Quest for the Treasure, Chapter 5

Fiction By Jackie West // 6/12/2010

It was night and very dark. A crude candle was lit by Mara as she prepared to perform rituals to get rid of the scar on her master’s face.

  Hadrian sat on his throne. “How did that girl get away?”

  “I don’t know,” Mara said.

  “Did I ask you?!” Hadrian roared.

   Mara started the rituals, chanting strange words from the ancient Galandrian language.

  “You’ve been doing these rituals every night for three years, but this scar hasn’t gone away,” Hadrian grumbled. “Mara, go to your room now.”

  When Mara had gone, Hadrian felt his scar. He picked up a goblet of wine, then set it down.

  “Jezebel!” he called.  “Select someone from the army to be my food taster. Now!”

  Soon, Jezebel entered, pushing before her a boy who looked to be about seventeen.

   “What is your name?” Hadrian asked.

   “Izniar,” the boy replied.

   “You are bold, Izniar,” Hadrian observed. “You are staring right at me.”

   “And? I am not frightened,” Izniar said. “Nasty scar, too,” he added.

 Hadrian rolled his eyes. “It’s a scar. Anyway, you are now my official food taster. This means, if you taste food that is poisoned, you die.”

 “Nice guy,” Izniar said to Jezebel.

 “Shut up!” Jezebel said, shoving him. “If any of Hadrian’s guards were here, they would have slit your throat for saying that.”

 “Assign him that room, the one of this chamber,” Hadrian ordered Jezebel. “Give him my food to taste before you lock him in it.”

 Izniar tasted the food. When Hadrian was satisfied that it wasn’t poisoned, Jezebel locked Izniar into his room.

  Hadrian relaxed, eating roasted chicken and fruit with his favorite drail wine. Jezebel sat across the room, eating the same food. The husband and wife were still wary of each other after their fight, and were glancing at each other, fingering their gold-handled daggers. .

 “Where are the spies?” Hadrian asked Jezebel.

 “They returned this morning,” Jezebel replied.”

 Hadrian rang a bell three times. In a little while, Pogisa and Pike entered.

  “Well?” Hadrian said. “Anything to report?”

  “I killed or injured the seekers’ leader,” Pogisa said.

  “They will be at Nachshon’s dwelling by tomorrow morning,” Pike added.

  “That old man’s still alive?” Hadrian said.

  “Yes, Master, though his age is 113. He still helps reassure seekers.”

  “He’ll be dead soon enough,” Hadrian said. “He’s too old to live much longer.” He waved his hand. “You’re dismissed. Go get somethin’ to eat.”

   The spies bowed and left the room as Hadrian continued his meal.

   When he finished, he selected ten of his best fighters, Tala, Pike, and Pogisa among them. They Gathered in the weapon room and told them to each pick a good weapon, and sharpen, clean, and improve them in any way.

   “Then meet me at the entrance, “he instructed. “ Understood?”

   “Yes, Master,” the fighters answered. They worked diligently, none of them wanting to miss out on a good fight, if there was one.

   Hadrian ordered the cooks to make packs of food, eleven in all, for each of the group that was leaving.

   Soon, all of the fighters stood ready to go, with provisions and weapons.

   “Fast march!” Hadrian ordered.

   The group set off swiftly. They covered a good distance quickly. By then, dawn was approaching, So Hadrian ordered a rest, to eat, and take a brief rest. Then they were off again.

   “Master, look, there is an inn!” Pike called.

   Hadrian rolled his eyes. “Yes, I know, I saw it ten minutes ago!”

 

 

   Mablevi saw the group. He quickly locked the doors and windows of the inn. He then called everyone to the living room, where they formed a plan.

   “It will not do,” he said,” To turn them down, for we are told to be kind to people that hate us. Unlock the front door, Manchu, and Chandra and Xenia, please prepare a meal for them.”

   Everyone followed the instructions, and the males went to wait in the hall for their rather unwelcome visitors.

   Hadrian walked to the door. “Let us in!” he called.

   Mablevi opened the door. “Please come in, sir.”

   Hadrian walked in. “I have come to search for a girl who is my rightful prisoner. If you do not let me look, I will kill you and everyone in the inn!”

   Mablevi motioned for everyone to stand aside. “Certainly, sir.”

   Hadrian pushed forward, and went right toward Emily, who had just come in from the backyard with a basket of freshly picked apples. She froze in terror at the sight of her former captor. Hadrian went right toward her and past her. Emily’s eyes and mouth were wide open, and she hardly dared to breathe.

  When they were gone, she looked quizzically at Chandra, who gave her a half-smile as she set the table with plates, utensils, and fruit salad, rolls, and ham.

  Then they hurried upstairs with a small lunch of their own to eat in Chandra’s room.

  Chandra set down the tray of food and turned to Emily.

 “I prayed in my heart that they would not see you,” she said. “I could not bear for you to be taken away.”

  “You’re kidding!” Emily said, amazed.

   Chandra grinned. “Nope,” she said. “I’m serious. It was funny, you know, when he demanded to let us look for you, and he went straight past you.” She giggled.

   Emily grinned a huge grin. “But he’ll probably get mad when he doesn’t find me. He’ll be furious! I don’t want to see him when he’s mad.”

  Chandra hopped off her bed. “Let’s clean the bathroom.”

  After they completed this chore, they ate their meal and went downstairs to help Xenia clean up.

  The dining room was empty. The table was a mess of dirty dishes and spilled food. Chandra grimaced.

  “And you lived with these people?” she said. “We’ve never had such sloppy guests before!”

  Emily shrugged. “I got used to it after a while. Let’s start cleaning up.” She grabbed some dishes and started toward the kitchen.

  Chandra wiped the food off the table and helped Emily clean the rest of the dining room. Then they did the dishes, while Xenia cleaned the rest of the kitchen.

  Then, Chandra took Emily down to the unusually warm cellar and showed her around.

  “These four desks are used by us,” Chandra pointed out. “We each have one. That wall over there is lined completely with shelves. We keep most of our books there. Those boxes have games in them. Mom and Dad each have an armchair, and Manchu and I have our own beanbags. We keep some extras for guests. We like to relax as a family.”

   Emily sat down on a comfortable beanbag.

   “Is it comfy?” Chandra asked.

   Emily nodded. “It sure is. I like it. I had one before I was kidnapped.

   Chandra sat down. “How did you get captured?”

   Emily scratched her head. “I’ll try to remember... but it happened more than three years ago...”

  Xenia came downstairs, holding a tray. She was followed by Mablevi and Manchu. The parents sat on their armchairs, and Manchu sat down on his beanbag. Xenia handed out fresh oatmeal cookies and cups of mixed berry juice.

  “I gave our guests rooms, so they’re sleeping now,” Mablevi said, wearily sipping his juice.

  Emily bit into a cookie. It was delicious, so she nibbled away at it, sighing happily.

  “So, Emily,” Xenia said, turning toward the person whom she was addressing, “Where are you from?”

  “Gaelan,” Emily replied.

 “Gaelan,” Xenia mused, tapping her chin thoughtfully. “Gaelan... that name sounds slightly familiar.

  “So, Manchu, are you keeping up with your studies?” Mablevi asked Manchu.

  Manchu reddened. “Umm... no, not really.”

 “Well, I’m not surprised,” Mablevi said. “We’ve been unusually busy these days.”

   Emily finished her cookie and dusted the crumbs off her lap. She tried to think of something to say, and the words that popped into her mouth spurted out.

  “I should leave soon.”

  Everyone else turned and stared at her. Emily wiggled uncomfortably.

  “Why?” Chandra’s voice broke the silence. “Do we not offer you much protection from Hadrian and his men?”

  “I...don’t know.” Emily fiddled with the rim of her cup.

  Xenia briskly stood up. “Well, if you’re leaving, then you’ll need supplies. Come along, Emily.  You too, Chandra.” She hurried upstairs.

  Xenia led them to the attic, where she unlocked a trunk and busily started pulling clothes out. Chandra dusted them off.

  Xenia selected two dresses from the pile. “Why don’t you go to the bathroom and try these on?”

  “Emily took them, went off, and tried them on. They fit perfectly. Xenia told her to keep them before she dug through some more clothes to find a good suit for Emily to wear when she traveled.

 

 

   Before long, Emily had clothes to wear, and Xenia pushed her in the direction of the kitchen with Chandra. “Let’s get food ready,” she told them. “Lots of good food for traveling.”

   Emily set about making biscuits. Chandra selected cans of home-canned fruits and vegetables, while Xenia made cookies and packed a backpack with food.

 

 

   It was almost suppertime before Hadrian and his followers came out of their rooms. They went through the inn, searching for Emily. There were many crashes, thuds, and other noises, as they ripped furniture apart, broke things, and stole everything that appealed to them. They stormed downstairs after their fruitless search.

   “Where is that girl?” Hadrian roared at Chandra.

   “Right there,” Chandra said, pointing at Emily.

   Hadrian walked over to Emily, whose breath caught momentarily. Hadrian was looking right at her.

    “Where?” he yelled. “I don’t see her!”

    Chandra chewed furiously on her bottom lip. “You’re looking right at her.”

    “No I’m not!” Hadrian exploded. He growled at his followers. “C’mon, let’s leave. We’re in a house of brainless fools!”

    The group stomped out.

    Emily gulped in air and glanced at Chandra.

    Chandra was chewing even harder on her lip. Suddenly, she couldn’t take it anymore and exploded into laughter.

    “Heehee, that was funny!” she giggled. “Staring you right in the face and he couldn’t see you. Heehee, oh, haha!”

    Mablevi looked at her in such a way that Chandra stopped immediately. The look on his face was severe.

   “Chandra Luana, it is not funny when we are saved from certain capture or death.”

   Chandra looked solemn when Mablevi finished his lecture. “Yes, Dad.”

   “Dinnertime,” Xenia called from the dining room.

   Everyone hurried in and sat down. Mablevi said grace, and everyone tucked in hungrily after all the excitement of the afternoon. The rolls, fruit salad, and crusty chicken pie were delicious.

  After the meal, Chandra and Emily offered to clean up. The dining room and kitchen were soon in order.

 

 

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