The Traveler By Lady Faelyn Rose Chapter Six Bronson charged across the sandy beach as the Dark Father disappeared into the tunnel leading to the Gauntlet chambers. He heard the monster’s roar echoing off the walls as he passed through the entrance. Ahead he could see the back of the gigantic creature as it chased Jeanne Rose. Bronson ran close to the uneven walls of the passageway in an attempt to see past the Dark Father. He caught a glimpse of Jeanne’s light blue dress before she traveled out of sight again. He dodged two ghouls and a lich… literally shoving the lich aside in his frenzied attempt to catch up with Jeanne before the Dark Father crushed her. The lich hit Bronson with a bolt of lightning, but it did not slow him down. Bronson knew that once Jeanne reached the open room which connected the Gauntlet chambers she would be trapped with no place to run. His mind raced as he tried to formulate a plan to draw the Doom Boss’ attention away from her. He was only a few feet behind the Dark Father when Jeanne came into view again. For an instant he saw a flash of green cloth floating around her shoulders. As the green material of a cape settled upon her body, Jeanne Rose disappeared before his eyes. The cloak of invisibility! She had used it! Bronson stopped in his tracks. He watched as the Dark Father continued running beyond the spot where Jeanne was hiding and into the main hall of the Gauntlet Chambers. A heart beat after the huge monster had past her, Jeanne Rose reappeared. The green cape flew like a banner from her arm as she whirled her mount in the direction of the tunnel entrance. Jeanne’s ethereal steed took off like an arrow heading directly towards Bronson. A smile spread across his face “Well met, my lady!” he cheered as she galloped around him. “Make Haste!!” she commanded “Flee before it comes back!!” Bronson began to run after Jeanne, back to the relative safety of the beach. He watched her swing her sword at the undead creatures which were blocking their hasty retreat. She cut a path for Bronson to follow as she hacked and slashed at the ghouls and the lich. “Blood thirsty wench!” Bronson laughed as the tunnel entrance came into view. He made his way out onto the beach and stopped to catch his breath. Bronson watched as Jeanne chopped at a skeletal knight until it fell into a pile of bones. Then she guided her mount back to where Bronson was standing. He saw that her hands were shaking and he could hear her labored breathing under the helmet that she wore. “Are you alright?” he asked, taking the sword from her hand. “Aye,” She panted “The cloak of invisibility is an amazing weapon,” she pulled her helmet off and gulped in fresh air. Her face was flushed and her eyes were bright with the excitement of their adventure. “That was fun!” she giggled. Bronson gave a short bark of laughter upon hearing this unexpected remark. Jeanne giggled once more and then began to laugh in earnest. Bronson laughed along with her until Seamus’ booming voice interrupted their merriment. “I hope you two youngsters are quite finished taunting that Dark Father,” he said as he made his way towards them across the beach. “You are giving my poor wife a seizure.” But the grin Seamus was wearing belied the gruffness of his voice. Amanda Rose was hurrying along behind her husband. The look of worry upon her face told Bronson that both she and Seamus had witnessed the near disaster which Jeanne had diverted. Bronson saw that the pets, Og, Mist and Nox, were trailing Seamus as well. It appeared to Bronson that Seamus was coming to their rescue when he and Jeanne had emerged from the tunnel. Amanda went to Jeanne and took her hand, concern written plainly on her face. “Jeanne, are you hurt?” Her cousin asked. “I am fine, Amanda,” Jeanne told her “Thanks to this brave knight and his priceless gift,” she smiled at Bronson and carefully folded the green cloak of invisibility. “Thank you Bronson,” Amanda said “Thank you for watching over her.” “We are watching over each other, it seems,” Bronson stated with a smile. “Aye.” Jeanne agreed, “We are indeed.” Just then a cheer rose from the crowd and the ground shook as the second Dark Father was destroyed. The warriors began regrouping and resurrecting their pets all along the beach. There was no sign of the hooded rider who had led the last Dark Father to Bronson and then used either magic or an invisibility item to hide. Bronson assumed that the cowardly warrior who had played such an evil trick had left the area. He was a knight without honor….a murderer. His actions had been clearly intentional. Had Bronson been his intended victim? Before Bronson could ponder the matter any further his mare came over to him and gave him a nudge, nearly knocking him into the sand. He laughed and reached into his pack for the raw meat which Nox was expecting as her reward. Patrick pounded out a barely recognizable rendition of a tavern tune on the piano in the common room of the Tree Fellow Pub. Seamus had brought his party, including some fellow warriors from the Doom battle, back to his pub after their second Gauntlet hunt was completed. Patrick and his wife Katie Rose were visiting with Kayla when they arrived and had joined the celebration. As Patrick stuck another sour note Seamus heckled him from a table near the hearth. “Someone needs to cast paralyze on the piano player!! He is too ham fisted for that instrument!!” Everyone, including Patrick, roared with laughter. “Aye” shouted another patron “Give him a drum instead!” Undaunted by the ribbing, Patrick took another swig of ale and continued to play his off key concert. Bronson laughed before taking a drink from his tankard. He and Seamus shared a table by the crackling fire. The ladies had gone up to the third floor of the pub, which served as Kayla’s private living quarters. They wanted to freshen up after the dungeon crawl and see the treasures which Katie Rose had brought back from her shopping trip in Britain. Bronson could hear the sound of the ladies soft voices drifting down the stairs every so often. He could not help glancing in that direction. “Smitten are you?” Seamus chuckled at Bronson, drawing his attention away from the stairway leading up to the third floor. He flashed Bronson a teasing grin. “Me?” Bronson asked. He scowled and opened his mouth to voice a vigorous denial. But he changed his mind. Bronson stared down into his mug and said quite simply “Aye.” Seamus laughed and clapped Bronson on the back, bringing a smile to the younger man’s face. Then Seamus settled into his chair and wisely changed the subject. “So lad, you seem none the worse for wear after two rounds of the Doom Gauntlet. What will you do with your half of the gold?” “What gold?” Bronson asked. “Why the gold we will get from the sale of the artifact I brought back!” Seamus told him. “We’ve won ourselves the very rare Armor of Fortune, lad! Once I sell it for a sizable sum you will get half as my partner in the dungeon crawl.” “Well in that case,” Bronson said, grinning ear to ear “the next round is on me!” He motion to the bar maid to bring more ale. “I have been thinking, Seamus, that perhaps I should buy a house in Malas,” Bronson said as the bar maid poured their ale “My adventures with you have left me with an excess of gold.” “A house!” Seamus chuckled “I will let Amanda know. She is the queen of shopping, lad. My lady will have you domesticated in no time.” Bronson laughed and drank deeply from his tankard. Soon Patrick gave up his seat at the piano to a real musician and joined the brothers at their table. The bar maid brought another round and they drank a toast to the Doom Gods for their generous contribution to Seamus’ coffers. As Bronson lifted his tankard of ale in salute, a man coming up the stairs to the common room of the pub caught his eye. It was his brother Jack. Bronson watched as Jack scanned the room until he spotted Seamus. Jack made his way over to them and took a seat beside Patrick. Catching the attention of the bar maid, Jack signaled for a drink. “How went the Gauntlet battle?” Jack asked “I trust you were successful against the Doom Bosses.” “Aye,” Seamus answered “Very successful indeed,” he winked at Bronson “In fact, so successful that our young brother has decided to purchase a home in Malas!” Jack looked surprised for a moment. “The fledgling wants to build a nest, does he?” Patrick gave Bronson a hardy punch in the shoulder. The force of the blow lifted two legs of Bronson’s chair off the floor. Bronson recovered his balance with a laugh. “Huzzah and well met!” Patrick cheered and then emptied his mug. “And how was your dungeon crawl, Jack?” Seamus asked. “Interesting, very interesting,” Jack replied, vaguely, as the bar maid placed his tankard of ale on the table. He took a gulp of ale and wiped the foam from his mustache with the back of his hand. “I have a proposition for you Seamus.” “And what might that be?” Seamus leaned forward, “Something profitable, no doubt.” “Aye, profitable and dangerous! Your favorite kind of activity.” Jack told him with a sly smile. Seamus laughed. “I have a couple of level five treasure maps I need you to do for me.” Jack continued. “Felucca maps, Seamus. Are you up for the challenge?” “Does a Daemon have wings? Of course I am!” Seamus answered without hesitation “Is tomorrow soon enough?” “Aye tomorrow is fine, brother,” Jack relied. “Meet me near the west Britain bank in Felucca at first light,” He looked at Bronson and a wicked smile crossed his face. “You are welcome to join us, lad.” He said smoothly “If you are brave enough to venture into the wilds of Felucca, again.” “I will be there,” Bronson told him “you can count on it.” “Excellent.” Jack replied. Bronson approached the west bank of Britain in Felucca the next morning. The sky was cloudy and a grey mist floated above the worn cobble stones around the ancient structure. The voices of guards could be heard in the nearby guardhouse. But none of those civil servants ventured out into the damp morning gloom to patrol the city. The once bustling streets surrounding the bank were now empty. Bronson knew that his grandfather, Amergin, had once lived and worked in this city. Since childhood he had heard stories of how pickpockets would fleece the masses of humanity who, long ago, made Britain in Felucca the center of commerce. Amergin had chopped wood in the royal forests of Lord Blackthorn and sold his crude wooden shields to the blacksmith for a hand full of gold. His grandfather had saved enough money to buy a small house in the forests of Minoc. Bronson smiled, thinking of how far his family had come from such humble beginnings. And it had all started here. Bronson circled the bank, looking for any sign of his brothers or Patrick. There was not a soul in sight. Nox was full of energy and pranced along, snorting. Just when Bronson thought that perhaps he was in the wrong place he heard the unmistakable sound of Og’s roar shattering the quiet of city. Bronson found Seamus and Patrick standing in the grassy area on the south side of the bank. They were laughing loudly. Seamus was dressed in his pure black robe. Patrick wore his studded leather armor and carried a large heavy crossbow in his hand. Og stood close by, swaying in his usual way. “Good morrow!” Bronson called out. “Aah! So there is life in the this place!” Patrick greeted him “Tis like a tomb here, is it not?” “Aye, Patrick, a sad place indeed.” Bronson answered. “But we will make a bit of noise today, to be sure,” Seamus told them “ Felucca treasure maps are always an adventure unlike any other.” Bronson laughed. “Nox and I are ready for an adventure.” “I am glad to hear it,” a voice from behind them responded. As Bronson turned he saw Jack materialize from the mist. Jack was dressed in a black hooded cloak and he was riding an ethereal steed. As Jack approached, Bronson felt a sudden crawling recognition course through his body. The murderous rider from the Doom Gauntlet!! As soon as the thought came to Bronson he dismissed the idea as impossible. Surely thousands of men wore hooded black robes and rode ethereal steeds. How could he think that his own brother had tried to kill him yesterday? Jack approached Seamus and held out a weathered parchment map. “You are right on time, brother,” Jack said as he pushed the hood back from his head. He nodded to Patrick and Bronson. “Only gentlemen for our hunt today?” “The ladies have gone to hunt up a house for Bronson,” Seamus grinned “That is a woman’s favorite kind of hunting I have discovered.” Patrick and Bronson chuckled. The entire gaggle of Rose sisters and cousins had gathered this morning for breakfast at Amanda and Seamus’ home, Mountain View. The house hunting party, led by Amanda Rose, planned to search the area around Luna for the perfect Malas home for Bronson to buy. Bronson would be taken to inspect the homes which the ladies deemed acceptable for his needs. He had agreed to this arrangement gratefully since he knew nothing about house shopping. It also gave him a good excuse to spend time in the company of Jeanne Rose. That thought alone made him smile. “How very fortunate you are, Bronson, to have such lovely and willing assistants in your search,” Jack told him. “But let us proceed with our hunt so that you can return to the pleasures of Malas.” Seamus took the treasure map from Jack and unrolled it. Immediately his eyes narrowed and a frown creased his brow. For several moments there was a chilling silence. The only sound was the rumbling purr of the white wyrm as he rocked back and forth nearby. “This map has already been read by another, Jack,” Seamus said raising an eyebrow in his brother’s direction. “Aye, Seamus,” Jack quickly replied “It belonged to a friend who has the skill to decode it, but lacks the courage and strength to dig it up.” he continued with a reassuring smile. “This one is on Eiffel Isle. Do you know the place?” Jack asked, obviously trying to draw Seamus’ attention back to the map. Bronson saw a look of concern pass between Seamus and Patrick. “I have a rune for the Eiffel Island in my book,” Seamus answered as he drew a worn leather runebook from his pack. “It is just off the coast of Britain,” he flipped through the pages studying the coordinates carefully “here it is.” Seamus began to rummage in the oversized sleeve of his black robe as if searching for something. “Patrick, would you be so kind as to recall back to Mountain View and fetch my lucky lock picks?” Seamus asked. “Your lucky picks?” Patrick questioned. He glanced towards Jack as he spoke. “Aye, Paddy me boy, my lucky picks. Amanda will help you find them,” Seamus replied. He mounted his ethereal steed. “And how many lucky picks will you be needing, Seamus?” Patrick asked as he hung his bow across his back and drew a runebook out of his pack. “I’d say about thirty… Aye, thirty lucky picks and bring them to Eiffel Isle in Felucca, if you please.” Seamus instructed him. “I will see you there, my friend,” Patrick said and recalled away. “Thirty picks for one treasure chest?” Jack inquired suspiciously. “Aye, Jack, never go on a hunt without a good supply of lock picks,” Seamus told him gruffly. “And cure potions!” Bronson grinned, trying to lighten the suddenly serious mood of his two older brothers. Seamus looked over at Bronson with a half smile “Aye, that too, lad.” The smile left Seamus’ face as he turned his attention back to Jack “You never know what to expect on a Felucca treasure hunt….brother.” he growled and put his golden helmet onto his head with unusual force. Seamus cast a red moongate and bellowed “ALL FOLLOW ME!!” before disappearing into it. Og roared and trundled along behind his master. “After you, fledgling,” Jack said with a nod to Bronson. Bronson felt a tingle of warning run up his spine as he guided Nox through the red moongate.