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Old 05-11-2004, 02:43 PM   #203
Stormdancer of Doom
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Mellonin shrank backward, shaking, as Raefindan and Ravion glared at the merchant and his henchman. She went back to Gond, around to his far side, and leaned her face against his neck. She was still shaking.

"What quest?" prodded the henchman.

Ravion looked reluctant to speak, and Raefindan was still pondering his last outburst.

"Tell us of this quest, " said the merchant, sipping his tea, "if it is not another lie."

Mellonin's head snapped up, and she returned from behind the horse. "I am looking for my brother, " she said, meeting the marchant's eyes.

"Your brother. And who might that be, Lord Fingon?" mocked the merchant.

"He goes by the name Mellondu, " she said.

"Oh, but of course. We are all friends here. Especially of Lord Fingon!" The henchman laughed.

A flush rose in Mellonin's face. "He is seventeen. He left the city three weeks past, and we have not heard from him since, although we have news of his trail."Her eyes flicked toward Ravion. Should she let him speak? No; this was her quest, her missing brother. Her voice strengthened. " He is like me in voice and stature."

"Oh ho, he's pretty too!" laughed the henchman. "Why would he want to return home?"

The merchant smirked, and began to laugh.

'He is a boy like this one, " Mellonin gestured at Aeron. "He is no traveller. His strength at the forge will do him little good on the road."

"A blacksmith! A girl-faced delicate little blacksmith!" Ravion's face grew white. But his anger was slower than Mellonin's. She stepped forward and now her eyes sparked with anger.

"It is plain you care little for your fellow men," she hissed at him.

"Men? You speak of boys! Like this one!"

Something tugged at the back of Mellonin's mind, and she turned. The black horse grazed nearby, his saddle and bridle gleaming, his burnished coat reflecting the sun's fire. She stepped calmly to the black steed and grasped its headstall.

"Unhand my horse," said the merchant in a ice-cold voice.

"So! You value your horse. More than a man?" she replied.

"Do not touch him!"

She drew her dagger, and meeting the merchant's eyes, she reached her dagger-hand down towrads the horses' tendon. Unconcerned, the horse chewed his mouthful of grass and looked calmly at its master, but the master was now anything but calm. Both the master and the henchman stood enraged yet rooted to the ground.

Ravion fitted an arrow to his bow; Raefindan belatedly did likewise and stepped back, thought better of it and stepped closer. But Ravion was not aiming at the men. He was aiming at the great black stallion.

"I'll have your head! Do not harm him! You will pay for this!"

"Then leave us, " Mellonin cried, bringing her dagger back up near the horse's throat. "Leave us now! And do not trouble us again, or we will shoot your horse on sight! Leave us now!"
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