Ever since Drono had told the girls that they would be going to the Phlox Auria had been at wit’s end.  She had sat red-faced wondering aloud if she really was ready for this, and recently had begun dancing around the room making plans.

“Do you know what this means?” Auria asked practically spinning in place, “Landon must be home.”


Dronocum opened his study door silently to watch the young man pacing urgently before his fireplace.  Landon looked more serious after his time spent on the border lands than Drono had anticipated, but the tan skin and sand colored hair told him that little had changed.  The boy had arrived during dinner and it did seem cruel now that he had made him wait while walking the girls back but patience was a virtue everyone needed to relearn now and again.  “Should I have sent you to the trenches to wear them away with your pacing rather than to the boarders Landon?”  The boy turned with a start but relaxed into a smile that transformed his tired face.

“Your Highness, I came as soon as I received your summons.”

“Sit,” Drono said while gesturing, “I may have said to make haste, but I did not mean for you to ride through the nights.  You look tired.”

“You called for me that’s all the reason I needed for haste, but I will admit I felt you wanted more than my company.”

“Of course Landon, how is it with the boarders?  Well, I hope,” when he received only a polite shrug he understood that nothing had happened which would demand going outside of protocol, and that a report would be on his desk by the turn of the moon.  “Let me ask you a more personal question then, while you were near the lakes did you hear about any raiders taking children rather than provisions?”


At that moment Drono lifted his hands and scanned the room, “I see no reason for such formalities.”

“I…sometimes I just don’t know what to call you, Drono?”  Landon looked up and saw a spark of laughter in the man’s eyes.  “Alright then,” he said while clearing his throat, “I don’t know why you ask, but no nothing like that happened.  However,” here the boy paused looking into his memory with distant eyes, “there was one man, older now in age, that was something of a story-teller at night for the barracks.”

“Who was he and where was he from?”  Drono knew he sounded anxious and must be confusing the boy quite badly, but he had to hear the story if there was one to hear.  “Did he ever say anything about a raid for children or perhaps a child?”  Landon would respond honestly he knew though surely he was unsure of what was wanted, but there was no way to tell him the reason yet.  Instead of jumping across his desk and rattling the story out of Landon he reclined and tried to look more nonchalant.

A million thoughts whirled through Landon’s mind, of all the stories the retired soldier had told that one had stuck the most because it seemed like fairy tale not truth as the man assured them all it was.  “One night he did mentioned a call to arms to rescue a girl child without a name who had been stolen out from under the Umbel.”  Landon paused as he took in the rapt attention he was now the focus of before continuing.  “The man said the demesne’s guard road out that very night with the Canna.  He was with a group that went towards the desert and at dawn they came upon a small oasis in the bottom of a valley.”  Landon stopped and looked away from Dronocum, who started forward with questions written across his face when the boy stopped.  “I’m sorry but the rest is too unbelievable for me to repeat to you as fact.”

“Then tell me the rest like a story, after the scene Haddie caused at dinner tonight I could use a little escape.”

Landon sighed at the lie wrapped up in truths and continued, “She does that quiet often doesn’t she?  Well according to the storyteller one man was thrown from his horse before they realized that blood fear had gotten into them.  So the rest walked down to the oasis and found it burned black; the grass, trees, horses, and men.  He said it was as if lighting had touched down, but it couldn’t have because one spot was left untouched, and in the spot was the girl with no name, unharmed.  I only remember it because of how he told it, all quiet awe like the story legend or myth become true before his eyes, and quiet frankly I didn’t believe him.”  Landon looked up and smiled though it did not reach his eyes, “I hope I am not being too forward Drono, but the whole way here I felt like I was being pulled or pushed in this direction is there unease in Vesper?”

“No, not truly, only good news for you Landon it is time to go and finish what is necessary to be what you must be; you shall go to the Phlox.”  Drono watched as the boy’s demeanor changed automatically before continuing. “Whatever the reason you felt drawn here, you are here now, and I…have great need of you.”