Cities of Power Ch. 03byxelliebabex©
Time was running short for Talon and he paced showing his frustration as he waited for Spark to come and usher him into his fathers Den. Mason had told them all of the walls being built around the village and Talon knew with certainty he needed to go and claim the girl who haunted his dreams before the walls were complete. Talon looked to the doors as they opened and Spark signalled for him to enter.
"The mystics of Pegasus have contacted us," Boreas started without preamble, "With your recent successful missions in the wilderness it has fallen to you, my son, to lead yet another."
Talon scowled, "Will I ever have time of my own? I do nothing but the council's bidding. Surely Edge or Venn are better equipped to lead," he named the older of his friends acknowledging their experience and individual successes.
"It will be a formal delegation," Boreas continued as if his son had not spoken, "You will take with you three air warriors of your choosing and you will be accompanied by three warriors from each of the other clans." He watched his son as the importance of the mission settled on him.
"You are sending a quorum to Pegasus?" Talon asked startled as he realised the warriors would total thirteen. "When?" He sighed realising this was not an insignificant mission he could pass on to someone else. Trix danced in the back of his mind like a mythical unicorn he could never quite capture.
"You will leave once preparations have been made, two days at most. Select your warriors carefully," he looked at his son meaningfully, "The quorum will carry more weight if you take those of ruling families. Jag or Keen have good reputations."
"Of their own making," Talon laughed. "I will take men of honour that I can rely on in a tight situation, not men who wish only to bolster their own glory at the expense of those around them." He shook his head in disgust at the thought of Jag or Keen accompanying him anywhere, "I will take Sirrus if I must take another from the ruling families," he said.
"He is no great warrior," his father disapproved.
"No, but I trust him and would rely on him in a battle," Talon stared hard at his father, "He only lacks experience and opportunity." He could see the doubt still clouding his father's face, "Or is it you do not want further altercation with Wisp for sending her son out into the wilderness again?"
"Gale would be proud to have his son chosen for a quorum, but you are right. Should anything happen to him, Wisp would be uncontrollable," Boreas Agreed.
"I will talk to Sirrus and give him the choice then, before the party is announced," Talon conceded, "Any idea who the other clans will send?"
"Torrent was fairly sure Eddy and Bay would ride with you again. Scorch put forth Glow and Thorn has said his own son, Kaolin would choose their team," Boreas seemed to consider his words, "All good warriors I am told."
Talon nodded, "Two days, not long. I will go find Sirrus and report back." He stood and left the room.
"Fuck!" Talon curse under his breath as he left the room, "This is all I need right now." His sense of duty and honour though pushed the thought of Trix being walled inside a stone tower from his mind. He had spent too much time over the last weeks smoothing everyone else's ruffles feathers and now this.
When Mason had disappeared so mysteriously from the village, Trix had endured all of the restrictions that were once again put on her movements daily. Opal had appealed to Spar on her daughter's behalf not to have her locked up again. She tried to explain the damage done from their restrictions to her early childhood. Rather than making friends and getting into mischief as the boys had; Trix only had her mother for company and, with the ongoing hi-jinks of their sons, she was barely there for her daughter.
She had no friends, no happy childhood memories, "No childhood at all," Opal had raised her voice in a rare show of bravado with her husband. "The only thing she had close to a childhood friend was Mica, who went off to school every day and brought her home tales of life outside this house," she beseeched her husband, "Please, Spar, don't do this to Trix again. Not now that she is finally making friends within the village."
"She walks with her brothers in the evenings," Spar had countered, "She is not at a loss for candidates for husband."
"And how much of that is because our boys seek time with the sisters of those boys, or that they have been turned down by every girl who knows their reputations? Will you give our daughter away to a boy whose own mother considers him a reprobate?"
"Don't be silly, woman," Spar had chastised her, "Those boys wouldn't dare."
"Are you so wrapped up in village politics that you have lost sight of the people in the village?" she said sadly making Spar stop to look at her. His wife was not the first to criticise him in such a way. His mind drifted to the old crone and her fateful words: "What are you afraid of?"
Spar had been a refugee from the war. He had seen the anarchy and brutality of a world gone mad. He had lived through it and chosen his life, a life he wanted for his family. He wanted to live in safety with good people who believed in looking after their neighbours and working as a community for the common good. It was why he had sort out the Cities of Power and Justice. Having been disappointed that their words were just rhetoric, he had gone out alone to seek his way and find like minded people in the villages of the faith, eventually starting one of his own with friends he had met along his journey.
Spar had never meant to become judge, jury and executioner, but the burden of leadership had been thrust upon him and once he took up the mantle, he held his small family to a higher standard. Over the week following Mason's disappearance, Spar's wife had nagged at him constantly about their only daughter. While he understood and lamented the damage that he had already caused to his daughter who had no friends and no fun memories of childhood, unlike his sons, he refused any reconsideration of her captivity that would bring her into danger.
Spar had finally relented only in that she could, with her mother's supervision, help in the clearing of the forest for the new orchard near to where he worked on the wall. His three remaining sons also were at work on the wall. If he had pressing business back in the forge, he knew the girl would be watched.
It was a small boon, but Trix enjoyed the feel of the earth in her hands and the sunshine on her face as each day she worked with the other women on the small tasks of weeding the orchard beds that were being cleared and hoed by the men.
Life in the village was busy with the new projects after the decision to build walls and become a protected town had been made. Parents soon relaxed and became less vigilant about their young ones as work began to take shape and people began to feel safe again.
Trix and Opal made an effort every day to talk to Thatcher and Tressa about the loss of their son and their hope that Mason was happy wherever he had gone. They laughed about the trouble the two boys always seemed to run headlong into during their school years and beyond and spoke sadly about both boy's fascination with the artificial power and technology that came from the Technos and their relic hunters.
Sirrus let Talon into his family's apartment surprised to see him. Talon had avoided the apartments of the Falcon family ever since Cloves return. He understood that Wisp blamed him alone for the fate of her daughter. It had only taken days for the family of Tide, the water warrior Talon had killed in a battle of honour, to claim Clove as retribution after viewing the sequence of events on Bay's recording machine.
Clove and Wisp had clung together on the day of parting and had to be separated by the warriors charged with the collection of the warrior woman. Wisp and Clove had wailed and fought the event until it was over and they were out of each other's sight. The horrendous lack of decorum had been the talk of the ruling families throughout the city.
"Sirrus, my friend," Talon greeted the man, "Is your father home? I would like to speak candidly with both of you."
Sirrus was not only stunned by his presence but stunned by his request and stood speechless. His father walking up behind him to greet Talon. "Hello, young Hawk. To what do we owe this pleasure?"
Talon looked around acknowledging his nervousness at being in their home and asked, "Do you perhaps have a Den or an office, as my father does, that we could talk in?"
Gale sensed the boy's nervousness and said magnanimously, "Of course, come this way. Would you like a drink?"
The three men walked to the Den. Wisp, on seeing them pass the room she was in, stood and took a breath to begin a tirade, but Gale raised his hand and his voice, "If you dare to insult a guest of mine you had best be prepared to follow your daughter into exile." Wisp fell to the couch crying, and her husband and son turned their back on her and walked with Talon into the open door of Gale's den.
Talon took a seat in a comfortable armchair, in front of the desk, watching Gale take his place behind it looking uneasy. He had been humiliated by his wife and daughter's behaviour and was unsure of why the young Hawk would be visiting him. Sirrus took a seat beside Talon and tilted his chair slightly askew, so he sat facing them both. "You have heard the news from Lord Zhou and the city council," Talon inquired knowing the elderly Lord Zhou rarely attended council deliberations anymore sending his son who was too respectful to allow any to use his name while his father lived.
Gale hedged, "The most recent council only just concluded we have not convened the Air Clan council as yet."
"The Pegasus mystics have contacted us," Talon said softly knowing that very few believed in the power of mystics any longer. "They have asked for a delegation," he paused, "A quorum, to attend their city."
Gale let out an explosive breath, and Sirrus moved to the edge of his seat in excitement at the idea and its importance. "Do we know what it is about?"
Talon shook his head, "If my father knows he has not divulged that information to me."
"Who will lead?" Sirrus asked his excitement and interest in the politics of the cities showing in his voice.
"I will," Talon admitted softly not wanting them to think of him as an overblown egotist like some of the warriors they all knew too well.
Sirrus stood up and paced thinking, "So you can take three from Air Clan, Good that is best. Will they let you choose? Who is on your list?" Sirrus was calculating the political weight this would carry for Air Clan, to have a leader of a quorum. Earth usually led due to their staid unflappable natures.
Talon chuckled at his friend, "Go pace over there. You are making me anxious." He pointed to the far side of the room before turning to Gale. "I need at least one other of noble birth." He swallowed, and Gale stared back at him uncomprehendingly, "Keen and Jag have reputations based on half truths and the sacrifices their teams made for them."
Gale nodded knowingly, "They are exceedingly impressed with themselves and their parents have much pride. You could do worse than those warriors, though."
"Do you really not know why I am here now?" Talon asked exasperated, "I would like Sirrus to be part of the quorum with Venn and Edge, both warriors of great renown."
Gale was stunned to silence, and Sirrus from came back from his pacing in the corner with a loud expletive, "Fuck me! Are you serious?"
Talon ignored Sirrus his attention on Gale, "This is not out of some sense of regret over Clove. Sirrus proved himself as loyal and trustworthy on our last mission. I would be proud to have him ride with me. He is my choice but..." Talon looked to his friend and back at Gale, "If you and your good wife do not wish the possibility of losing another child in the wilderness, I will not make the announcement."
Gale could see his sons eagerness, but Talon was right, Wisp would go over the edge should anything happen to another of her children. He leaned back in his chair his own pride in his first born son winning out over all other considerations, but he tapped his fingers together pretending to consider the possibility.
"Father!" Sirrus could not bear the silence.
"You truly understand the dangers?" Gale addressed his son, but the burgeoning smile crinkled the edges of his lips. Sirrus nodded vehemently, and Gale let his smile burst forth, "I would be very proud. Of course you must go."
Talon hadn't relaxed as yet and continued to look at Gale rather than his friend. "Do not worry, young Hawk. I will handle my good wife one way or another."
Sirrus smiled widely, his friendship with Talon had been developing slowly and cautiously and even still he could not have expected this honour. "Thank you," Talon returned the smiles he had received and got up from his seat. "I will let you talk it over. We will be leaving in less than two days. Get your bike to Mica as soon as you can."
Talon left the apartments quickly expecting Wisp's reaction to the news to be loud and obnoxious. He had one more piece of unfinished business he needed to attend to before he left and he made his way to the top of the Air Clan tower.
He looked at the rickety, flying fox style contraption and the large magnets that held it in place and would slow his pace as he made his destination. He disliked using the contraption but walking to the water tower could take several hours, so he climbed into the saddle like chair and nodded at the operator who spoke briefly to his counterpart on the other end of the line and the magnets holding him in place let go to make him plummet southward at speed to rival that of his bike. The magnets gripped the chair just prior to his crashing into the wall of the Water Clan Tower.
Breathing a sigh of relief, Talon alighted and went in search of Eddy or Bay. He wanted to know Clove was being treated well, for the sake of her family before he left. Having found Eddy he walked cautiously through the Water Clan tower enjoying the sight and sound of so many fountains. Surprised at the luxurious apartment he was shown to, Talon greeted the parents of the man he had killed formally and expressed his deep regret for the battle that he and Tide had both been drawn into by the wretch they now held as retribution.
Ebb had nodded his solemn thanks, "The life of a warrior is precarious at best and Tide added to that by his actions. I appreciate the honour you showed him by offering the battle rather than returning in disgrace."
They guided Talon through their apartment to a small room, opening the door with a large key. Talon was surprised by the luxury she was afforded as he took in the room until Clove flew at him with her nails poised to strike him, screeching her hatred. Flow, the mother of Tide, stepped forward and slapped Clove's face raising her own voice, "Will you continue to humiliate my family!"
Clove pinched her lips together and glared at Talon before spitting on his boot, with lightning speed Ebb's hand flashed out and took hold of her hair kicking her feet from below her, "Lick it up you filthy wench." He held her head to Talon's boot as he stood unmoving surprised by her defiance in the face of these people. Of course, she was used to being able to give the orders but surely she understood her predicament. He left thanking the spirits of the air that he had not had to marry Clove. The image of Trix floating into his minds eye once again.
Mica stood with his arm around Mason at a west side window watching the thirteen bikes ride into the darkness with the rising sun touching their backs as they raced it to cover the ground between the city gates and the vast plain beyond the foothills. He kissed his lover and smiled, "Let's go to bed." Together they had worked for forty-eight hours without rest to make new modifications to the four bikes and light armour of the Air warriors. Mica knew he would miss the warriors but having his friend and lover brought from the village had made him happier than he could have imagined, and he turned his back on the window hoping Talon would find time to visit his family one last time before the walls were complete.
The thirteen warriors rode in wedge formation, Talon at the centre and in the lead as they raced for the safety of the vast desert like plain beyond the foothills that surrounded the city. The roar of their bikes was amplified by the number and speed at which they travelled paralleling the sparse forests and small mounds containing the villages of refugees and runaways. The idea of passing the Village that held the woman he loved the following day without being able to see her crushed down on Talon like an anvil but he rode on showing none of his inner turmoil.
Mid afternoon of the second day of travel Edge rode directly at a large rock in their path swerving at the last second and pulling up as the rider behind him appeared to swerve too late the bike sliding sideways and the rider rolling free unharmed.
Sirrus got up gingerly if anyone was expected to have a fall, it was him. They knew no one would think much of the fall as Sirrus was the most inexperienced and unknown of the quorum. It took some time for the front riders to double back seeing most of the group had lagged behind them.
"Edge was playing chicken again. Sirrus didn't make the obstacle," Venn grunted and nodded his head toward the trees, "We are stopping to ensure his bike is not damaged." A small smile crept over his face at the bright sparkle that had come into Talon's eyes.
"Fuck! Edge is too reckless for his own good, sometimes," Talon swore at length colouring the air and steered his bike toward the trees. Taking off his helmet in the make shift camp he threw it at Edge and swore again, "Of all the fucking stupid games!" Talon glared at both Edge, and Sirrus, "Are you alright?" Talon said abruptly.
"Yeah," Sirrus said sheepishly, "I'm fine and I think the new side roll bars on the bike saved it from any great damage. Mica is worth his weight in gold you know?"
Talon turned to the rest of the group, "We stay to make sure the bike and the dumbass are not harmed unduly, and ride from dawn into the early evening tomorrow to get there on time." He looked at the warriors, and most nodded in agreement. "I know this area well, there is a large village near by, split up and divide the watch equally. Venn and I will scout for hunters in the forest near the village."
Edge whispered to Sirrus, "I hear they have a princess locked in a tower, in that village," and Sirrus turned back towards his bike to hide his smile. Talon shook his head at his friends. He knew they had done this for him, but the risk involved was high and he wasn't sure he should seek out the elusive unicorn of his dreams. Leaving his bike well hidden within their camp he turned and walked through the wooded areas followed by Venn, "You knew about their plan?" He asked gruffly.
Venn grunted, "I would have preferred to do it on the journey home, but we were not sure when that would be. This mission is scant on details."
"It was not worth the risk," Talon looked ahead and smiled as he saw the edge of the village come into view. "If anything goes wrong the number will be wrong and the mystics will not give us the audience," Talon turned his back on the village and closed his eyes picturing her in the back garden underneath her tree.
"From what I understand, they need us, not the other way around. They asked us to come with all speed," Venn reasoned as he continued his walk to the village knowing the way as well as Talon, after their last trip.
Together they skirted the village carefully noting that walls were going up around their newly dug well, and the patch of forest they had cleared for their orchard, "It is good they know to protect their food supply first. This village could become a rival for our peasant population if they consolidate their agriculture and knowledge." The five towering buildings of the own city were surrounded by the farmlands and ranchers of the peasant class with a few factory style buildings and silo's dotted between. The majority of the population lived in the high density housing of the towers of the four clans and the central tower known as the vortex where new arrivals and the slave population waited to be assigned to clans or tasks within the city.