Vol 3: Chapter 10, Part 1: Time Is Running Out…

Beddigan stomped around his room in the Great Palace in Coronam and looked again out the unshuttered window at how low the sun had gotten. It had taken him two days to make his way down from the Olgrinn Peaks after his encounter with the Dragons, and another two to cross the Bintack Oceania, and then make his way by carriage to the Capital. And now another two had passed, as he had been kept waiting, while the Lord Regent was on business out of the Capital city.

“This infernal waiting cannot continue!” He snarled to Ragnon who lounged in a chair with his feet up on the edge of the bed. “We must start preparing! We must get back to our lands and stop the Wolves!” Ragnon waited a few beats and then shrugged.

“You know those royalty types. Different priorities and all that.” Beddigan scrubbed his paws over his face and made a frustrated sound before crossing the room and flinging the door open. Ragnon jumped up to follow him out in to the Palace corridor. Following the familiar route to the courtyard nearest the guest suites, they found William, Shianne and Serina sitting on carved white stone benches, watching the sun set over the sprawling city.

“I was told the Lord Regent would return this evening but I’ve seen no sign of him.” He snarled at the Mage. “We must begin preparing, gathering troops and supplies. We cannot wait any longer!” Serina stood from the bench and walked over to Beddigan, slipping an arm through his own and patting it gently.

“I’m afraid the Lord Regent must have been waylaid by some dreadfully important business. Running an Empire this large is no small feat, Beddigan.” Beddigan made another frustrated sound. The Panther continued, “These things often take time. He does not do this to toy with you. But he has many responsibilities. I’m sure he won’t be more than a few more days.

“A few more days?!” Beddigan cried out in a strangled voice, shaking himself free of the hold she had on him. He noticed then that none of his companions seemed to show any of the same frustration he felt. “And you lot, you’re all okay being kept waiting like this? When Katheyra could be burning? When Sinerrah or the Losley Deadwoods could be overrun with Wolves?” he said looking pointedly at them in turn. William stood then,

“It has not been so many days since Shianne has come, and we knew where the Wolves were then. You are not being logical Beddigan. We still have time.” Beddigan looked exasperated.

“Conjecture!” he cried, wringing his paws. “We have no idea what has happened since she left Katheyra and that was quite some time ago. And then we have the matter of her cuff! Things need to begin moving a lot quicker if we are going to save her paw, and our lands!”

Serina captured his arm again, stroking it in an effort to sooth him,

“Beddigan, please, you must try to calm down. I understand your frustration and your fear but getting worked up about it isn’t going to change anything. Royalty has its own pace and we must follow it.” She paused and released his arm. “I will go and speak with the Arch Mage and see if I can get some information on the Lord Regent’s estimated time of return. Rest assured, Beddigan. He does know the stakes of all this.”

Beddigan gave her a reluctant nod and watched until she disappeared back into the shadowy Palace corridor. Then, blowing out a sigh, he took a seat on a bench opposite his friend, bracing his elbows on his knees and burying his face in his paws. He felt someone take a seat on the bench next to him and a soft arm wrapped around his shoulders.

“It’s no bloody fun having the weight of the world on your shoulders, is it Beddy?” Shianne murmured to him. The she chuckled, “I much preferred being an amoral assassin.” Beddigan felt a smile tug at his mouth as he lifted his head up.

“You were never as amoral as you’d like us all to believe, Shianne.” He said. He noticed a weird look in her eyes as she abruptly removed her arms from around him and stood,

“Wasn’t I though?” she murmured, drifting away across the courtyard to lean against the low wall and watch the last touches of sunset glimmer over the horizon. Beddigan let her go, and gave her the space she needed, but he kept a watchful, protective eye on her. He loved seeing her with her natural coppery fur. It reminded him of seeing her as just a child and the decision he had made that she needed to be saved. It also served to remind him of the horrors the Wolves could and would commit, should they take control of Katheyra. He thought of the Badgers that lived in his surrogate home of Windermere, all those that he had helped over the turnings, and he couldn’t bear the thought of them dying and being put into prison camps.

That dark train of thought was broken as Serina reappeared on the white flagstone courtyard. She smiled brilliantly at them, paws clasped together in front of her, purple robes shimmering in the last touches of dusk. Shianne turned back to rejoin the group as Serina began to speak.

“Good news, my friends, good news!” she began. “The Lord Regent, aware that his delay would cause distress in you all, has already set about diverting troops and supplies to our cause. He will be waylaid a few more days and has decreed that we should all meet directly in Ehl-Indrah, in three days time.” Beddigan held in a snarl of frustrations and nodded curtly. Be calm, there is nothing to be done about it, he told himself.

“Alright, this is good then, yeah? We’ve a plan now and all that.” Ragnon said, looking to Beddigan who nodded again, though a frown was etched into his brow. Ragnon ambled over to him. “Cheer up, Beddigan! We’ve three days to kill now, and you know what I think we should do?” the Wolf asked him. Beddigan eyed him suspiciously,

“No, what should we do?” he asked.

Giving Beddigan a wolfish grin, Ragnon replied,

“I say a brief pre-war respite in the City of Light may be a good idea.” Beddigan felt his heartbeat quicken at the thought. It hadn’t even occurred to him, he was so preoccupied with what was happening back home. But to spend some more time with Karrinah… a smile replaced his frown. Serina clapped her paws together.

“Ahh, what a wonderful idea, Ragnon! I shall get us a carriage right away! Gather your things, we’ll travel through the night.” She said excitedly, before rushing away. The group made their way inside.

“I’m quite excited to meet this lady friend of yours, Beddy.” Shianne said, nudging him in the ribs as they made their way down the corridor that held the guest suites. Beddigan looked mildly abashed.

“She isn’t my lady friend. She’s our friend.” He murmured, making his way into his suite and shutting the door rudely in Shianne’s grinning, gloating, knowing face. All while he packed his things his mind was on the glorious beauty and kindness of the Deer people, and most of all their resplendent leader.

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