tagSci-Fi & FantasyCities of Power Ch. 05

Cities of Power Ch. 05

byxelliebabex©

Authors note: The first four chapters of this story were originally written a few years ago and my style of writing has changed a little since then. This storyline has very little sex in it so if you are looking for a stroke piece this won't be it. Thank you very much to Paul who has volunteered to edit for me as I attempt to finish off this series. Enjoy! ~Ellie

*****

Trix was both terrified and thrilled as she walked along beside her brother, trying to keep pace with his long strides. They'd left late in the evening after an exhausted Spar had fallen asleep without saying goodbye to anyone, not even their mother. It had been too hard, Trix acknowledged, to look into her mother's face and know that the grief she read there was her fault. Not only was Opal losing her daughter for a year, but another of her sons as well. Of her five children, only two would remain to help her deal with the fall out their departure would have. She put her hand to her breast and clasped the amulet she had promised her mother and Galen she would not remove and sighed.

Flint was careful to avoid the path of the night watch Spar had put in place since the disappearance of Mason as he stole away from the only home he'd ever known with his sister. He wasn't sure who he was protecting her from more; the Techno warrior, or the mystics who hunted her, or his father. It didn't matter either way, because he was determined to protect her and her reputation by posing as her husband and allowing her the dignity afforded to a married woman with child rather than the judgement afforded to a young woman who had been taken advantage of and left with a baby in her belly.

They had decided not to chance the fact that Judah or one of his bandits might recognise Trix from her encounter there, so Flint headed to one of the smaller outposts where he knew he would be welcome. He didn't have the affinity Mica did for technology, but he was a good blacksmith, and all villages needed one to survive. It suddenly occurred to him that staying in any village where he was known was inherently dangerous. They would have to travel further, perhaps to the far side of Phoenix to find the anonymity they needed.

"Once we get further afield we will need to change our names or be followed by everyone. If what mother said is true then more than just father and your warrior will be searching for you," Flint said thoughtfully.

"I guess," Trix worried that if she changed her name any hope she had of Talon finding her would be gone. "Nobody out here knows me, but I expect a mystic from Pegasus could pluck a name from the mind of anyone who helps us just as easily as someone could repeat it."

"We could change yours now, and mine once we are far enough away to be sure no one would know me or our family's reputation," he mused.

"Did you have a name in mind for your wife? I mean, was there any girl you were sweet on that you might have mentioned to friends? That way, if word got back to the village, people wouldn't be as suspicious."

"No," he shook his head reticent to expand into his reasons why that was.

"Maybe we could just change my name a little, so it's not so easy to make a mistake. My full name is probably too similar, but what about just changing the end?" Trix suggested. "Instead of Katrix, I could be Katrine or Katrina."

"I didn't think you liked being called Katrix?" Flint said and frowned.

"I never minded it, but from as far back as I can remember you have all called me Trix," she shrugged. "Mother called me Katrix sometimes, but not often enough to make a difference, I guess. She told me it was her mother's name, and she had insisted when Spar had wanted a name of a precious stone like you all have."

"Did she say which stone?" Flint asked.

"I think so, once, but I can't remember what it was," she frowned as she spoke.

"What about a jewel, like mother? You could be Ruby," he suggested and smiled as Trix wrinkled her nose. "Maybe something will come to you before we reach the town. You don't have to choose right at this moment."

That night they had walked along the well-trodden tracks in the light of a full moon. Once their eyes had adjusted to the darkness away from the village, Trix found it easier to keep up, as Flint lengthened his strides, eager to put distance between himself and his father's wrath the following morning. By the time the suns first lightening of the sky occurred Trix finally stopped, unable to go on any longer. She wasn't as used to the long walks as her brothers, and she wished they had a bike like the men of Phoenix or the bandits in the clandestine gangs that hid in the foothills and small villages.

"We've been walking all night, Flint, I need to rest!" Trix complained.

Flint had seen her flagging for the last few miles, despite the fact that he carried both their packs. He knew this trek would be hard for her, and had thought to do it in easy stages, but he hadn't considered her lack of strength and experience when making his plans. His experience with travelling had all come from walking with Emery, who was the mirror image of himself.

"There is a village not far from here where I know the blacksmith and his wife. They will give us a good breakfast in return for some help in the forge while you rest. Do you think you can walk just a little further?" He encouraged her, dangling the promise of good food and rest in a village rather than on the open road.

"Could you slow down a little more? You mightn't have noticed, but my legs are not as long as yours, and I have to take two steps to every one of yours," she sighed and began walking again.

"For you, I can do that," Flint smiled and fell into step beside her, feeling awkward as he slowed beyond his normal gait.

They walked for another hour, and the sun had crested the horizon when they came across a woman walking toward them. She looked tired as she trudged along shouldering a large pack. Flint and Trix moved to the side of the path as she came close enough to pass.

"Good morning," Flint said cordially. "Have you come from the nearby village we are seeking?"

"Hello, and yes I have, it is no more than an hour behind me," she replied. "It is a village full of good people, and a strong young man such as yourself would do well there. But if I could give you some free advice?" she asked.

"Advice is always welcome, what we do with it after it is given, though, cannot be guaranteed," he said guardedly.

"I have a small gift of sight in my dreams, and the mystics are nervous about an impending storm that threatens the land. If I were you I would head back the way you came and seek out the village with walls," she said, confident in her gifts. "That will be the safest place in the coming storm for those outside the cities of power."

"I know of no village with a wall?" Flint shook his head. "Perhaps you have been misinformed."

"It is set on the edge of the foothills close to the never-ending plains, you would not have passed it on the road from Gryphon and the villages closer to it," she looked at the pair carefully. "Which way did you come?"

"We came from Soloaks, the markets were last month, and I met my wife there. We stayed until the end to help the old man who maintains the law in the neutral lands between the two cities," he rattled off his carefully prepared cover story. It was self-preservation not to ask where another person was from in case they were a desperate runaway, and he hoped his answer had given the woman no reason to question his further.

"Take my advice, young people, turn around and seek the village with the walls of stone. I imagine everyone with the gift of second sight will be seeking it out soon, and they may close their gates," she warned.

"I have business in the village ahead, but once that is done we may take your advice and follow you to the village. Where did you say it was?" Flint said in a friendly inquisitive manner.

"Due north of the city of Justice on the border of the endless plains," she directed him with a sweep of her hand. There was a small cry, and Trix realised the woman carried a baby in the shawl she had slung over one shoulder and tied at her waist.

"Oh, my," Trix smiled, mesmerised by the small hand that emerged from its warm cocoon. "May I see?"

The woman pulled the shawl from the baby's face and looked down with affection at the small bundle. "She's a good baby, and weighs nothing at all. She is why I must go now before she makes me even slower and the journey too difficult."

"What's her name?" Trix asked, letting the small hand grip her finger as she spoke.

"Teale," the woman responded proudly.

"Oh my! I've never met another with my name before? How did you come by it?" she asked enthusiastically and cooed at the small baby.

"I met a warrior woman from Phoenix once. She was beautiful, with bright blue eyes. She was good and kind, unlike so many of their people. She helped me at a time when few others would have. Her name was Teale," the woman said in a quiet voice, as if giving away information she didn't want to.

"I, too, met a Phoenix warrior once. He, too, was a good and kind man, so I understand that they are not all devils sent to steal our children from us," Trix withdrew her hand from the baby. "I'm afraid if I stand still much longer my legs will refuse to carry me any further, and it is hard enough to keep up with my husband's long stride."

"Good journey," the woman said. "Perhaps we will meet again if you heed my advice. Oh, and if you meet a big oaf called Clegg, tell him I got sick of waiting for him and decided to walk alone."

"Good journey," Flint chuckled. "I will be sure to find Clegg and tell him to hurry along and ensure his wife and child's safety on the road north."

They nodded to each other in understanding and moved off, each in their chosen direction. They hadn't gone much further when the hapless Clegg came along the trail as if he had been running, with his large pack on his back.

"Good morning, friend, she is not too far ahead of you now. We waylaid her for a time with idle chatter," Flint said in easy familiarity.

"Many thanks, friend," he nodded. "Good journey," he responded in the way all travellers did, and moved off quickly, chasing the woman he loved. Flint watched him go and turned toward Trix. Feeling awkward for reasons he wasn't ready to confront or put a voice to, he dug his hand into the pocket of his trousers.

"So, Teale," he said, trying to make light of the situation. "Love at first sight during the Soloaks markets is all well and good, but if we want people to believe you are my wife you will need this," he said, and pulled his hand from his pocket offering her a gold wedding band. It was a plain circle with a small black highly polished stone at its apex.

"It's beautiful, Flint," she said, taking it and putting it on her finger. "What sort of stone is this?"

"Onyx," he tilted his head, watching her carefully as she admired it, sensing sadness in her that wasn't there before.

"I'm sorry," she apologised. "I know you probably made this for the woman you wanted to marry back in the village, and I have put all of that on hold for a year. I am sorry you have to suffer because of me, but I promise to take very good care of it and return it to you when you need it," she promised fervently.

"There is no girl back in the village waiting for this ring," he shook his head. "I have told you that. I am exactly where I want to be, so no more apologies." Flint scolded her gently. "I love you, Trix, and I am more than happy to be here making sure you are safe and happy. We will see home again one day, that, I promise you. I haven't put anything on hold that can't be reclaimed once we make it back to our village."

"Oh, Flint!" Trix hugged him fiercely. "I've made such a mess of everything! I don't think I will ever see our village again, but I want that for you! So much!"

*****

Talon had spent four uncomfortable days before the hostile delegation of both Phoenix and Justice appeared at the gates of the city demanding an explanation and his release. A leader from each of the clans made up the delegation from Phoenix, believing that if their children could finally work together for a common cause they could too.

After Talon had been taken away and the other warriors had been dismissed, Sirrus had gone directly to Gryphon, accompanied by Eddy, Char and Kaolin, who had been horrified by the duplicity of the rulers of Pegasus. Venn had ridden for the village of Trix, accompanied by the recalcitrant Glow, Bay and Vale. Edge and the remaining members of each clan rode straight to Phoenix without stopping to report the situation and the imminent danger to their Quorums leader.

Ten of the original party returned with the delegations, and as they rode up to the gates they looked to be a small army on their bikes. Gale, who had led the delegation, refused any assistance or refreshment from the people of Pegasus and had demanded the immediate return of his kinsman, making threats of being cut off from the other cities with no trade or help to be given in times of crisis.

"If you wish to discuss your reasons for this atrocity you may come to the city of Gryphon and plead your case. In that city others can be guarded against your pernicious power to transform thought," Jacob, an elder of Justice announced. "The fact that I can even now feel your mystics attempting to enter my mind tells me that none here are to be trusted, and only makes the case Phoenix have brought against your elders all the worse. Be warned that should any of our party not return you shall have the war you believe is coming far sooner than anticipated, in case you are tempted to imprison us all."

"There is no need for threats, the young Hawk is unharmed from his visit with us," Alethea, the ageing Matriarch of Pegasus stepped forward from the ranks of her people and bowed her head in greeting. I apologise for the enthusiasm of my watchers and mystics; they did not realise the grievous insult their actions would be to the rulers of Phoenix. We had every intention of allowing him to return home once he had helped us with our quest."

"Perhaps you should have discussed your needs rather than wrongfully imprisoning a man who came here out of good will," Jacob dismissed the woman's words gruffly. "Do not think to make less of this injustice through placating words. Where is the son of Hawk?"

The healers of Pegasus parted, and Talon could be seen some way behind them walking his bike toward the front gate where his people stood waiting for him. Sirrus breathed an audible sigh of relief, and Edge left his bike to walk forward to help his friend, unsure of what they may have done to him during his imprisonment.

"Do not forget the prophecy, young Hawk," Alethea warned as he moved past her.

"I do not believe your interpretation of the verses to be right or true, but I will have our academics look at them," Talon fixed her with a hard look. "I will also share with the city of Gryphon, if they wish, but I doubt they will hold any more stock in prophecy than they always have." Talon continued his journey until he was standing among his people again. "Do you lead this delegation?" he asked Gale.

"Your father awarded me that honour," Gale nodded.

"Then please forgive me for what I am about to do," Talon said quietly before turning to look at Alethea and the mystic assembled. "If I discover that you have found the unicorn and imprisoned her or her baby, you will not have to worry about a coming storm or the earth shaking, because I will be that storm and I will fall on your city with the mighty hammer of Justice at my side."

Talon turned and stepped onto his bike, bringing it to roaring life. As he did so each of the younger members of the delegation who had been in the quorum with him did the same and moved away from the gates. The older members of Pegasus boarded their specially designed bikes and assisted the men of Justice to sit behind them as they, too, turned to leave.

Alethea had stepped forward to try and speak to the older members again, but they had ignored the attempt. The people of Pegasus had shown themselves as arrogant and untrustworthy by their actions, and the other cities had decided to embargo them for the time being. The men turned their bikes and their backs on the elder of Pegasus, moving out to follow the younger members of their party who were riding at a slow pace until their elders took the lead once again.

The power cells had partially recharged during their short stay at the gates of Pegasus, and the delegation made directly to Gryphon to rest and discuss the events. Talon knew he had no choice but to accompany his rescuers, and trusted that his friends had gone to the village and rescued Trix from those who would harm her. His agitation about not knowing where she was or what had happened to her ate at him all the more now that he was free to find her, but he didn't know where to look and would have no clue until he stopped long enough to ask the questions that burned inside him.

It was late in the evening, and Talon knew he was trapped in the city of Gryphon, or at least eight more hours before he could leave to search for Trix. Bay and Vale had reported that the village was in deep mourning for the disappearance of Trix and her brother, Flint, leaving the leader of the Village with just two of his five children. If she was pregnant she might be heading for Phoenix, they had suggested as a reason for why she may have run away from home. Talon acknowledged that being an unwed mother in a village of faith would be unbearable for both her and her father and hoped his friends were right. He was content that Venn, accompanied by Glow, still searched for her, trying to find them amongst the villages along the route to Phoenix.

The men of the Phoenix delegation were admitted to the room where Talon and his friends sat discussing what they would do next as they rested from the long ride. Talon was glad they had come tonight, it would make his leaving in the morning easier for him.

"There are things we must discuss tonight," Gale said without preamble. "Before you ask, no word has come from Phoenix or those that still search for the girl at the centre of this situation." He saw a mixture of worry and fear flicker over Talon's face before it settled into the calm exterior he chose to show the world. "Choose if you would like the members of the original quorum to stay or leave, from what we understand from your friends some of what we will discuss is of a personal nature."

"Somehow I'm pretty sure they all know by now," Talon swept a glance over Sirrus and Edge.

"Don't look at me," Sirrus held up his hands proclaiming his innocence.

"I already knew," Bay shrugged. "I went to the village with Venn to rescue her, but she had already gone."

"Feeling a great love for someone is nothing to be ashamed of," Kaolin rumbled in his gravelly voice. "One cannot help where the heart leads," he said in his formal way.

"Anyone else that wants to comment on my love life?" Talon challenged them all, but kept his voice light, showing he was unconcerned they knew that he had fallen in love with a village girl. The truth was he trusted the men and women behind him. They had joined the quorum because they had been chosen by their clans, but they had each fought for his freedom and that of the woman he loved after his imprisonment. None had been bound to him once they had left Pegasus, yet each had chosen to return for him and had shown him friendship and solidarity since.

"At least you have a love life of your choosing," Char chuckled, and a murmur of agreement came from some of the assembled men and women. Most of the ruling families arranged marriages for their children based on political alliances.

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