Descending Fire 7 continued,
After the questioning had finished, and Hatellus and Gissig had left, Piper and Aster had a private questioning period with Indebted Blood of Fire. I’m not sure what exactly they hoped to learn from the man, given that he had answered all of our questions earlier. Still, Aster and Piper thought it wise to continue to press him. I wasn’t about to argue.
As they questioned, I trained around the compound, but returned to check on them after a little while. Aster had finished her questioning, and was bringing the man some food. Even the most vile of enemies, Aster shows compassion for. I respect that about her.
I continued training around the compound once they were done. I’ve found that I think the best when I’m pushing myself. So that’s what I did. I pushed myself, and I thought. I thought about Indebted Blood of Fire, and the situation he has brought up. 10 legions of Presad, and 2 dragonbloods did sound like a sizable force, but at the same time, I suspect they’re underestimating us. While It’s true that Indebted Blood of Fire was watching us, I’m not entirely sure he truly knows our true abilities. I’m not sure I even know our abilities. Or my own for that matter.
Since the fall, I’ve grown stronger than I could have ever imagined during my old life, and I continue to grow stronger every day. During my fight with Mauk, I realised that I may not be as strong as I think I am, but at the same time, I am not totally sure. I had pushed myself to my limits during my retreat from Champoor a couple months ago, yet it felt like it’s been years. Maybe I should consider another retreat. Some time to meditate and reflect on what being a Solar is truly about.
In the meantime, all I can do is trust myself and my friends to try to do what is best in the moment. With any luck, things will work out in our favor.
Eventually, I see Broken Walls coming back in the distance, but I only climbed down from the central tower that I had been scaling when Piper and Aster called to me.
Piper suggests a take a trip to the outrageous flagon, where Indebted Blood of Fire was headed when we managed to catch up to him. If we would be able to find his ally, Wonders of Forsaken Dreams, we may have better luck stopping this invasion that Indebted Blood of Fire had suggested.
Initially, Piper thought it would be best to go alone. That was shot down quickly. I quickly volunteered to go with Piper, but he gave me the strangest of looks when I did. Almost to say he would prefer not me, but not going as far as to say it out loud. Chaoxi suggested I wear a cloak to cover my uniform. I would normally disagree with covering up, as I have many times in the past, but I relented on this occasion. Covering up during travel, when we are attempting to sneak up on a target makes sense in this case. Still, I didn’t feel fully comfortable with the idea.
Piper and I headed out fairly quickly, but the trip took a fair deal longer than when Broken Walls and I had headed in this direction. We were on horses this time, and as nice as it was to not have to be running the entire way, I couldn’t help but feel like they were going slowly just to irritate me.
Descending Fire 8
We rode through the night, stopping only briefly to water the horses. As we got closer, Piper decided to change his form, changing to a woman he named Genna. I’m not entirely sure why he chose to don this new appearance now, he could have easily done it before we left, or even when we were watering the horses. Still, I’m sure he has his reasons.
When we arrived at the Outrageous Flagon, we secured the horses at the stable. Piper had planned to spook Wonders of Forsaken Dreams, and flush him out towards the stable, where I would ambush him. This wasn’t exactly what I thought was the best idea, but then again, this whole operation was out what I considered normal. I trusted Piper, and wished him luck as he ducked inside the front door of the Flagon.
As I sat in the stable waiting, I regretted not asking Piper to bring out some food. It had been a long trip, and while I don’t mind the rations we packed, the smells coming from inside were quite enticing.
Piper did eventually return, but did so empty handed, and that included without food. I looked at him judgingly. It was fine. I could get my own food.
Or so I thought. Piper stopped me when I started to head inside, saying that he wasn’t finished yet, and that he would bring me something to eat if that was all I was worried about.
It wasn’t all I was worried about. I of course wanted to find Wonders of Forsaken Dreams, but having a nice meal while doing so wouldn’t be so bad either.
I waited for another few hours before Piper returned. Still no Wonders of Forsaken Dreams, but at least this time he had snagged a ham loaf for me. I’m pretty sure the rations we had packed were tastier than the loaf was. As I choked it down, I could only assume this was Piper’s idea of a practical joke.
Piper hadn’t stayed to watch me eat of course. He had gone back inside to look for our target. The building wasn’t that large, and there couldn’t have been that many people inside. Just how long was this going to take?
As I had gotten fairly bored, I walked around and checked out the other horses in the stable. I wouldn’t say that I know much about horses, but I’ve seen enough to know which ones are usually owned by the wealthy types, and which by the warriors. I suspect that Wonders of Forsaken Dreams would have ridden a fast horse, being in the information business. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any that stuck out, and on top of that, all of their saddle bags were either empty or missing. So much for me finding clues.
I did manage to befriend a little bunny, but it scampered off quickly once Piper returned.
It looked like we were going to be here a while. Piper had rented a room for herself inside, but insisted I stay out here just in case. I begrudgingly agreed, and hopped up into the hay loft, where I could still see the horses, but also be comfortable as well.
Piper woke me up when the breakfast crowd had begun to gather, warning me to be ready for travelers returning to their horses.
Five men eventually came out, each taking their own horse. Two of them took notably nicer horses, with fancier travel bags. I wondered if one of them might be the man we sought, but as Piper had not come back outside, I doubted it. I took note of the directions they headed off in just in case.
Piper returned empty handed once more, but this time returned without any other ideas as well. He believed that either Wonders of Forsaken Dreams wasn’t here, or that he had eluded Piper, and left already. I told him of the five men who had left, and Piper suggested we could catch up to them. While I am sure we could catch up to the riders, without knowing which rider to catch, I was hesitant to do so.
We instead headed back towards Champoor, hoping we could find some insight from the others when we shared what we found at the Flagon. Maybe Indebted Blood of Fire had given some more information while we were gone.
As we rode through the city towards the compound, we ran into Broken Walls in the temple district.
When we explained what we had discovered at the Flagon, he told us that it was the blonde haired man that was likely our target.
The blonde haired man was one of the men who had headed off in the direction of Presad, and his horse was one of the fancier ones, so it did make sense.
We decided that it would be faster for me to run this time, though I would need Piper’s help to track our target en route. Even carrying Piper, it would still be faster than taking the horses. And so, we gathered some basic supplies and headed out.
Descending Fire 9.
It was my second day without a full night’s sleep, although this time I was running. Piper was at least more comfortable than Broken Walls was to carry. Broken Walls would fidget as I ran, never really getting comfortable, but Piper I think may have fallen asleep at one point. He was quiet at least.
I ran for at least 10 hours straight. Eventually, Piper beckoned me to stop, before hopping off my back. He began sniffing the ground like a hound, even tasting it at one point. Eventually, he pointed into the woods saying our target went that way.