Duel

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

More fun with Dana and Jayden as they have a road trip across Meadowland Kingdom, and meet people who try to kill them.


The next day was a frantic race across the kingdom.Jayden stopped only when he had to and took chances he would have normally avoided.This meant they were spotted at a distance twice by soldiers or sheriffs, but both groups declined to give chase.Either the authorities didn’t recognize them or thought better of starting a fight they might not win.

“We need horses,” Jayden declared at noon.

“Good luck finding any,” Dana told him.“The army requisitioned everything with four legs months ago.”

“Then we need to steal some.Have you ridden before?”

“A little, but that’s not the point.The only men with horses can fight to keep them and are going to travel in groups bigger than we can take.”

Jayden frowned as he ate a quick meal.“Not always.The next town may have horses, either for the mayor or his sheriff.Those will have to do.”

“You’ve been spooked ever since we fought Victory’s Edge.That guy, if he was still a guy, was the scariest thing I’ve ever met, but he’s dead.”

Jayden headed down a narrow trail, likely made by poachers and smugglers trying to avoid notice.“Before his death, I asked Victory’s Edge what made him think he could work his evil here.He said it was an inspired idea.His choice of words could have been coincidental, but I fear it was deliberate.The necromancer Cimmox claimed the king and queen invited wizards of the Inspired to the kingdom.I took Victory’s Edge’s taunt as proof.”

“Who are these people?”

“They are a threat that could overthrow kings and devastate nations.That King Tyros and Queen Amvicta would even speak to them is the height of arrogance, for they despise royalty and seek to overthrow it.”

“This is the first I’ve heard of them.”

Jayden marched down the trail like a man pursued.“That’s not surprising.The Inspired make every effort to keep innocent people in the dark of the danger they pose.They are a secret society of wizards that seeks nothing less than world domination, with wizards as heads of state.No one knows how many of them there are, for they add and lose members constantly, but current theories claim they number over a hundred strong.”

Dana gasped.“I didn’t know there were that many wizards in the whole world.How could so many wizards turn evil?”

“Pride is a sin common to the profession.Every wizard has the power to do what is impossible for many.It is an easy step to believe they are superior to those who don’t use magic, and from there that they should be masters of nations instead of kings.The Inspired takes this presumption a step further, claiming that magic is inherited.They believe training only unlocks the ability to cast spells.Thus those who can use magic are born superior.”

“Is that true?”

“Never!” he said venomously.“There are many reasons why magic use isn’t widespread, but it is most certainly not a birthright.Take the two of us.I am the first spellcaster in my family’s history, a genealogy that can be traced back fifteen generations.If magic was in my family’s blood, why am I the first and only?I had training in the language of the old Sorcerer Lords, and when given the opportunity to study their spell tablets I learned their secrets.You could, too.”

Dana’s jaw dropped.“Wait, really?”

“Certainly.You’re an intelligent young woman, determined, literate.I’d need a few years to teach you the language of the Sorcerer Lords and further time to teach their spells.It would take perhaps five years uninterrupted time and a fair amount of gold, but you could learn.Most people can.”

“Then why aren’t there more wizards?”

“Part of the answer comes back to pride.Wizards are a secretive lot, giving up their knowledge only to those who please them.Many wizards train only those from their own race and social class, and even then are highly selective of their students.It is a rare wizard who trains more than five pupils in their lifetime.

“The rest of the answer is more mundane.I told you it would take five years to train you.I would dearly like to do so, but that is time neither of us have.Most people don’t have time to learn magic.They’re needed too badly working in the fields, mines, running businesses and the like.Others go into equally rigorous professions, such as healers, architects, engineers and more.Then there is the cost in gold.Training a wizard costs thousands of gold coins in books, lab supplies, raw materials and more, a price few can afford.As a result, less than one man in ten thousand becomes a wizard, and it is likely to remain so forever.”

Jayden scowled.“The Inspired use this scarcity as proof of their ludicrous claim.Worse, they let no evidence to the contrary sway their opinion.The Grand Conclave of Wizards once conducted an experiment where they selected twenty people at random and trained them in magic, none of whom had a history of spellcasters in their families.Twelve mastered the skill.That should have ended the absurd debate, but the Inspired claimed those twelve had hidden bloodlines of magic.”

He turned to her and said, “Let no one tell you the educated are better people.I have met too many with advanced degrees and training who were as base and vile as the worst criminals.Learning and goodness are not equal.”

“My father said people should keep learning new things until the day they die.”

“Wise words, but education without virtue merely gives the villainous better tools to do harm.Honor, virtue, love, wisdom, these must go hand in hand with education or the learning is for nothing, or worse, is used to do evil.”

“You’re a wizard who hates wizards who think they’re better than everybody else.”Dana smiled.“That is so you.”

Jayden frowned.“I think that was a compliment.”

“It was.Go on.”

“The sadly logical conclusion to this hideous line of thinking is that wizards should rule those who aren’t wizards.The Inspired seek domination but lack the means to do so, for even a hundred wizards is too few to match their ambitions.This limits the damage they can do, but they are forever looking for a kingdom to seize as a powerbase.Their arrogance and skill in magic means they inflict inexcusable harm to others.”

“And you think they’re here,” Dana said.“How much danger are we in?”

“That’s hard to judge.Most of the Inspired are weak, and they suffer frequent casualties.Plans are formed, attempted and fail, costing the lives of men and women who should know better, who could have done so much good.The Inspired are also hunted by the Grand Conclave of Wizards, the Guild of Heroes, the Brotherhood of the Righteous, the Servants of the Cause, the Square Pegs and many others.”

Jayden waved his hands at their surroundings.“The real question is how many of the Inspired are here.As I said, most of them are weak, no match for me, but their greatest strength is how many wizards they can field.We could face dozens of wizards with whatever magic items and guardians they could produce or steal.I am far stronger than I was a year ago, but if they came in numbers, I would be pulled down like a bison set upon by wolves.”

“Why would the king and queen want them here?” Dana demanded.“They’re as big a threat to Meadowland as to Bascal, Kaleoth and Zentrix.”

“King Tyros and Queen Amvicta may think they can use the Inspired and then betray them.Pay them gold to fight battles, promise them more funds, land to build wizard towers, followers and more, only to kill them when their usefulness has ended.The risk is incredible, and one the king and queen are underestimating.Both sides will seek to betray the other, making it a question of who will strike first.”

There was a rustling in the woods to their right.Dana and Jayden ducked and drew their swords as a surprised looking deer stared back before running off.

Jayden resheathed his sword and continued down the trail.“Meadowland’s armies are already a threat I can’t deal with.The best I can do is strike at their heels or tip the balance in the favor of their enemies.If the Inspired send only a few wizards I might be able to defeat them, but a kingdom weakened by war is the sort of opportunity they have long sought.I can’t face them and hope to win.I need to be vastly stronger, with a greater mastery of shadow magic.”

He stopped and looked at her.“I know where I can find what I seek.”

 

* * * * *

 

The game trail ended at the edge of farm fields dense with green wheat.Dana and Jayden picked their way around the edge of the field, trying to stay out of sight as they looked for another road.They soon found one leading to a village with a few dozen buildings.It was sparsely populated, but that wasn’t surprising when most of the people would be farming.Jayden studied the village from a distance.

“They don’t even have oxen,” Dana said as she watched farmers working.“Look, they’re pulling carts by hand.”

“Deplorable, and of no use to us.There may be an opportunity, though.I see a red flag outside the inn.That’s a sign for royal couriers, men who must be given whatever accommodations they need and aren’t subject to road tolls.That flag means one is here, and that means horses.”

“I’m not happy being a horse thief,” she told him.

“I wouldn’t ask this of you if there was another way, but if the Inspired are here then every hour counts.I should point out that we’ve committed enough offenses to get us both sentenced to hanging fifteen times over, so this is not a bridge too far.”

“That really didn’t help.”

“My apologies,” he said, sounding cheerful rather than sorry.“There are enough witnesses you should put on your disguise before we enter town.”

Dana grudgingly put on the cloth mask that hid her face in these situations.She wasn’t sure how much it helped if there were hostile wizards in the kingdom.Such a flimsy thing might protect her identity from a soldier who saw her, but what good was it against magic?

They walked fearlessly into the village.The few people present saw them and either fled or cowered.Dana hated seeing people afraid of her.Hopefully one day they would understand why she and Jayden were doing this.

Jayden led her to the inn and found an attached stable.Inside were three horses, one clearly exhausted while the others looked healthy.Two bored spearmen guarded the stable, a wise move when horses were so rare they attracted the attention from thieves.The spearmen perked up when Jayden entered the stable, and both took a step back.

“Gentlemen, how do you wish to handle this?” Jayden asked pleasantly.

“I am not getting paid enough to fight you,” one said.Both men backed away when Jayden approached the horses.

Jayden smiled.“A wise answer.Couriers typically have multiple horses to change mounts when one tires.These two must be his spares.I’ll leave you the third.”

Dana mounted one of the horses and pointed at the spearmen.“Don’t let the courier ride her until she’s had time to rest.”

Puzzled, a spearman asked, “You’re worried about the horse you aren’t stealing?”

“I like horses,” she said as she rode off.

Once they left the stable, they rode off quickly.A man dressed in a courier’s red uniform ran out of the inn and shouted, “You’ll hang for…oh, it’s you.”

“Give the king and queen my regards,” Jayden called back.

Dana waited until they were well outside town to remove her mask.They returned to seldom used trail for the rest of the day, riding at a brisk pace and covering many miles.As dusk approached, they stopped at a stream and let the horses drink and feed on grass growing along the shore.

“We can’t keep pushing them this hard,” Dana warned as she set up camp.

“Time works against us worse than normal, and hours wasted will cost us dearly.”

Dana pointed a finger at him.“Riding these animals into the ground doesn’t help us and hurts them.If we’re not careful they could go lame, or even die.”

“I don’t take these actions lightly, Dana.We have far to go and little time with such a great threat rising.”

“Where are we going, anyway?And if this place can make you a stronger wizard then why didn’t you go there before?”

Jayden gathered fallen branches off the ground to build a fire.“Both questions are fair.The power I seek is owned by the King Rascan of Bascal.Rascan fancies himself a coinsurer of art and culture, collecting paintings, statues, tapestries and antiquities.That includes spell tablets of the old Sorcerer Lords.”

Dana’s eyes opened wide.“Is he a Sorcerer Lord?”

“To the best of my knowledge, no.He has never been witnessed using shadow magic, nor has anyone in his kingdom.Given the threats he faces I would assume he’d use that power if he had it.I believe he gathered them because they are rare and ancient, which makes them valuable.”

Jayden set down the branches.“Two years ago I sent him a message requesting to buy a tablet from him.My offer included gold and jewels worth five thousand gold coins, no small sum even for a king.”

“What did he say?”

“My message went unanswered, a slight I take offense at.”

“Oh come on, Jayden, what did you expect him to do?He’s a head of state and you’re a wizard causing trouble for one of his neighbors, who is bigger and tougher than he is.He’d get into trouble if he sold you anything.”

“The transaction could have been handled discreetly,” he protested.“Bascal’s people are class conscious, which likely lessened my chances when he is a king.Still, the world’s only Sorcerer Lord should be granted some respect.”

Dana tethered the horses while Jayden lit the fire.“He said no once.Why ask again?”

“The last time I had only money to offer, and as you said he might have worried what the king and queen thought.This time the king and queen’s opinion is no longer an issue, and I can offer him the power of a Sorcerer Lord in a war he might not win.”

“So he’ll be motivated to take the deal, you hope.Please tell me if he says no you won’t try to rob him.”There was a long, awkward pause.“Jayden?No!Bad wizard!”

“I’m considering it for the same reasons I’m not as worried about our mounts’ health as I should be.I’ve learned many spells in the last year, but none strong enough to deal with armies or the Inspired.The Inspired could kill thousands unless I can stop them, and right now I can’t.”

Dana put her hands on her hips.“You’re treading on some very dangerous ground, mister.Taking these horses was bad, but we took them from a man working for the king and queen, who are doing terrible things to good people.This isn’t a bad person you’re talking about robbing.The only thing King Rascan did was not sell you things he owns, and he didn’t have to.If you do bad things to good people, even for good reasons, you’re taking a big step toward becoming your father.”

Jayden’s jaw dropped and he stared at her.

Dana instantly realized how insulting that was, but it was also true.She had to make him see that.“I saw your memories, how your father kept doing bad things, each one worse than the one before it because he was so desperate to keep Meadowland safe.That was a good goal, and he did terrible things to do it, until he was a bad person surrounded by bad people.He ruined what he was trying to save.That’s why you hate him.You can’t be like that.Meadowland needs you to be better than him.I need you to be better than him.”

Jayden said nothing in reply, instead looking into the fire.Dana took his hands.“We’re in deep trouble, worse than I thought if there might be a hundred power hungry wizards showing up, but we can’t fight this nightmare by becoming as bad as it is.When we fought Victory’s Edge an archer risked his life to help us.I don’t know if it was because he liked you or hated Victor’s Edge, but he helped us.More men might do the same, but only if they believe you’re worth following.You need to show them that you are.”

It took a moment for Jayden to find his voice.“I have rarely been hit that hard, and never have I deserved it more.”

“You’re a good person.Don’t let them change that.”

 

* * * * *

 

They broke camp the following morning in silence.Dana worried she’d gone too far last night, but she feared the consequences of Jayden failing far worse.She waited for hours before she spoke to him.

“I’m sorry about what I said.It’s just, so much of what we’ve been doing, even the criminal stuff, it’s beyond me.Growing up, horse stealing was something I saw my father dealing with.Families could be ruined if someone took their horse, and I know this is different, but it hit close to home.”

“Don’t apologize for trying to help me.Now more than ever I need someone to act as the voice of reason.I have trouble dealing with my anger and risk making more enemies than I need to.”He glanced at her and added, “I’m grateful it’s you being my conscious rather than others I’ve traveled with.Some of them would have been eager to participate.”

“Like Suzy Lockheart?

“Must you keep bringing her up?

Dana hesitated before asking, “Victory’s Edge was from another continent.How would he join up with the Inspired?”

“Victory’s Edge spent years moving from kingdom to kingdom, causing harm that the Inspired would have noticed and approved of.I have no trouble imaging them seeking him out and offering him membership.”

“They’d work with him?”Dana didn’t try to hide her shock.

“The Inspired have called necromancy a misunderstood branch of magic, so I think they’d welcome his unique brand of evil.I wonder if he came to Meadowland as an open member of the Inspired or under his own name.If he claimed to be on his own, he could do all manner of harm without damaging the Inspired’s reputation.Well, more than it was already damaged.”

“When we reach the border with Bascal, Meadowland’s army will be there trying to cross.How are we going to get around them?”

Jayden brought his horse to a stop when they came to a muddy patch on the road.It looked deep enough to give their horses trouble.“There are narrow passes into Bascal, too small to send an army through but the right size to sneak in spies and saboteurs.Guards there will be far fewer and easily dealt with.From there we can enter Bascal, go to the capital and barter our services for spell tablets.King Rascan knows the value of what he holds and will demand a heavy price.”

“He might want to keep you.”

“The thought had occurred to me.We will have to be careful dealing with him and show considerable diplomacy.I’ll need your help with that.”

Dana got off her horse and led it off the trail to go around the mud.“I don’t know anything about dealing with kings!”

“You know how to treat men with respect even when they don’t deserve it, a skill that died in me long ago.”

“What do you know about Rascan?”

Jayden led his horse around the mud.“King Tyros hates him with a passion.”

“Tyros doesn’t seem to like anyone.”

“True, but his hatred of Rascan’s family is massive.”Jayden guided his horse back onto a dry section of trail and resumed riding.“During the civil war, King Brent of Kaleoth sent food and clothing to suffering people in Meadowland.The royal family of Zentrix sold supplies to Tyros, causing a good deal of grumbling.Bascal’s leader did nothing, supporting neither the king or the rebels.This wasn’t surprising when the rebels blocked his way to loyalist held land.Any help would have had to go through hostile territory.”

Jayden hesitated before continuing.“When the rebellion started, King Tyros expected his neighbors to come to his aid with their armies.When military help didn’t come, he felt betrayed, which may be one reason for this idiotic war.The King of Bascal doing absolutely nothing drives Tyros into a rage even today.Never mind that Bascal, Kaleoth and Zentrix lacked strong armies or strong economies.”

“Has Rascan ever seen you?I mean the young you.”

“Rascan came to the throne four years ago after his father’s death.His father met Prince Mastram twice, but his son Rascan did not.For better or worse he won’t recognize me.”

“You’re pushing the horses too hard again,” Dana said, and Jayden slowed their pace.“If Rascan has been on his throne for four years, he had no say in what his father did during the civil war.You can’t blame him for his dad’s decisions.”

“I can’t.Tyros does.Rascan has been a snob in most diplomatic situations, but he’s done no serious wrongs.By all rights his rule has been relatively just and his people live well.That means nothing to Tyros, and as far as Queen Amvicta is concerned Rascan is a just another victim for her and her clan.Whatever his flaws, King Rascan risks losing everything he has if he can’t resist Meadowland’s invasion.”

Two more days traveling on horseback brought them to a river thirty feet across and flowing fast.The water was brown rather than blue, and carried small branches.

“An unexpected problem,” Jayden said.“This used to be a stream so shallow a man could walk across it without getting his knees wet.The recent heavy rains have clearly swollen it far beyond its normal dimensions.”

“It looks too deep to ford even for the horses,” Dana told him.“I’m not sure how well they could swim across, either.”

Jayden went through his belongings until he found a map.“This may work in our favor.This is a lesser tributary of the Not at All Magnificent Lemming River, which starts in Zentrix, flows through Meadowland and comes close to Bascal before emptying into a lake.It goes where we need it to through lightly populated forested lands.We’ll need a canoe or other small boat to take advantage of this opportunity.We’ll follow the river until we find one or a way across.”

That proved easier said than done.The ground was so waterlogged that the horses’ hooves sunk in, and they had to push through dense plant growth.It took hours until they saw the first sign of habitation.The river widened to forty feet but was no slower when they came across a hut and a small wood dock that stretched out onto the surging waters.A middle aged man gutted fish and threw the entrails to two waiting dogs.Jayden smiled and pointed to a beaten up, weathered rowboat tied to the dock.

“Fortune smiles upon us.”

“It looks cramped, but it’s better than riding the horses through this.It’s hard on them.”

“Speaking of hard,” Jayden began, and handed Dana her disguise.

“But we’re not stealing anything!”

“You’re mentioned on my wanted posters, even if it is as unidentified accomplice,” Jayden reminded her.“Trust me that men are actively seeking more information about you.It’s for the best that the fewest people possible know those details.”

They approached the man slowly but noisily as the horses squelched through the mud.He was so focused on cleaning fish that he didn’t notice them.They were within twenty feet when Jayden announced their presence.

“Greetings,” Jayden began.The man yelped and jumped back.“No need to worry.I come only with the best of intentions.”

The fisherman backed away from them.“I’ve heard about what you’ve done.You keep to yourself.”

“You wound me,” Jayden said.He dismounted and patted his horse.“I propose a simple transaction.I need your boat and will give you these horses in exchange.”

Fear turned into surprise, and the fisherman asked, “You’d give up two horses for an old rowboat?”

“I’d offer less, but I can’t take the animals with me when your boat is so small.As I must abandon them it seemed best to hand them on to a worthy owner.If you don’t need the horses, I’m sure you can find someone who does that can pay a fair price.”

The fisherman frowned as he studied the horses.“What if I say no?”

“You are the first fisherman I’ve met on this river.I doubt you are the only one.Others may be more willing to accept my bargain.”

The man hesitated a moment longer before saying, “Deal.”

“An excellent choice,” Jayden said as he helped Dana dismount.He walked over to the rowboat and untied it from the short dock.“I would advise not showing off your new property to more people than absolutely necessary.Best for all concerned if their original owner doesn’t learn where to find them.”

“I figured they were stolen when I saw you riding them,” the man said.“Don’t worry about me.They’ll be fifty miles away before nightfall.”

“Good man,” Jayden told him before boarding the rowboat and helping Dana onto it.They went out only a short distance onto the river before the current took them even faster than the horses had carried them.He looked at Dana and asked, “This would be a good time to ask if you can swim.”

“If I didn’t know how to swim, wouldn’t I have said so before we traded the horses?”

Jayden used an oar to steer them to the middle of the river.“Other people would, but you’re tragically polite.”

Dana stared at him.“Tragically?”

“Oh yes.I don’t think I’ve ever run into someone as well-meaning as you.I’m awed by how many times you should have slapped me and didn’t, or run away screaming.You’d be amazed how many people do that when they meet me.”

Traveling by water was faster and easier than Dana had hoped for.The rain swollen river raced along and was deep enough they didn’t have to worry about hitting rocks or other obstacles.Houses were few and each had their own boats.They came across dead trees floating downstream, and what had to be the largest turtle Dana had ever seen sitting on shore.She gasped as they drew closer to the monstrous creature, with a shell five feet long and long legs ending in claws.The monster’s neck was ten feet long and ended in a serpent’s head with blue scales, a fin on its brow and sharp teeth.It looked at them only briefly before dipping its head into the murky water.

Jayden saw her shocked expression and said, “Don’t worry, serpent fishers are only threatening to carp.I’m surprised to see one that large.Most are killed and eaten by men before they’re half that size.”

“People eat those?”Dana felt nauseous.

“I’m told their flesh is tough and unpleasant tasting, but there’s much a man can eat if he’s starving.”They saw two smaller serpent fishers, one choking down a live fish while the other tried to steal it.“It seems their population is rebounding.The locals must be fed well if they won’t resort to eating monsters.”

“Maybe there aren’t many people here.”Dana was glad to see the last of them.“We don’t have any where I’m from.”

“They used to be quite common in the region, but overhunting made them rare.I’m told you can find them throughout Bascal and Zentrix.”

Dana and Jayden covered many miles while doing little work.Here and there they saw houses and farms, but fewer than Dana expected.A few curious people watched them go by but did nothing more.That was less surprising.Jayden’s fierce reputation meant most people avoided him.Even those loyal to the king would run for help rather than face him, and there didn’t look like there was anyone here to turn to in an emergency.These people were on their own and looked only too happy to see Jayden leave quickly.

The river soon joined a far larger one, equally swollen by rainwater and brown from the mud it carried.There were more houses here, but still not many.Dana assumed a river would have settlements on it for fresh water and easy travel.When she asked Jayden about it, he answered while steering the rowboat.

“It’s another holdover from the civil war.Rebel forces sent raiding parties on rivers to strike undefended homes.They would seize food and prisoners, burning what they couldn’t take before fleeing.Many villages were lost and are only slowly being rebuilt.”

Dana shook her head.“It’s weird to think the damage from a war thirty years ago still hasn’t healed.”

“The king and queen’s inept leadership has greatly slowed the recovery.This war with neighboring kingdoms only adds to the time spent suffering.”

Jayden brought the rowboat to shore as dusk fell.That proved difficult when the river kept trying to pull them along, but with some effort he got them back on land.He pulled the rowboat out of the water and helped Dana set up a simple camp.

“The good news is this will take days off our travel time,” he announced.“That ends the good news.The river will turn away from our destination early tomorrow, forcing us to abandon our vessel.Given its poor condition I doubt we will find a buyer for it, and locating new mounts is unlikely.That means the rest of our journey is going to be on foot.”

“How long will it take?”

“Three days, perhaps four if we have to go around army patrols.”

Dana set down dead wood for Jayden to ignite when she heard a burbling noise coming from the water.They backed away and drew their swords as the water churned.A bulbous shape five feet across and covered in overlapping blue armor plates rose from the water.It opened a single purple eye as big as a grapefruit.Thick, segmented tentacles reached out of the water and wrapped around their rowboat.

“I Githas,” the monster announced.“My river.Pay for travel or I break boat.”

Jayden scowled.“Does Githas know who he faces?”

“Shadow wizard.Once many, now one.Not impressed.”

Dana put a hand on Jayden’s arm before he could issue a harsh reply.“Let me handle this.There’s a sunken living not far from my hometown, and I’ve dealt with it before.”

“That leaves the next traveler to pay its toll,” Jayden replied.

“If we fight him, either he breaks our boat on purpose or we will by accident,” she said.Jayden relented only grudgingly.Dana had met other sunken before.While dangerous if provoked, they traditionally made minor demands.She stayed back from the water and held up a handful of beef jerky.“Githas of the sunken, I wish to barter.I have no honey or jam.Will you accept salted meat for passage through your waters?”

The monster stared at her before answering, perhaps waiting for more.“Pay low, but acceptable.Bring better next time.”

She tossed the meat into the water and watched the monster gobble it up before sinking back into the river.“See, simple, cheap, nonviolent, and we want nonviolent.The sunken are hard to kill and have long memories.”

“It’s the principle of the matter.Giving in to bullies encourages them to continue their ways, and what’s an affordable price for us may not be for the next person to cross that monster’s path.I know the sunken are more irritants than threats, and they don’t bother larger boats, but before the civil war they were driven off to rivers and lakes in the wilderness.If one has returned to the heart of the kingdom then more will follow, extorting tribute from those they think they can intimidate.”

“We can’t beat up everyone who deserves it, Jayden.”

“Not yet.”

 

* * * * *

 

Jayden’s prediction for the following day proved accurate.The river abruptly turned away from their destination, forcing Jayden to beach the rowboat and then abandon it.It took hours traveling through dense forests before they came across a road, but it was too well traveled for them to use without drawing attention and possibly attacks.They crossed it quickly and continued through the woods until they found a game trail going more or less where they wanted.

“It’s weird how there are so many tiny trails like this,” Dana said.“There can’t be that many poachers and smugglers trying to stay hidden.”

“There are, but they rarely make such paths,” Jayden told her.“Most are made by hunters and loggers.Others are made by men taking the shortest route to their destinations.After all, there aren’t many roads in Meadowland compared with other kingdoms.”

“Why not?”

Jayden formed his black magic sword to hack through plants growing onto the trail.“The king and queen are legally responsible for maintaining only a few roads.The rest are the responsibility of local nobles, who often lack the money and manpower to build and maintain roads in their lands.The lack of proper roads makes life difficult for visiting merchants, back when there were visiting merchants, and slows travel within the kingdom.It makes trails like this a critical if poorly mapped and constructed necessity.Sadly it also adds to our travel time, as this road is not going in a straight line where we want to go.”

Dana smiled at him.“Feel like making your own trail?”

“Tempting, but doing so would leave obvious signs we’d been here.”

“Kind of late to worry about that when so many people saw us on the river.”

Jayden cut through a tree branch blocking the trail.“They saw us only briefly and wouldn’t know where we were going.Most wouldn’t tell the authorities, as love for the king and queen is low and dropping.”

There was a snap ahead of them, and they stopped talking.Jayden got off the trail and waved for Dana to join him.Silence followed until a voice called out, “We both know the other is there.I think we can go our separate ways, no harm done.”

Jayden’s eyes narrowed.“You place a good deal of trust in my good nature.”

“Most folks I meet leave well enough alone.Chances are good you’ll do the same.”

Dana put on her mask.“If they were with the king and queen, they’d run from us or attack.Let’s trust them.”

“They could be dangerous and have nothing to do with the royal couple, but it’s encouraging that they seek peace.”Jayden called out, “Fair warning, if our meeting ends badly, you will regret it more than I will.”

“I don’t doubt it.”The stranger approached slowly.He was young with mud stained clothes and a heavily loaded backpack.Three more men followed him, all four armed with swords they kept sheathed.They looked nervous like they would run if they could, but their backpacks looked too heavy for a swift escape.They were also about the age where they could be conscripted, and might be on the run from pressgangs.The man in front studied Jayden carefully.“I’ve heard about you.Didn’t think we’d ever meet.”

“You’re a smuggler if ever I’ve seen one,” Jayden said.“What are you carrying?”

The smuggler opened his backpack to show jars filled with brown powder, and the others did the same.“Sweet bark, paid for in advance.I’d just as soon we not fight.”

Jayden stepped aside to let them pass.“Go.”

The smuggler nodded and led his group away.Jayden watched them leave before leading Dana down the trail.He frowned before saying, “Many such men carry what would be legitimate cargo anywhere else, merely trying to avoid being taxed or having their goods seized, but it’s still a bad sign.Smugglers can carry dangerous cargo as easily as not.That the profession has become so common is a serious inditement against the king and queen.”

Dana took off her mask.“That’s why you checked what they had.”

“I’ve destroyed smugglers’ cargos when I found them carrying poison, combat drugs or wyvern eggs.I imagine I’ll do so again before the year is out.It annoys me that I must do the authorities’ jobs for them.”

 

* * * * *

 

It took another two days to reach the border with Bascal, a mountainous and heavily wooded region.Dana and Jayden had to avoid large, heavily armed army patrols, and towns fortified with walls and barricades until they looked like small fortresses.For a change Jayden showed the caution the situation deserved.He picked his way through game trails and along streams, moving ever closer to their destination.They finally came upon a wide grassy clearing with a road running through it.

“Almost there,” he promised.“Getting my prize may prove harder than reaching it, but I know of nowhere else I am certain to find Sorcerer Lord spell tablets.It is this or nothing.”

“Then we’ll be sure to be on our best behavior,” she teased him.

“You consistently ask the impossible of me.”

“It’s only impossible until you do it,” she told him.

“Hello!” a cheerful voice called out.Dana froze and Jayden drew his sword.There was a pause before the voice called out, “Come, come, let’s not waste each other’s time, Sorcerer Lord.We both have places to be and things to do.”

“Sounds friendly,” Dana said.

“He does,” Jayden agreed.

“Good chance he’ll try to kill us?”

“Perceptive of you.Mask on and sword out, Dana.”

Jayden led her onto the grassy clearing, where they spotted a large carriage pulled by four horses parked in a shady spot nearby.The carriage had no windows and a single large door held shut by locks and chains.The carriage’s driver was equally odd, a white haired gnome half Dana’s height.He wore obnoxiously bright clothes with feathers around his shoulders, and carried only a thin wood cane.

“Phineas Bargle, at your disservice,” the gnome said.“I thought we’d talk one wizard to another.”

“Charming,” Jayden said as he came to a stop fifty feet from the carriage.“I must admit to being curious.I use potent magic to prevent men from finding me, yet you have done just that.”

Phineas took a pipe from his pocket and tapped tobacco from a pouch into the end.“Your magic is effective.I spent weeks trying to locate you with spells that should have been able to find a specific flea on a horse five hundred miles away.You can imagine my frustration when they didn’t work.”

Jayden’s eyes narrowed.“Yet here you are.”

“When magic didn’t work, I used logic.You were seen assassinating a foreign wizard assigned to General Vander.I was nearby when it happened.”

“It wasn’t an assassination,” Jayden correct the gnome.

Phineas shrugged.“Call it what you will.I don’t judge.I picked up your trail and lost it nearly as fast, but I found people who’d seen you.I could have torn the information from their minds, but they answered me with only the slightest prompting and a few coins for their words.Many of them described you going in the same direction and at some speed.”The gnome snapped his fingers and formed a flame to light his pipe.“Once I knew that, I made logical deductions on where you could be going and followed you.”

“How did you get ahead of us?” Dana asked.

Phineas smirked and tapped his cane on his carriage.The carriage rocked in response, as whatever was inside stirred.“I move faster than you on roads you can’t set foot on without bringing a hundred soldiers down on your heads.”

“That still doesn’t make sense,” Dana said.“We traveled by water for a while.”

“Where men saw you.”Phineas took a deep breath from his pipe and exhaled a smoke ring.“Men here aren’t loyal to the king and his meddlesome queen, but most have little love for you, or are so desperate for coins that they’d sell you out.Why, one time I learned what I needed to know for a jar of strawberry jam.”

Jayden scowled.“The sunken.I should have expected it to betray me.”

“Betrayed?” Phineas asked.“The way he tells it, you bartered for safe transit only.You should have paid for secrecy, too.Anyway, once I had enough information, I narrowed down your possible destinations to three places.This was the leading candidate.It was simple enough to get ahead of you and wait.If you hadn’t come in another day or so I would have tried the other two, but that’s proven unnecessary.”

“I likely know the answer already, but who do you work for?” Jayden asked.

“Now that’s an interesting question, with many possible answers,” the gnome replied.“On paper I work for King Tyros and Queen Amvicta.Is it just me, or is it odd how her name keeps getting attached to his decisions?”

“It’s not just you,” Dana told him.

“Didn’t think so.”The gnome took another breath from his pipe and blew smoke through his nose.“They hired me and assigned me to work with a few other individuals to find and kill you.”

Jayden swept his arms out.“We seem to be alone.”

“I abandoned them a week ago.We’d have ended up killing each other if I hadn’t.Bloody psychopaths.Back to my original topic, we were promised a dukedom for killing you.”Phineas leaned forward.“The same dukedom you ruined.”

“If I’m supposed to feel ashamed, I’m not.”

Phineas waved his pipe in front of him.“Shame?Don’t know the meaning of the word.The manor house is gone along with a largish warehouse, the servants and soldiers ran off, and what little remained was looted.It would cost a fortune just to make it livable.I suppose the land would generate money to do the job, except the last duke earned his fortune through trade.I don’t have his business connections.”

“The prize isn’t worth having,” Jayden said.

“Exactly.If I kill you, I’ll be stuck being in charge of ruined property.Would humans take orders from someone half their size?I’d rather not find out.My coworkers were willing to take the chance it would work, or at least provide a steady supply of victims, but I know a bad bet when I see one.”

Puzzled, Dana asked, “Why are you here if you don’t want what they’re paying?”

“I’m getting to that.”Phineas leaned back and tapped his cane on the carriage.Again it rocked as its passenger responded to the tap.“I’ve been in Meadowland for a month, long enough to see the kingdom is going to fail.Whether they win or lose the war doesn’t matter.Victory means trying to hold onto more land than they can control.Losing means decades of rebuilding or worse.It’s bad business, but a clever fellow can profit from disaster.”

Jayden frowned.“If you expect something from me, prepare yourself for disappointment.”

Phineas shrugged.“Maybe yes, maybe no.I’m going to make you an offer I think you’ll take.You want King Tyros’ invasions to fail and soon.My departure from Meadowland helps that process.One thousand gold coins in cash or treasure and my associate in the carriage and I leave, never to return, and we won’t tell anyone where you are.”

“Will your clan be satisfied with so little?” Jayden asked.

Phineas chuckled and added more tobacco to his pipe.“I parted ways with them long ago.A thousand gold coins will allow me to live a life of debauchery for years to come, reward enough for me.”

“I don’t have that much money,” Jayden told him.

“But you’ve found Sorcerer Lord spell tablets,” Phineas countered.“I doubt you’ve parted company with those.Your escapades have generated quite a bit of interest in shadow magic.Men will pay gold for those in the hopes they can learn their secrets.”

Jayden eyed the gnome with undisguised anger.It didn’t take Dana long to realize why.Jayden was risking much in the hopes of getting more spell tablets, not losing the ones he had.Dana figured he didn’t need the ones he already owned after learning the spells, but to give them to a stranger meant risking evil men might learn how to use them.There was no telling how much damage a wicked man could do if he could make a black whip or giant hand.Jayden would be responsible for the damage.

“No,” Jayden said firmly.“My secrets are mine and mine alone.If others want them, they will have to earn them.We might be able to bargain, Phineas, but my magic isn’t on the table and never will be.”

“I thought you might say that,” Phineas said casually.“Have you heard of Braxton Bix?”

“Braxton the Betrayer?” Jayden asked.“Also called the Burglar and the Butcher.”

“That’s a lot of nicknames,” Dana said.

“All of them well earned,” Jayden told her.“Braxton hasn’t been seen in twenty years, a loss to no one.”

“He hasn’t been seen because I have him.”Phineas took a puff from his pipe.“He’s not the man he used to be.Technically he’s not a man at all.He stole secrets of troll magic used to permanently enhance their people.If you’ve ever wondered why trolls are so strong, that’s why.The fool experimented on himself.It’s delicate magic, not to be handled by the greedy, impatient and inept.Braxton equals an adult troll in strength, endurance and health, but at a cost to him that frightens even me.Dominating what little remained of his mind was child’s play.He follows my orders, generally, and is brutal in battle.My mind spells may not be an equal to your shadow magic, but Braxton tips the scales in my favor.”

“So it’s armed robbery,” Jayden said.

Phineas emptied out his pipe onto the ground.“Call it what you will, but be careful judging your chances against me.I know what you’re capable of, and I’m confident of victory.Lose some of what you have or all of it.Your choice.”

Jayden’s answer was as vengeful as Dana expected.“You claim to know my measure yet make a demand I’d never give in to.Only recently I gave a petty, hateful being what it had no right to, a move that clearly backfired.I showed the sunken mercy by not killing it.I’m out of mercy.You are a pathetic, hateful, greedy excuse for a person, and I will give you nothing except the beating you so clearly deserve.Whatever monster rides inside your carriage, unleash it and you will leave alone and empty handed, or not at all.”

“I see,” Phineas replied.

“I suspect the Inspired have come to Meadowland,” Jayden continued.“I don’t know if you’re part of that arrogant cabal or merely a parasite happy to snatch what you can.Whether you work alone as you claim or are a part of a larger group doesn’t matter.My decision is final.”

Phineas put his pipe into a coat pocket.“I hadn’t heard the Inspired were here.It’s another reason to leave, but I won’t leave poor.Pity you weren’t more reasonable.”

Phineas raised his cane, and screamed in terror as a javelin missed his head and sank deep into the top of his carriage.

“Traitor!”

The shout echoed across the clearing, startling Phineas as much as it did Dana and Jayden.The trio that came from the woods to the north must cause nightmares among any who saw them.The first was a wild eyed man wearing leather armor with blue spiraling marks running down the arms and legs.He carried another javelin and a longsword.The second was wrapped head to toe in badly stitched together black leather and carried a sickle that glowed red.The last person was wrapped in dirty silk, and Dana saw things moving inside of it.

“Your associate?” Jayden asked as he cast a spell to form his black magic sword.

“Loosely speaking, yes,” Phineas admitted.“Immortal has died hundreds of times and keeps coming back, Ghost Hunter is as brutal as he looks, and Web, well, less said the better.”

“You thought to kill the Sorcerer Lord alone and leave us out of the reward,” Immortal snarled as he prepared to throw another javelin.The blue markings on his leather armor kept moving, sometimes spelling hateful words before changing again.The man practically exuded rage, spitting as he yelled, “Filthy, stinking, stunted gnome, I’ll skin you!”

Phineas raised his cane.“Gentlemen, I found our target and kept him here for you.”

Ghost Hunter raised his sickle.“Save your lies for someone who believes them.”

Web was even more disgusting as it came close enough to see clearly.Its entire body was made up of spiders crawling around inside of web spun to look like a man.A large red eye slid around inside it, pushing spiders aside or running over them and crushing them.“Found, kill, eat.”

“How did they find us?” Dana asked Jayden.

“No idea,” he admitted.

“I spent days outside my body looking for you when you left in the night,” Ghost Hunter told Phineas.His uniform was made of scraps of leather sewn together with coarse thread, and had no holes for his eyes, nose or mouth.Here and there bits of leather stuck out from his body and gave him a careless, disheveled look.“No one cheats me and lives.”

“No one who spends time near you lives for long,” Phineas countered.

Jayden glanced at Phineas as their enemies approached.“If they live, they’ll report your treachery to the king and queen.Work with us and that won’t happen.”

“I’m on no one’s side but my own,” Phineas told him, and rapped his cane against the the door to his carriage.Locks snapped open, chains fell loose, and the door opened to release a revolting mockery of a man eight feet tall with bulging muscles, clawed hands, a head that was mostly mouth and wearing nothing except a loincloth.He reeked of body odor and rotting meat, and had long yellowed fangs in place of teeth.Caked in mud and covered in scars, the brute stepped out of the carriage.

Phineas waved his cane across the clearing.“Kill them all.”

For a few precious seconds Dana thought she and Jayden wouldn’t have to do anything except watch.The brute galloped across the grassy clearing on his hands and feet before leaping at Immortal.The two fought like mad dogs, snarling and shouting, but Ghost Hunter and Web ignored their ally’s peril.Web came for Dana, its limbs moving unnaturally and hissing, “Enemy, victim, food!”

“That one’s yours,” Dana told Jayden.

He stepped in front of her.“Agreed.”

“Then the girl’s head is mine!” Ghost Hunter yelled as he charged Dana.She had no idea how he could see when his uniform had no eye slits, but the lack didn’t bother him as he lashed out with his sickle.Dana blocked it with Chain Cutter, but didn’t cut through the sickle.The two met with a shower of sparks and enough force to shake her arm.Ghost Hunter swung again, this time aiming low at her knees.Dana blocked him again.

“Die, you miserable cow!” Ghost Hunter yelled at her.

“That’s just rude!”Dana wasn’t impressed with her opponent.He was strong and fast, but far from the strongest or fastest she’d fought, and his fighting style was sloppy.She’d been studying under Jayden for half a year and was a match for Ghost Hunter.

Ghost Hunter aimed for her head with his next attack and she ducked under his sickle.She swung upwards trying to hit his weapon and knock it out of his hands.Her aim was too good, or Ghost Hunter was more incompetent than she’d though, and Chain Cutter sliced off his right hand.

Dana jumped back in horror.“Oh my God!I’m sorry!I’m sorry!You’re, you’re bleeding sawdust?”

Dry sawdust poured from the wound, and Ghost Hunter’s right arm sagged and fell limp at his side like an empty shirt sleeve.Shock froze Dana for a second as Ghost Hunter snatched up his weapon with his left hand.Immortal, still fighting the brute, yelled to Ghost Hunter, “Walk it off, kid!”

“I did not see that coming,” Dana admitted.

“It didn’t hurt,” Ghost Hunter snarled.“It will hurt when I do the same to you.”

Their duel ended when Web ran between them, screaming, “Flee, escape, survive!”

Jayden followed the nightmarish monster with his shield of spinning black blades and magic sword.Web had four deep gashes in its back and arms, and live spiders spilled out of them.It tried to reach the forest and the cover the trees would provide.Jayden struck Web across the right heel with his sword, and when the monster fell he ran through it with the spinning blades.His shield of blades ended, but not before shredding Wed.Bits of webbing and spiders flew through the air like confetti.Jayden stomped on the creature’s large red eye when it landed on the ground.He looked at Ghost Hunter and announced, “Next.”

“You think this is a game?” Ghost Hunter yelled.“You think this is funny?”

“Moderately amusing.I’m curious what will happen if you suffer a head wound.You’ll be empty headed in every sense of the word.”

Ghost Hunter howled in outrage, a cry cut short when Immortal flew through the air to hit him in the back, sending them both tumbling to the ground.The brute lumbered after them and casually took a swipe at Jayden.Jayden tried to run but was a second too slow, and he was knocked alongside his two enemies.The brute seized Immortal by the heels before the man could get up and swung him into the ground.Dana tried to help Jayden up, but Ghost Hunter got between them.

“Die, you stinking wench!”Ghost Hunter clearly wasn’t ambidextrous, because his swings were even wilder and easier to block than before.He tried to kick her and even made an attempt to headbutt her, missing both times.“You think you’re better than me!You’re trying to make me look stupid!Die!”

“Shut up!” she yelled back.Ghost Hunter made a powerful overhead swing and she stepped out of the way.The swing left his sickle near the ground for a second, too far down to block her attacks.Dana didn’t want to hurt Ghost Hunter any more than she already had, but he wasn’t stopping.She slashed Chain Cutter across his chest, slicing through his leather clothes and spilling gallons of sawdust.He struggled to lift his sickle before she brought her sword back the other way to cut off his left arm at the elbow.Sawdust flew from the wounds as Ghost Hunter fell over.

Then he got up, no longer a menacing figure in black, but a translucent ghost, a boy a year or two younger than Dana.For a second she felt pity for him.Was this who he really was, a spirit occupying a fake body?Her pity vanished when the ghost looked at her with such loathing she stepped back.His lips formed the words, “I’ll get you,” before he vanished.

“Dana, a little help,” Jayden called.

She turned away from Ghost Hunter’s remains to see Jayden and Immortal trying to stop the brute.The lumbering monster moved faster than she would have expected, and suffered only cuts from what should have been killing blows.Jayden’s enhanced speed from his magic sword helped him land a shallow blow before the brute seized Immortal with both hands and crushed him.Dana screamed as Immortal crumbled to dust and a glowing orb burst from his remains.The light shot into the sky until it was lost to sight.

“Pity he won’t stay dead,” Phineas said from on top of his carriage.

Dana ignored the brute and charged the gnome instead.The brute howled and ran after her.She raced up to the carriage and hacked off its back left wheel with Chain Cutter.The wagon nearly tipped over and Phineas was thrown screaming to the ground.Dana stood over him with her sword raised.

“Call him off!”

“I can’t,” the gnome said.“He won’t stop fighting while enemies stand.”

The brute caught up with her and landed a blow strong enough to send her flying ten feet.She cried out in pain when she landed, a cry nearly as great as the brute’s when a giant black hand rammed into him and threw him into the damaged carriage.The carriage tipped over and the horses panicked as they were pulled down with it.

Phineas swore bitterly as he got up.Dana winced as she staggered to her feet and went after the gnome.She didn’t know what spells he could cast, and had no desire to learn.The gnome saw her coming, and he uttered strange words as he pointed his cane at her.

Dana cried out in surprise as the world spun around her.She couldn’t tell which way was up and staggered like a drunk before falling to her knees.Phineas chuckled and say, “I’d heard you were dangerous.How disappointing.”

“Shouldn’t have done that,” Dana said as she shook her head.

“Pray tell, why not?”

“No one hurts my friends!” Jayden yelled.He sent his magic hand hurling into the brute, knocking him onto Phineas.The gnome screamed and tried to get out from beneath his monstrous slave.“No one!”

Dana’s senses returned to normal, and she got up.“That’s why.”

The brute got up and lunged at Jayden, only for the giant magic hand to swing down from above onto the brute, sending him to the ground again.Jayden and Dana both charged and struck before their foe could rise.Magic swords struck with terrifying results.The brute made one last effort to stand before falling to his knees, and then to the ground.

Phineas scrambled to his feet and pointed his cane at Jayden.He uttered the same words as before, but the Sorcerer Lord stood firm.Phineas gasped.“No.”

“It seems my mind cloud is sufficient defense against your attempts to influence me,” he snarled at the gnome.“Without your protector you’re no threat to us, and shortly you’ll be a threat to no one.I gave you fair warning, gnome.You’ve only yourself to blame for what comes next.”

A look of horror crossed Phineas’ face as he backed up to his carriage.Dana wasn’t sure if she should stop Jayden when the gnome had tried to kill them, and may have killed others with his pet monster.The matter was taken out of her hands when Phineas cast another spell.To their amazement the brute stood up, his movements jerky as he stumbled after Dana and Jayden.Dana drove Chain Cutter into the brute from one side and Jayden attacked from the other.Their swords left terrible wounds as the brute staggered like a badly handled puppet.The brute tried to club them with his massive forearms, but was so clumsy they had no trouble dodging him.

They struck again, finally dropping the brute before turning to Phineas.The gnome had used his distraction to cut loose one of his horses from its harness.The frightened animal struggled to its feet with the gnome holding onto its mane, and it galloped away.Jayden sent his giant magic hand after the gnome, but the horse ran faster than the hand could fly, and Phineas escaped into the woods.

“No!”Jayden ran a few steps after them before realizing the effort was fruitless.Snarling mad, he hacked the damaged carriage apart.Noise from the battle brought a pair of Meadowland spearmen to investigate.They stared at Jayden as he chopped the carriage in half, then turned his menacing gaze on them.Both men ran for their lives.

His fury spent, Jayden returned to Dana.She stared at their fallen foes.The brute was dead, his misshapen body horribly damaged.Immortal was a pile of ashes.Ghost Hunter’s spirit was gone, his false body reduced to tattered black leather and piles of sawdust.There was even less left of Web.

“Was that necromancy when the body got back up?” Dana asked hesitantly.

Jayden looked at the fallen brute.“No.I’ve heard of this spell before.Bodies die in stages.Phineas used his magic to control what little of the brute remained alive.The spell could have kept his body moving for a few minutes until even that was impossible.”

“How many,” Dana began, but found it hard to go on.She took a deep breath and asked, “How many more monsters like this did the king and queen bring into Meadowland?Cimmox the necromancer, Victory’s Edge, these, these things?How many more are in the kingdom?”

Jayden sheathed his magic sword and picked up Ghost Hunter’s magic sickle.“I don’t know.Cimmox claimed the royal couple weren’t discriminating when they sought help for their war.There could be dozens like these villains here or on their way.”

“That spider thing wanted to eat us!What will happen to people living here with monsters like that on the loose?People could get hurt, killed!”

Jayden struggled to rein in his anger.“The risk to Meadowland’s people is staggering.”

Feeling lost and scared, she asked, “How do we save them?

“We seek help from any who will give it.”Jayden bent down to comfort the horses Phineas had left behind.All three were terrified from the battle, and their fear only slowly ebbed.“If nothing else we now have proper mounts and no need to relinquish them.Come, Dana, let us see if King Rascan is willing to bargain with us.”



Submitted: January 20, 2021

© Copyright 2021 ArthurD7000. All rights reserved.

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Deborah O'Carroll

Awesome! So excited to be back with more Jayden and Dana, and what a fun "road trip." XD They are both amazing and fun as always! And I'm super intrigued about their upcoming plan... Also, good for Dana for being his conscience, and hehe, people (and I use the term loosely) should know better than to hurt Jayden's friends. ;) He's always epic. Love it!

Thu, January 21st, 2021 8:50pm

TheresaVan18

Good story! It was fun to follow Jayden and Dana again!

Sun, January 24th, 2021 4:34am

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I've gotten back into the writing mood again, so there should be more Dana and Jayden stories next month.

Sun, January 24th, 2021 5:28am

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