Undead Reckoning Pt. 8

The train chugged on toward its destination and Clarity had pulled out a book and a notebook and expertly balanced both in her lap. She would read from the leather-bound book and then write something in the notebook every so often. Since she had retreated into academia, it left Talbot to his own devices again. He stared past her out the window again and watched the scenery go by. Vegetation was becoming more and more sparse as they headed out toward the desert. Nobody quite knew why the desert had become so dangerous. The desert wasteland had been home to strange mobile rifts of chaotic magic, rumored to be cracks in reality itself. This happened long before Talbot had been born.

Lately, magic experts were reporting that the chaotic energy in the desert was slowly abating. The area was slowly becoming safer or at least as safe as a normal desert could be. Many had started to explore the area and some settlements had sprung up to support explorers and mining operations. The area was largely lawless as the Queen’s government had not yet asserted full control over the region. They had been left very unprepared for the expansion since they previously knew that people feared entering the dangerous desert. Talbot knew that this necromancer that Blackrance insisted on pursuing was out there in that desert with the rest of the criminals. It was the only logical place to start amassing power with a forbidden yet showy skill like that.

The train pulled into Fallshield Station which was not much of a station after all. Still, Talbot and Clarity had arrived at their destination. Talbot stood up and grabbed his pack and his rifle and slung them over his shoulder. He reached back to offer a hand to Clarity who clasped his hand and used it to stand up and follow Talbot into the aisle. Talbot handed her bag carefully.

“Well, Mr. Hawkwing we have arrived,” Clarity said. “you’ve been such a good travel companion so far, would you like to accompany me as we look for Lord Blackrance? It would be silly to separate to seek out the same man. No?”

“You make perfect sense to me, Ms. Havenwood,” Talbot said. “Ladies first, I’ll watch your back. These frontier towns can be rough.”

“Well, go ahead and be intimidating, Mr. Hawkwing,” Clarity said. “They would only bother me because they know not how dangerous I can be.” She smiled in a way that made Talbot believe that she was a formidable magic practitioner and had the guts to harm if necessary. Maybe she was suited for adventure out in the desert.

Clarity led the way off of the train and Talbot followed close behind. Once they were out he walked beside her, blinking in the bright sunlight to get his bearings. He was grateful that he had brought along his wide-brimmed hat. Clarity’s hat had an even wider brim and a large ornate bow as well. She certainly stood out in all of the dust. He had never been to Fallshield before. It had been a military base dedicated to protecting the border of the desert but a little town had grown after the border had become more relaxed. There was still danger out there but the military was letting people take that risk onto themselves.

As the few people who had gotten off of the train cleared away, Talbot spotted a halfling lingering who spotted them and headed their way.

“Are you waiting for us, young man?” Clarity asked. “Clarity Havenwood, at your service. This is Talbot Hawkwing.” Talbot tipped his hat to the man.

“Titus Mapleburrow, at your service,” the man said. “I’m Lord Blackrance’s valet.”

“Charmed, I’m sure,” Clarity said. “It’s nice to know how thoughtful Lord Blackrance is.”

“Can we speak to him?” Talbot asked. “Where is he?”

“Lord Blackrance has not arrived himself and has been delayed slightly,” Titus said. “However, you are both expected. I’m to convey you to the local hotel. Rooms are already waiting for you. I have a stipend for your food and drink as well.”

“Lord Blackrance thinks of everything,” Clarity said. “Thank you, Titus. Lead the way.”

“Of course, miss,” Titus said and turned on his heel to walk down the platform toward town.

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