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Bad Luck Charm, part eight

November 17, 2010

       Now we began the journey back.  If anythin’ Talf’s luck turned worse.  Straps broke at every bend in the road.  Floods washed the roads away.  Unseasonable rain ‘n sleet dogged our steps.
       At night we cast bones for who would do the cookin’ and Talf lost every time.  No one loses that often, even a bad luck charm.  It was the kind of stuff to drain hope and a bad luck charm has just enough to have hope that his luck will change.
      I suspect the bones were rigged, or Fargyle used his magic to push things along a bit.
      Finally, after a journey that was longer comin’ back, we arrive a day out from the palace and set up a cold camp in a nearby glen.  Durin’ his watch, Talf had enough of us and left.
      I was getting’ down to sleep, leastwise I was pretendin’ to do so, and I see Talf packin’ up.
     “Leavin’?”
      Talf looks at me warily, “Aye.”
     “Don’t.”
     He looks away for a moment. “No reason ta stay.”
     “They gave ye a chance, took ye out of Shady Brook, didn’t they?”
     “Yer treated like a man.” Gave me a meaningful look.  Didn’t need to say anymore.
      The others had heaped abuse on Talf and I did nuthin’.  I have a lot of regrets in me life and this is one of them.  A true man would have at least tried to protect Talf, but I didn’t. Don’t ever trust a man that has no regrets.  That’s a man that don’t care about anyone but himself and loves no one.  Life’s about choices and most choices have consequences.  Only ones that don’t have regrets, don’t care about the consequences.
      I watched him go.  The others didn’t try to stop him.
     Soon as he was gone, we were up and movin’ toward the palace.
     The palace is one of the most awful structures in all of creation.  As ye know, each king adds a grander addition to the palace than the one before, so it’s a hodgepodge of halls and throne rooms, with new wings goin’ every direction, even up and down.  Tis a gawdy monstrosity with gilded angels and marble nymphs gazin’ down upon ye from every direction.  It don’t so much as impress as it makes ye dizzy and a bit paranoid from all those stony stares.
      Could be worse, the Moon Lords of Lunaria build an entirely new palace with each new reign, bigger than the one before.  After twenty-four generations, ye’d think they’d realize their son is jus’ gonna show ‘em up, but still they build.  Some day they’re gonna run out of places a build and then even the peasants will sleep on marble floors.
       The nice thing about all this buildin’ was that the prince’s brother was still buildin’ on to the palace, mayhap the most absurd addition, in that he was buildin’ a terraced garden along the entire roof of the structure, with massive pumps to feed the waterfalls as they cascaded along what once were the eves and the lake where miniature naval battles could be fought. So while the massive, and worthwhile use of the taxes was underway way, we disguised ourselves as laborers and made our way in to the palace.
        Easy.  The prince led the way right to his brother’s royal chambers.  That’s another funny thing about royals.  The husband and wife have separate bedrooms, but it supports me theory about heros addin’ to the royal line.
        The prince’s brother’s sittin’ in his private meetin’ area with a number of his advisors when we storm in.  The king just smiles as we enter because he was expectin’ us.
        Talf had run right to the king hopin’ for a reward, so he knew we were comin’.  The prince’s triumph died as we heard the stampin’ of guards marchin’ down the halls.  The king drew his blade and all the men accompanyin’ him drew blades too.

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