Tareth Chapter 3
By: Dylan The elevator slowly lifted to the ground, not real jerky like it looked it should've. I looked out onto the prairie that surrounded me. The Harbor sat a little more than a quarter mile from where I stood. I was grateful because while I felt a little rested, and Talon now had my pack, my legs still wobbled a bit. I took a deep breath to fill my lungs, now that I could breathe properly again, when I couldn't in the stifling heat. I could catch hints of everything from the smell of the grass to the fresh baked pies in the bakery. You could never tell what was on the other side of the wall. I began to walk, no, run to the city. I could just imagine the bed in the Inn, perfect for rest for a weary traveler. I gained speed, treading through the tall grass. The overhanging tree limbs whipped my face, and the cool breeze washed away the long day of sweat. I was going so fast, that I didn't see the kid sitting against a tree with his legs sticking out. "Owww." we both moaned in unison. Apparently my fall had dragged him with me, and probably knocked his head on the trunk of the tree. "Ahh!" the boy then yelled angrily, "you wuined it. I've been wooking all day on this!" He began to gather up his papers, "And, and, and." He continued to babble on about how it was all my fault, but I didn't pay much attention to him. I gathered up my coins that had spilled from my fall, and I returned them to my pouch. "What are you doing, sitting in the middle of the road?" I asked abruptly. He stopped babbling when he heard me say something. "I.I. was d-dwaing," he said childishly while holding up a portrait with a long thin tear down the center. We both presumed that I had caused that. I threw him a silver coin for his troubles, "Don't cry about stuff like that. "Gee thanks mista," he said greedily, "What's yo name?" "Da...," I began forgetfully, "Mac." "That's a cool name, DaMac. My mom's going to find out how nice you are right now." "No, no, that's all. right?" he disappeared before I finished my sentence. I walked the rest of the way to make sure that all the kids in the city's favorite pastime wasn't blaming strangers for accidents and getting money off of them. Although Talon had said they tried to keep the Harbor small, the view from the crest of the hill outside the town proved anything but this. The streets were bustling with activity and street carts with people trying to sell things. It appeared I wouldn't have to strain myself to keep a low profile. "Fresh Shrimp! Straight from the harbor!" bellowed a round man outside a wooden shop. "Fruit, get it from the in-town orchard!" "Get your fine lady some jewelry!" The roar of the city swallowed me up, and ignored any change of presence. I walked down the streets doing my best to fit in. I looked for the inn among other things that appealed to my eye. Although larger than most of the other buildings, the inn desperately needed repair, and a new paint coat, and sign. 'IZ' the sign read with a crooked "n", and a missing one, along with spots from things thrown at it such as eggs, and tomatoes. The inside changed as drastically as the wall had changed the landscape. The Lobby was furnished with finely polished chairs, and shelves stacked with books. A crooked old man sat behind the counter twiddling his thumbs. He gave me a cold look as I trotted on his Indian rug. I peered into his pupils, but saw only darkness. His lights had gone out years ago, but somehow he managed to live a normal life. As I stared back his eyelids hung lower than I knew possible. He was a tired old man, with such an angry look on his face, that if the inn didn't scare you away, he would. He sat up straight in his chair as I approached, and began to finger through some files. " ?" I said awkwardly. "Yes?" he croaked. "I need a room," I began "Yes, yes of course you do. I began to wonder when you were going to arrive Mac. I knew you were going to come." I blamed this on one of those Rangers in the circuit, probably Talon. I never did know how long I was up there before I woke up. It could've lasted hours, but then Falitar suggested I stay at the Inn too, so I didn't need to waste my time pondering on it. He handed me a key to my room. "Here take this, your room's upstairs but try not to attract any unwanted attention; you're hiding something, you can't hide that from me." He closed his eyes in quiet satisfaction, as if he needed to rest them. "Call me Greer," he continued, "everybody else does." I went upstairs to find my room. There were only five doors a surprisingly small inn. I fit the key into a rusty keyhole. The fairly large room contained a nice sized bed, chair, desk, and bathroom. A lamp sat on a small red wood table next to the bed. A glass door hung open to a balcony with a view of the city. From here I could see where I expected I needed to go to meet Falitar and Zorak in the morning. I emptied most of my money onto the bed, so as not to enhance my chances of being tempted to buy useless junk. I latched the glass door, and locked the other one, and then I left for the streets. Greer had disappeared from his post, but I suspected that my money was as safe as it could get with the inn looking the way it did. It wasn't about to attract thieves. I walked out onto the street, pretending to be a commoner. I walked along the rough streets, getting bumped by numerous people, and pulled into stores by excited shop owners. When I made my way down "Main Street", I still hadn't found the stables. I traveled up and down a few side streets, but I still couldn't find it. On what appeared my last chance, I found it. It was a little ways off of the main roads, but not too hard to find if you knew the streets. It sat upon a grass-eaten hilltop with a small corral encasing it. I approached it with caution, considering my recent encounters with the villagers. I ambled inside the stable. A middle-aged man sat slumped over in a chair. I presumed most people didn't need a horse here. There weren't a whole lot of places to visit, not to mention it was a pretty nice place to live in regardless. I tapped the man on the shoulder, and he drew up his head slowly. "Wow," he yawned, "a customer. Pick out a horse, then wake me up again, and then you can pay for 'em." He slumped back over without any acknowledgment that it would be pretty easy to leave without paying. There stood eight stalls in the stable, six of which contained animals. I grabbed the best looking one, and unlatched its stall. I tried to yank it out, but it had more muscle than I did, so it just reared and kicked me to the floor. I now had to take in the economical aspect, because I certainly wasn't going to be able to steal a horse. The first horse looked as if it would die once it got out of the stables. The second one looked like it would make it to the edge of the corral. The third one, though not completely reliable or physically stable, he compensated for a better choice than the other two, and a more affordable price than the well- groomed ones. I opened the gate to check his stability. I ran my hand down his mane in a gentle way. "Ooh, that tickles." "Who..Wh..Wh..Wh, said that?" Maybe I was going crazy because someone definitely said something. "Me, stupid," the voice sounded exasperated. I looked around scared the spies had tracked me down already. But there appeared to be no one there except the sleeping stable hands. "Neigh, Neigh," it mocked me in a non-horse sounding voice. "Bu, B.B, But horses can't talk." "You're right, horses can't talk, but that's why I'm not a horse." I gave him an extremely queer look. "I'll explain later. Just hurry up and buy me before loser over there thinks you're crazy. No he can't hear me. Don't you think I would've made him go crazy a long time ago if he kept hearing voices from a seemingly empty stable?" I guessed he could read my mind because he kept answering all my questions I formed in my head to ask him. I woke the man up to pay for the thing, (because he obviously wasn't a horse) but he just howled at me in an uncontrollable fit of laughter, and managed a, "good luck," among his roars of laughter. "What was that about?" I formed a question into words once we were safely away from the stables, but I picked up his thoughts rather easily. 'I've bucked off everyone except you, in order to keep them from buying me. He thinks you're crazy to buy me, but he doesn't know that you were picked to buy me, and that I won't buck you off. I think he made me cheap so that he could watch everyone fall off just for kicks.' "Oh," I sighed, "that makes sense." "Don't talk," he commanded abruptly, "just think. It won't make you look crazy." 'Can I ride you,' I thought. 'Sure. I'll pretend to be a horse even though I'm not.' I jumped up the saddle, and he began to go at a slow trot. 'What are you then.' 'I'm your companion.' "My What?!" I nearly fell off my companion. 'Shh! Don't talk. Geez I'd thought they'd teach you something in your training about your family.' 'What about my family,' I was careful not to talk, but I still seethed with anger. 'What's wrong with us? Huh? And what are you, . a .companion?' How irritating it is to have everybody know something about you, and they never told you is beyond comprehension. 'First of all, I'm not the right person to tell you about your family. I AM TOO A PERSON! DON'T INSULT ME LIKE THAT EVER AGAIN! Your Dad's going to have to explain everything. Yes, I know you haven't seen him for five and a half years, but we're going to meet him at the pass of Yarsnick. About Companion, look it up in a dictionary, it means the same thing. Oh, wait, they haven't invented dictionaries yet. I felt head throbbing confused about all this. I had recently felt extremely intrigued about my past, but if I had a hard time with this, I wasn't sure I wanted to know. We rode back in silence; he was apparently flabbergasted at my tiny amount of knowledge, and I was utterly confused. I put my horse, no wait, companion in the Inn's stables. 'What's your name,' I realized I didn't know it. Everyone seemed to know mine, it didn't matter if I knew theirs. "Ye' haven't named me yet. I have names in other worlds but not here.' I didn't ask why. 'How 'bout spot.' He glared at me; I thought it funny. 'Or Flonderon.' 'What's that mean?' I shrugged; I thought it just sounded cool. 'And what's yours? I just got assigned a few months ago, but they never told me your name.' 'Tareth,' I answered. 'Ranger code I presume. Well that's a start; now you have two names. I have seventy-two.' Greer must have known something was wrong because he only said one thing. "Sometimes the eyes can deceive, you have to be smart with the privilege you have. I learned that the hard way." Later on I would learn what he meant by this, and it would be some of the wisest words I ever heard, but I was too tired now to try and decipher it. I went up to my room and flopped on the bed. I fell asleep instantly. * * * * * "Don't play stupid with us Greer we know there's a Mac here." I was half- awake by the time I heard this statement. There had been other noises preceding this, but nothing that really got my attention. "I don't know what you're talking about," Greers' raspy voice poked in the darkness. I became immediately alert of the danger I presently had dug myself in. But who could it have been. I didn't have the time to wonder though; Greer was buying me time, and I just continued to throw it in the trash. I gathered up my few belongings, and tried to make the room look as empty as possible in as short a time. The glass door slid open without any noise. Jumping would make to much noise, plus I would probably hurt my foot, giving them an unfair advantage. My last option was to slip down as slowly and quietly as possible. So I lifted my weight over the rail and slowly slid down. Splinters embedded themselves into my fingers rather painfully, but I had no other options. I glanced into the stables to check and see if Flonderon was still in there. He was. Must've given them trouble when they tried to scare him out. He was waiting alertly for me. My hands trembled from the splinters, and my nervousness to get away. As soon as I sat upon the saddle, a blood-curdling scream erupted from the second floor. "HE ESCAPED, HOW DID HE GET OUT! YOU GO NOW! DON'T COME BACK UNLESS HE'S DEAD!" Flonderon didn't need any encouragement, and just raced off at top speed. A blast sounded from above us and whisked me by the ear. I trusted Flonderon to get us out of this mess, but I had not come unguarded. My quiver itched to be used, so I aimed and would've shot if we weren't so far away. More shots continued at us, come but they became more and more careless as they progressed. Flonderon slowed down, assuming we weren't being chased. 'Go faster,' I urged him, 'I can hear hoof beats.' He apparently couldn't go any faster, so he made a series of intricate turns that we both hoped would loose them. Luckily we did, but I could've sworn I heard swords clash in the backgrounds. 'That was close,' we both agreed, 'to close.' He slowed down to a walk, and let me off. He needed rest, but we couldn't take any chances, and this had to sustain him for now. We reached the edge of town, but dared not venture further if there were any bandits out there. A black horse crossed the horizon at a distance, but it took no notice of us, and probably wouldn't have been able to see us anyway. The Sun was beginning to break over the horizon in a multitude of colors. We would loose our cover of darkness if we didn't hurry up, so I once again pulled my self onto Flonderon. My hands stung from the splinters, but I would soon take care of that. We rode slowly so that no one would think we were out of the ordinary. A large oak tree sat a little ways out of town, and it would make a good spot to meet everyone, so we parked there, and waited. A few minutes passed until we saw a cloud of dust rise outside of town. Falitar and Zorak greeted me merrily, thankful that I was all right. But there were two more members with them that I recognized. Kapo and . Ken. He jumped up to me as I held out my hands in a reuniting of brothers. "He wouldn't let us leave without him," Kapo explained. I smiled at him; Ken had a way of making people give him his way. "We should be off," Zorak suggested. 'No, we shouldn't,' I tried to impress them. "Talon's coming too." They looked impressed, which I hoped for. "Who taught you Mac," Falitar asked, "your horse." They all laughed except for Kapo, he probably knew. At that moment Talon came riding up, sheathing his sword. "Sorry I'm late. I had some business to attend to. Thanks a lot Mac, you did a real fine job of keeping a low profile." I gawked at him, but Kapo took my side. "Don't blame him, he doesn't know what half the spies can do. And I'd not be surprised if they got hold of one of you. It takes skill to keep from getting caught." Sorry, Talon motioned, but I was just happy to have some protection now; in fact I wouldn't have been surprised if it was the best in the world.