Queries to Generations - Excerpt V1 Ch1

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By chanthar
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Chapter 1 –  Departure

“You’re leaving today?”

Danny nodded faintly as he stood from the bed. He stretched his arms above his head and moved to the wardrobe. “Yes, I am.” He pulled on his slacks then tunic. As he belted it he turned back to smile at his wife. “I won’t be very long out there, I hope.”

“But you’re going to be traveling with them to the place that was once your home,” Lyndie replied as she sat up in the bed. “It will take time for that.”

“Yes, but I’m not going to be staying with them throughout the time it takes them to rebuild their civilization on the island.” Danny picked up his boots and moved to sit on the bed while he pulled them on.

Lyndie slipped over to drape her arms around his shoulders. “I’m going to miss you while you’re gone.”

“I miss you already,” he replied.

“Oh you...”

Grinning, Danny turned his head to kiss her deeply. After, he pulled gently away from her to stand. “I have to do this. I’ve not been to home since your father destroyed it.”

She sat back on the bed with a soft sigh. “I hope it’s not too horrible. I’ve no idea what he did.”

He shook his head. “I don’t know either, but I’ll never blame you for what happened. He kept you as much in the dark as he could about his goings-on.” Danny picked up his sword and fastened it in place. “If anything happens I’ll send you a report, love.”

“I hope nothing bad happens,” she replied. Lyndie slipped out of bed and moved to the wardrobe.

While she dressed, Danny pulled back the sheet that separated the main part of their bedroom from where their child slept. Gazing into the crib, he smiled while watching the babe sleep. She was about half a year old now; golden blonde hair like her mother’s already showing its straight tendency. The closed eyes were a deep blue, much like Danny’s father’s was. Her soft skin was a ruddy tone, lighter than her mother’s. Leaning into the crib he kissed her forehead softly. Then he slipped out of the bedroom. He walked downstairs to the kitchen.

Bella was already there, head tilting over to watch the cooks make breakfast. She snatched up a muffin then turned to smile at him. “Hello, Your Majesty.”

“Hey Bella, how are you?” Danny waved his hand as he walked to join her. His nose twitched while he smelled the food. “Mm, smells good.”

“I’m doing well. I wish I were going with you though.”

Danny shrugged then thanked the cook as he passed him a plate. “I know, but you’re needed here. There are some places I have to go by myself.”

“But we don’t know anything about these people except what was written in your sister’s letter. They could change their minds and want to take over this land, rather than the one your people were chased from.”

He shook his head while he walked to one of the couches. As he sat he spoke, “We won’t let that happen. Besides, the very land itself would rebel if they tried.”

“Well yes, but still.”

Danny shook his head. He picked up the fork and began to eat. “Everything will be fine Bella.” When he finished he stood. Wandering to the sink he placed the dishes inside. Then he turned to walk to the door. On his way he pulled his cape off a hook on the wall.

Behind him was the one and a half story cottage. Around the cottage were berry bushes and fruit trees. Then there was wide-open grassland. In the west there was a pond. Before Danny was a path that led between the flowerbeds, away from the cottage. Continuing on from the flowerbeds were trees that formed a circular border around the entire enchanted garden.

As Danny glanced around, he noted that he would have to travel north out of the garden. Whether they met on the eastern coast or on the western part where the island resided was another thing. He shook his head while he walked around the side of the cottage to the back.

With the grassland before him, Danny traveled towards the ring of trees; refugees had set their tents up beneath their shelter. He walked between the tents, nodding to the people. When he came to the forest border Danny paused, remembering the problems it had given him in the past. He turned his dark eyes to look from one trunk to another. Watching the vines that draped from bough to bough, he started into the forest. This time they did not attack. Still, Danny made sure to keep on his guard as he stepped over the roots.

When he broke through the trees to the outside, Danny turned his eyes to look over the new landscape. Grassland stretched out as far as the eye could see. To the east and north was coastline. A crop of forest obscured the west coastline; although there was a break in the trees made by the rivers that converged to feed into the northwest shore, below the forest. The river used to form the border between Tallis and Ramia. Now that the two countries were united, the only border to be wary of was the north-westernmost part of the river that bordered Tsubasa. However, that country had been mostly destroyed over the years.

Danny adjusted his cape as he began to walk. Traveling across the rivers was the only way to make it quickly to the northern island. So he directed his path north-west to find a suitable crossing.

Many of the inhabitants of Tallis that had previously packed themselves inside of the magic garden, were now outside the protective ring of trees. The garden was too small for everyone, so they had spilled out into their original locations. A few towns had sprung up along the riversides.

Thinking he could turn to one for aid in crossing over the rivers, Danny kept an eye out for the settlements. One village was set where a group of rivers converged with a second set of converged rivers. The travel time was nearly a full day’s walk from start to finish. On the way there were many flourishing plants that Danny was able to eat. He thought he’d try to get something more substantial in town.

When the village came into view the houses seemed to be built in a line along the riverside. There was a gap where a dock was built for a ferry. The name of the village was Chilton. They had a dozen homes that spread out on either side from the center that held the ferry and blacksmith’s shop. The houses were built of stone from the river as well as wood from the forest on the other side. On the other side of the river there was a house for the ferrymen to stay in. A half dozen other houses spread along the riverbanks. Both sides were known as the village of Chilton, east and west.

Danny traveled the last of the distance from the grassland to the town. As his eyes turned around he noticed that one of the homes was larger than the others. It was set up like an inn. With a smile he walked through the village to it. When he arrived he noticed that there were several people who seemed to be travelers mingling around it. A smile took his lips as he stepped up the stairs to the front door to enter.

Once inside he glanced around to look for someone who could be the owner. He caught sight of an elderly woman who was ordering others about. With a bow he spoke, asking for a room. After receiving one, he took the key from her and went to find a meal. Then he went to bed.

Waking the next morning, Danny went to pay the woman. He continued on to the docks to wait for the ferry. From previous experience he knew the first left at dawn and the last left at dusk. He had to hurry to catch the first ferry ride over the river to the other part of the village.

He caught the ferry just before the first group set sail. With a smile and nod he paid his passage then boarded. He leaned against the railing while the men pushed off to send the ferry over the river. By noon they had reached the other side of the river. With a grateful word he bid farewell to the passengers and crew.

From this ferry to the next was about four hour’s travel. Danny ate his meal while he walked to the next village. Crofton was what the inhabitants had named it. As with the other village, a few houses were on one side to guard their side of the ferry. The other side of the river also had houses. Most of the village was further north, hidden in the forest.

Once again he had made it just in time for the ferry ride across. He paid his fare then boarded. As the sun crossed its zenith Danny lay on one side of the ferry. He pulled his cape over his eyes to block the bright light while he napped. When the ferry arrived at the port, one of the rafters poked him awake. He sat up, blinking curiously up at him. Then he nodded, one hand going to wave as he disembarked.

The forest stretched out before him. To the east were rivers that fed into each other until they gathered to feed into one main stream that headed northwest to spill into the channel between the continent and the island. That island was his eventual goal. Currently no one sailed to the island, as it had been abandoned after the Shakti Takeover devastated the land and inhabitants.

Danny broke from his thoughts to head into the main part of the village. He wanted to find a place to rest. As far as he could tell, it would be the last house he would sleep in for a while. Like many of the prospering villages, this one had an inn as well as a town hall, blacksmith, and other shops. He found an inn then paid for the night and went to bed.

The next day Danny left the inn to wander around the town. As he went he picked up food and other supplies to take with him in his trek through the forest. He knew it would take longer than his journey over the grassland and rivers. Once he gathered all he needed, Danny left the village to travel into the forest.

The three days he spent in the forest were uneventful. Only a few houses could be found around the main path that led through it. The rest of the houses were further back to avoid detection. While order was coming to the kingdom, much of the land was traveled by renegade soldiers who had nothing they could think to do except rob people who were better off than they were.  

When the forest broke to show the sandy shore of the coastline, Danny made his last campsite. He mentally checked the date the travelers were to arrive and compared it to the day it was today. It would be any time that the sails of the three ships should show on the horizon to pick him up.

It was the next day that the travelers sent from the south arrived in the north. Danny packed up his stuff then walked from the edge of the forest to the coastline. Making his way, Danny noted the remnants of lighthouses in the distance. Remembering what he was told, Danny headed towards the lighthouse that used to shine on the eastern side of a small bay that was in the section between the rivers where the forest grew. When he arrived there he sat down on the steps of the lighthouse to wait for one of the ships to send a rowboat.

Night fell then day broke before the five ships drew close enough to send a rowboat. As the group made their way to the shore, Danny made his way from the lighthouse to meet them. He stood on the shore while their leader stood at the helm of the rowboat.

The leader was a woman, standing six feet at her tallest. She appeared not much older than Danny. Her hair was gray to her chin with bangs clipped back away from her eyes. Her eyes were a dark gray, like stone. The skin that covered her form was weather-beaten gray with tints of green in it. She wore a tunic that was also weather-beaten gray, with a black belt that had a gold buckle on it. White stockings covered her legs. Around her neck hung a gold medallion that was the sign of her being their captain.

When they reached the shore she jumped out of the rowboat. Striding purposefully through the water to the sand she stared at Danny. This first meeting could make or break the treaty.

He stood half a foot above her height. His hair was cut so it was loose, yet only to his chin at the longest. The eyes that stared down at her were coal black, yet lit with the happiness he recently had been able to keep. His skin was a dark blue mixed with black like midnight’s final hours. The tunic and pants he wore were a pure blue, with a mulberry stripe that ran over the shoulders and down the center. Around his waist was a black leather belt connected with the loop for his sword. Draped from his shoulders there was a gray cape.

Looking him up and down, the leader marveled at the sight. This is certainly not one to cross. He is as dark as his twin sister is light. While promising peace, he could just as easily wipe us all out. I can see the purpose in his eyes. She squared her shoulders with her chin lifted to begin her introduction. “My name is Gryta Vasilios. I and my people have been sent from Queen Auraela Lyn of Leldyna to take the island north of here with the blessing of the Ambassadors.”

Danny inclined his head slightly in a nod of acknowledgement. “My name is Danniya Twain, along with others. I have been asked by my sister Queen Auraela Lyn of Leldyna along with the Ambassadors to guide you to that land, which was once our home. Now it shall be yours if you wish.”

The woman nodded then gestured to the rowboat. “Will you ride with us in my ship, the Blood Pearl, to go to this land?”

He nodded and strode to join her. “I will.”

The two of them climbed into the rowboat. Sailing back to the ship, Danny kept his eyes on the hull. He couldn’t help noting how it was red, just like its name. Meanwhile Gryta couldn’t help glancing over to him. When they arrived she let him ascend first before she followed him to the deck.

Greeting them was her first mate, a man just two inches shorter than she. His age appeared to be slightly older than the captain. His hair was closer cut that Danny’s, with the color a pure blue. The eyes that stared at the newcomer were dark gray. His skin was a pale gray like sea-foam after a storm. The tunic he wore was the same as Gryta’s. His belt was black leather with a silver buckle. A silver medallion designating his office hung around his neck. He bowed slightly while he spoke, “Welcome aboard. My name is Sima Paiblu.”

“You must be tired from your trip,” Gryta said. She walked from the railing to stand by Sima. “Would you like some refreshments?”

“I am a bit peckish,” Danny replied. With a smile he nodded. “I would like a seat and refreshment, if you please.”

The captain gave her first mate a look, and then Sima waved to a sailor. While he was busy, Gryta led Danny up to the deck with the steering wheel on it. She motioned for the chairs to be set in a triangle shape with a circular table in between.  

While he waited, Danny let his eyes roam around the deck. The weathering of the sea had turned most of the sailor’s skin to varying shades of gray. A saddened twist took his heart as he thought about what they had been forced to do in order to survive. He shook it off while he turned his eyes to look at the leader of this generation.

The woman motioned to the seat that would offer the best view of the entire ship. She sat in the seat across from him. Between them to the starboard side she had her companion sit. Once the sailors had finished bringing what meager rations they had from the journey she began to talk. “We offer you a share in what we have, in the hope you will not think of this as only an obligation.”

“I gratefully accept your offering. If there is anything we can do to help your people build a life on the new land, we will.” Danny replied with a faint nod. He picked up a raisin to eat, the acceptance of the food acted as a seal to what was spoken.

“We will need it. It has been so long since we have been on land.” Gryta replied while her head lowered.

Smiling softly, Danny picked up a cracker and ate it. Once his mouth was clear he spoke, “I have traveled much in my youth. Hopefully with this last journey I can assist you in making the transition from only surf to surf and turf.”

“Thank you,” she replied. Her head lifted while she smiled faintly. “I hope that our previous actions will not keep you from being friends with us.”

“You have not done it to me, you have done it to my family.” He spoke slowly. Danny’s eyes lowered for a moment then lifted again. “You seem to regret it, so I will not hold the past against you. Please remember for your children’s future what you do now is important.”

While the exchange went on Sima grew impatient. A faint growl started in his throat. “We don’t need lectures.”

“Sima hush,” replied Gryta quickly.

Danny simply laughed with a shake of his head. After a moment he stood from his chair. From the height he towered over them. His arms folded across his chest while he smiled down at them. “Yes, forgive me for waxing philosophically. Now is the time for action.”

“Shall we set sail now?” Gryta asked. Her eyes turned from her first mate to their guide. At the moment she was confused whether she was supposed to let him lead or whether she could run her ship as she saw fit.

“Yes,” Danny replied. His arms fell while he stepped to the railing. He rested his hands there while he stared northwards to the island. “The sooner we start to populate the island the better. While the winter is not especially harsh it can be painful if you are not prepared.”

Gryta nodded then turned to Sima. “Set us sailing. We should reach the shore by nightfall. We’ll spend the night on the ship then land at first light to explore what we can.”

Sima nodded then turned to the rest of the crew. He barked out orders while he descended to the main deck. The air of command that surrounded him was thick enough to be almost visible.

Both watched him. Then Gryta turned her head to look at Danny while she apologized. “Please excuse him. He’s just antsy about what will happen to us in the near future.”

“I understand,” replied Danny. He smiled gently at her then his expression turned to a serious one. “We need to talk about what will happen once you arrive. There are some things you should know as well.”

Gryta nodded while she glanced at Sima then returned her gaze to Danny. “I thought so. Please tell me all you know about the island and what we could expect once we arrive.”

“First of all, you remember that this was one place Mitra Shakti, the Sorcerer King, visited in his conquest of the world. Because of that there would be some changes that even we who experienced the fight wouldn’t be able to predict.”

While she listened, Gryta nodded slowly. “I understand. Please go on.”

“Basically we should treat this as uncharted territory. I know the size of the island and the general layout from before, but it has been over a decade since then. You will need your experts to make sure the land is safe.” Danny said. Once he finished that he paused to take a deep breath before he continued. “If you have any people with senses attuned to plants, freshwater, animals, and the like you will need them. It would be good to send out a scouting party before the general populace disembarks to explore the land as well. I couldn’t live, knowing that I’d sent people to their doom.”

Her eyes widened in surprise at that last confession. It took her a minute to recover from the shock but as she did the captain laughed. “We have gone through so much, so one more fight is nothing.”

He laughed. “I admire your tenacity.” Danny’s worry faded away while he smiled at her. “You will need it.”

“Thanks,” she replied with a smile. Gryta leaned against the railing beside him while her eyes turned to stare at the approaching island. “This is what has kept us going so far. I’m glad that our hard work is being rewarded.”

“You might not have gone about it in the best way, but eventually everything will work out.” Danny replied with a nod. “We are giving you a chance for a place for your own.”

“We thank you for that,” she replied. Gryta went quiet for a few minutes then spoke again. “I know we were a bit over aggressive, but we didn’t know what else to do. We’d been run out of our homes then not allowed to return with the destruction of them. All we had were the ships. We were in those for almost a full generation. Most of us knew nothing except the actions on the sea.”

“Aye, but you don’t have to be pirates any more. We can help you trade. My kingdoms of Tallis and Ramia are only one day’s sail away from you. Stones for building could be shipped over here in exchange for our crops. At least there are enough of those around for you to build houses for yourselves then make a living off the extra. The wealth of fishing around the island is also a good source of income. There are more options out there for you now.”

Captain Gryta nodded slowly. She smiled again while she looked at him. “Thank you for sharing this information with us. It’s a whole different world for us, so to speak, with this place.”

“I have to confess it is for me too,” he replied with a faint laugh. Prince Danny smiled at her while he leaned against the railing. “I was five years old when the soldiers came through.”

“I wasn’t much older myself,” she replied.

He nodded then stood. He looked out at the island. “I am anxious about returning to what was my home.”

“You’ll be fine. As you said, this place isn’t your home anymore. You should think of it as a former place and leave it at that.” She said with a faint smile. “Worrying won’t change a thing.”

“Aye,” he nodded. “I have a bright future now thankfully.” Danny smiled while he stepped away from the railing. “So do you.”

She nodded while the smile brightened. “Yes. I’ll go get the people who would be best suited for surveying the island. Some are here and others are on the other ships around us.”  

“Good, when we drop anchor I’d like to have them come over here so we can have a meeting about how to proceed with exploring the island.”

“I will make that known to them.” She replied. Gryta stood, then turned to leave. Before she went she glanced over her shoulder at him. “Meanwhile why don’t you rest in the cabin? I’m sure you’re tired from waiting for us to arrive.”

“I will, thank you.” Danny nodded and walked across the deck. He entered the shelter and ducked down to sit in one of the corners. With his pack in his lap he rested his arms on top of it with his head tilted down slightly to doze.

Gryta made arrangements with the others to meet by communicating through flags. Once they’d finished she went to find Sima. She noticed he was still giving directions to the crew to navigate the passage between the mainland and the island. With a faint smile she hopped down off one deck to the other. As she approached him she spoke, “What do you think of him?”

He glanced at the captain then a faint frown turned his lips. “Frankly I don’t like him.”

“Why?” She said while she blinked. “I understand he is somewhat creepy in a way, but he is going to help us.”

“I don’t know. I just get a bad feeling.” Sima replied. He shook his head then turned it away from her. A twist was in his heart while he thought about the way the two had smiled at each other. Isn’t he supposed to be married? He grunted then shook his head. “Just be careful around him.”

She blinked at him with confusion over her features. “I am always careful, but you don’t have to be hostile to everyone.” Captain Gryta turned away from him. “I’ll be up there. Keep me posted if you see anything unusual.” She strode across the desk then climbed up to the second deck to join the sailor at the steering wheel. She didn’t look at him as her eyes turned to stare at the upcoming island.

With a slow shake of his head First Mate Sima watched her go. “I just want you safe,” he mumbled. Then he turned back to the other sailors, barking out orders to keep the Blood Pearl sailing smoothly.
The very last of the books in Rae and Danny's Stories. Queries to Generations follows after A Call to Arms. It was published this last wednesday. It's available immediately at the publisher Xlibris' website. In 1-3 months it will be in the online bookstores like Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, and Borders ..

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