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Captain of the Guard: Different Kinds of Frauds

September 20, 2019

We might as well make camp. Set a watch, Whisper.”

“Aye, my Captain.” Cedric glared at Whisper, but the sergeant kept his face in the perfect pose of military sarcasm: bland and expressionless.

Alstone noticed Raven watching the picketing of the horses with disapproval and sidled up to Cedric.

“He’s going to be a problem for all of us.” Alstone observed.

“I gave up jettisoning everyone that wanted to come along sometime ago.” Cedric pointed out as he got his bedding ready.

“Those fools and their fraudulent beliefs undermine everything, and offer nothing of value.”

The anger in Alstone’s voice made Cedric look at the charlatan. The man’s round face no longer had a kindly, if somewhat dull look, but one of almost murderous intensity as he watched Raven.

“You don’t like frauds?” Cedric asked carefully with only a trace of irony.

Alstone’s faced became neutral, although his eyes still flashed as he looked at Cedric. “A fraud, that knows what he is, is only a danger to fools that ignore what they see. A person that believes his own lies is a danger to everyone.”

“Well, I suppose you would know better than anyone.”

“The day our ancestors picked up sticks and used them to defend against the predators was the day we were no longer one with nature.” The mage paused for a moment. “I will keep the sticks.”

“We have a watch posted, in case he makes trouble.”

The peasant mage looked at Cedric for a moment and then the pleasant, witless expression returned to his face. “Perhaps I will introduce the young man to the Hound. He professes to love all of mother’s creatures. It’s a pity you made Pookie promise not to eat anyone.”

Alstone moved toward the boy. Cedric thought about saying something, but stopped himself. He was tired and really didn’t care.

Al made his way to Raven and put a friendly arm around the youth’s bony shoulders. “There lad, how are you doing?”

The boy tried to brush off the arm, when that failed, he wiggled out from under the man’s arm. “I am no lad, sir, but a scion of the forest.”

“Then I am no sir, but the mightiest mage that ever practiced the craft.”

Raven looked at Al for a moment. He struggled with making what Al said match what he had saw, trying to decide if the man was being honest (doubtful), deceitful (possible), sarcastic (at Raven’s expense, likely) or was in fact insane (not impossible). He finally came up with an answer. “If you say so, I have no reason to dispute it.”

The charlatan smiled, “Good, well Raven, I thought I would introduce you to some of the people that are accompanying us.”

Raven followed Al to the edge of the encampment. Out of the shadows, the Hound suddenly reared up before the two of them. Raven let out a cry. Al laughed.

“Shame on you, wizard.” Emile chided.

Pookie took a deep sniff of the air, “He doesn’t speak for all of us, mage. I like the smell of fear on a man, even a skinny thing like him.”

“I thought you might.”

Pookie chuckled, “I could get fond of you, even if you pretend as much as Emile to be something you’re not.” Pookie paused for a moment and eyed Al, “I’d still eat you given the chance.”

“Pookie!” Emile said in indignation.

“Please you two, stop.” Marious intervened in a tired voice. “Tell me, Al, why you have come to us with this young man.”

“I thought you would like to make his acquaintance, he is Raven of the druids, Raven this is Emile, Marious and Pookie.”

Raven found his voice. “I’m not a druid, that’s a derogatory term used to demean the sacred task that the followers of the middle path to balance have been entrusted.”

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