Healing a Princess...8 (Escape)

 

Healing a Princess...8

 

(Escape)

by Tim Knight

   

 

 

            “Try to look natural.” Rikki said between clenched teeth.  “Don’t show that anything is wrong.  Let’s just get out of here.”

            The music from the orchestra ceased, causing a hole of silence all around them.

            ‘Ah sheep dung’ Rikki thought to himself.  ‘everyone is going to see us.’

But as he carried the slumped princess, attention was being focused towards the orchestra.  Rikki chanced a look behind him.  Through the throng of people, he caught glimpses of two young boys and a girl standing on a box raising their voices in a sweet melody of rebirth and spring,   Just as he was turning away, the girl, made eye contact with him, smiled and winked.  Unsure of himself, Rikki looked around him to see if the look could have been for someone else, but no one around him seemed to have taken notice.

            The Captain, eased off of the deck onto the newly packed earth while trying to support the Princess in a way, where she wouldn’t draw attention.  Monyka was just ahead of him, Her skirts hiked up to avoid tripping while she practically danced around him, trying to see how Tonya was doing from a distance. 

As soon as they were a few rows into the trees, Rikki called a halt while he scooped her Highness into his arms to make carrying her easier.

“Is she alright?” Monyka’s voice was full of fear.

“She’s just passed out.  I told her that the pain would be this intense.”  Rikki muttered.

“Dyrk, how far are we from the carriage?” Captain Kalhoun asked.

“I don’t think we are too far, Captain, I see carriage lights ahead.  Once we reach the road, we can see just where the Cleric and carriage are.”

“Sir, can I take her from you for a bit?” Johnak asked.”

“I’ve got her Cavalryman.” Captain Kalhoun assured.  “Perhaps you can assist Lady Monyka.”

“No thank you, Captain.” Monyka huffed from behind him.  “I’ll be alright; I just had to kick off my shoes.”

Tonya let out a moan, of pain as she started to come too. 

“Stop it!  Stop the pain!” She demanded loudly.

“Shhhh,  Princess, we need to try to get you out of here unseen and unheard..” Captain Kalhoun pleaded.

“Oh the Gods! The pain!” Tonya when on disregarding, or not hearing his plea.

“Tonya!” Kalhoun demanded in a harsh whisper, “You need to be quiet, now!”

Tonya let out another loud cry as a shock of pain, charged down her leg, and back up again, stabbing again, into her spine.  She began to shake in agony.

“We’re going to have to gag her to get her out of here unheard.” Rikki said over his shoulder to Monyka.

Monyka pulled off her silk gloves and held them out. “Captain, if you must, use these.”

“Captain, there are a few chauffeur’s and coachmen up there.  We need to try and keep her quiet.” Dyrk whispered hoarsely as he returned from the road.

“Where’s Kollyns?” Captain Kalhoun asked.

“He should be here any moment, Sir.  I caught a glimpse of him as he went down the road.”

Rikki knelt down, and eased Tonya to the ground, cradling her head in his arms.  The Princess began to cry out again, but Monyka was there to stuff the silk gloves into her mouth, muffling the sound.

“I’m sorry, Tonya, but we need to get you out of here without rumors.” Monyka tried to explain to her friend.

Tonya’s screaming died down and was taken over by uncontrollable sobs.

“I’ve got you, your Highness.” Captain Kalhoun tried soothing her, but it was too late.  Her body had become still, unconscious, again.  “Let’s hope she stays that way for a little while longer.” He pulled the gloves from her mouth and handed them back to Monyka.

“Why?” Monyka asked.

“You don’t feel pain, when you are unconscious, my Lady.” Dyrk explained.

“It will also allow us to depart without being found out.” Rikki added.

“I hear a carriage coming, Captain,” Dyrk announced.

“It’s the lieutenant, Captain, “ Johnak called from the road.

“Let’s go.” Captain Kalhoun ordered.  He hefted the Princess back up in to his arms, cradling her the best he could, against his chest.

Dyrk took Monyka’s hand and guided her up the slight embankment to the road, lined with carriages. 

Kadyr leapt down from the drivers seat and helped Monyka into the carriages back seat.  Brother Tagyrt sat across from her looking like he was about to wet his robes again.  Kadyr jumped up between the two and assisted Captain Kalhoun in easing Tonya into the carriage.  Monyka sat on one end of the bench seat and made herself into a pillow for Tonya to lean up against.

“I found Sefu and one other horse, Captain.” Kadyr informed.

Rikki took Sefu’s reins and effortlessly seated himself on to the horse’s back.

“Lieutenant, you drive the carriage, Dyrk, you take the other horse and race ahead to the river boats.  Let them know we will be shoving off as soon as the Ambassador’s are aboard.”  Captain Kalhoun nodded to each as they saluted and dashed to carry out their order.  “Johnak, I want you to notify Ambassadors Kalgar that the Princess is on her way to the river boats.  He’ll know what it means.  Explain to Ambassador Zareb that a delicate situation with the Princess has come up and he will need to return to his room in the palace at once.  I want you to then, round up all of the cavalrymen at the festival, find your horses and meet us North of Truno at the town of River Bend West.  We should be arriving there tomorrow night.  Got that?”

“Yes, Captain.” With that Johnak turned and disappeared. 

“What are we waiting for? Let’s roll!”  Captain Kalhoun called.

The carriage lurched forward as Kadyr brought the team to a gallop.  Rikki on Sefu, ran up beside the open air carriage.

“Tagyrt, don’t just sit there looking wounded, help get with solving this problem.” Rikki snarled at the scared Brother.

Tagyrt knelt down on the carriage floor and began assessing the Princess.

“Lieutenant.” Captain Kalhoun called.

“Yes, Sir.” Kadyr acknowledged.

“As soon as we are clear of these carriages, I want you to pick up the speed.”

“Yes, Sir.” Kadyr nodded.

Tagyrt seemed confused as he felt Tonya’s skin, looked into her eyes, peered into her mouth and put his ear to her chest.

“I…… I…… I don’t know what’s wrong.” He mumbled.

“What do you mean you don’t know what is wrong?  You gave her the Aukai fish poison.” Monyka wanted to leap across the carriage and strangle the man.

“But…. It….umm .. it shouldn’t have this effect.  The Aukai told me how to…..ahhh….. to negate the…..ahhhh side effects.   I followed his instructions to the letter.”

“Here Monyka, she is going to need this.” Captain Kalhoun said handing her a cloth that he soaked with water from a water bag.  “She should be getting feverish soon.”

Monyka took the wet cloth and started mopping Tonya’s hot head.  The carriage lurched forward, as Kadyr snapped the reigns to bring the team to a run.  Tagyrt fell on top of the Princess.  She seemed to jump, and began screaming.  Monyka fished out the gloves and covered Tonya’s mouth with them, hoping to muffle the cries without suffocating her liege. 

“The Pain!” She screamed.  “Do something!  Stop it, oh … it Hurts!”

“Brother Tagyrt is working on the problem, Tonya.” Monyka told her. 

“Oh God’s,… help me!” Tonya screamed.

Captain Kalhoun, who had been riding up ahead of the carriage, dropped back to see what the commotion was all about.  Tonya began to thrash, and every time she did, she screamed out.

“Tagyrt try to hold her still.” Captain Kalhoun commanded.

“But….. but…..”  Tagyrt gave up and put his weight on her while Monyka held her tight in her arms.  Tonya convulsed and began shivering again.  Her thrashing stilled and her cries became sobs, as pain wracked her body.  Tagyrt eased off of her, but Monyka continued holding her tight, afraid to release her friend.

“Captain!” lieutenant Kollyns called.

“What is it lieutenant?” Captain Kalhoun asked, Sefu over took and matched the speed of the team.

“We need to give these horses a break, Sir.  They are starting to tire.” Kadyr explained.

“You know what to do, Lieutenant.  But push them as hard as you can.  I want to get to those boats as soon as we can.”

“Yes, Sir.”  Kadyr slowed the team down to a gallop.

Rikki drew in next to Monyka.  “How is she doing?” He asked.

“She’s passed out again.”

“Is she still feverish?” he asked.

“Yes,”

“Let me re-wet that cloth.” Rikki took the square from Monyka, pulled out his canteen and soaked it before handing it back.  “Try to keep her cool, but be warned, in a little bit, she will be chilled, and we will have to try to keep her warm.”

The sound of the horse’s hooves changed as they transitioned from dirt to cobblestone.  Monyka looked up to find that they were already racing through the crowded outskirts of Truno.  She didn’t have too much time to wonder about where they were, for Tonya was starting to squirm again.  Moans from the Princess were steadily becoming louder.  Monyka felt Tonya’s head and found that, as Captain Kalhoun had predicted, the fever had broken.  She tossed the wet cloth across the coach and grabbed a blanket and pulled it up around the Princess’s chin.  Tonya’s squirming became less, but were replaced by shivering despite the blanket. Her moans were starting to become screams.

“Can we pick up the pace, Lieutenant?” Captain Kalhoun asked.

“Yes, Sir, but we won’t be able to maintain it on these streets.”

“Try the best that you can, Lieutenant.” Captain Kalhoun urged.

“Captain!” Monyka called.  “Captain!”

Rikki reined in Sefu to see what Monyka needed.  “What is it?”

“Are blotchy red marks part of this?”

“What?”

“Tagyrt, shine your lantern on this.” Monyka commanded.  She pulled the blanket away from the shivering Princess to reveal raised  red blotches covering her neck and upper arms.

“I’ve never seen that reaction to the fish poison.” Captain Kalhoun admitted. “Tagyrt?”

“Whoah!” Kollyns pulled hard on the reins and pulled hard on the carriage brakes, jarring the wagon to a halt.

“What is going on, Lieutenant!?” Captain Kalhoun screamed.

“We are blocked off, Captain.” Kadyr stood up and pointed. “Look.”

Rikki stood up in his stirrups and looked down the cobblestone street to see that it was filled with celebrating Trunonians.  Hundreds of Trunonians were dancing drunk in the street,  decked out in gaudy pink and that periwinkle the Trunonians love so much.  People gathering around large braziers sharing stories, friendship and drink.  Women hung out of upper story windows, laughing and tossing handfuls of pink confetti down upon passers by.  While children dodged in and out of the meandering crowd.

“Push on Lieutenant, we need to get to the river.” Captain Kalhoun commanded.

“I’ll try, Sir, but it looks like it will be slow going.

Captain Kalhoun pranced Sefu forward.  “Make way!......... Make way!”  he called.

A few of the partiers shuffled to one side, while others just looked up at him blankly and offered him drink.

“We need to get through.  Make way!” Captain Kalhoun demanded.

Kadyr brought the carriage right up behind the Captain, trying to use size as motivation for the merrymakers to part.

“What’s your hurry?” A uniformed man asked from beside Sefu.

“I have a Lady who is in need of urgent medical care.” Captain Kalhoun almost snapped.

As if on queue, the Princess moaned loudly.  The Uniformed man looked back to the carriage and spotted Monyka’s pleading look, as well as Tagyrt’s pallid face of terror as he looked helplessly down at the Princess.

“Where are you trying to get too?” the uniformed man asked.

“The river docks, we have the Lady’s surgeon waiting aboard her ship.” Captain Kalhoun lied.

“You are going to have a devil of a time getting down there, all of the major streets are like this,” he gestured.  “All of the way down to the warehouses, it being Cherry Blossom and all.”

“Maybe we can help.” A woman’s voice called out.

Captain Kalhoun looked around to see a pretty blonde woman wink at him and smile, while pushing her way through the gathering spectators.

“How?” Captain Kalhoun asked.

The woman looked over her shoulder.  “Tane, Roberto, start The Maid and the Bull.” She instructed.  “Lieutenant, help me up.” She held her hand up for Kadyr, who looked questioningly to his Captain.

“For the sake of the Gods,” Monyka exclaimed,  “If she can get us through this, by all means let her.”

Kadyr, reached down and assisted the pretty blonde up to the drivers seat next to him.  Taking it as their cue, Tane and Roberto pulled out a Mandolin and flute, and began playing a lively tune. Many in the crowd around them applauded and began listening in anticipation.

“Push on Captain, but with less shouting and more singing,”  the blonde directed.

Captain Kalhoun shrugged in resignation and gave Sefu some rein,  The on-lookers, parted, as the blonde and many bystander’s began singing raunchy lyrics to the cheerful song.  Tane, and Roberto, took up positions on each side of the carriage, just in front of the horses, while a few other drunken participants, decided to walk along to enjoy the song. 

Rikki was surprised at how easily the mob parted, as they made their way down the avenue.  As they made their way into earshot of the revelers, they parted down the middle of the street, and began singing along with the blonde.  Other bards appeared and joined in, following Tane and Roberto’s example, some plucking at harps, while other’s beat softly on drums.

“Lieutenant,” the blonde asked, “Can you help that dark haired beauty up here? I’m going to scoot into the carriage seat.

“I don’t think that is a wise-”

“It will be just fine.” The blonde reassured.  “No more harm will befall either one of the Lady’s tonight.” 

The blonde woman slid over the seat into the carriage, as Kadyr assisted a buxom, raven haired bard up beside him.  She smelled of sweet perfume, while her breath smelled of cheap ale.  Her voice however was a sweet alto and did his spirits good.

Rikki could hardly believe what he was seeing, These festival participants were actually cheering as he and the carriage approached.  They had even been able to pick up the pace from a slow crawl to a steady walk.  A steady shower of pink confetti as well as cherry blossoms rained down on him and his mount.  Sefu tossed his head occasionally at the many distractions, but didn’t seem to be getting overly excited.  He was already catching the musty scent of the river as the breeze blew by him.

Monyka as well as Tagyrt looked around them in nervous disbelief.  She kept the Princess under the blanket as best she could, but Tonya kept tossing and thrashing about, every now and then letting out a scream, which was, thankfully, drowned out by the singing.  She, the blanket, as well as the carriage seat and floor, had been covered in pink, floating down from the windows above.

“Is that a member of your escort?” the blonde asked pointing down a side street.

Monyka turned to see Dyrk staring shocked and disbelieving at the parade.  When she turned around again, the blonde was pulling her hand away from Tonya’s forehead.

“What were you doing?” Monyka demanded.

“Just checking her temperature.”

Monyka looked down at her charge.  The Princess lay quietly, passed out again.  “Could you please not disturb her?”  It wasn’t a request.

“Of course.” The blonde smiled  “I was just concerned.”

“Thank you for helping us get this far.”

The blonde had already stepped up onto the front seat and joined the raven haired woman in starting a new song.

Dyrk reined his mount beside his Captain.

 “What happened, Dyrk?”  Captain Kalhoun inquired unhappily.

“The same that has happened to you, Captain,  I got bogged down in this crowd.”  “Have you been able to get to the docks yet?”

“No Sir.  I tried skirting this route, but the streets all wound back to this one.”

Captain Kalhoun looked around, taking better notice of the buildings.  “This part of town is a maze, cavalryman.  It isn’t your fault.  See if you can push on ahead of us, and give the boats at least some warning.”

“Yes Captain.”   Dyrk spurred his mount forward.

Captain Kalhoun pulled Sefu up short and waited for the carriage to pass.

“How is the Lady doing?” He asked Monyka.

“She is very still.  I think she is unconscious again,.”

“Oh?” Rikki’s eyes raised at this, unsure of what to make of it.

“Her breathing is easier as well as her temperature.” Monyka added.  “I’m thinking that the worst of it is over.”

“Think again, My Lady. She still has a few days to try to shake this off…… If she’s lucky.”

“A few days?” Monyka asked in disbelief.

“That stuff has some great effects, but even more nasty side effects,  Takoda and I both tried to warn her against taking it.”

The closer they drew to the warehouses, the fewer people there were to impede their way.  Almost as quickly as they joined, the different bards disappeared from the parade.

“Captain, we will leave you here.” The blonde called out front.  “You should be able to pick up some speed within a block or two from here.”

Captain Kalhoun turned Sefu around and nodded to the blonde.  “Your help was invaluable, my Lady.” He bowed slightly.  “Where are you staying and by what name may I send proper payment for all that you have done for my ill Lady.”

“I’m only glad to be of assistance.” The blonde returned.

“My lady bard,” Kadyr interrupted.  “Please take this as a token of our gratitude, and as a payment for the joy of allowing us to hear the quality of your voice.” Kadyr pulled a small purse from his belt pouch.  “Please.” He grinned.

“Thank you Lieutenant.” She curtsied and beamed up at him.  “May your journey be swift and memorable.”

“May the Gods bless you and look over you.” Kadyr called to the departing bards.  The blonde along with Tane and Roberto disappeared back into the crowd.

“Okay, Kadyr, let’s make up some time.” Captain Kalhoun commanded.

“Yes Sir.” Kadyr snapped the reins, bringing the horses to a canter.

“Tagyrt,” Kalhoun growled.  “Show us that you aren’t just another mouth to feed on this trip.”

Rikki spurred Sefu ahead of the carriage and looked around, taking in his surroundings.  They were very close to the river.  This part of the city was nothing but warehouses.  Blocks and blocks of warehouses.  During the day, these streets were lined with wagons and horses, while men labored under crates, barrels and bales.  Items brought in from Malden, as well as from Riponia.  Goods prepared to ship from Truno to places all over the globe, lay boxed and ready to move.

Rikki was so engrossed in studying his whereabouts that Sefu had to make the choice whether to gallop straight into the river, or to turn.  The mighty steed, turned West, to follow the river.  Rikki’s heart leapt when he realized that he had lost track of where they were.  He quickly regained his composure and turned to watch lieutenant Kollyns expertly turn the galloping carriage to follow. 

Docks, of different lengths and widths reached out into the current of the large river.  Ocean trading ships were sometimes moored next to small fisherman boats.  Masts of different heights and design towered into the night sky. Most of the sailors and river men were ashore celebrating the Cherry Blossom Festival in their own way, leaving behind only a few to guard against theft, river pirates, and black marketers.  The night was still young enough that the docks were clear of the poor wretches, who would be laying about in the morning, vomiting into the water, or passed out from too much of a good time.

“Over here, Captain.” A voice called to them. 

Rikki looked through the darkness of the night in time to see Sergeant Takoda step out of the shadows, to greet them.

“What is our status, Sergeant?” Captain Kalhoun asked.

“We are just about to shove off.  I take it the Princess’s night was cut short as we thought.” Takoda stated the last part matter of factly.

“Sooner than we had anticipated and showing different reactions.”  Rikki swung down from Sefu.  The stallion looked over his shoulder blew hard and resigned to remain where he was until led away or, mounted by his friend.

“How is she at now?” Takoda inquired.

“She has been unconscious for a while now….. She has gone through the fever and chills already.”

“When did she start?” Takoda followed Captain Kalhoun back to the carriage.

“About half an hour ago, Sergeant.” Monyka eased the unconscious princess up to Tagyrt and Kadyr who handed her down to Captain Kalhoun.

Takoda held his arms out offering to help.

“I’ve got her, Sergeant.”

Tonya let out a small moan as she settled into his embrace. 

“How did you get through the streets?” Takoda asked.

“We started a parade.” Rikki shook his head in disbelief at what he was admitting.

Dyrk came running down the pier.  “I’ll get your horse, Sir.”

“Thank you, Cavalryman.” 

“Are we ready to shove off?” Rikki looked to the Sergeant at Arms.

“Two of the River Masters are ready, to go, the third is under orders to wait for Zareb.” Takoda looked worried over the princess.  “Here is her Highness’s boat.” He pointed.

Captain Kalhoun shifted the princess in his arms before tackling the ramp with the precious load.

“River Master Radella, this is Captain Kalhoun of Riponia.” Takoda introduced from behind the Captain.

Rikki looked up to see a weather worn woman with black hair and eyes to match, standing to block access to the boat.  But what really caught his eye was what she was wearing.  She wore a bright, lime green blouse with a bright sunflower gold pair of short slacks, tied off with a royal purple sash.  Captain Kalhoun caught his foot on the ramp, but regained his footing without second thought.  He could never get used to the way that Hasslemerians dressed.  Tonight his thoughts were so focused on the Princess, that he was caught off guard by the River Master’s appearance.  River Master Radella’s raven hair was twisted up into a bun on top of her head, and by the size of the bun, Rikki could tell that she had a lot of it and that it was at least as long as her knees, when allowed out of the bun.

Captain Kalhoun stopped up short.  “Permission to come aboard, River Master.”

“As long as you understand that it is my boat.  You may be a Captain, but the Nituna is my boat.”

“Of course, River Master.” Captain Kalhoun tried to sound humble “Where may I place, her Highness, Princess Tonya?”

Radella blinked, then stepped aside.  “What is wrong with her?  She aint sick is she?”

“Too much to drink at the festival.” Captain Kalhoun lied.

“You’d think royalty would know to handle their liquor.   Follow me, Captain.”

The River Master led the Captain, laden with the Princess three steps across the deck and through a door into a building.  Down a corridor and turned right through another door.  “This is the best room on the Nituna.  It aint no stateroom, but it’s the best I’ve got.”

“It will do just fine, River Master.” Monyka said from the doorway.

“Who’re you?” Radella asked.

“I’m Monyka, the Princess’s Handmaiden.”  Monyka bowed slightly to the River Master.

“She’ll be staying with and watching over the Princess.” Captain Kalhoun added.

“Royalty needs maidens for their hands, do they?”  Radella shook her head in disbelief.

“A handmaiden is more of a personal assistant.” Monyka corrected.

“Why didn’t you say so in the first place.”  Radella watched as the Cavalry Captain gently eased the Princess into the straw mattress. “I was going to get that re-stuffed in the morning.”

“I don’t believe the Princess is in any condition to complain.” Monyka kneeled by her Highness’s side and felt her forehead.  “River Master, Is there someone who could bring me some fresh cool water, and a clean rag?”

“I’ll fetch Premilla, my handmaiden.” Radella smiled at the title.

“She’ll need a pail and a winter blanket as well.” Captain Kalhoun said from the side of the bed.

“She gonna get the pukes bad, eh?” Radella smirked.  “Just make sure my deck is as clean as you found it.”

Captain Kalhoun followed the River Master out of the cabin and onto the deck.

“Premilla!........Premilla!”

“Yes, River Master?”

“Fetch a pail, some fresh water and a good winter blanket to the Princess in the fore cabin.”

“YesRiver Master.”

“What you want, now?” Radella asked.

“An E.T.D. if possible, River Master.” Captain Kalhoun had to consciously add her title.

“What the hell is an Eeeteeedeee?”

“Estimated time of Departure.” Captain Kalhoun was starting to loose patience.

“You know, you Reepoonians  sure do talk funny.  We’re shoven off when I say we do.  will be in a few minutes.”  With that, Radella stomped off aft.

Captain Kalhoun looked around.  Lieutenant Kollyns was hauling some cases up the gangplank.  “What’s all that, Lieutenant?”

“The Dwarven Ambassador’s baggage has arrived.” Kadyr explained.

“You should be supervising, not grunting, Lieutenant.”

“This is a very special case, Captain,  I was told to make sure that this particular case made it safely to the Ambassador’s cabin.”  Kadyr tried to explain.

“Oh, that case.  Carry on, Lieutenant, just make sure your men earn their pay.  Oh, have you seen Takoda?”

“Right behind you, Captain.” Takoda said softly.

Rikki almost jumped, but managed to keep it from showing.

“Where do we stand?  How are things coming along?”

“Well, we are missing five men, who couldn’t be found in our round up.  Two more are in the lock up, having survived a bar brawl.  It looks like the Dwarven Ambassador is on his way, and I’m not sure whether or not Zareb will be joining us tonight.”

“Have the third boat wait until noon tomorrow, before ‘shoven off’.  I want to make sure that the lost five try to make it, before declaring them a.w.o.l .”  Rikki looked out across the moon lit water and took a deep breath.  “Who is in the lock up?”

“Cavalrymen Yyan and Dobry.”

“Were they the cause or did they get mixed up in something?”

“I don’t know if they are the cause, but they are who ended it.” Takoda chuckled.

Rikki suppressed a laugh, “Can we get those two out of lock up?”

“I have already tried.  It looks like a job for Zareb.”

“If Zareb can get those two out, I want them to assist the River men in paddling….. even if they weren’t the cause of the brawl.  I want to discourage that kind of behavior.

“Permission to come aboard!”  a low gruff voice called.

“Who’re you?”  Radella called down.

“Kalgar, Trunonian Ambassador of the Mighty Ramah, Ruler of the Underground, Leader of the City Sherstone  and Emperor of Thame.

The River Master leapt from the top deck and  landed on the pier next to the Dwarven Ambassador.

“My apologies, Ambassador,”  Radella bowed to the Dwarf. “The Reeepooonians didn’t tell me that a great and noble dwarf would be keeping us company on this trip.  I’ll have the Reeepooonian Princess moved to a different cabin so that you may have the best that my meager Nituna has to offer.  The room is not fit for the likes of you, but I can have my daughter, fix it up to your liking.”

“That won’t be necessary, River Master, the Riponian Princess will need that cabin more than I.”

“Premilla!” Radella called over her shoulder.  “Premilla!”

“YesRiver Master!”  the voice called from an open porthole.

“Make my cabin ready for the Dwarven Ambassador.”

“Right away River Master!” the voice seemed more excited.

“Now River Master, that won’t be necessary.  I already have my stuff loaded into a cabin by now.  I’ll be fine.”

“Nonsense, Ambassador, I’ll have my handmaiden, Premilla move your belongings to my cabin, you will be more comfortable there.  Please, this way.” Radella escorted her prized guest up the gangplank.

“I got your message, Kalhoun.  I didn’t think that it would happen so soon.”

“Neither did we, Ambassador.  I’m sorry to have ruined your night.” Captain Kalhoun said.

“Baahh, I was out of the good stuff anyway.  There is only so much a Dwarf can take, looking a woman in corset, while trying to dance.  Did my special case make it aboard?”

“Lieutenant Kollyns looked after it himself.” Rikki smiled.

“Good, good.  You and your Sergeant need to join me in a toast later.” Kalgar stomped off after the River Master.

“Are all Hasslemereians that way towards Dwarves?” Rikki looked to Takoda,  “I knew they thought highly of the Dwarves, but not that much.”

“Only the people from the capital city, or from south of MereLake, they don’t get to see many.  The ones in the North, however, see them occasionally and aren’t as bad.”

Kalhoun turned from Takoda and looked down from his perch to the dock below.  “Cavalryman, is the Ambassador’s stuff loaded?”

“Yes, Sir, the last of it just went up.”

“So are the horses on the second boat?” Kalhoun turned back to Takoda.

“The second and third.  We may have to wait for the third boat to catch up with us.”

“Lieutenant.” Captain Kalhoun greeted as the young man joined them.

“Captain, Sergeant.”  Kadyr saluted each.

“Can you hunt down the River Master and let her know that we are ready to shove off when she is.”

“Yes, Sir.”  Kadyr turned and began his search.

 

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