Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/986505-Aphalias-Daughter----ch-2
by Miara
Rated: 13+ · Chapter · Fantasy · #986505
Katrina arrives in Magaar and meets Arick and Leeland.
Katrina loosened the chin strap on her helmet to reduce the sweating on her face. Early spring in Aphalia meant moderately warm days and cool nights. Apparently, early spring in the Haunted Woods outside Magaar meant sweltering days. The mountains she so loved had given way to short rolling hills separated by wide stretches of flat land over the last couple of days.

She rode past a stone marker declaring Magaar only two miles away. She felt her thighs tense in readiness to issue an order to speed up and made herself relax. After two nights spent on the ground in the Haunted Woods, she was ready for an inn and a bath. No ghosts had bothered her, but she understood that the name was derived from the sound the wind made blowing through pine groves.

Katrina closed her eyes to better feel the slight differences in temperature caused by the sun streaming through the trees overhanging the road. Something heavy plowed into her shoulder and she felt arms go around her as she was pushed from her horse. She rolled when they hit the ground and stood with her sword in her hand. Her helmet flew into the underbrush, but she didn’t have time to retrieve it.

She lunged at the young man who was scrambling to his feet near Pride. Before she could skewer him, another man jumped over her horse and confronted her with a long knife.

“Run, Lee,” the second man said as he blocked her blade.

The one called Lee stood gaping at Katrina while she backed away to prepare for another salvo. Pride was already wandering further down the road to get away from the fighting.

The second man paused to kick Lee’s rump. “Sorry, lady,” he said. The two ran into the underbrush.

“Highwaymen,” Katrina spat as she picked up her helmet. She caught up to Beverly’s Pride and checked her supplies. Everything was still there. That was something. She mounted up and continued her ride to Magaar. Maybe she’d have a skin of wine with that bath.


“Did you see her, Arick? She’s beautiful!” Leeland exclaimed as they rode their horses along the trail leading away from their ambush point.

“Yeah, and she almost gave you an extra piercing,” Arick replied.

“Did you see the way the sun shone on her hair? Silken fire, Arick, it was silken fire.”

“Lee, give it a rest. You’re a sorcerer, not a poet, and not a very good sorcerer at that,” Arick growled.

“You don’t have to be an ass, Arick,” Leeland muttered. “You’re just pissed ‘cause you didn’t get anything from her.”

“I would have gotten something if I hadn’t had to rescue your star-struck behind. Pretty girls wear armor sometimes, and when they do, you’d better be worrying about the location of their swords rather than how the light plays in their hair.”

The trail they followed ended at the city wall. Arick turned right along the wall to come to a different gate than the one their recent quarry would be using.


Katrina tried once more to rub the last bit of moisture out of her hair. The bath had felt good, better than any bath she had ever taken before in her life. Two nights spent sleeping on the ground had made simple things like baths take on a whole new level of luxury.

She tossed the towel to the floor. Her hair was as dry as it was going to get for now. She plaited it quickly and slipped into the one dress she brought with her. SwordMaster Arnolde had warned her that she should always wear her sword, so she buckled her sword belt over her dress. It actually looked pretty good, she decided. Now, for the party promised her by the innkeeper in the common room.


Leeland drank glumly in a corner of the common room. The Lion and Dragon had accumulated quite a crowd for their party tonight, and Arick was making the most of the close quarters to fatten their own purses. Or at least make sure they had enough money to pay for a room and some food for a day or two.

He watched the gorgeous red-head dance with Tomas. She laughed at something the assassin said, then broke away from him to get a drink from the bar. Leeland stood up and wound his way through the crowd to stand beside her at the bar.

“Please,” she said to Tomas, “do you know anything of Jonathan of Aphalia?”

“The name’s familiar, Katrina, but my memory needs a little prodding. Maybe a kiss?” Tomas said, leering at her.

“Light have mercy, Tomas, don’t make the lady prostitute herself!” Arick said from behind them.

“Listen, thief, you collect your kind of payment for information, I’ll collect mine,” Tomas growled at Arick.

“You’re asking a pretty dangerous person about another very dangerous person, my lady. You should watch out for yourself,” Arick said to Katrina, turning his back to Tomas.

“Leave us be, Arick. This doesn’t concern you,” Tomas said, grabbing Arick’s shoulder and spinning him around.

“What do you mean?” Katrina asked Arick.

Leeland stepped back from the bar and stood at Katrina’s elbow. “Tomas is an assassin, a Master Swordsman who sells his skills to kill particular people. Jonathan of Aphalia is also an assassin, one of the best in the business from what I’ve heard,” Leeland said.

Katrina turned her head to look at the newcomer. “You!” she said, placing a hand on her sword hilt. “You were the ones who attacked me on the road!”

“Easy, Lady, no harm was done or meant,” Arick said, resting his hand on her wrist.

“Highway robbery, that’s pretty low for even you, Arick,” Tomas said.

“Do you practice being an ass, Tomas, or is it a natural skill for you?” Arick replied. “Lady, I was practicing a part of my trade. I am a Master Rogue, and while it’s not the noblest of tasks, highway robbery does tend to buy food for my belly. I’d like to make amends for this afternoon. For whatever reason you are searching for Jonathan of Aphalia, I will assist you in the morning.” He glanced over his shoulder at Tomas. “Plus, I won’t try to bed you before I’ll help you.”

Tomas rolled his eyes. “But you will try to bed her, won’t you Arick? You have a reputation to maintain, don’t you?”

Leeland sucked in his breath. “My lady,” he said.

Arick shook his head. “I suppose I do have a bit of a reputation in that arena, but I promise, I will not try anything you do not wish.” Arick lifter her hand from her sword hilt and raised it to his lips.

Leeland rolled his eyes this time as he watched Katrina’s shoulders sag in reaction. He started to raise his cup to his lips to take a drink of ale when somebody bumped his elbow. The ale leaped out of the cup and splashed on Tomas’s tunic.

“Why you scrawny little sorcerer!” Tomas roared. He drew his dagger from his belt and lunged for Leeland.

Arick grabbed Tomas’s wrist and tried to twist the dagger from his grasp. Katrina punched the assassin in the side between the bottom of the rib cage and the hip. The dagger fell from Tomas’s hand as he doubled over in pain. Katrina grabbed Leeland’s hand and pulled him through the crowded common room to the hallway and the stairs.


Katrina ran up the stairs and through the corridor to her room, pulling the clumsy young sorcerer behind her. They burst into her room. She tried to slam the door shut behind her, but the thief was there pushing his way through. He shoved the door shut and leaned against it.

“Arick, Master Rogue,” the thief said, extending his hand.

“Katrina of Aphalia, Master Swordsman,” she replied, shaking the proffered hand. Now that he wasn’t trying to rob her, she noticed he had grey eyes peering out through a shock of dark brown hair. Her head felt light, either from the alcohol she’d been consuming while dancing with Tomas or from the brief fight, she wasn’t sure. She leaned back against the door beside Arick.

“My friend over there on the bed is Leeland. He’s ranked as a Midsorcerer,” Arick said. “Thank you for helping us down there.” He smiled at her.

Her vision tunneled on Arick’s face. “He was starting to sound more and more like a jerk,” she said.

“I’ve never known him to be the understanding sort,” he replied. He seemed to lean a little closer to her.

She tilted her head to one side. “You mentioned you could help me find Jonathan?” she asked.

“I know someone to ask,” he replied.

“Good,” she mumbled, pressing her lips to his and clasping her hands behind his neck.

“Arick!” Leeland yelled from the bed. Arick jumped away from Katrina and the door. Katrina glanced over at Leeland sitting on the bed. She’d forgotten he was over there.

“I’m sorry,” Arick mumbled. He pulled open the door and fled from the room, slamming the door shut behind himself.

Katrina staggered to the armchair and slumped into it. She was asleep soon after.


“Did you see her take down that thug!” Taylor asked Aldair.

“She certainly seemed to handle herself rather well,” Aldair replied. He waved his hand and the image of Katrina running through the inn with Leeland faded. The two men now stood before a large oval mirror frame supported on either side by A-shaped legs.

“I’d rather she hadn’t sided with that thief, but the assassin was certainly no prize companion either,” Taylor said.

“Well, you have seen that the amulet works, Taylor,” Aldair said mildly.

“Yes it does. Thank you my friend. I am certainly more at ease knowing I can have you check on her for me,” Taylor replied.

“Good, now maybe you can let me be about preparing a lesson plan for your younger daughter. She’s proven to be a very adept student, and she’ll be here early in the morning.”

Taylor chuckled. “Very well, good night, my friend.”
© Copyright 2005 Miara (codytrev at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
Writing.Com, its affiliates and syndicates have been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work.
Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/986505-Aphalias-Daughter----ch-2