spear. Work with the energy. When I thrust, pull the spear with your free hand to continue its motion, and turn into me, using your other hand to strike my body with your weapon. Do it in one motion; turn to one side, pull the spear past you, continue turning, and strike me."

Flaid gave Lekz several moments to visualise his instructions and then he thrust his spear right towards Lekz.
 
Entry 3311 21/08/11 18:33
This time, Lekz heeded Flaid's advice. Twisting to one side, he grasped the spear and guided it past his shoulder. The boy pivoted on his heel rolling his back against the broom stick. Lekz swung his handle in a smooth arc towards Flaid's neck. The seasoned fighter had little difficulty dodging the telegraphed attack.
 
Entry 3316 30/08/11 08:41
The wooden shaft struck Flaid's neck and immediately he recoiled backwards, dropped the broom, and grasped his throat. He strumbled back onto a bench against the wall and doubled over. After some hoarse coughs and a caught breath, he looked up to Lekz, nodding and congratulating him on such rapid mastery. 

"I wasn't expecting you to get it so quickly," he confessed. "It is my fault."

-------------------------------------------------------

The following day, Borien came into view. It was only a small city at best, and like most cities and towns near Xilian, it had an ancient, aged appearance. Also typical to the region, the buildings were dark and appeared rough and hewn, though they were made mostly of old, large bricks and logs of what one would imagine were once giant, dark, coniferous trees. In broad daylight, Borien seemed to repel anything bright and colourful; the surrounding fields as far as the eye could see were mostly void of trees -- any trees were clumped together in huge, tangled, unmanagable masses -- and the grass seemed almost the colour of desert sand.
The train trudged over the stony road, across the old bridge leading into Borien, and rolled to a stop by the side of the road before the houses got too cluttered and there was no space to park.

"We're getting supplies," one of the brigands said as he peered into the door to see the boys sitting at the table. "Stretch yer legs if you want, but don't forget whose got them important bits of paper and that."

Flaid looked to Lekz. Neither had to say anything. They got off the train and began to walk down a street. From a distance, the buildings looked dark and rugged. Up close, they appeared more refined. Though still obviously very old, the brickwork was quite neat and precise, and the worn engravings on the huge timber supports and columns for verandahs and decks spoke of rich and old culture. 

From behind, a man grabbed Lekz by the shoulder and tried to spin him around. 
"Hello there young fawns," he said with a salesman smile. "Do you have any goods on you today? Perhaps a family heirloom or a foreign trinket?" The man fidgeted nervously with his hands after quickly releasing his grip on Lekz. 
 
Entry 3318 06/09/11 23:24
"Bah!" Lekz yelped. The outburst was a mixture of surprise and disapproval. The boy twisted his arm to flip free of the merchant only to stubble carelessly backwards into Flaid. "Huh?" Lekz asked stupidly still regaining his balance. Flaid steadied him, and the pair turned to address the man. Flaid retained a grip on Lekz's shoulder.

Lekz sensed tenseness in Flaid's grasp, but he supposed that was just an exhibition of his natural alertness. Still, he cautiously eyed the salesman. "We don't have anything like that," stated the blond boy as he crossed his arms. Lekz's eyes were narrowed in annoyance at having been caught off guard.

Still, having established a habit of bartering for nearly every meal, the boy couldn't help but continue, "Why? What are you offering?"
 
Entry 3331 10/09/11 10:59
"What am I offering, indeed! Well, it's a coincidence that you should ask! I just happen to have this item I've been looking to trade, and you fawns look like just the right people! I'm sure we can come to some kind of agreement." He began to reach into all his own pockets. As he dug his dirty hands into each one, his face lost more and more of its smile. 

"Oh," he muttered. "I seem to have left it back at my shop. Would you fawns care to perhaps come with me and see my goods?" He started stepping backwards and beckoning them along the street. "Come now, you can trust me!" 

Flaid looked down at Lekz. He wore a frown, and he was still tense with caution. 
"I've got my daggers," he whispered to the boy. "We'll be safe. Let's have a look."
"Where are you from?" the shopkeeper asked as they walked down the busy street. 
 
Entry 3333 10/09/11 20:20
"I'm from North Tasif," Lekz stated almost as if he was inquiring, "My friend is from Merlases." As the boy tried to keep pace with the merchant, he found himself bumping into people the merchant had skillfully dodged. "What do you have to trade again?" Lekz inquired for the second time.
 
Entry 3336 18/09/11 08:18
"Too many things," the shopkeeper said. "Too many things to relay to you. You'll have to wait and see!"

His shop was off the street, down an alley and through an open door at the bottom of some steps. Inside it seemed black, but after a minute their eyes adjusted. It looked like a room full of shelves covered in spiderwebs, but as they leaned in they could see that the shelves were full of many intricate items. They appeared to be mostly carvings or something similarly finely detailed, but the shop was so dark it could barely be told. 

"Why is your shop so dark?" Flaid asked, eyeing the man suspiciously as he shuffled behind the counter. "And why is it in an alley? I'm surprised you make any business."
The shopkeeper stopped and frowned. "Why do you assume I make business?" 
Flaid shrugged. "So what do you sell?" He went to pick up something off the shelf, but he refrained, as it seemed that if he touched anything, some unseen balance would be disturbed. 
"Mostly parts," the merchant said. 
"Parts?"
"Yes. Parts of things. Plants and animals."
Flaid stepped back. "Animal parts? What for...?"
"For my services," the merchant said, with a face questioning Flaid's inability to fathom what he was talking about.
 
Entry 3337 21/09/11 20:59
Lekz parted a thick mass of spiderwebs that obscured the contents of a deeply recessed shelf. In the shadows, there were hundreds of glass jars stacked with strange objects suspended in a grayish-yellow fluid. While idly wiping the sticky spider silk onto the side of his shorts, the boy turned his head to look at the salesman.

"What services do you provide exactly?" Lekz inquired with a thick unease in his voice.
 
Entry 3343 (19/11/11 16:33) 20/10/11 13:46
The shopkeeper paused for an extensive stare. Then he jolted with movement and turned round to grab something. 

"I almost forgot," he announced, "why I came here! I've been looking to trade this with someone. You two seem like the perfect customers for it." He presented to them a very small vial that seemed full of ink or something equally dark and opaque. He held it before them and gave it a jiggle. It was definitely a liquid. 

"It's poison," he whispered, his eyes widening with emphasis. Neither of the boys replied. "Or... do I have you figured out wrong? You, little fawn, maybe not so much your style, but the other one," he nodded at Flaid, "mm, you could do with something like this. Am I right?"

Flaid shrugged casually. "I have no preference either way. But it may prove useful at some point. How powerful is it?"
"A reia mage would call it a fourth level; supertoxin. I mean dissolution of flesh and organs, necrosis, the most foul thing you would wish upon the most inhuman enemy you know. There's enough left in here to kill an entire city of men."
"And you want to sell it to such young folk as us? That's highly questionable."
The trader cocked his head. "The train you came on is a Gold Leaf train. They don't go this way. Ever. Which means the driver is travelling by commission, which means either one of you is rich or the scrappy outlaws you're with are rich. What's the case? Are you nobility or what?"
"You're wrong on all counts, sir. We don't want your stock. Good day." Flaid guided Lekz to the exit by his shoulder but the man stopped him with a firm grasp on the other shoulders. 
"Look, faw- young sirs... This is really something you want in your hands and not in the hands of your enemy." He gave Lekz a strange, long frown. "Do you get my meaning? Better I sell it to you than to someone who would use it against you..."
Flaid drew a dagger and offered it to the trader by its handle. The man took it and turned it over several times. Neither said anything while the man looked at it. Then he placed the vial in a small padded pouch and handed it to Flaid, who then looked at Lekz with an 'is there anything else you want to look at while we're here' look.
 
Entry 3354 29/02/12 18:13
Lekz raised his eyebrows and shook his head rapidly. The boy gave the shop keeper a polite but suspicious nod before exiting the shop. The pair proceeded back down the alleyway in silence. Just as they were about to step back out on to the main street, Lekz slowed to a stop.

"What do you need that for?"
 
Entry 3358 09/03/12 19:37
"It's like the trader said; better in my hands than in the hands of my enemy," Flaid replied, avoiding eye contact. "Didn't you hear what the trader said? He said, there's enough left in here... which means it's been used before, which means he's sold it previously. With poison like this going around, I prefer it goes around in my hands."

As they came back to the train, they saw some of the men carrying some barrels back onto the deck. 
"Welcome back, boys," Cedric said from atop the train, his arms out wide with enthusiasm. "How was your shopping?" He leant on the railing. Flaid didn't answer him. "Are we ready to keep going? We can make a lot of space before the sun goes down."
"Cedric," one of the men said. "Sanye and her companions are still in Borien. She said they will like to stay the night. She says she wants to feel solid earth for a while."
Cedric turned to the man and stood tall. There was a rush of emotions and reactions visible on his rugged face. He relaxed his shoulders with a sigh. 
"Captain's cabin is mine," he said, turning and entering the cabin of the train.
Flaid turned to Lekz. "Let's go find some place to sleep," he said. [1]
 
Latest Post Entry 3361 (18/03/12 16:01) 17/03/12 20:12
Lekz nodded, and the boys entered the cabin interior. Their room had been snatched up by a set of Cedric's scruffy looking men. As Lekz opened his mouth to complain, Flaid pulled him aside and proceeded deeper into the cabin. With their room occupied, that only left the storage room vacant. It was dark, cramped, riddled with cobwebs, and smelled of old herbs and spices.

Behind a set of tall crates, the pair found space that was just wide enough for them to sleep shoulder to shoulder. Flaid dug through a one of the nearby chests and tossed Lekz four thick packing cloths. The boy promptly laid two of them out on the floor making a pad. He folded one enough times to make a long pillow, and laid out the last one over the others. Although crude, the makeshift bed almost gave the space the appearance of a room at the inn. Almost.

Reflectively, Lekz stated, "We should have gone with Sanye"

Still, the boy crawled into position with his chest against the outside wall. After fidgeting a bit, he settled back down facing up at the dark cabin ceiling. Flaid sat on the chest and fiddled with the contents of his bag.

"I have no idea what I'm doing here," the younger boy absentmindedly commented. [1]
 
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