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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Mandu


The capitol city of Mandu was the hub of the empire. All trade routes centered here and then branched out like the spokes on a wheel. It was on one of these routes the gang had traveled and then entered the city by. Usually busy with all kinds of people coming and going, the declaration and celestial sighting had many more people seeking entry into the city. The winding streets spun out like a spider’s web, and all were heavily congested.

Bo hated the fact that he would have to use a resource from his past to find them a place to stay while in the city. Just as he was getting ready to tell the others to take a break at a clearing not far from the market, CeCe asked Neko to escort her to an old friend’s. “This is not my first time within the walls of Mandu, my friend will be able to gain us accommodations for our stay here” she told the men gathered around her. “We shall return shortly” was her parting words as she led Neko away.

“What’s wrong big brother?” Dominic asked Bo as he headed for a food vendor not far from where they had stopped. Bo shook his head, as he watched the two forms get swallowed by the crowd. It was only then he realized Dominic had spoken.

As he waited for Dom to return, he took a long drink from his water canteen. Once again CeCe saved him from having to awaken his long buried past. He knew that the day was coming though when he would have to let his presence be known and the fact that he was alive would reach ears he would wish never to hear it of it. Dom came back with a cloth bag full of meat pastries. He passed one to Donny, before coming to stand beside his taciturn brother.

“What has you in such a mood? The closer we have ridden to the city, the more you have been in a weird mood. Not that you’re ever in a great mood, but you’ve been sharp with everybody and real jumpy. So what is it about the great golden city that has you so itchy?” Dominic asked as he handed a pastry to Bo.

Bo stared off into the distance, before answering. “This city holds bits of my past. Bits that I prefer not to think about but feel like somehow that old life is going to soon find its way to creep into this one and I don’t want that to happen. The times I spent here were not pleasant. I prefer to find what we need and make a hasty retreat if at all possible.”

Dominic watched his brother; Bo had taken his pastry and canteen and went to have a seat next to Donny.  He hoped that CeCe and Neko returned soon, he didn’t like being out in the open if his brother had enemies within the walls of the city. He didn’t have to wait long CeCe and Neko returned with a pretty girl named Silia, who led them to her mother’s boarding house.

They had been in the city two days, when Bo said he had some business to attend to and then left. Neko looked over at Dom, who just happened to be flirting with the pretty girl Silia. He had been smitten by the girl with the calico colored fur and spent most of his time chasing after her as she went about her duties. He managed to grab Dom as he was following Silia carrying a basket of bed linens. “Dude, let her get some work done without you under her feet, you don’t want her mama getting mad at her do you?” Neko asked him when he protested.

Dom watched as the girl went through the door and turning to Neko admitted “Nah, I already got her yelled at earlier. Her mother would kick us out if it wasn’t for her friendship with your sister.” He went over a flopped down on one of the cushioned benches littering the common room. “I hope we hear something soon, I hate this waiting. I thought there would be an announcement by now about this quest the Queen is wanting people for but all we do is sit and wait.” Neko had to shake his head in agreement with his friend on the loitering around sentiment.

Apparently Bo had been feeling the same because at that same moment he was entering the barracks to the royal guards. He was stopped and when he made mention of a name he was lead back to an austere office set away from the main comings and goings of the guard. The escort entered and told Bo to wait, he would get the man requested. Bo gave his agreement and watched the man go.

He walked to a window that looked out on one of the practice yards, memories flashing through his mind of his youth and time spent in practice within these very walls. So immersed in his thoughts, he didn’t hear the entrance of the man until he heard a grizzled voice speak. “I never thought to see you here again my boy, I never saw you as one with a death wish.  Why come back here now? Do you think your enemies dead and gone?”

Bo turned and gazed upon a face he thought never to see again. Azereus had been the man chosen to train him. Even back as a youth, Bo remembered Az had been the biggest guard in the royal guards. He had felt so scrawny next to the man. Know here they stood, Bo in his prime and Azereus weathered and gray. A black eye patch over his left eye. He at one time had charcoal gray fur but now it was more the color of fog on an early fall morning. A white beard covered his lower face. And just past the eye patch you could see the scar of the wound that had cost the old man his eye.

“I didn’t want to come but circumstances drew me here. I need your help, old friend. I need you to get me an audience with her. Hopefully without certain factions made aware of my presence. I need to know what she knows of the prophecy and what it is we are seeking. I know I am asking a lot, but if anyone can get me in it will be you as Captain of her guard. Please can you help me and my friends get in?”  Bo stood with his hands out in an open appeal to his mentor and friend.

Azereus stood looking at the boy grown to man. Where once a scrawny, weak youth had stood now stood a confident warrior. A man that he had fought side to side with and had have cover his back in more battles than he cared to remember. Bo’s tortoiseshell coloring mixed with the white goatee and blaze on his chest made him a handsome Felis, but his grass green eyes held wisdom earned through adversity. He knew he would do anything to help the man who had saved his life on more than one occasion.

“How many are we talking? I can’t let a whole bunch of un-sanctioned people traipse through the palace. I need specifics. And this is also if I can get her to give permission. She may not wish to see you; you have been away a long time. Tell me where you are staying and I will send word around when I have news.” Az watched as Bo actually expelled the breath he had been holding. He knew it took a lot for the prodigal son to return, so to speak. Looking at his timepiece he noticed that the guards would be heading for chow, so he headed for the door. “Hurry, while the men head to chow time, you can make your escape.”

Bo agreed and followed the old man down the hall and out of the barracks. Once away from the palace grounds he glanced back at the majestic palace that loomed over the city.  It had been built into a mountain, with wide sweeping balconies and broad verandas. There were stairways leading up into arched doorways all around and at the very top stood three spires.  Within the middle spire the Queen of Cameria slept.

Bo turned and headed back to the boarding house taking several twist and turns along the way as to lose any who might choose to follow him. He returned just as the occupants of the house were sitting down to the evening meal. He had hoped to get something to eat before being inundated with questions but that wasn’t going to be his fate. As soon as he entered the dining room, Dom stood up and met him at the door. “Where have you been? You’ve been gone all day. We we’re beginning to worry about you”

Bo pushed past his jabbering brother and took a seat at the table. He began to load a plate, while Silia poured him a flagon of ale. “I told you, I had business to take care of. Hopefully we will hear something in the next few days about this quest and then we can be on our way. Now sit down, shut up and eat.” Bo said as he took his first bite of dinner.  Dom looked at him and decided not to push it. He sat back down to his own plate and finished his meal.

A couple days later, they were all sitting out on the veranda enjoying the music from a wandering minstrel when a messenger arrived and asked for Bo. Bo spoke to him and took the rolled missive before handing the messenger some coin for his service. Everyone’s eyes were on him as he unrolled the parchment and read. Neko couldn’t stand the suspense any longer and just had to ask “Who is it from and what is it about? No one knows we’re here, at least no one that would be sending messages. Come on Bo spill it.”


Bo let the parchment roll back up and looked at the group before him. "Our time of waiting is over we have an audience with the Queen tomorrow.” Bo smiled as he watched the jaws of his family and friends drop open in surprise. She had agreed to see him. He placed a hand over his chest, rubbing it. He was going to see her again.

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