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The Fireside Tales - Chapter Fifty-One
Chapter Fifty-One: Suspicion

"It is coming to the end. When loyalty turns to betrayal and when bonds are tested."

The trip back to Magnimar was mostly quiet. Valtyra and Bubnug rode on their horses at one side of the road both contemplative. She was thinking about the letter and its implications. They would eventually have to go to that damned place. Hell, Lotho and Alicia were talking about it even now. Valtyra did not want to go. That place had memories that have sunk into its soil and she did not want to wake them up again. Shayliss had been great at helping her get passed them, but there was still stuff that could ruin her if it came back up.

Bubnug was looking up at her with that worried expression on his face. The little creature had been with her for numerous years yet he was never told Valtyra's past. He just had to watch her toss and turn in bed or see her relive it right in front of her. Yet, he stuck it right next to her. He and Shayliss both.

She shook her head. This was no time to break down. Focus was needed if they wanted to get back safely. They had dealt with the problem in Magnimar yet, as the letter stated, there was more going on. At any point someone could come out and attack.

"But why build up this greed?" Lotho was asking, "It does not make sense."

"It is obviously some kind of power." Alicia responded, "And they are storing it somewhere. We could go there and destroy the supply."

"We would need to know where it was."

"There is Turtleback Ferry." A shiver crawled down Valtyra's spine, "If the letter is right, then we could certainly get some information from there."

"True enough." He nodded, "And they also have control of Fort Rannick. It would be beneficial to retake it. I believe the Black Arrows had control of it before an attack of giants." He turned his head to look up at Valtyra, "You don't know anything about that, do you?"

The half-elf froze as the other two turned to look at her as well. The question was asked innocently, but she could see the thoughts behind the halfling's eyes. He knew something. Probably not the whole truth, but he was putting the pieces together and coming up with conclusions that she did not like.

"Why would I?" Valtyra asked, trying to cover up the momentary pause.

His eyes glanced at the ring on her hand, "The seal on that ring. It is the Black Arrow crest."

Sudden anger clashed with the other emotions roiling in her belly, "So?"

He shrugged, "Either you stole it, it is your's, or it is a loved one's. And while you were a pirate, you are not the type to have stolen something like that. So, you have a personal connection to them."

"You BASTARD!"

Metal shrieked and ice crackled. Valtyra's rapier flashed down towards the halfling with a violent scream roaring from her mouth. An ice shield formed from Lotho's arm and he raised it to defend himself. It would not have mattered. He was too slow. If the blade continued on it would slice right into his head and be a fatal blow. Not even his shield would be able to protect him. And Valtyra saw it in his eyes when he realized it.

But sudden fire exploded in between the two of them.

Rapier clashed against blazing metal and Lotho's ice shield slowly melted into a watery pool below him. Heat nearly sent Valtyra off of Shadowshine and even the horse let out a snort. When she recovered, the half-elf found Bubnug riding between the two of them. His face was contorted in the face of a leader ready to lay down the law and his horse kept looking between each of them as if saying 'I dare you.'

Valtyra gritted her teeth, "Get out of my way."

The goblin shook his head, "You need to calm down, Missus."

"But-"

He narrowed his eyes and she hesitated. Lotho behind Bubnug snorted as if satisfied with the outcome. Yet, Bubnug turned his attention to him next, "What you think you doing?"

The halfling raised his eyebrows, "What do you mean?"

"You know. Inciting violence out of Missus is not good."

"You defend her? Even though you know she is hiding something?"

Valtyra growled and Shadowshine took a step forward, but Strider, Bubnug's horse, whipped his head back around and let out a threatening whinny. Shadowshine backed off, but not without a threat of its own.

"She not." Bubnug said, "Not anything about this."

"And how do you know? You have seen her. You have heard her nighttime screams. About giants and burning buildings. And she wears the ring of a group that was almost killed off by the Kreeg Giant Clan!" Lotho waved his hand at Valtyra, "These things cannot be a coincidence! Especially when our next target may be Fort Rannick, the home of the Black Arrows! She has to be hiding something! And I will not tolerate that when lives are at stake!"

Valtyra's teeth gritted together. She wanted to attack. She wanted to launch herself at that halfling and kill him. He dare say that she was in suspicion? He had no idea what she had gone through.

Below her, she could feel Shadowshine moving back and forth as if eager to get a fight started. The fire of the phoenix in front of her face made her hesitate. While she was good, and she taught Bubnug how to fight, the goblin has come a long way. And he had a bird on his side. Even if he ended fighting both of them, he would be able to easily handle it enough to tie them in knots and drag them back to Sandpoint by force.

Instead of attacking, she kicked Shadowshine into motion and raced ahead of the group. As she did, she saw that Alicia had her bow drawn and aimed at her. Yet, as Valtyra rode away, she did not feel an arrow dig into her back.

The light from Bubnug's sword faded away.


Do you have any comments, questions or concerns? Please leave a comment or email me at sean.francis@rivalcastmedia.com!

Also, you can follow me on Twitter for updates on The Fireside Tales, or just random statements I may make: @Miggnor23.

I'm quite lost. Can I see the previous Chapter?

I just arrived! Could I see the first chapter?

Next Chapter Coming On January 6th!
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