The Sun Door Part 6
by Joe Solmo
The first order of business was finding us some horses. It would take us a week to beat feet all the way there. I wasn’t sure about Dead Eye and Drejnin, but I wasn’t looking forward to that, especially with my leg. Besides, if anyone were after us, it would be better to put some leagues between us. I didn’t look forward to the prospect of explaining to Chase what happened in the hall with Stool. On the bright side though, Brakken was out of our hair now.
You know, Dead Eye might be a lousy shot with his crossbow but he makes up for it in other ways. He could sniff out a poker game or cask of wine from 10 leagues away or in this case some horses. Sometime after entering the damp jungle we came across a small clearing with a weak crop of corn. Lucky for us, also there was a post station with a stable. When a rider came in from one haul, he traded his horse in for another to save time. This was a lucky break; we found four horses in the stables, completely saddled and ready to go.
It only took Dead Eye five minutes to return to the tree line were we were with the special horses bred for running. Even if Chase was after us, these horses should get us away. I know he didn’t have anything this fancy in his stables. If he did Dead-Eye would have sold them off by now. Drejnin looked over his mare with a look of satisfaction. Good my other fear was for naught, Drejnin seemed knowledgeable about horses, hopefully that meant he could ride one too, and Serius seemed to know which end had teeth also.
We walked the horses to the other side of the farm where a beaten dirt path led to the only road that ran through this area. Lucky for us at the southern end of it is Southport. We saddled up once we hit the road. Under the cover of night, we should be able to make it a third of the way there.
Conversation started up again after we hit the road. Dead Eye and I were trying to play games like “spot the rabbit” the first one to spot one wins a round at the next tavern. Drejnin rode in silence, he didn’t speak much, but I could see his eyes in the moonlight glancing from side to side, watching the trees for any danger.
Drejnin was still a puzzle to me, was this guy from another plane of existence? Was he a ruler of some sorts, and man could he fight like a seasoned veteran. Those two things usually don’t go together in my experience. He seemed well educated and I had a feeling that he knew more than he was letting on. I tried to study him as we traveled, but I couldn’t do as much as scratch an itch without him looking at me.
This Dontu, Serius was a different case, he seemed eager to talk, but he had a mischievous smile that led me to believe he was feeding me a line. These Dontu were supposed to be feared by the masses, but neither Drejnin nor Serius elaborated on it. I had to see it with my own eyes. If I hadn’t seen it I would have thought it probably bullshit.
“Where are we going to go after this Southport?” Drejnin asked after a few minutes of silence. He turned to me as he rode by my side. Dead Eye was about six paces ahead of us with his crossbow across his lap. It was probably more dangerous there than in his hand to be honest.
“I think we will head to Alnes. That’s were Dead Eye and I are from. We could start over there. I have a sister who lives there, we could work on her husband’s farm until we get something going,” I said.
“Farm life isn’t for me,” Dead Eye said.
“What do you think Drejnin?” I questioned.
“I do not know how to grow crops or take care of swine, but if we need to go there to gain monetary independence, then so be it,” Drejnin said. Dead Eye let out a disappointed groan and then a sigh.
“Great, potatoes for the rest of my life,” Dead Eye said. Serius nodded in agreement with Dead Eye.
“Knock it off, we probably won’t get that far before Chase finds all of us and throws us in cells,” I cheerfully added.
“We will not be taken,” Drejnin said. At first I thought he was adding to the conversation, and then my eyes saw the shadowed men standing in the road. They seemed pretty well armed and I could see the shine of some well-polished armor in the moonlight.
"Halt! You must pay the tax to pass along this road!" rose a voice from the other side.
"Then we shall walk along the side the road!" Dead Eye yelled.
"Hand over some gold, or pay the price!" The stranger said.
"Isn't gold the price?" I said back and the man turned to the soldier next to him.
"Watch that tongue lad, or you might lose it!" The man said.
"In that case watch your head," Serius said as he threw a rock and bounced it off the helm of the speaker for the soldiers.
Drejnin drew his sword and charged towards the men before Dead Eye or I could fire one bolt. Dead Eye just missed Drejnin as his shot went wide to the left of its target. I struck one of them with my shot, but only in the leg. It would slow him down though. The large man was upon them before I could reload. I drew my sword and kicked my heels into the mare to support Drejnin. Two died nearly instantly from some well-practiced swings from Drejnin. Man did he have a sword arm! Serius seemed to find the fight boring and took no part in what he started. I reached the man I shot and struck him across the face with my sword. I could hear the sounds of Dead Eye’s short sword against the weapon of the attackers.
When I dropped the man I was fighting I turned to Drejnin to see if he needed help. Drejnin was bleeding from across his midriff. I could see inside of the man. I wasn’t a doctor, I couldn’t name organs. Drejnin didn’t slow down; he sliced apart another man decapitating the bastard.
“You need to get sewed up, Drejnin,” I said stabbing a quick thrust into the remaining attacker Dead Eye was struggling with.
“I will be fine,” he replied in his very deep voice. Dead Eye was counting the coins he pulled out of one of the men’s pockets, along with a silver brooch. The brooch had an insignia on it. It looked similar to the national flag of Pond, the nation to the north and east. These were the remains of the rebels we had crushed in Chase’s band a few months back. I was surprised to find them so far south.
“Maybe we don’t need to settle on a farm,” Dead Eye said. “I made out with three weeks of pay right here! Plus the brooches, we could melt them down into coins too,” he finished.
“Why would these rebels have that kind of money on them?” I asked.
“Who cares, it’s ours now,” Dead Eye said.
“Maybe they were on their way to pay someone off,” Drejnin added to the conversation. I glanced down at his wound. I saw where the cloak he was wearing was torn, but I couldn’t find a mark on the man, it was amazing.
“You do heal fast!” I said unable to contain myself anymore.
“Yes, we established that back with your army,” Drejnin said.
“Why don’t you explain it? We have a long night ahead of us,” Dead Eye said.
“I told you I don’t remember,” Drejnin replied.
“I told you that’s bullshit!” Dead Eye said.
“Lay off him Dead Eye. He says he doesn’t remember then he doesn’t remember,” I said trying to smooth things over. Disappointed, Dead Eye dropped the subject. It seemed Drejnin’s past was going to remain a mystery for now. I didn’t blame him even if he did know. Maybe he was hiding something shameful he did. I know my past wasn’t that reputable either. Maybe he had done something wrong to be thrown in the Sun Door with the toxic light. He must have been punished for something. Serius didn't add anything to the conversation, he just watched us, almost like he was studying.
Dead Eye didn’t seem like himself for the next couple of hours, only talking when his wineskin went dry. I handed him mine, I didn’t feel like drinking anyway and with all the fighting today I didn’t think getting drunk would be the best thing, we could get attacked again. So far Dead Eye had lived up to his name, so I would have to shoot straight tonight.
Drejnin just went back to being silent when he began to ride down the road again, so I was alone with my thoughts. I made a mental list of everything I knew about Drejnin. I still couldn’t puzzle this out, I needed more information.
I was alone with my fanciful thoughts for a while before Drejnin stopped dead in the road. My eyes scanned the tree line for danger, but I didn’t find any. Cursing, Dead Eye turned his horse around and rode back to us.
“The sun is rising,” Drejnin said clutching the necklace he had put on when we left Rulne. I finally got a look at the medallion hanging from the chain around his massive neck. The fine work on the medallion showed a sunrise or sunset and some sort of creature with pointy ears and teeth, and nothing but bones on the bottom part of its legs... His face was looking at the sun.
“What is the significance of the necklace?” I asked, curious.
“It’s a charm from my world,” was all Drejnin said.
“Not a big talker eh?” Dead Eye said.
“Let us wait here for a minute and watch the sunrise. I haven’t seen one in a very long time.”
“Whatever,” I said, not really caring.
We waited until Drejnin had enough of the sunlight before moving on. We approached a little rat hole town with an Inn less than an hour later.
Once inside the inn we sat at a large stained, wooden table. Years of spilled wine and mead had stained the wood almost black. Shortly after we arrived several patrons came in for the morning meal. A large woman approached us wearing a serving woman’s apron.
“Would you sirs like some eggs this morning?” She asked and smiled a toothless grin.
“No, but we would like a room. We have been traveling all night and we are tired,” Drejnin said, talking control of the conversation. I think the woman was going to object, then Drejnin stared at her and she must have changed her mind. Serius smiled like he was in on some kind of trick.
“I will be right back,” the woman said and turned from us and walked to a staircase in the back of the room.
“She’s a hard ass, huh?” Dead Eye said.
“She will find us a room,” Drejnin said.
Just like the large man said a moment later we were being led up the steep stairs to a narrow hall. When we reached the end of the hall the large woman opened the door and let us in. It was a struggle to enter with her girth blocking more than half of the entrance way, but we managed. The room held two beds that looked like they were slept in. I pictured the obese woman chasing out the patrons of the room out so that we could have it. I plopped down on the bed on the left, lumpy and hard.
“There are only two beds,” Dead Eye said.
“It was hard enough to find this room,” the woman said.
“It will do,” Drejnin said and walked over to a stool that was leaning precariously against the wall. He sat down and looked at Dead Eye. “Take the other bed,” he said and waved the serving woman away.
She left the room a minute later and I turned over to face Drejnin. “Do you wish to sleep in shifts? We will give up our beds in a few hours,” I said.
“No, I require less sleep then you do. I will be fine, and Serius can sleep on the floor,” Drejnin said. I was going to argue with him, it was only fair, If had to suffer on the mattress filled with rocks too, but my eyelids grew heavy and I went off to the dream world before my head lowered onto the lumpy bed. The last thing I saw before I fell asleep was Drejnin sharpening his sword while sitting on the stool. I could hear Dead Eye snoring as I too fell asleep.
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