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Pen Your Pride

The Moon Coin: Keegan's Ground (Part 1)

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Chapter Sixteen

Keegan's Ground (Part 1)

Once outside, every step Keegan took conjured a ghostly light in front of them while extinguishing one behind. The trails between the buildings were narrow, and everywhere nestled sleeping animals, noses tucked under each other. Every outbuilding appeared to be made for housing or tending animals. Lily kept a wary eye for Pippa, but she was nowhere to be seen.

"Keegan, why don't any of the fences have gates? How do you keep the animals from wandering off?"

Keegan gave Lily a cautious, sideward glance.

"My problem is quite the opposite. I must turn back animals every day. And those ready to go I must push out. It is the way of the land now. One of Wrengfoul's many gifts."

"How long has it been this way?"

Keegan pursed his lips. "It was this way once before, well before my time. But this most recent period began after Wrengfoul last attacked us."

"And that was when Perianth was flooded, and Castle Fendragon abandoned?"

"Precisely, but the fall of Perianth was just the beginning. After that, he spread his forces over the land and destroyed or poisoned as much as he could, leveling towns and crippling once-powerful cities."

"But he's gone now, right?" Lily pointed out. "So can't you rebuild the locks? Can't you drain the fens again?"

They crossed a small creek via a wooden bridge no more than five or six feet in span.

Keegan smiled. "Well, Lily, we're working towards it, of course. But it isn't something that can be changed quickly. At least, not by any means I can imagine. You see, the locks and the windmills were great works, and their original construction must have required thousands of people working diligently over decades. We're far fewer now, and the act of survival occupies most of our time. Many things need to be accomplished before the fens will ever be dry again. It will take the work of many generations to restore the windmills to their former glory, I can assure you."

"So, the windmills and locks are completely destroyed? They were so beautiful."

"You talk as if you've seen them."

"Only in a painting. But a very good one. It's looking down the shoreline. There must be twenty of the mills in view, their stone arches soaring into the air—tall as cathedrals! The sunlight is bright in the foreground, but everywhere else is dark because a storm is moving in. The sea is roiling against the seawalls, and you can just make out the crews in the closest windmills, reducing the amounts of canvas on the blades. It's a large painting, but even up close the people look like ants."

"I saw them once . . . as a boy. That was a sight, I can tell you. They bore the Tinker's mark. Can you imagine?" asked Keegan, his eyes twinkling. "Tinkers! Working on Dain! You can be sure no one from Dain ever saw those plans! For that matter, I doubt any one Tinker was privy to all of it—they're such a secretive bunch. And the Dain who stayed on to run them were a strange, secret lot themselves. So much that you would have thought they'd been infected with the Tinkers' arcanum."

"What's that?"

Keegan thought for a minute. "In your uncle's tales, the Tinkers are a taciturn but still productive race. They choose to communicate sparingly, but understand the benefits of trade with others in the Moon Realm. In times of need, they could even be described as . . . helpful."

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