The Hunter's Companions Ch. 13bySinisterSpiders©
Author's Note: Hello again and thank you for clicking on this chapter! This is just a quick note of warning that this chapter contains some elements of non/reluctant consent. If this is something you are uncomfortable with, please skip those bits.
That said, the story is really firing up now. This chapter has twists and turns aplenty. Enjoy.
It took Kalendras over an hour to find Belcarm's house in the woods. In the end he only spotted it because, with his keen hawk eyes, he saw Borris stalking a deer outside in the woods. With a loud caw he circled down, losing altitude quickly, and coming to land near the big cat. He transformed back to his normal form and stretched his arms and legs. It was always a bit uncomfortable to change forms in a rush.
"Borris!" Kalendras called, breaking the silence of the woods and sending the deer running. Borris turned and glared at him with obvious annoyance. "Bad news buddy, Liv's been taken... Belcarm too."
Borris stared at him for a moment before letting out a woeful howl.
"We are going to need to get them back, are you with me?" Borris bounded over to him and nudged him in the side roughly.
"ROOOAAARRR!" Borris called through the trees, his deep growl echoing off the trunks and setting a flock of birds fleeing from a nearby tree. Kalendras grinned and looked forward to having the big cat take down the Swiftspells with him.
"For now though, I think we need to talk to Aegon," Kalendras said, he gave the Springpaw a scratch between his ears and then made his way to the house that he had passed as he landed. When he got there the door was unlocked, so he decided to let himself in.
The cottage was small but homely. From what he could tell there was a main living room combined with a kitchen and a door that led only one other room. The walls were all made of the dark wood of the surrounding forest and it smelt like earth. Kalendras approved. This is a much nicer place to live in than the cold stone city of Silvermoon. It surprised him that this was where Belcarm had grown up- after getting to know the Paladin a bit better he could've easily been led to believe he had grown up in the thick of the city.
Time passed slowly in the cottage. Through the shaded glass windows all Kalendras could see was the muted green light of the forest beyond. He wasn't sure if he had been waiting there for five minutes or five hours. All he knew was that his entire being was suffused by the extreme desire to find Livinia and make sure she was safe. The waiting was terrible, and he had to turn to meditation to avoid his imagination steering him down a dark path. Just as Kalendras had thought he made the wrong move, that he should have gone elsewhere first, the front door swung open.
"What in the name of the Sun Well?" Aegon swore as he swung the front door open to see Kalendras sitting on his kitchen table (the chairs did not look sturdy enough to hold his weight). His hand reached for his sword belt but Kalendras held his own hands in front of him to show that they were empty.
"Peace, Aegon, I come in peace and to ask for your help," Kalendras said slowly, using an even and calmly paced tone. Aegon eyed him suspiciously, and it made Kalendras think of Belcarm again; the two were so similar it was eerie. To prove his point, Kalendras unsheathed his weapons and slid them across the rough wooden floor.
"What do you want?" Aegon asked, stepping over the weapons and watching him warily.
"Belcarm has been arrested."
"A host of Guardians approached us and said they had orders to arrest us for treason," Kalendras said.
"Treason?" Aegon 's eyes were wide, clearly very shocked.
"Lies. All of it," Kalendras dismissed the idea with a wave. "I have diplomatic immunity for such matters, but they took Belcarm into custody and..." He trailed off, not sure whether Belcarm's father liked Livinia, or whether he would be angry if his son was arrested because she was involved.
"And, what, Totemrunner?" Aegon asked sharply.
"I think they have Livinia too," Aegon frowned at this news and then scrutinized him for a moment. With a deep sigh his shoulders hunched at he made his way over to one of the dining chairs.
"Start from the beginnings" Aegon sighed, and Kalendras was only too happy to comply.
Kalendras told Aegon about Livinia's decision and that she mentioned something about a betrothal to Rioden Swiftspell. He explained that she had left shortly afterwards, and that they assumed that she had returned home. Kalendras spoke of how he and Belcarm had both arrived to claim her heart, only to be approached by the Guardians and accused of treason.
"The Guardians are my men," Aegon said angrily, clearly annoyed that he had no idea of what was happening under his own nose, "Did they say who gave them their orders?"
"Mitrae Swiftspell," Kalendras replied, watching as Aegon's face turned to stone. The room was silent for a moment before Aegon got to his feet and begun to pace up and down the room angrily. "You're not surprised?"
"No," Aegon confirmed thoughtfully. "Do you know where they have taken Bel? Or where they are holding Livinia?" Kalendras shook his head.
"Unfortunately not, to avoid being arrested myself I had to leave Silvermoon immediately."
"Then why are you here?"
"Because the portal guards were looking for a big Tauren, now a small grey hawk," Kalendras laughed, Aegon seemed impressed. "I wanted to go and find them straight away. I think that Swiftspell would be holding Liv in his manse or in the Warlock's Guild but-"
"No, Kalendras, you did the right thing," Aegon interrupted, shaking his hand. "What would you have done if you found her? He probably has several guards stationed around her, and killing your way through would only make this a political nightmare... Well, more than it already is," Aegon explained, and for some reason Kalendras felt pleased by the Blood Elf's praise.
"So what do we do?" Kalendras asked, hoping that the older man would have some idea of how to proceed and save Livinia... And Belcarm too.
"I will go into the city and talk with Swiftspell. And some of the Guardians as well- they are my soldiers, and I want to know who turned their cloaks. I want you to go and talk to Livinia's parents. Find out if she came home, or where she last went. I want you to tell them about Mitrae. Even though I've never known the Sunspeakers to deal with them, you need to let them know what we are up against," Kalendras nodded, Livinia's parents certainly had a right to know.
"Where will we meet?" Kalendras asked.
"Back here; it's safer than inside the city. Be careful that you aren't seen, the last thing we need is for you to get arrested. Oh, and if you get a chance you might want to let your guild mates know what's going on. We'll need all the help we can get," Aegon paced over to Kal's weapons and leant over, picking them up, then walked back over to him. "Thank you, Kalendras, for trusting me," He said, handing the weapons back to him before swiftly leaving the room.
Kalendras was relieved that Livinia's parents were home when he swooped into their parlor window. Deanna let out a cry of shock at seeing his bird form land on her crisp white chaise lounge, and when Kalendras transformed into his normal self she looked doubly shocked.
"Kalendras!" She said, placing a hand over her heaving breast.
"Deanna, Erique, I need to talk to you," Kalendras said breathless from the hasty flight.
"Kalendras, we are very busy. This will have to wait," Deanna said, angry at the invasion of their home and Kalendras's abrupt manner.
"Deanna!" Erique hissed, shocked at his wife's rudeness.
"Please leave Kalendras," Deanna said gesturing to the door. Kalendras felt anger stirring in the pit of his stomach at the rude dismissal.
"I don't think you heard what I said Deanna. We need to speak, and we need to do it now," The blonde elf glared at him angrily, her nostrils flared, but her husband placed his hands on her shoulders and forced her back down into her seat.
"You're always welcome in our home Kal. Say what you will," Erique said kindkly.
"Livinia and Belcarm have been taken," Kalendras said quickly, eager to have it out.
"WHAT?" Livinia's parents cried in unison.
"I haven't seen Livinia since last night, but she didn't turn up at the portals this morning, and while we were waiting to leave Belcarm was arrested."
"Wait- how did you see her last night?" Deanna asked, eyes narrowing suspiciously.
"She sneaked out," Kalendras said with a shrug.
"How dare she! When I expressly forbade-"
"Have you seen her since she left dinner last night?" Kalendras asked.
Deanna looked at her husband as if the whole idea was outrageous, but he rolled his eyes at her and got to his feet. He left the room and returned a few minutes later with a look of concern and fear on his face. Kalendras's stomach dropped- he hoping that she had and that she was safely tucked up in her bed, that he had assumed the worst. But he knew better than that now.
"She's not there," He said, face drowned of colour.
"She's just sneaked out again is all," Deanna said through gritted teeth.
"She was meant to be meeting Belcarm and I at the portal this morning. There is no way she would've abandoned us. Considering the fact that the Guardians tried to arrested Belcarm-"
"Arrested?" Asked Erique, interrupting his wife's angry rant and bringing attention back to the issue at hand.
"Yes. They tried to arrest me too, for high treason, but I have diplomatic immunity," Kalendras explained. When he said the word treason Deanna's hands flew to her mouth to cover her gasp. Kalendras looked at her with narrowed eyes.
"Oh no..." Deanna's voice was tinged with horror.
"I don't know about Liv, but Belcarm was arrested under Mitrae Swiftspell's order," Kalendras explained. When he mentioned the Chief Warlock Deanna got to her feet and stumbled over to the window for fresh air. Kalendras's insides twisted as he observed her strange behavior.
"Treason, you say?" Deanna's voice squeaked, and Kal could tell that she knew more about this than she was letting on.
"Yes, Belcarm at least. Although I have no idea what happened to Livinia. She could be anywhere," Kalendras directed this comment at the female elf, adding venom to his words and hoping that they stung her.
"Deanna, what is it?" Erique asked, walking over to his wife. When she turned to face him there were two thick trails of tears streaming down her face.
"I didn't know it would come to this," She said pleadingly, but her husband just looked at her with confusion. She turned to him and grasped his hands, holding them close to her face as her tears dripped onto the floor. "When I made the deal with Mitrae I thought... And when Livinia didn't want Rioden I figured that would be it... But he insisted! And then Liv went to see Belcarm and Kalendras again and Mitrae must have been-"
"Stop!" Said Erique snapped, his tone cutting through her explanation without remorse. "Stop babbling and start from the beginning," He said, and Kalendras settled down on the pure white chaise, wondering what sort of tale the woman would tell.
Belcarm's grunted as he shifted on the rock hard bed in his cell. Unfortunately, the room was warded against magic, even healing spells, and he was forced put up with the pain. When the rogue Guardians tried to arrest him he had punched one in an attempt to escape. Kalendras had told him to stop, so he did, and he went with the Guardians peacefully from there on. However, his retaliation had not gone unpunished; they still gave him a severe beating. His left eye was swollen shut, and he guessed that it was already turning purple and black. His ribs felt like that had turned into knives, every time he took a breath it would rattle in his throat painfully before his lungs pushed against his ribs and filled his body with pain. He had a limp from a particularly hard kick he'd received in the back of his knee and he probably had at least two broken fingers with another one sprained. Despite the throbbing physical injuries, the thing that hurt the most was the knowledge that Livinia could be anywhere. He had a feeling that they had taken her also; but he hadn't seen her in any of the cells he passed as he was led into the prison. If they weren't keeping her in the jail then it would be hard to find her.
Belcarm looked up at the small window of his cell and could see that the sun was now high in the sky. He had no idea who had taken Livinia, but he had no doubt that she was taken. There was no way she would have missed meeting them at the portal. He only hoped that her captors were kinder than his, and that Kalendras had not abandoned them. He had asked to speak to his father, but the turn-cloak Guardians had only laughed and said that the only people he would see would be those approved by Mitrae Swiftspell. Belcarm didn't know what he had done to offend the Chief Warlock so, but he had a feeling that he would soon find out.
Aegon Sharpsword pushed the doors to the Warlock's Guild open as he stormed through them, They slammed against the walls before banging shut, making the guards within the room jump and reach for their weapon.
"Sharpsword, what can I do for you?" One of the guards asked gruffly, stepping forward.
"I need to talk to Mitrae Swifstpell."
"Sorry, but the Chief Warlock is currently-"
"NOW!" Aegon barked, and the rest of the guard's protest dies in his throat. Challenging an order was one thing, but denying it was classed as mutiny. With a swift nod the guard let him up the grand staircase in the first room, off to the right, and then up several fights of winding marble stairs. When they reached the top level they walked down to the very end of the corridor and the guard rapped on the door sharply.
Mitrae was seated behind a massive oak desk that was piled high with mountains of scrolls and ancient tomes. When he saw Aegon, his face twisted into a cruel smile and he let out an amused laugh.
"Fancy seeing you here, Aegon," Mitrae jeered, "Please, have a seat. Guard, leave us."
The guard nodded and nearly ran from the room. Aegon crossed his arms and did not move.
"Where is my son?" Aegon asked, not one for exchanging cryptic words or playing pointless word games.
"Straight to the point, eh? How very common of you," Mitrae sighed. "Very well. Your son is in a holding cell in the city jail, awaiting his trial for treason that is scheduled for two days hence."
"Where is Livinia Sunspeaker?" Aegon asked, this time the Warlock's eyes flitted away for a moment before he shifted in his seat. Aegon remained silent.
"She's not your concern," Mitrae said sharply and Aegon gritted his teeth.
The Warlock's defensiveness was all he needed to know that she was most certainly his concern. If not for her, his son most likely would not be in this mess. Apart from her indecisiveness with her love life, she seemed to be kind and strong, and he could not deny that his son loved her. If he had any hope of saving his son, he knew he must save Livinia as well.
"That's not for you to judge," Aegon growled. "Now answer my question, where is she?"
"You'd have more success squeezing wine from a hearth stone. Save yourself the hassle," Mitrae repeated firmly, "Instead I would suggest that you spend your time deciding on how to best deal with the situation your son has gotten himself into."
"What are you talking about?" Aegon said exasperatedly, he had never been one for word games. Give him a sharp sword over the political rubbish any day. People often said that he and his son were one in the same, but there were quite a few differences between them. One was that Belcarm would love playing political word games. Aegon hated them; the world would be a much simpler place if people just said what they meant.
"Your son had been apprehended under suspicion of high treason and for consorting with a known traitor."
"Oh, really?" Aegon asked, bored.
"Yes, really... And as far as I see it you have two options," Mitrae proposed diplomatically and with a fake air of concern. He steepled his fingers on the table in front of him and giving Aegon a winning smile. "If you resign from your position and leave the city, taking your son with you, then the charges will be dropped. You will need to give me a written oath of course, and your son as well... But if you decide not to? Well, the current punishment for treason is hanging, and while your son had a strong neck it will surely snap under the weight of all that muscle."
Aegon heard a rush of blood in his ears, it roared and pounded in his head and he struggled to maintain his composure. It would be so easy to take his sword and cut down the bastard where he sat. But that wouldn't work; he still needed to know what evidence he had, and where he was keeping Livinia.
"So, all I have to do is step down and swear to never return to Silvermoon?" Aegon asked, he could do it for Belcarm, he would do anything for his son.
"Yes... oh, and Belcarm has to swear to never contact Livinia again. Did I mention that clause? No? Oh... oops!"
Aegon glared at the Chief Warlock. He knew his son would never agree to it, not in a million years. If Aegon agreed to step down he could save his son, but if that meant that Belcarm could never see the woman he loved ever again? Belcarm would never stand for it. As soon as he was out of jail he would search for her from one corner of the world to another. He would lose his son either way. Aegon's fingers caressed the hilt of his sword.
"You kill me," Mitrae said in a deadly whisper "and your son and his little girlfriend will both hang in two days." Aegon put his hands behind his back and gave the Warlock an impish smile.
"It never even crossed my mind," Aegon lied. "But I will need to see my son, to discuss the conditions of his release. I won't presume to make decisions that involve him without first consulting with him."
"Oh naturally," Mitrae said happily clapping his hands together "be my guest, you will meet no resistance."
When Aegon arrived at the jail he found that Mitrae had spoken truly. He was ushered through to Belcarm's cell after having his weapons removed from his person. He wasn't prepared for the sight that would meet him. His son had always been a wonderful healer, and ever so careful to protect his good looks. So this creature that paced the cell looked foreign to him. His clothes were covered in blood and he limped awkwardly, one eye was all shades of purple and black and was swollen tightly shut and he cradled one hand against his stomach gingerly.
"Belcarm?" The broken elf turned his head and those green eyes and black hair were so familiar. Aegon felt a rush of sympathy and pressed against the bars of the cell.
"Dad?" Belcarm raced over to the bars and motioned for his father to come closer, when his son's lips were an inch from his ear he spoke. "It's not true. They have Livinia for some reason, and they want me out of the picture."
"I know," Aegon said calmly patting his son's shoulder through the bars. "Mitrae Swiftspell had offered a compromise."
"Oh really?" Belcarm laughed, suddenly bitterness tinged his tone "Pray tell."
"If I step down and leave town, taking you with me, then he will drop the charges. You will also need to give your word that you will never contact Livinia again..."
"So it is about her." Belcarm said grimly. Aegon didn't even bother asking whether Belcarm would accept the offer. The look on his face was enough to tell him that no pardon would be worth staying away from the girl. "Where are they keeping her?" Belcarm asked, Aegon motioned for his son to come closer.