Kindle woke to sunlight on her face. Every part of her body ached. Her arm was wrapped tightly with thin cotton cloth where the arrow had grazed her. She realized she was back in her room at the Knight’s Keep.
*Cirrus?* she called to her sword.
*Ah, you are awake. I will tell Glen* it answered.
Kindle relaxed a bit. The sky outside the window was blue and clear. A faint breeze stroked her bruised cheek. The door opened and a very old Elf glided in. His movements were flowing and elegant. Glen was the First Healer, leader of the ones who patched up Knights after battles, healed sickness in the town, and acted as a confidant to anyone needing someone to talk to.
“You cannot become a Knight if you are dead, Kindle. The ArchKnight is very upset. He doesn’t know whether to reprimand you or give you a medal.” He smiled.
Kindle tried to say something, but ended up coughing.
“You’ve taken quite a beating. Try to rest.”
He helped her drink a bit of water as he spoke. His long flowing robes were never quite in the way as he moved.
“I don’t understand you, Kindle. You are a Fairy. Fairies don’t typically take on Goblins alone.”
He smiled again, his eyes full of mirth.
“Time to rest.”
Before Kindle could protest, the sleep powder in the water took effect. Kindle drifted back to sleep feeling the warm sun on her face. Glen stood, shaking his head.
Kindle awoke feeling remarkably better. She knew that Glen had put more than just sleeping powder in that water. She smiled inwardly.
*Ah, you’re awake* Cirrus spoke gently in her mind. *You have guests*
Kindle opened her eyes to see Hrogthor looking rather uncomfortable standing next to Glen, who stood protectively by her bed.
“If you are here to further berate her, you had better leave” said Glen. Hrogthor coughed.
Kindle groggily sat up in bed, eyeing Hrogthor with open suspicion.
“Kindle, I saw you take down that Goblin commander.” he started. “I guess I was wrong about you.” His massive shoulders slumped. “I don’t think I’d take on someone that much bigger than myself...”
Kindle couldn’t believe her ears.
“Are you complimenting me, Hrogthor?”
He quirked a half smile. “Don’t let it go to your head, little fairy. But yeah. I think you may make a decent Knight yet. For a Fairy. That is.”
Kindle smiled. Hrogthor left something at the foot of her bed and left without another word. Kindle’s head still spun a bit. “Glen, am I still just delusional or was Hrogthor just nice to me?” Glen smiled.
“People like that give respect when they see actions, not words. Up until now, you were mostly words, Kindle.”
Glen turned to leave.
“If you are feeling any better, you should get dressed and see the ArchKnight. I hear he has an earful for you”.
Kindle cringed. After Glen left, Kindle reached for the bundle Hrogthor had tossed on her miniature bed. It was a sword scabbard, similar to the one to the one Hrogthor wore on his back, so he could keep his sword on his back, but be able to draw it with one motion. Kindle shook her head in wonder.
She thought to Cirrus, *I do all the work, and you get the presents.*
A bit later Kindle was sitting somewhat unsteadily on the edge of a large oak table in the ArchKnight’s meeting room. She thought of the thousand reasons why she should be dead, and could think of only a few reasons why she was still alive. That filled her with a renewed sense of purpose. The ArchKnight walked into the room and sat heavily in his chair. His grey hair unbound and falling around his shoulders. Bereft of his ceremonial armor, he still was a commanding presence, and Kindle felt quite subdued.
“You called for me sir?” she almost whispered, after several minutes of silence.
“You have a choice to make today, Kindle. One that you may not like. Ever since you first came here, I had my doubts about you.” he continued.
Kindle stared at the floor, her wings drooping.
“But your bravery facing those Goblins has proved me and many others wrong.”
Kindle looked up.
“That’s not to say I’m not very angry with you!” The ArchKnight’s eyes flared.
“ArchKnight. I did what I had to to save that child. If I do not live the Code, what kind of Knight would I be?” She kicked her feet angrily as the dangled off the end of the table.
“Following the Code does not mean rushing into danger. You must learn to temper your passion with thought, Kindle. Right action is as important as brave action.”
The ArchKnight looked across the room. There were paintings of ArchKnights of the past along the far wall.
“You cannot win a battle of strength. You must learn to use your unique abilities, and not let your size be a disadvantage.”
He rubbed his eyes, seemingly tired.
“You have a choice to make. Your original Quest was to travel to the Zirac forest and seek out a Mage that we believe will help us discover why the Goblins have begun to attack human lands. However there is an alternative. You can go with another Knight to StormWind Keep. We need to know what the Goblins are doing there, and you can obviously make a perfect spy.”
“Both Quests are not without danger, Kindle. But it seems that you seem to seek that. So, which path will you take? The forest or the keep?”
Kindle looked down at the sword in her hand. What would she do?
*Kindle, you have seen what going it alone can do. It’s time to seek help” Cirrus started. *Besides, you can go see your family”.
Kindle had never seen a sword chuckle before. She nodded inwardly.
“Ok. I’ll go to the forest. Perhaps this Mage can help us.” she said.
The Archknight nodded. “I thought you would choose the forest. Which is why I have already selected someone to accompany you.”
“What? I thought a Quest was something a Knight had to do on their own!” she stormed. She struck her fist to her thigh.
The ArchKnight raised an eyebrow. “This is no longer just about you Kindle. We must find out why the Goblins are making their move now.”
“Who are you sending with me?” she asked.
The ArchKnight scratched behind his ear.
Kindle rolled her eyes. All Kindle could remember of Kael was from a brief encounter several months ago. The Knights had commissioned him to help with a minor skirmish between two Knights. Both had claimed the love of a certain village woman, and were prepared to fight to the death when she had turned up missing. Each had claimed the other had hidden her away. Kael had discovered through discreet conversations in the nearby tavern that she had, in fact taken off with yet a third young man on an outgoing Trader ship.
While he had resolved the issue between the two Knights. Kindle didn’t think spending time in bars finessing half drunk patrons to be much of a talent. The Kael she remembered he came across bored and a bit pretentious.
“I don’t see why you want me to go with Him. I don’t trust him.”
“I don’t either, Kindle. ” the ArchKnight nodded.
“But he knows how to find the Mage, and he’s always come through, even if he’s a bit of a rogue. Get some rest, you’re both leaving in the morrow.”
“Yes, ArchKnight.” her voice was small.
Droop shouldered, Kindle buzzed out of the room.
In the morning Kindle quickly dressed and tried on her new scabbard.
“Do you think we are doing the right thing, Cirrus?”
*We are taking action, Kindle. That is better than doing nothing, regardless of the outcome*
Kindle, shrugged, jostling the sword.
*Hey, if you are going to bounce me around like that, perhaps you should leave me behind *
“What’s this? A delicate sword?” she snickered.
Kindle flew down to the stables, half expecting Kael to be still in bed after a night in the taverns, but was surprised to see him leaning against the wall just outside the stables, reading a small book. He looked rather bored, and sighed a little as he turned a page. Feeling mischievous, Kindle buzzed right up into his face.
“Ready to go?” she asked - hands on her hips.
Startled, Kael dropped his book and jumped. Kael took pride in looking both charming and elegant, with classic male features, a strong chin, close cropped hair and an easy smile. Kindle took some pride in making him look like a street juggler who had just failed to catch his flying daggers.
“Kindle! Darling! If I’d been a Goblin you’d most certainly have bested me by now” he smiled wryly, picking up his book. “Shall we be off?” he grinned.
Kindle, put off by his easy manner - not at all the behavior she had hoped for - grumped “Whatever. I hope you have a horse. I’m not going to sit around all day waiting on you.”
“Who needs a horse when you can fly?” His feet lifted a few inches off the ground as he made a small hand flourish.
*A Mage! * Cirrus said in her head.
Kindle knew the ArchKnight had been holding out on them. This was looking to become a much more complicated Quest than Kindle had imagined.