Chapter 20 - Part I

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The reunion between brother and sister was a joyous one. The little boy and girl spoke too quickly in their broken tongue for Sam to follow their conversation, but she could pick out their fervently whispered I-love-you’s. The girl repeatedly called the boy something that sounded like, “Ee-jut”, but she said it with such affection that Sam couldn’t be sure of its meaning.

Tristan insisted on buying the children two of the fancy cakes that had nearly spelled Charlie’s demise. Charlie ate his pastry in two large bites, his cheeks bulging as he chewed and swallowed. “Took you all of thirty seconds to eat that thing,” said Tristan. “What a waste of your gold coin that would’ve been.”

The little boy licked his frosting coated fingers. “I’da bought it for me sister. Wouldna been a waste.”

His sister, at least, knew how to savor a rare treat. She split her cake into two, and nibbled daintily on one half. Shyly, she offered the other half to Braeden.

Tristan clutched at his heart. “You wound me, my lady,” he said with mock hurt. “I rescue your brother, yet you offer your cake to Braeden? What does a man have to do to earn himself a sliver?”

“Buy one for yourself,” the girl said tartly, blushing a little.

Sam grabbed Tristan’s elbow and pulled him aside. “Stop it, you’re embarrassing her. Braeden is likely her first infatuation.”

“What do you know of a little girl’s infatuation?”

Sam had firsthand experience, but she wasn’t about to tell him that. “Enough to know she fancies herself in love with Braeden. She’s been mooning over him ever since you made him hold her hand.”

Tristan chuckled. “Would never have thought of Braeden as a heartbreaker.”

Sam glared at him. “So women should only fall in love with a pretty face like yours, then.”

Tristan grinned, his teeth flashing white against his tanned skin. “Don’t worry, you and Braeden can have my leftovers.”

Sam punched him in the shoulder. “I was only jesting!” Tristan squawked.

After the cakes were eaten, Tristan, Sam and Braeden bid the children their adieu.

“Thankee, Milord. We won’t forget you, not never,” Charlie promised, his back straight and proud.

“Take care of your sister, Charlie,” said Tristan, mounting his horse. “And if the Paladins try to give either of you trouble again, remind them of my name.”

“What is your name, milord?” asked the little girl.

Tristan inclined his head. “Paladin Tristan Lyons, First of the sword.”

****

They didn’t stay in Westergo much longer, though Tristan had originally planned for them to spend the night. “I don’t want to stay in this gods damned city one more second than I have to,” he said. Sam couldn’t agree more.

After they stopped by the mercer’s shop to collect the High Commander’s silk – which, according to Tristan, had no significance beyond the fact that Westergoans made really nice silk – they continued on down the main throughway, passed the opulent palace and the slums, then out of Westergo through its westernmost gates. 

“Where to next, Tristan?” Sam shouted above the sound of hoofbeats.                           

Tristan slowed down so that the necks of their horses were aligned.  “Pirama will be our next stop. I’ll need to send a report back to the High Commander.”

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