Mention of the Great Drought made me remember Oakvale’s drought and the Dvergr dropping a bloody heart into the water hole outside of Southallow and all of the moisture disappearing.
“What caused the Great Drought?”
“I don’t know. Myrik, fearful for his son and wife, sent them to a sanctuary. The queen visited Crown City often, but frequently left her son at the sanctuary.”
He paused his tale to point out the faint light ahead.
“The outpost. The popular opinion of the queen changed – I’m not sure why – but people started to believe that she had the king bespelled and had the heir hidden away or killed. They believed that she caused the drought. They believed all sorts of untruths.” He shook his head. “Then The Owl killed Myrik, and the people turned against the queen completely. She and the heir disappeared and Grand Councilor Fadreel has been searching for them ever since.”
It started to sprinkle.
“And what has this to do with me?”
We crested a short slope and I saw the Sentinel’s outpost – a permanent camp of sorts consisting of a watchtower, a medium-sized log building, and a stable. The watchtower had torches giving light to the area. A line ran from the watchtower to the building and the strange humming that I’d heard in the communications center filled me again.
No one appeared to be out – the watchtower seemed empty of sentries.
A pebble bounced of my shoulder and I turned.
The man in the charcoal hood crouched near a bushy tree. Zat hovered over his shoulder and Rand stood behind him. I realized with a start that he was the man they claimed to be the Owl.
He gestured for me to come.
“Owl.” Vytar’s sword scraped from its sheath.
The Owl stood up and saluted him. “Give him to me.”
Vytar stepped in front of me and The Owl moved out to meet him, a gleaming curved sword in his hand.
Vytar took a swing and said, “Did you kill everyone in Trommel in your escape?”
The Owl parried without changing his intent expression. “You need better jailers.”
Vytar swung again, this time with more force. “I’ll put you in your grave. Escape from that!”
The Owl answered with his sword and they began a deadly dance.
From my uneducated view, The Owl had more grace and speed but Vytar had a longer reach and a heavier sword. They seemed evenly matched for a moment, until Vytar slipped and The Owl sliced his leg, cutting through the gray and black tabard.
I heard a shout and three of men ran from the building, waving swords. One had a crossbow.
The Owl checked his next swing, which surely would have ended Vytar’s life, and turned to me instead.
“Come with me,” He pulled my horse to him. I moved forward to stop him.
“No, Gestin, he’s a killer,” Vytar said.
The Owl mounted and held down a hand for me to join him.
“Come with me. Quickly.”
Zat buzzed around my head. I paused, uncertain.
“My lord, you’re the king’s son – he killed your father.”
A crossbow bolt whizzed past my head.
“Angestirian, I’m your uncle.”

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