Heart Stone - (The Dagger of Dragon Rose Book 2)

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What's Next?

“Have you seen him?” - Shaunna Nightshade.
“Well my little friend, let’s see what you can do.”
The sun had just crested the distant mountains, flooding the land with pure new light. Shaunna was standing on the same rise where she had successfully reconnected with her dark elf heritage. The glove on her left hand glowed dimly in the morning light.
“Any ideas?”
“Unfortunately, no. Is it normal for those of my kind to have special abilities?”
“Yes, very much so,” Not knowing what else to do, she began to go through a short Kata that the Old Man of the Forest had taught her as a child. The point was to move deliberately, paying attention to one’s surroundings. As she completed the final move, a sharp punch with her left hand, the tree directly in front of her exploded into splinters.
“Whoa, I think I did that. Let me try something.”
Shaunna watched as the splinters rose from the ground and reassembled themselves into the tree they had been. She walked over, placing her hand on the newly reformed trunk. She was barely able to discern the cracks where the splinters had come apart. She stepped back in time to see the tree crumble into a pile of wood shards.
“How did you do that?”
“I don’t know. I just thought about moving the pieces, and they moved.”
“I see, you are a telekinetic. You have the ability to move things with your mind.” Shaunna thought for a moment. “Do you think you could lift me?”
Without warning, Shaunna rose into the air. “Let’s see what we can do.” For the next few hours Shaunna and Ember bonded, increasing in compatibility and friendship. “That was amazing,” Shaunna was gushing as she walked back to the cabin. “I can see why Taren likes to fly…” She grew silent as the enormity of the task ahead of her settled on her shoulders. Felling heavy, she entered the small building.
“So, What’s next boss,” Hope blurted out as soon as he saw her.
Balling her fists she turned to the large elf, ready to hit him again. The smile spread across his face was disarming and genuine.
“A joke,” she asked.
Hope shrugged. “Kind of. We do need to decide what to do next, however. How are we going to find a person who can, literally, fly away. He could be anywhere.”
Shaunna nodded. “I know. I think we should start with places that would be familiar to him.” Turning to Parel, she continued. “You knew him best. Do you have any ideas where we might start looking.”
Parel thought for a moment, “Well, we could start with his parents house. Maybe the thieves guild in Brightbay. Possibly at his sword-master’s studio.”
Shaunna nodded. “That’s a start.”
“You’re overlooking the obvious,” Maxx broke into the converstion, “You have access to an oracle.”
“Oracle? Oh, Celeste… We’ll leave her for a last resort. I don’t want to bother her.” Shaunna placed her hand around the crystal hanging from her neck. “Cera, can you please take me to Brightbay,”
Parel rose to object, but befire she could say anything, Shaunna was gone.

Less than a moment later, Shaunna was surrounded by the unfamiliar buildings of the largest city in the world. The sights and sounds were alien to her. She’d only been here once before, and it had been night then.
“Well, let’s try to find where the new guild is.” She almost came out of her skin when the hand touched her shoulder.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Parel was looking rather cross.
“I’m going to talk to the guild master, and find out where Taren lived before, so I can go talk to his parents.”
“You need to slow down. It’s the whole Satchel debacle all over again. You are rushing in without all the information. I’ve heard that is unlike you”
“Okay, miss Zalek, educate me,” Shaunna was barely able to keep the irritation out of her voice.
Parel smiled, “Okay, did you know that Garz Tish and Zorah Rose are best friends? She specifically told Garz to leave Nathan alone, and she was not at all happy to find out he hadn’t listened. I doubt Mr. Tish is going to tell you where they live. He’s probably scared of incurring Zorah’s wrath again. I would be.”
Shaunna started to pace.” That certainly does put a damper on things. I guess I could approach some of the thieves and ask them.”
“Ughh… You sure are thick sometimes, you know?’
Shaunna stared at her, not comprehending.
“This is my home. I’ve been in love with Nathan since I caught him breaking into my house.” Taking a deep breath she continued. “I know where the Rose family lives. I can take you there.”
“Wait, how do you know that Garz Tish is the master of the thieves guild?” Shaunna was thoroughly confused.
“The night the guild was raided. I helped Nathan break Mr. Tish out of prison.”
“Why do you keep calling him Nathan, that’s not his name.”
A sad smile spread across Parel’s lips. “No, that is not his name, but it is how he is known here. You will be hard pressed to find many people here that know that fact. I imaging only the ones that were in the Dragon Bard’s inn the night he announced it know, and they probably haven’t said anything for fear of sounding foolish. The elves aren’t the only proud ones in this city.”
Shaunna thought for a moment. “I didn’t think of any of that.” She paused again before asking, “Why are you helping me?”
Parel rolled her eyes. “I hold no animosity towards you. I am trying to make good on the apology I gave you at the crystal castle.”
Shaunna nodded, “Lead on.”
Parel took a moment to orient herself. Satisfied she knew where they were, she pointed toward a nearby alley. “This way.”
They hurried through the back roads and alleys of the city, inching ever closer to their destination. They progress was swift, but Shaunna had the feeling that they were not taking the most direct route to the house in the human quadrant.
Approximately ten minutes later, they stud in front of nondescript door attached to a small house nestled in a row of small houses. Shaunna smiled at the small bouquet of flowers sitting in the front window.
Several minutes after Parel knocked on the door, Zorah partially opened it. “Who’s there?”
“It’s Parel, Mrs. Rose.”
A genuine smile spread across Zorah’s face as she opened the door, but it faltered as soon as she saw Shaunna. “What is that doing here.”
Parel placed her hand on Shaunna’s shoulder, but was unable to say anything before another voice interrupted her.
“Zorah, this is Shaunna Nightshade, your son’s fiancée. You would do well to treat her well.” Light glinted off shiny black skin as Shantar Fantis stepped up to the front of the house. “Hello, sister, I presume you are well?”
Parel nodded. Turning to Zorah she asked, “ Have you seen Nathan?”
“I thought he was with you.”
“We got separated. Do you know any places he might go?”
Zorah thought for a moment, “I imagine he might go to his old sword master. Or… No, Garz would have told me if he’d gone there.” She thought for a moment more. “His old sword master, located in the eastern woods.”
Shaunna stepped forward. “Thank you for your help.”
Zorah’s face hardened. “You are not welcome here. No way will my son marry any one…”
A small scream escaped Zorah’s lips as the house around her shook.
Shantar stepped forward, gold eyes glowing with power. “He is not your son, Zorah. You found him in the ruins of his castle. I left him with you because I believed you would raise him well. This match was ordained, and agreed upon before Taren,” The bard emphasized the name, “came into your possession. The oath must be upheld. I exhort you to accept it and not interfere.” He turned to The younger women. “Well, we have what we came for, shall we be off?”
Parel nodded, “Before we go, I would like to stop be home and get some fresh clothes. I long to feel the freshness of fabric that has not been washed in streams, but actual laundry facilities.”

Half an hour later, the companions found themselves on the eastern road, heading into the forest. Parel now clad in a blouse and pants, rather than her customary skirt, was in high spirits. She was happy to have seen her home again, even for a few minutes. She’d traded out her entire travelling wardrobe. “I now know that skirts and dresses do not make the best travelling clothes for a long adventure,” she had explained to a patient Shaunna.
The two talked lightly as they walked through the woods, the sun streaming through the canopy of leaves above them. Insects sang in the warm afternoon air, completing their sense of ease. Parel, giggling madly, didn’t notice when Shaunna had stopped moving. It took a few moments for the small woman to notice that her companion was no longer beside her.
“Shaunna, are you okay?”
Shaunna shook her head, “No,” Eyes downcast, tears began to sun down her cheeks, “I am so sorry.”
Parel remained silent, not used to Shaunna in a state of vulnerability.
“I’m sorry I threatened you. I’m sorry you got captured by the dragon. I’m sorry for how I treated you.”
Stepping forward. Parel wrapped her arms around Shaunna’s waist. “We both handled that situation wrong. I don’t blame you. I was being completely horrible to you. I forgive you. Can you see it in your heart to do the same?”
Shaunna wrapped her arms around Parel’s shoulders, returning the embrace. “Yes, and I think I may be ready to reconsider the ‘just allies’ comment I made during your initial apology. You have been a good friend to me since we left the castle, and since we lost…”
Parel buried her head in Shaunna’s shoulder. “I miss him too.”
After several minutes, the duo continued their walk.
Fifteen minutes later, the came to a small arena where an elf was instructing people in the art pf swordplay. They watched for a while, recognizing some of the moves they’s seen Taren use in battle being inexpertly attempted by the students.
“We seem to have some guests.” The Elf turned to the ladies after knocking his sparring partners sword to the ground. Welcome to Tarinian’s sword school. How may I help you.”
Parel stepped forward. “We were wondering if you’ve seen Nathan Rose.”
Tarinian frowned. “So the young king had gone missing, has he?”
Both Shaunna and Parel started at the comment, “You knew who he was?”
Tarinian laughed, “Of course I knew. He looks so much like his father, who else could he be?”
Parel bowed, “Thank you, Master Tarinian. We will not interrupt your class any further.” Turning to Parel she continued, “So, what’s next?”
Shaunna shook her head. “We return to the others and continue the search. Cera, we need to get back to the others.” The crystal was warm in her hand.
As soon as she finished speaking, Shaunna Nightshade and Parel Zalek disappeared into thin air.

To Be Concluded…

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