The strangest thing is that I seem to have only done one Teaser Tuesday for Legends of Windemere: Path of the Traitors. I guess I had put the tradition on hold and forgot to bring it back. Looking through it, a reason might be because it was littered with spoilers about the flanking books, but I’m still shocked that I couldn’t find anything. I’m making up for it with a big chunk that involves Trinity, Fizzle, Timoran, and a new character by the name of Quail. Enjoy!
“Nyx’s neck must be strong enough to support a small house,” Trinity complains as she follows Timoran through the marketplace. The locals quickly step out of her way, but their attention is more on the waving drite that is sitting on her head. “I never expected Fizzle to be so heavy. He’s so small and quick. You might be right that him being with me will ease everyone’s worries about my presence, but I can’t do this anymore.”
“I believe he has increased his weight on purpose,” the barbarian says while buying a tent and some waterskins. He stuffs the gear in a sack that is nearly full, most of its contents being clothing and food. “Do you think we can trust the others? I know we have talked about this before, but you have evaded the question to some extent. Personally, I would like a straight answer.”
“And I’d like a straight spine by the end of this shopping trip,” the chaos elf snarls before grabbing Fizzle by the tail. Enhancing her strength, she pulls the drite off her head and holds him upside down, a dome encasing his head to block his breath weapon. “I’ll get to your question in a second. Why are you messing with me, dragon? We were on civil terms back in Stonehelm when I was pregnant, so spill it.”
The drite wriggles his head from the magical bowl and flutters around to land on the channeler’s wrist. “Fizzle not sure. Old enemies together make Fizzle nervous. See if dis . . . uncomf . . . test make blue channeler talk. No talk mean not bad. Fizzle still not like others helping.”
“You could have asked instead of making me lose an inch in height. Any longer up there and I’d have been shorter than Nyx,” Trinity jokes, earning a few laughs from the crowd. The noise causes her hand to drop toward a dagger, her instinctive fear rising to the surface for a second. “The truth is that I’m here to help. Betraying the champions puts my people in danger and you know I put them above all else. I need you to win and will do whatever it takes to make sure that happens. Even if it means working with some old companions who I wish would stay dead. At least Nimby isn’t so bad since he’s loyal to Luke. Vile is an honorable man, so I wouldn’t worry too much about him. That leaves the Lich, but he’s in Nimby. As annoying as Tyler can be, he isn’t a threat without his own body.”
“That sounds like the best answer I can get from you,” Timoran responds with a touch of disappointment in his voice. Stopping at a well, he rummages for the waterskins and begins filling them. “All of this is unexpected and makes us question the prophecy. How much of what we have been through was planned and how much was a surprise even to the gods? That is not a mentality that I wish to have when entering battle. My people prefer to be clear of mind and sure of our situation. That cannot always be attained, but I would like to get as close as possible considering the stakes. Do you agree, Trinity? Are you still there?”
Looking over his shoulder, Timoran spots the chaos elf wandering through a collection of clothes. The seamstress is obviously nervous due to the cobalt-skinned woman’s presence and always remains within reach of her wares. It is only when the barbarian arrives that the old merchant relaxes and goes back to the embroidered shirt she was working on. He is about to speak when he notices the way Trinity touches the soft fabric of a violet dress with fake diamonds on the chest. She holds out the sleeves that widen at the cuffs, her eyes filled with a longing that her former enemy never imagined he would see. Moving on to a wooden tiara that has been painted to resemble green vines, the chaos elf repeatedly glances back at the elegant dress. Placing the headpiece back on the shelf, she slips by Timoran and heads for the well to get a drink. Not caring about the stares, she empties the bucket over her head and gasps from the icy chill. The water never touches the ground, instead swirling around her body and flowing into her mouth.
“That was refreshing. Good thing I behaved myself since I have work to do,” Trinity says with a half-hearted smirk. She scowls at the way Timoran looks at her, his eyes filled with pity and sympathy. “As you can imagine, dresses like that aren’t very common on Shayd. In fact, I’ve never worn one that wasn’t a piece of regular clothing first. Using magic to craft a dress isn’t the same as buying one from a seamstress. I could have always stolen one during my travels, but that never sat well with me. Guess I wanted to get my first one the right way since fancy clothes are a staple of nobility and I am a Queen. Can’t believe I’m opening myself to someone I was trying to kill not too long ago.”
“That is not very surprising,” the barbarian suggests as he follows his companion through the marketplace. He finds himself more aware of the stares and whispers directed at Trinity, some of the words too cruel for him to share. “When people fight for as long as we have, they can develop a mutual respect and understanding. You have this bond with Nyx more than the other champions, but you and I have another special connection. My people are the first ones to accept the chaos elves, which means you have no reason to be secretive with me. As I have noticed in the past, your instincts to improve the lives of your people cause you to be friendly with those who can help.”
“Fizzle think Timoran honest face,” the drite chimes in, earning a sputtering laugh from the chaos elf. Fluttering over to Trinity, he lands on her shoulder and wraps his tail around her arm for balance. “Why no buy dress? Timoran have money. Tri . . . Trini . . . Trinity have friends that help. It be gift.”
“Thank you, but I have no use for that on this journey,” the channeler replies, stroking the small dragon’s cheek. Coming to the end of the stalls, she turns on her heels and starts heading back to the castle with a happier skip in her step. “Besides, I want to buy my first dress with my own fortune. Call it a silly dream, but I feel like I can finally indulge in such things. The idea of a chaos elf buying something from a merchant used to be laughed at, but it could be a reality if things work out. Maybe even in my lifetime.”
“I am sure that will happen and be done by your hand. Nobody else can bring the chaos elves into the light,” Timoran says, his voice loud enough to stop the locals from continuing their gossip. Tossing four gold coins to a merchant, he grabs two bedrolls and struggles to balance everything while walking. “Considering the prophecy is not over, you may still have an important part to play. I recommend watching for chances to prove that you and your people mean no harm to the rest of the world. As much as I love words, I know that many situations require actions to initiate a change. Perhaps everything will become easier when you reclaim your homeland.”
Trinity stops to let a group of kids run across the street, all of them staring at her with wonder and a hint of fear. “Oh, I plan on letting my actions speak for me. Though, I’m not sure what I can do right now. The prophecy is about the champions and their enemies. I’m neither of those right now, which means my role is no different than Kira or any of your other allies. We’re fodder for the Baron to toy with as you saw when he unleashed Walter. That’s another reason why I want to take on this crest challenge. It’s my way to prove that chaos elves aren’t any different than the other people of Windemere. We can be good and trusted too.”
“Is Fizzle fodder?” the drite asks, leaning forward to stare into the channeler’s eyes.
“Of course not.”
“But Fizzle not champion.”
“Gabriel made you a special case.”
“You sure he not do same to you?”
A sarcastic response on the tip of her tongue, Trinity is cut off by shouts from behind them and the sound of a booth falling over. She turns around to see a scrawny chaos elf kneeling in front of a Dwarven merchant, the local’s wares strewn across the street. Wearing a shirt that is more patches than original material and pants cut off at the knee, the curious man looks like a homeless wanderer. The yellow-haired klutz continues to apologize while fumbling with a pouch of money that he drops. All seven of his diamond spheres roll out of the bag and follow a groove into a nearby sewer grating. He stares at the opening with an expression that is so sad and pathetic that the dwarf cannot stay mad. The merchant helps the young man stand and does his best to wipe the dirt from his clothes before going back to the broken pottery. When the chaos elf attempts to bend down and help, half of the crowd waves and whistles for him to back away. The action is so widespread and identical that Trinity gets the feeling this is not the first time such an incident has occurred.
“I’ll be right with you, your highness! My name is Quail and I’m the mapper you sent a message to!” the chaos elf shouts as he picks up a bloated backpack. Hoisting it onto his shoulders, he has no problem running quickly across the smooth cobblestones. “I’m truly honored that you would ask me for help. I might not look like much, but I’ve had my share of adventures. Please don’t take what just happened as a sign of bad luck or a curse. I do much better in open spaces as long as there’s nothing to distract me. Will the drite and barbarian be coming with us?”
“No, but we have three companions that I’ll warn you about before you meet them,” Trinity replies, stopping the young man from bowing. She smiles at how he freezes and seems unsure of what to do until she helps him stand. “I’m confident that you will make me proud, Quail. The name explains the tattoo on the back of your hand. I take it you only have your mapper spells and not much combat experience. Rather unique for one of my people since we learn how to fight as early as possible. How long have you been away from Shayd?”
“Eighteen years,” Quail answers with another attempt to bow. His backpack slides up and causes him to topple over, the chaos elf remaining on the ground out of embarrassment. “My parents were sent on a mission when I was two and took me along because they didn’t want me to get eaten by demons. They died and I wandered into the nearest town where a mapper took me in. She taught me everything I know before she died too. Don’t think everyone dies around me because she was really old when she adopted me. Let me take that, sir.”
Timoran opens his mouth to argue, but Quail yanks the large sack from the barbarian and holds it over his head. The chaos elf takes a few awkward steps and starts to fall towards a booth full of weapons. He twists his body with more flexibility and grace than anybody expects, his back foot stopping this latest disaster. Adjusting the heavy bundle, Quail nods at the sweating blacksmith and calmly returns to his beloved leader. It takes him a second to understand why she is staring open-mouthed at him and he blushes while grinding his worn heel against the pavement. Holding the sack in one hand, the mapper shows her a crimson ring that is shaped like a circle of sharp teeth. The points scratch at his skin whenever he moves, but the wounds heal in the blink of an eye.
“I have a Troll Ring, which isn’t as bad as it sounds,” Quail claims, knowing the question on the channeler’s lips. He places the sack across his shoulders, the movement snapping his backpack’s straps and sending his equipment to the ground. “I have some patches and thread to fix that. Anyway, the ring increases my strength and stamina. Might give me some healing abilities too, but I never tested it. This means I can carry everything and not slow us down. See how helpful I’m going to be, your highness?”
“Great, but you don’t have to-” Trinity starts to say, stopping when the young man runs ahead. She sighs when the mapper trips over his own foot and tumbles into a hedge that breaks at the base. “Don’t laugh, Wrath, because I’m sure you’ll have people kissing the ground you walk on once you return to Stonehelm. Happens a lot with me since I took on so many punishments for my people. Give Quail a few days and he’ll calm down.”
“Are you sure?” Timoran asks as he picks up the fallen backpack.
Thinking about her situation, the chaos elf scratches her head before shrugging. “My traveling companions are a dead warrior trapped in a toy, a thief with a skeletal limb, the spirit of an inept Lich, and a clumsy mapper. I’m not sure about anything except that I’m going to have a headache before the day is over.”
“I will pack some Ifrit mead for you.”
“Bless your heart, my muscular savior.”