Dagger Of Kija
Chapter 3

Copyright© 2003-06-09

At that moment one fat old man in a blindingly garish robe was doing his best to entertain a crowd of locals who were getting very upset, not with him, the 'mind reading' trick was going flawlessly, with Greyshadow's whispered help. What had the townspeople upset was a sudden blanket of fog that had mysteriously rolled in from the north.

Gareth hadn't spent the last thirty years with a Mage who thought she had never met a spell she couldn't improve without recognizing the surge of power that had preceded the fog.

Someone was playing with the weather.

"Gareth," Greyshadow's whisper sounded slightly panicked. "Better look up the road, quick!"

In the middle of telling one gullible young man the contents of his pockets, Gareth surreptitiously glanced up the road. The smile never left his lips, but somehow changed slightly from Standard Carny Trickster to Man About To Be Executed.

"Should we run for it?" Greyshadow asked.

There in the road was a trio of horses, whose riders were all very familiar to the old Do standing on the stage. He didn't need any mind reading powers to tell who they were. Gareth's former Master, Hanna Jo, led the trio easing her horse through the crowd effortlessly using only her legs, freeing her hands to grab a weapon if needed. She swept the crowd with her eyes systematically, including a long pause at the foggy wake they left behind.

Wildhair seemed to have a slightly self-satisfied look on her as she rode behind the Do Master. There was an almost palpable aura of magic surround her, which Gareth had seen before often enough. She had been dabbling in magics not meant for her. Pteri did it all the time, causing Gareth no end of concern.

Bringing up the rear was Gareth's favorite tea and cake partner, the Dawn Shaman. He felt a tremendous attachment to the old lady, even though he didn't really know why. He even tried his own experiment with cross-training magic, by teaching the nearly deaf woman the Do 'Hear Footsteps' spell. It seemed to work... perhaps too well, as he suspected she now seemed to even hear thoughts.

Gareth shuddered and tried to modulate his voice a little higher to be less recognizable.

"Why did they bring he Dawn Shaman?" Greyshadow asked in a whisper.

The clopping of horses stopped in front of the stage. Gareth tried not to look up, but failed. Sure enough, the trio was looking straight at him. Although a small smile traced the lips of the Dusk Shaman, no discernable expression was on Wildhair's face. What was written on Hanna's face was the most complicated, she wavered between concern, disappointment, pride and... rage?

An angry Do Master was not something Gareth wished to see while trying to hide from the omnipresent eyes of Prince Kija.

"Would these three lovely young Noble women like to experience the mystery and fascination of real magic?" Gareth went into his spiel, as he noticed for the first time the swirls in the ankle deep fog where no one was standing. More trails approached the stage, some moving very fast.

"True magic?" Wildhair asked. "I thought all magic was forbidden in this kingdom except to Kija and his soldiers?"

"Well, umm, as to that," Gareth ran a finger around his ornate collar, loosening it a bit, "His Royal Highness does practice some crude illusions, true, but can he do this?"

With a great deal less speed and grace than the fat man actually had, he drew a rose from one voluminous sleeve, tossing a handful of rose petals into the air with the other. "Tah dah!" he said dramatically, displaying the rose to Wildhair.

There were a few groans from the audience, as no one, even the youngest children were fooled by the trick. He handed the rose to a lady in the front.

"Mommy, he pulled it out of his sleeve," a small child explained, tugging on his mother's dress.

"Actually," Master Ee San Do Hanna Jo commented expressionlessly now, "Very impressive, but as the child said, easily seen through. Like most tricks though, you have to know where to look."

The woman with the child grabbled his small hand and pronounced loudly, "He is a fake dear, just like every one said. Let's go home."

"Madam," the fat performer interrupted her departure. "Perhaps you should take this with you." He held up one thick finger with a small gold band, too small to go on past the nail.

"Mommy!" The little boy cried, "Isn't that your wedding band?"

The startled woman snatched it from the performer and slightly red-faced, retreated into the crowd.

"Always do the unexpected." Hanna nodded, approving. Then she turned to her companions. "Well ladies, we didn't travel all this way for a show, let's proceed to see the Prince."

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