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Universe of G-Minor - Ghibbore Title

Chapter 25

The next morning he found himself wondering whether or not to question Lorelei regarding her intentions toward him, and any doubts she had about his status as a Ghibbore, a fledgling wizard, but loading Krista’s coffin on the travois occupied all their attention. By the time Thomas was packed and ready to leave he’d forgotten all about it under the pressure of more immediate concerns.

“Get a suite of rooms at the Watchman’s Keep,” he told him. “It may not look like much on the outside but it’s one of the better inns.”

“Why does it have to be that one?” Thomas asked. “I’ve heard the Wicked Mermaid is the best.”

Storm flashed him a grin. “I’ve heard the same thing, but the Watchman’s Keep has one thing the Wicked Mermaid doesn’t.”

Thomas leaned forward with eager anticipation. “What’s that?”

“A wall safe in every room.”


“I think it actually was a watch tower at one time,” Storm added, enjoying the look of disappointment in his eyes. “That thing is built like a fortress. Where better to keep Krista and our gold safe?”

“Uh, sure,” Thomas nodded glumly. Ralt tried to smother a chortle behind his hand but didn’t quite succeed. “The Watchman’s Keep it is. But I won’t spend much time there,” he added defiantly.

“Fine,” Storm agreed amiably. “Just tell the innkeeper to expect us. His name is Gustov, I think. Something like that anyway.”

Thomas swung up into the saddle. Between the horses, the pot of hot coals hung in its cradle, smoke drifting lazily out of the air holes in the lid. Along both sides of the travois, torches burned brightly in the overcast morning. “That’s it then. I hate long goodbyes so I guess I’ll see you . . . when I see you.” He spurred the horses away from the camp. Just before he disappeared around the bend he turned in the saddle. “Think of me when you’re cold and tired and hungry!” he yelled with a jaunty wave.

Durin snorted disparagingly. “Hmph. O’course we will . . . and curse him for good measure too.”

Ralt began kicking snow into their fire to put it out. “Naturally. What else would you expect us to do?” Once the fire was out they shouldered their packs, turned their faces east and began retracing their steps to Breckinridge.

The knee-deep snow made the trek as difficult as Storm feared. Walking single file, they took turns breaking a path so none of them would get overtired. Aside from an occasional word as they changed places or a curse when one of them slipped, they didn’t speak. They simply walked, concentrating on placing one foot ahead of the next, staying in the prints of the person before them. The dominant trees in the forest were evergreens, their branches bowed under the weight of the snow. Here and there an oak, or the occasional elm, stretched skeletal arms toward the sky, also covered in white. The silence of the winter forest surrounded them. There were no bird calls. The chattering of squirrels was missing; all of them were snug in their burrows sleeping away the months until spring. Nothing moved. Even the wind seemed to have died down. Aside from the snow squeaking under their boots, there was no sound at all.

Despite the oppressive silence Storm’s mood gradually began to improve. He’d long ago discovered nothing made him feel better than a vigorous workout. Whether it was a wild ride on horseback or a sweaty training session or just a brisk walk in the woods, anything that got his blood moving and his heart pumping always brightened his outlook on life. He started to feel alive again. His head cleared and he began to feel better than he had in several weeks. Even the fight with the demon, disastrous though it had been, didn’t plague him quite as much.

In the light of day, with the cobwebs banished from his head by the hard struggle through the snow, he had to admit there was little or nothing he could have done to change how it came out. Considering it in terms of an after-action report, it was clear they’d done everything they could, fought as hard as possible. He’d even posted an extra guard and it hadn’t done any good. He couldn’t fault the guards for their inability to harm the demon. Without magic the best they could do was distract it, slow it down a little while the four of them killed it. The thought completed some circuit and he abruptly realized Lorelei didn’t have any magic either. Yet she hit it, wounded it, as well as I did, he thought. What was it Ralt said? Only magic or one who has been touched by heaven?

He’d gradually become accustomed to the thought of being a Ghibbore, that it might have granted him some special abilities. Now, remembering how Lorelei had been able to fight the demon too he mused she was well named after all. Child of Heaven indeed.

It occurred to him, in the light of this discovery, to wonder at the companions he found himself with. None of them were who they originally appeared to be.

Consider Durin; a dwarf who’d once lived in Thangadrim itself (he goggled slightly at the idea), then survived the Chaos Wars to arrive who knows how many thousands of years later at Sodan’s side with an axe that literally burned with power. Released from the old man’s service by his death, he was free to wander wherever his fancy took him, take up any banner he pleased.

Next was Ralt; a part-eleven wizard who’d once been a rancher of all things! Disowned by his father, no longer at Sodan’s beck and call, he too was free to go where he willed. Even his sorcerous master no longer seemed to have a lien on his soul. He’d dismissed the idea of returning to Gerald with a flick of his hand.

Then there was Lorelei; a Child of Heaven. Outcast by her tribe, the only pull on her was her promise to take him to her father’s grave to avenge his death. Once that was done – and she seemed in no great hurry about it – would she want to go back to her tribe? It sounded as though her father’s death was connected to her outcast status. Solving one problem might provide the key to solving both. But would she care anymore? Or would she turn her back on them to wander the world?

Finally, there was himself. As much an orphan as Durin, although self-made, and even more in some ways, he had been given a second chance in life along with some bizarre new powers. Assuming he wasn’t destined to be a tyrant, then perhaps it would be his lot in life to fight evil, to right great wrongs. Their fight to save Krista’s soul surely fell into that category. Would avenging Crowsotarri’s death be another wrong he was destined to set right? And if he succeeded, what was he to do next? Would another great evil rear its ugly head, waiting to be smacked down? Or would he have to go searching for it like the sell swords he’d contemplated the night before? He had no ties, nothing to hold him down. He could go looking for evil anywhere he wanted. Maybe it would be the future he’d begun to look for. If he could persuade the other three to follow him, would it be such a bad life?

No, he decided, it wouldn’t be. Long experience had taught him to revel in combat, to lust after the sting of battle. But battle simply for the sake of battle was a barbarian virtue, one he’d never embraced. He wasn’t capable of charging into a fight just for the fun of it. He wanted to know he was doing the right thing, wanted to know justice was on his side. If he was going to lead this little group, if he took up that burden . . . he could satisfy both urges at the same time with a clear conscience. It would also solve another problem he had recently become aware of.

He wouldn’t be alone anymore.

Despite everything, despite all the people he’d worked with he was still just as alone as he would have been if he’d stayed in the Ramparts wandering around by himself. You could die of loneliness in a crowd, he told himself. But he didn’t want numbers, he wanted companions.


He wanted friends.

No, even that wasn’t right. Well, it was, but not entirely.

He wanted a family.

Which brought him back to Lorelei.

He could admit to himself now he wanted her. He wanted her very badly, nearly from the moment they’d met in fact. They were so much alike it was uncanny. And he thought she might want him. But how was he supposed to go about it? It had been so long since he’d tried to date or engage a woman he’d practically forgotten how. Besides, things were different here, it wasn’t like he could invite her to the drive-in or anything. How did men go about courting women on Gaia? He’d never tried or paid attention to others so he didn’t have the slightest idea how they went about it. He turned it over and over in his head, worrying it like a dog with a bone until a distant shout unexpectedly interrupted his musings.

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