Leaving Maggie to sleep, Throne turns his attention to his men, some happily chatting with each other while others greedily stuff their faces, hoping to eat more then their share before the others realized. “Gentlemen, we have the Foretold with us. Perhaps a feast is in order.” The women sigh and roll their eyes, knowing full well any feast would have them slaving away all day while the men entertain each other or guests. “Now, who will go forth and find us some guests?”
“You know I can’t be here when you throws these, Throne.” Alex sighs, his friend turns to him with a smile.
“Yes, I do know that, but of great guardian of the dense Foretold there is always a way for you to have fun.”
“I’m not going out to find guests, and I’m not wearing a disguise.”
“Then away with you, Alex.” Throne frowns and Alex inhales deeply before letting out the air slowly.
“I’m not dressing in the full robe and mask.” Throne grins.
“Perfect! Now who will go out?”
“I can,” A small boy shouts, Throne nods his approval though his mother shoots the leader a disapproving look.
“Good man, and how shall you bring people here?”
“My sick mama needs help,” He sounds so sad and desperate that Throne himself is inclined to believe the boy.
“And who else will go out?” Silence “For the love of the gods, are you all cowards? You all will send but a boy out for our guests?”
“Fine, fine, get off your high horse, I’ll go too Throne.” A bow backed old man speaks, rising slowly while his joints creak and protest. Throne claps his hands together.
“Perfect, perfect. Now the rest of you, get to work! We can’t leave the women to slave away all day, tis too hot and Gods know what they would plot should we lounge in the pool to cool off.” The women give patient smiles, some preferring the men be out of the way while others are grateful for more time with their loved ones. The camp breaks apart, in busy sections with some men helping and others drinking while the boy and old man leave the camp making their way to the dirt road.
Once there the man and boy part ways, the boy heading east toward the lake and the man heading west through the forest. The sun rises slowly over head and both are beginning to feel the strain of walking in the heat and beating sun, the old man comes to rest on the side of the road, sweat dripping off of him, he wipes his brow and looks right then left, seeing no one on the road at all. With a great sigh and much effort he rises and turns back heading toward where he and the boy came out of the woods. The boy, on the other hand, is having better luck, first finding a young woman walking toward Cypress, but he lets her go passed undisturbed; then he comes across an old woman who happily offers him some of the gooey candy she is carrying to the Cypress market, and then finally he stumbles upon two monks making their way to Cypress.
At first he thinks nothing of the Brothers traveling in poor conditions but as he draws near he can hear them snickering and rejoicing in the fact that neither Throne nor his men have come for them as they look too poor to rob. Quietly the boy moves closer to them, listening to their words and the clinking of glasses and coins as they celebrate their victory, but they are not out of Throne’s reach just yet. With a devious smile the boy slips away unnoticed and then runs up to them on the road, startling both of them. “Brothers, Brothers! Please I need help!” They jump and look up at him.
“What is it you want, boy?” the fat one snaps.
“Its my mama, she’s awfully sick. Can you help her please?” The Brothers exchange glances, communicating silently.
“Go find someone else boy.” The fat one frowns and returns to his meal.
“Oh please Brothers, you’re the only ones that can help her! Please we can pay, I promise you we can.” Again they exchange glances.
“Oh alright boy, show us the way.” The thin one sighs, the fat one groans and rises, the boy takes the reins of their horses and leads them down the road before cutting into the forest, unease sets in as the road vanishes from view. “How much further, boy?”
“Not too much further, please Brothers.” In honesty the boy does not know how much further it will be to the Recluse, but each time they ask he gives them the same answer till finally they can hear jaunty music and the realization sets in that they have been tricked into the dreaded home of Throne. “I have guests for our feast, Throne!” The boy shouts before they can think of an escape, quickly the Brothers are pulled from their horses and rushed to Throne, who greets them happily.
“Why, hello brothers. How kind of you to join us.” He claps them on the back, forcing the air out of their lungs.
“There must be some mistake, we are but humble servants of the gods.” The thin one attempts but the boy clicks his tongue.
“Mama says you mustn’t tell lies, I heard you talking. Thinking you’re so smart, you’ve got gold, and I bet its in the saddle bags.” The fat brother’s face turns red.
“You dare to lecture us! You lied to force us here.”
“Did not, mama is sick, and could use help, but not in how you think.”
“Come here you little-” The fat brother lunges but is stopped short by Throne’s strong grip on his arm.
“Tut, tut brother, you wouldn’t harm a child would you?”
“Only if he’s a liar.”
“Not a liar, you fat brother.” The man’s face turns red but he makes no move to go after the boy.
“This can be settled very easily.” Throne claps his hands, “Johnathan, check the bags. If they are indeed telling the truth then this feast shall be on me and if they are liars,” Throne shrugs “Then we shall take what they have and give them a merry time.” The Brothers exchange uneasy glances as the burly man goes to their horses, he checks the bags and finds gold evenly distributed between them. “Well… Enjoy your stay Brothers, though perhaps you’d like to share your names?”
“Gregory, Gregory Aimes.” The thin one sighs, seeing no point in pretending any further.
“The Gregory Aimes?” Throne gasps in mock shock “By the will of the Gods, to have such a man within our humble village. Welcome Grand Master Aimes.” Throne turns expectantly to the fat Brother.
“Rot.” A sharp glare from Aimes makes the unpleasant man relent “Joseph Harper the Fourth.”
“Ah, Master Harper, how good it is to finally meet you. You’re a bit larger then I imagined but we have food enough to accommodate your appetite.” Aimes shares a laugh with Throne as the leader escorts them around the small village, right passed Alex, keeping his head down out of fear of being discovered.
“Who is within that hut, Throne?” Aimes asks, as they walk away.
“A surprise for later, one you will no doubt share with everyone you meet.” The men exchange hopeful glances.
“Tell me, Throne.” Harper grumbles “You claim to be able to satisfy my hunger, tell me what else can you satisfy.” Throne smirks.
“I have people here for your every whim, but if its whore you look for that I can speak for. The women here are free to do as they please and charge what they like and seeing as you’re out of gold I wouldn’t go asking.” Throne laughed as Harper’s face fell. “But lighten up my friend, come I’m sure I can keep you well entertained today.”
He plopped the men down in the shade and most of the men and boys joins them shortly; first it is a round of drinks, then gambling, fighting, and singing while the ale flows freely into the men’s mugs. After a few long hours the masked Alex appears beside Throne, whispering in his ear causing the leader to frown. “I was hoping to share my surprise later when the sun had set and the heat was not so oppressive but I seems as though my plans need to change. Bring the surprise here, my dear friend.”
Glances are exchanged as the masked man nods and walks away. “Who is that Throne?” Aimes asks, Throne just hums in response as he watches Alex weave between people before ducking into his hut.
“Gentlemen,” A stout woman with a red face and auburn hair speaks, grabbing the leader’s attention “Thank you for your help, or lack there of in some cases, dinner is done. It will be served shortly, after everyone has taken their seats. Note that if you get handsy with my girls I’ll cut you, everyone understand?”
“Yes Madam Margery.” The group, aside from Harper and Aimes, speak in unison, Throne rises when the masked Alex reappears with Maggie in toe.
“Thank you Madam Margery, ladies and gentlemen I present to you the Lady Foretold, Miss Maggie.” The Brothers shoot up, ready to argue but when their eyes land on Maggie, in her odd clothing with anger and confusion on her face they remain silent.