Jesop was sore but he wasn’t bed ridden anymore. His face was healed enough that once dressed no one would have any idea how sore he was. Treyven had come up and spent the last few days with him, the two of them limping about like old cripples. The company had been nice to have. He had not realized how much he missed the boys coming over.
Trey had been assigned magic classes with an old Wisdom woman and her small dragon who liked to talk a great deal. Trey thought it great that the Wisdoms talked as easily as people and as often, in some cases.
With a lesson under way Jesop went up to his office and set to snapping through his maps and reports trying to catch up. He was busy at it until he came across a report that was several days old and had a note attacked.
“Went to go check it out.”
Jesop went to his map and snapped it up and pulled the map northward to the route that Dart and Kerik had been on only a month before. He scanned through it sliding the map and shifting through it looking for the black dot.
He found Teven way farther north than he should have been and perched up over the North Pass. He snapped in as close as he could get and watched. They were not moving so they were watching. Watching what? He half growled.
He looked up at a slight noise and saw Trey standing in the office watching him.
“How strong is Storm’s reach?”
“Can he ask Tohke what the hell he thinks he is doing?”
“Hmm…no. Too far,” he said after looking at the map. “But he can relay the message.”
“No,” he held his head, it was hurting again and he half swore at that. “Damn it, Teven.” He wanted to punch something; to punch Teven. Frustrated and angry and all of it all the time was Teven’s fault. Teven was Keeper not a scout and Tohke was not in shape for that area.
When he realized he was actually worried about the man it made him even more upset. Furious at Teven he was about to shout but a gust of power escaped him. It made the lights flicker, papers flutter and a small mirror on the wall crack with a sharp little snap. He flinched down and half stopped breathing. Trey looked at the mirror. He tried to see if his shields had somehow come down but they felt to all be in place.
“Wow!” Trey breathed half shaky with the rush. “He really just pissed you off didn’t he?”
“Watch that spot and tell me if it moves,” Jesop said pointing at Teven’s black dot. He went to the report to study it and find out what was going on. What would make Teven run off when Teven was normally adamantly against such behavior?
It wasn’t long and he knew. There was a relayed message for back up and none to send. Jesop went back to the map to scan for a scout. The scout was gone. He was not on the map at all. It didn’t mean he was dead, Dart had vanished as well, a head wound of any sort would do that. He scanned north even up over the border to see if the scout had seen something and went o check it out…nothing. He snapped back to Teven.
Jesop stood with his hands on his hips watching the map. He tried to think of who he could send. Who could go and find out what was there and bring Teven back.
“What does he think he is doing? The Keeper is not supposed to ever go out alone. Why does he refuse to do anything like he is supposed to?” He rubbed his forehead. He tried to think what Sat could he send, what Ambassador even, but he wanted to deal with none of them and all of them would need a vote of the council on it. He had to work with the scouts and even then to get them out on such a move took votes. Everything about Teven being out there made Jesop feel ill. He had the sick sinking feeling that Teven was going to get killed and that would be the last straw, the nest would fall.
There was nothing he could do. This was really very bad. He tried to look on the bright side. At least Teven wouldn’t be here to harass him about things.
Teven had watched the orcs all day as they had hunted each other and killed one another in a small local war that was rather odd in a number of ways. It was so strange he had Witnessed the whole thing before he and Tohke flew north after the scout that had called for help. He had seen their markers and it pointed north and Tohke could still catch a scent trail so north they went.
Below them the mountains began to rise toward the North Wall. Teven felt a little ill as the wall of cliffs and high peaks began to rise before them. His father had vanished up here, he had been seen last on the North Wall and then went over it, off the map and was never seen again.
“Don’t think about it, Love.” Tohke said. “We are only here to find out where they went and get them back. Not to do border patrol.”
There wasn’t much to say to that and he really could only just fly on and not worry about it. Whatever had happened to his father it had been over 30 years ago and not even dragons bones would last that long in orc country and these days this far north everywhere was infested. It would take several decades and a full force to reclaim these lands.
Tohke aimed for a pass and they shot over the Wall and off the map he was sure. He wondered how long it would be before Jesop discovered they were gone and how he would feel about it. Likely rather happy. Jesop might even hope he never came back.
Tohke no longer fought with him about Jesop, not unless Tohke was really upset about it. They had gone in circles about things and ended up just mad at each other and that only made it worse for them all.
“I think your wrong, Love. He will worry for us.”
“Only if we are lost.”
“He knows this area Tev, he will be upset and worried.”
“I bet he’s rather relieved as well.”
“And whose fault might it be if he was to be relieved?”
“Drop it, Tohke.”
“I love you.”
They passed over the wall and the name sake was obvious. The mountains fell away almost at once with the peaks plummeted almost vertically into hills far below. The mountains beyond the Wall here were crumble topped and wooded in great ancient trees with sweeps of glaciers, like mountains themselves, reaching down out of the north toward the land of the dragons. There were many stories about the lands north of the wall but the history was nearly beyond time. Teven briefly wondered if there was anything witnessed about the truth. Maybe he would look when he got home.
The ancient glaciers had retreated some and in their retreat they had slowly left a forest that went right to their feet. Bogs, ponds and a million little streams wandered off to the east and to a great marsh.
Teven had heard of the drop and knew in his mind they were much higher than other nations that the altitude alone often was enough to keep any other nation. Still, not until he saw it all fall away did he truly begin to understand that the lowland here was still as high as many mountain peaks in other places.
Tohke cut for a lone peak that rose up out of the glacier. The mountain stood with the frozen river wrapping about its face with water falls pouring from the glacier front and down into a marsh of silt and dropped boulders.
Teven dismounted when they landed and moved to stretch out. He headed off into the growth that was far older than he had thought from the air and allowed Tohke to launch. He would fly about and try to find anything from the air.
Teven had not gotten far when Tohke directed him to something that had caught the light and could be smelled in the air. Teven stepped into a jog and headed off in the direction Tohke told him.
He had just caught a whiff of whatever it was Tohke was smelling, like rotten wet dog with a sick reek under it. Every nerve told him that he was not safe to get any closer than he was. He told himself that with Tohke in the air watching him it was safe enough to keep going. He ducked through the forest of trees and caught sight of color through them when Tohke cut him off.
“Teven, run, he said mildly.
“Run? I’m there.”
“Yes, I see that, you need to run up the mountain and get where I can grab you. Now,” he added a little impatiently.
Teven stepped into a run and headed up hill.
“I am running!”
“Faster!” A hint of concern was edging into his words and Teven used all he had to run uphill as fast as he could. The under growth was dense though and pulled at him making speed difficult. He heard a crack of a branch behind him and knew he as being chased.
“Veer Tev, Go down hill.”
“Now Teven! Down!”
He swore under his breath and turned. He ran downhill as fast as he could, veering off from the path he had been on. He heard the followers turn as well and come down at him with a bit more noise.
“How much further? I am about out of wind.”
“Not far, run!” Tohke was worried and strained now and it showed in his tone and the very feel of his “voice”. Teven was seriously about out of breath but there it was. The cliff came up so suddenly he didn’t even have time to try and catch the edge to launch clear. He was just falling with a shout.
Tohke shot downward as Teven went into cadet lessons of falling. He crossed his arm and closed his eyes trusting his Wing. Tohke grabbed him and snapped open his wings. Teven opened his eyes in time to see the world rushing at him so fast he shouted and flinched.
Tohke’s wing tips hit tree tops, Teven jerked up his feet out of reaction. One breathe and they were shooting upward away from the trees. Tohke caught a full wing beat and was free of the earth and the trees were safely far away.
“Nice jump.” Tohke teased with a pleasant tone. “I am rather glad no one saw that,” he added.
“You might have warned me.”
“I told you it wasn’t far,” Tohke said. He relaxed and circled back around. “Look at the snow field.”
Teven looked for a long time before he saw it. There were dragon bones, not all of them but a few of them scattered in the snow. They could see blood spotted about in the snow. The scout had put up a fight if nothing else. The dragon had likely been wounded and gotten that far. Seeking an area to fight from or a peak to get to and defend.
“It is witnessed.” Teven said with his heart going cold. “What was that thing after me?”
“I have no idea, Love. I’m not going to be sleeping well tonight.”
“So what were they doing up here any way? If they were following those things they would not have been wounded so easily, or gone off so far, so what brought them this far north?”
“I don’t know but I don’t like it, Love.”
“So do we head back?”
“No,” they both said as one. No, they had come this far and it was unfair to the dead to just leave it like that. They had to at least try and learn what had cost them there lives. Neither of them though that the creature below had been able to take a dragon, it had likely only taken advantage of a dead one. Then again neither Tohke nor Teven had seen it well. There was no telling for certain even what it was.