Chapter 22

Leopold lead Zwain down the cobblestone path of the courtyard. Rather than have Zwain stay at some inn, it was agreed that he could stay in Leopold’s quarters while assisting Finnegan in recreating the portals. This would be no problem for Zwain except that this place lacked the technology required to pull it off. Plus he was not fond of working any more closely with the wizard.

“Here we are, Sir Zwain,” said Leopold as he pushed open the door causing the hinges to creak.

The place was quite modest for a castle quarters. No tapestries hung on the walls. A few little sculptures could be spotted on the fireplace mantle, a couple of books on the shelves and barely any furniture. Leopold was out patrolling quite often and had no need to decorate his home since it was merely a place to sleep.

“Again with the Sir,” sighed Zwain, “Leopold how many times will I have to tell you not to be so formal.”

“My pardon, Zwain. Also I must apologize for my words the other day. Now that I have had time to reflect upon them, it was wrong of me to misjudge your words the other day. After this morning, I can clearly state that I am in agreement with your assessment. Being creator of the rules doesn’t make the man exempt from them.”

“He seemed really eager to not have me released. Was it really his suggestion to allow for the appeal?”

“Yes, it was he that suggested the King give you a chance to prove that you could not create the portal again.”

“It just does not make any sense. If he was truly threatened by my wizardry, then why even give me the opportunity to have a chance to be free.”

“Mayhaps he had other reasons for wanting to see you play your guitar once again.”

Zwain stopped, thinking back to what Finnegan was doing while he was playing. That focus of his eyes as Zwain’s fingers danced over the guitar’s strings. “You might be on to something there, Leopold. He does want to know how to make the portals, but doesn’t want to share in researching it. He must have his own agenda then.”

“What could he possibly be planning then?”

“That’s what we need to figure out, but first, I want to look around the town. This is all new to me and I want to check things out. This place is awesome!” Zwain entered into the spare bedroom that was to be his and laid his guitar up against the wall before leaving the home with Leopold.

“So the day we met, what were you doing at the Orc encampment?”

“We received word that the Orc Chieftain, Unklar, had set up a camp not to far out from the castle and that they were attacking caravans to prevent us from receiving supplies. I was ordered to grab our most elite guard and go scout out this camp in the early morning. Orcs usually raid at night, so we would’ve had the upper hand on that bunch.”

“You mean six guys would have had no problems handling a couple of dozen orcs and a whole shitload of their dogs?”

“That was not the report Finnegan gave us. He claimed that Unklar had formed a small band of raiders. Three, maybe four at the outset. Also, they usually only bring a couple of dogs alongside them on these little ventures. Are you sure that is what you saw?”

“From my perspective, I opened up a portal that unleashed a raging horde of monsters onto a group of people who wanted nothing more than enjoy the music of my band. They also killed my best friend. A horror like that burns in the back of your mind. There is just no way there was only a few of them. Also, why would the chief of the Orcs be part of this random raiding party.”

“I always just assumed they were that dumb. Unklar would have been more than capable of doing things by himself if he needed to. It truly was a great feat for you to have taken him down as you did. I do hope that you join up with us in the guard. After you’ve solved the portal situation, of course.”

“Oh I’m not helping out that wizard.”

“But the King–”

“The King, and apparently even yourself, can’t see what is going on here. Finnegan is plotting something. How can you not question the information he provided to you and your scouting party? The orcs were in place to kill you all. All the best guards of the King, dead from some misinformation.”

Leopold got lost in his own thoughts and fell silent as Zwain and him walk past the wall, entering into Steveston. The place was busy with the hustle and bustle of the afternoon market. Peasants looking to undercut the merchants, and merchants trying to oversell their wares. There was men and women huddled up in the corners of buildings, homeless and dirty. A man in a tattered, grey cloak limped around from person to person asking them questions that Zwain was unable to hear.

“Are you certain about Finnegan?” asked Leopold, sidestepping to the right to avoid a fresh pile of horse shit.

“Every time something not quite right has shown up, his name has always seemed to follow. I think it is a safe bet.”

Leopold straightened up and turned to head back to the castle. “We must warn King Stephen at once!”

Zwain grabbed him by the arm to stop him. “Hey, we can’t just go in there an accuse one of his top advisors right to his face. Finnegan will definitely have excuses prepped for just that sort of thing.”

“But if the wizard is planning some sort of treasonous act against our King, then surely it is my responsibility to stop him. I am the captain of the guard.”

“Sure, but let’s find something more concrete than a hunch.”

“Con… what?”

“Shit, right. Probably not a whole lot of cement in this time, is there?”

“Zwain, you say the oddest of things.”

“What I mean is that we need to find evidence more damning towards the wizard. Now I’m thinking that we had back to that camp and look around and see what Unklar was up to just before I let him into my world.”

“You say world, as if you consider yourself not from our Earth.”

“It’s a long story.”

“Well, it is a decent walk back out to that place. Mayhaps you could impart me with enough of it to help you make sense to me.”

Zwain laughed and clapped Leopold on the shoulder, “Back when I was young, my father started up an orphanage…”

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