tagSci-Fi & FantasyBard's Tale 03 - Miriel

Bard's Tale 03 - Miriel

byTJSkywind©

Bardic Cycle

Date: March 26, 2095, early morning

Locations: City of the Suns, Duchy of Biyandi; Wood Haven, Kingdom of the Wood Elves; and Malganna, Caloren States

Note: This story contains magic and sometimes psionics (mental powers). It's about Reison Whisper Wind, a young half-elf who wants to become a bard, and his three newlywed human wives -- the high priestess Tia, the warrior monk Tahna, and the bard Mindal. All three women are much older than he is, and are quite powerful; they have purchased expensive magic to restore their bodies to that of twenty-year-old women.

In this third adventure, their idyllic honeymoon is interrupted with the revelation of a horrific crime involving a cruelly murdered child. I do not dwell on the event itself, but it touches directly upon the Whisper Wind family. That said, the ending is somewhat upbeat.

Still just me writing. No reader nor editor, so I get all the blame. Slainté!

* * * * *

"I'm sorry," were the first words Tia heard.

She had been drifting, but suddenly found herself standing. Looking around, she was dressed as she often was, as a priestess of the Lawgiver, in her indigo tunic, broad black belt, and rainbow banded full-length skirt. Tia thought at first the ground was covered in fog, but there were no other features around. The night sky above her was brilliant with the light of both moons -- the much larger, green-hued Sandahl and the bright yellow, faster-moving Pax.

Then she noticed someone standing before her. It was the Dark Warrior, the ebony-skinned warrior-monk in Her black gi.

"Goddess!" Tia tried to drop to her knees, but found herself unable to move.

"Please, Tia, remain standing. I like to face someone when I am apologizing. Anyway, I just wanted you to know that whatever happens, you did nothing wrong. Quite the reverse, actually. Just know that the decision was mine and mine alone, and I'm sorry, but it had to be. Later on, you will understand the why of it. Remember, Tia. You did nothing wrong, and what happened was through no fault of your own. Focus on what you need to do, and everything else will come together. That's all that I wanted to tell you."

"I don't understand," the priestess replied.

"I know I'm not being clear, but this is for the best. Understanding will come later. Remember, Tia, love and family are important parts of our lives. Know your family and love them. You will have your heart's desire soon enough. Now sleep, beloved daughter. Sleep, and be at peace."

With those words, the ebony woman touched Tia on her forehead. She felt herself falling slowly backward. As clouds billowed and swallowed her, her thoughts faded, falling into darkness deeper than the night sky above her.

* * * * *

The next morning found Tia at the breakfast table, smiling to herself.

She had awakened in the arms of her husband, and after kissing and touching each other, still reveling in the newness of the other, they had progressed to a really nice, slow yet intense morning of making love. When they both reached their climax, rather than it being driving, intense and mind-blowing release, it was instead a suffusion of warmth and joy, intimate and comforting. Afterward, they'd held each other, giddy and caressing amidst affectionate kisses.

When her husband began to doze, she gently extricated herself and got up for the day. Just thinking about that fact made her heart skip a beat. Since Mindal was the only wife still in bed with him, and out of consideration for her sister, she spelled him so that his body was able to respond if approached. Knowing Mindal, if he was still in bed, she'd take full advantage of his presence.

Grabbing a robe and heading out to the other room, Tia had a leisurely bath, and then chatted with Tahna while they had breakfast together. Already up, the monk stopped her stretching exercises and sat with her, sipping her morning coffee, and at Tia's urging, ate some eggs, with cheese and ham, and had a muffin with jam.

A single look from the monk conveyed all her gratitude for the comfort she'd given to her the night before. After years of suppressing her emotions, they would be coming out now, and might at times overwhelm her.

As they ate, Tia suddenly frowned. While Mindal was still probably very horny, why shouldn't Tahna get some intimate time with their husband. It would be good for them both.

Tia encouraged her sister to return to bed and snuggle in with Reison, reminding her how nicely he'd made her feel each time, and to savor her time with him. If Tahna had her time with him, she thought, well, then after some time to recoup while bestowing some affection, he should be able to rock the bard's world next, and last longer besides.

As Tia finished writing her dispatches at the table, she heard muffled gasps and smiled to herself. Tahna seemed to be enjoying herself, and that pleased her immensely.

Putting away her writing, she took the rest of her breakfast to the chair by the bay window. Opening it for the morning air, she watched the people moving about on the street below as she nibbled at the rest of her meal and sipped hot tea.

All things considered, it was thus far a strange yet remarkably satisfying honeymoon. A new husband for them all and her sisters were healing nicely. Taking a moment, the priestess made a deliberate point of thanking the Lawgiver for sending him into their lives. Once she was done, she sat back, sipped tea, and enjoyed people-watching.

Mindal was just coming awake as Reison and Tahna lay entwined together, basking in the afterglow, when Tia entered the room. Sitting on the edge of the bed, she smiled at them both.

"Have a good time? I'm so glad." She held out a paper to Reison, holding it to show him its contents. "I've made a list of our immediate family for you, Reison. Names, dates of birth -- including our brothers who died -- so that you know who they are. I've also included a few children, like our nephew Mike, and our siblings Mikel Jon and Ehvona, all of whom live here in City of the Suns. So that got me to thinking. Do you have any aunts and uncles? Any cousins? But that also got me to thinking about your sister. What did she die of, and when was that?"

"She was thirteen when she disappeared. That was five years ago."

"Disappeared?" Tia asked. "I thought she died. What happened?"

"We don't know. She went out to visit some friends and never arrived. My parents and their friends searched for months. Even a couple of mages were hired to help. I was told later that the trail seemed to lead toward Tildor's capital, but then it went cold."

Closing her eyes, Tia clasped her holy symbol in both her hands. Her mouth moved, yet no words were discernable. There was a short pause, and nothing for a several seconds. Then, with a look of alarm, she jumped up.

This result alarmed Tahna. Getting up, she asked, "What's happened, Tia?"

Going to her dresser and clothes stand, Tia cast off her sun dress began to put on her robes. "I am commanded to find her."

A glance at Reison, then Tahna hopped out of bed, reaching for her gi. "I'm going with you."

Tia just nodded, tossing aside her lounge wear. Quickly donning fresh underclothes and her clerical garb. Pulling on her boots and rapidly affixing the laces.

"Wait!" Reison said, getting off the bed. "What do you mean, you're commanded to find her? Do you know where Miriel is at? Tia, you are not going without me. You're my wives and Miriel is my sister. If there's a chance we can find her, I want to be there, too."

Mindal threw off her blankets and quickly pulled on clothing. Without further discussion, all of them dressed for travel.

When she was ready, Tia announced, "There are preliminaries to be done first. Reison, do you have anything of hers? Anything at all? It will make things faster if you do."

He nodded. "I have a small locket with a few strands of her hair. She gave it to me for my fifteenth birthday, shortly before she vanished. Because we had to be home-schooled, we became pretty close. My parents helped her get the locket, of course, but Miriel picked it out and saved her money to buy it for me. It's not even real silver, but it's an important keepsake. I carry it with me everywhere."

Reaching into his pack, he dug around for a bit, then pulled out a small swatch of velvet, revealing a simple, thin, and somewhat tarnished silver chain with a small round locket. He handed it to Tia, then resumed gathering his gear.

Tia beamed at him. "This is perfect. It will help immensely."

Out in the lounge area, Tia gathered candles and incense, lighting both. Once the protection circle was in place, she cleared her mind and cast the spell to summon an aerial servant.

Standing back, away from the magic circle, Reison and the other two sisters watched the hazy creature materialize before the priestess.

Whispering to Tahna, he asked, "Aren't those the same creatures she called in the fight against the thieves?"

Tahna just nodded.

"She calls them a lot. Is it an easy spell?"

Mindal shook her head. "A different sphere, but it's on par with raising the dead."

Reison blinked, then remembered all the lives she's brought back on the trip to the city. Tia was a powerful priestess, and he was coming to understand just how formidable she was. And was both pleased and amazed all over again that she loved him.

Opening the locket, Tia carefully removed a single strand of hair and gave it to the elemental spirit, then carefully set the locket aside. Reaching into a pouch on her hip, she then produced a pearl and gave it to the spirit as well.

"In Her Holy Name, I command you. Find the owner of this hair," Tia instructed. "When you have located her, crush the pearl and I will come to you. Now go!"

"By Her Holy Name," was the ghostly acknowledgment. The aerial servant knelt, then vanished.

Tia gave the locket back to Reison, who put it carefully into his pack. "You might as well relax. This might take a while. Hours at least. Maybe days even. If she was taken off plane, we'll know where they exited at. If that's what happened, it will a lot more difficult, but not impossible to follow the trail."

Curious about them, Reison asked, "That creature, the servant. What is it? Do you think it will find my sister?"

"They're from the elemental plane of air. Aerial servants are faultless trackers. With the hair you provided, a magical link can be established. They aren't very bright, and can't really fight, but are useful for doing basic tasks, like holding someone or trying to block an attack."

"That sounds like a bouncer."

"Yes," Tia answered with a smile. "That's one way to think of them. Tell us about your sister, Reison. It'll help pass the time, and it may help us in finding her."

For a few hours, he talked of his blonde-haired, blue-eyed little sister. It was obvious he had been her protective big brother, and her disappearance had been a difficult hurdle in his young life.

Tia asked Mindal to take him to the table and go over the family list, and fill in anything that she'd missed or that he had questions on. Reison was surprised to learn that Mother Charmain, like Reison's mother, had also come from Preston.

"What was her clan?" he asked.

"MacBride."

He just shook his head and laughed.

Perplexed, Mindal glared. "What so funny? MacBride is a good Irish name! It's as good as O'Hara!"

"It is indeed," he reassured her. "MacBride means servant of Brigit. You've told me she follows the Welsh ways, and pays homage to Cerridwen and Cernunnos. But I'm struck by the coincidences, my bonnie songbird."

Her response to his endearment was to climb onto his lap and kiss him thoroughly. Reison, being a dutiful husband and quite in love with Mindal, gave as good as he got. It was only when his stomach rumbled and hers answered that they broke apart, laughing. With a few cantrips to warm the remaining food in the warming tins, Mindal and Reison enjoyed a late breakfast together. Mindal took the time to say that while the food at the inn was decently good, that Mother Charmain and Mother Morgan were amazing cooks, and they had shared their skill with Tia.

"Remember those cookies I shared with you?" she asked him.

"So that's what happened to them!" Tahna exclaimed.

They were very good," Reison assured the monk.

"You are safe," Tahna assured him. "But four of those cookies were mine, Mindal. You owe me."

"I promise to make more cookies when we get a place of our own in Sharaton-Charlottesville." Smiling at their reactions, Tia sat down on the floor.

Tahna sat next to her in full lotus. The sisters nodded to each other, then focused on their tasks.

While Tahna meditated, Tia cleared her mind. Praying silently, she offered her devotion and worship, asking for a renewal of divine spell energy, and for her own peace of mind.

Within half an hour, Mindal declared she was bored, and dragged Reison off to the bedroom. He didn't protest very much.

After a late lunch, when they were all sitting at the table together, Tia brought over the two large items from their earlier shopping trip, setting them onto the table in front of Reison.

Puzzled, he looked at her. "What's this?"

"Open them," Tia urged. Tahna smiled, while Mindal gave them both an inquiring look. Both sisters ignored the bard. While Mindal had been busy indulging herself, they had been getting him better gear.

Unwrapping the cloth from around sword first, he stood and pulled the blade free. "It's a beauty. Hey! It generates light! You got me a magic sword! It is magic, isn't it?"

"It is," Tia confirmed. "Tahna and I looked for an enchanted long sword for you, but this was all that was available."

"No, it's perfect. Short swords are better for my lighter frame. And, they're better for close-in melee work."

"Aside from the light, the blade will make it easier for you strike your opponents, and it will add damage to the wounds you inflict. Now you won't have to hold back when there's fighting. It won't penetrate some enchantments, but you will be able to attack most monsters."

Sheathing the short sword, he eagerly opened up the next wrapped item. Holding up the chain shirt, he removed his own chain armor and slipped the new one on.

"This is incredible," he exclaimed, turning about. "It's like normal clothing. No weight at all. I could fight for much longer without tiring while wearing this!"

Then he surprised Tia by snatching her into his arms and kissing her thoroughly. When he finally released her, the priestess sat down with a dazed smile on her face. The other two laughed at her.

Not finished, Reison went around the table and drew Tahna up into his arms.

"What are--?"

"You helped get these gifts for me, didn't you, beautiful. I need to thank you, too."

When he was done, Tahna was similarly dazed, so he helped her back into her seat.

"Those are from all of us, Reison. Mindal, too," Tia told him, giving the bard a grin.

"You knew about this?" he asked, pulling her up.

"I-- uh, mmmph..." was all she managed to get out.

"Thank you," he told her at last.

"Sure thing," she mumbled.

"What should I do with the my old suit and sword?" he asked.

"You can keep them as spares, sell them, or give them away."

"Tia?" Mindal said. "We need to get him his own wardrobe, and a chest for him to put his things into while he's here."

"Quite right. While we're waiting for the results of the search, we should do a bit of shopping for our husband. He needs more things."

Policing up their dishes from their meal, they summoned the staff to retrieve the cart, exited their suite, and hailed a cab. Their destination? The nearest crafter market. Within a few hours, Reison picked out a wardrobe and dresser they liked, framed in oak and paneled in dark-stained maple. They paid to have it delivered to the inn, then wandered over to the nearby adventurers' market, buying odds and ends.

All in all, they had fun, and even Tahna agreed that she'd had a good time shopping.

Returning late to the inn, they ate downstairs and enjoyed the chatter of the commons. Later, in their suite, Mindal taught Reison more songs while Tia and Tahna moved furniture around, making room for his dresser and wardrobe. Once they were satisfied, the two sisters relaxed, listening to them play, enjoying the entertainment and camaraderie.

* * * * *

It was in the early morning hours when Tia awoke to an urgent, magical tugging. She woke the others, and everyone quickly dressed. They retrieved their full packs, including a pair of smaller travel tents and a new set of ultra-warm sleeping bags.

Once everyone was ready, Tia answered the call, and a portal opened within the bedroom. The light illuminated the area on the other side. A thick deciduous forest in the full of night. A startled coney blinked at them in surprise before darting off into the darkness.

Tia held the portal open until they had all crossed over. Once it closed behind them, they were immersed in a forest shrouded in night's shadows.

Taking off her pack, Tia cast continual light onto it. A bright light, twenty meters in diameter erupted around them, and the human women could see again. Reison, having adjusted to using his infravision, winced, then adjusted his sight.

Tia approached the aerial servant. "Where is she?"

"Here," the elemental whispered. "She lies beneath the ground."

"Once you have marked the ground where she lies, your service is completed, and you have my gratitude."

The aerial servant drove a large stick into the earth. Then it bowed and vanished.

"Miriel," he husked. "She's... dead then?"

"I'm sorry, Reison," Tia answered sorrowfully. "I'm afraid so."

"We always feared that. But to know it for sure... Oh, Miriel."

Both Tahna and Mindal reached out to comfort him. At first, he looked ready to shake them off, but then caught himself, pulled them close and embraced them fiercely.

"At least we've found her," Tia continued. "Please know that I will do my best to bring her back to life. But at the very least, I promise you that she will have justice. Tahna? Mindal? Take him over there and set up camp. I need to work undisturbed."

"Wait! What are you going to do?" he demanded.

Her face both sad and grim, she said earnestly, "My dear love, I am going to find out how your sister died. I will bear witness to all that happened to her. But I ask you not as your wife, but as a High Priestess of the Lawgiver. I need space to work my spells, and to work without interference. I ask you to please trust me."

"All right," he said after a pause. "This is my first big test, isn't it?"

Tia shrugged, looking away. "You can look at it that way. I thought you showed that you trusted us by attending our temple as I asked you to. But I can see how you might think it's different. You love us, but our relationships with you are fresh and new. You loved Miriel for years. She is your sister, and your blood kin." She gazed at him. "Reison, we are your wives. We are also now part of House Whisper Wind. Miriel our sister, too."

He looked at them in turn, and saw their grim, earnest faces. "Do what you need to do."

Tahna cleared her throat. "Where shall I be, Tia?"

"Stay together," Tia answered. "Keep them both company." Scanning around, she cast detect magic. Faint traces radiated the ground all around them. Tainted with black magic. The priestess took a long breath.

"Shouldn't I bear witness, too?" Tahna persisted.

Moving to the monk, she kissed her cheek, then leaned in to whisper quietly, "Oh, my dear sweet sister, haven't you seen enough heartache? I love you -- you with your loyalty, strength, and good heart. Mindal may be tempted to break the spell, and she is capable of doing so. I need you to keep watch and let me do what needs to be done. Will you do that for me?"

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