Kingdom of Stars (The Young Ancients: Timon Book Three) (6 page)

BOOK: Kingdom of Stars (The Young Ancients: Timon Book Three)
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The sack clanked a bit as Karl moved it up and down, getting
a sense of its weight. Then he tucked a hand under it, so it wouldn't fall. It
was a rough spun sack, made of burlap and tied at the top with hemp string. It
didn't look special or rich, but the man already knew they were there to
collect magical items, so he probably got the idea.

Timon secured the chest again, letting the heavy and plain
looking lid, one which seemed like wood and matched the room pretty well, right
down to the patina of dust on the top, slam down with a thunk. Then he took the
bag back, and set it on top of the lid. The knot that he'd used was a bit tricky,
but about half a minute later he had the top open and dug in to get out two of
the three remaining hand held communications devices that were left.

Or at least that he had. Tor had more of them, he didn't
doubt, but Timon wasn't going to ask for them. It just wouldn't be happening.

"Here..." He set the device up, pecking out Karl's
name, and stopping when he got to the last part. "Do you have a second
name you'd like to be in this?"

Not everyone had more than one name, but some nobles had ten
or more. Most just used their first and last name, unless a close relative
already had them. Karl however just smiled.

"Karl Gravis. Baron." He sounded a bit proud of
that last bit, and didn't add a number, which meant he was a full Baron. Probably
a sitting one. Timon tried to remember if he'd ever heard of a Barony Gravis,
but nothing came to mind. That probably meant that it was either small and
didn't have its own city of note in it, or that the man held a landless title.
If so, he wouldn't have been that proud of it, which indicated it would be a
place that just hadn't been on a route Tim had traveled yet.

Timon didn't ask, just filing it away for later
consideration. Then he held out the sack again, with its still unsecured top.

"All right, Baron Gravis, do us all a favor and don't
let this all fall out, it will be a mess." It would too, Timon knew,
having managed to do that very thing the day before, as he was packing it.

The man pocketed his new magical device, but didn't comment
on the gift. That probably meant he either expected to pay for it, or have to
give it back. Those were both good things to think, so no effort was made to
discourage him. It would make the gift seem more important later, he knew, if
it was unexpected.

They dashed down the stairs, getting a skeptical look from
Mary, who let her eyes linger over the giant for a while, even though she was a
married woman. They were Tavern people for all they weren't nobles, and the
idea that she might be just a little bit more free than a good country wife was
that way didn't shock Tim too much. Her sister, Bets, had flat out asked if
he'd wanted to join her and her husband for sex, before she found out his real
age. They were good enough people to back off once they knew though, so there
was no harm in it.

They didn't stop to chat, just heading out the front, and
climbing into the craft again, which Timon took control of. This one was his
favorite after all. It was no different from the others that he'd made, but he
used
this one all the time. So it was his personal vehicle. That was all. It didn't
make a lot of sense, but it felt right. It meant he wasn't giving it up at any
rate, and when they were in the central square of the school, which was about a
mile and a half away from the Countess's castle, Timon set down and asked Karl
for the bag again. He was holding it on his lap, with both hands, as if taking
the part about not letting it spill
very
seriously.

"Bethany, we need to get you a communications device
and some ships. Shields too, for your pilots. I-" He was going to start
digging for the things, but the girl surprised him, shaking her big head a
little dumbly.

"No. I... don't do well with people. Maybe someone else
can do it? Mindy..." She looked at the other girl who cringed a little as
if saying she didn't want to do the work either.

Timon nodded, trying to understand what she meant. It took a
minute for him to really work it out.

"Ah. I... see. My oldest sister, Terlee, she's like
that too.
Really
shy and retiring. Almost like a commoner that
way." He didn't mean it as an insult, but Bethany tightened her lips in a
very un-pretty fashion and glared at him, even though she didn't speak. It was
clear to Tim that the next time they were in the practice square together the
girl was going to thrash him, if he couldn't make the rest of what he had to
say work. That was always the way, wasn't it? Meet a giant girl and soon she'd
be trying to hit you over something or another?

He kept digging for a bit and tried to hand over the correct
amulets anyway. Most were on silver, and about the size of coins, if different
shapes. That was so he could tell what each one was in the dark. A few had
glowing sigils on them, which would make that part simple enough, but the rest
were just acid etched, since he didn't want everyone to know that he could make
things that glowed like that yet. As far as he knew, it was just Tor and
himself in that club so far, and this way, with no one knowing, he could fake
things and pass them off as his brother's work without being questioned. That
wasn't going to last long, but for the time being it was something to keep in
mind.

Of course passing them out to all and sundry wasn't going to
help a lot on that score.

"Terlee... You know there's a funny story about her, being
as shy as she is. It's about how she came to be married. Her husband is a nice
man, but I don't think he really noticed her at first. I mean, after all, she
lived in a humble house, and wore plain country clothes, like the other people
of Two Bends. That's where I'm from. A tiny farm village miles away from
anything of note." He waited then, and handed a shield and force lance to
Karl, explaining what they each were and how to use them, then did the same for
Mindy, and started making up the communications device for Bethany.

Hopefully she'd do the job, because once set, the name would
just stay there. They could pass the device to someone else, of course, but
that part wouldn't change at all.

"So, my older brother, Torrance, he brought home some
friends from school, one of them being Tovey, over break a few years ago. It
was an amazing thing." Stopping he rolled his eyes and looked at the
growing crowd of students and teachers out the window. For some reason no one
had just hopped out yet. That was probably because he was passing out magics as
if they were free.

"I get those back, later." Tim smiled when he said
it, but no one called him on it. They weren't people in his family, so they
probably just expected as much, unless they wanted to buy them outright.
"Anyway, on the day they were all going back to school, Terlee marched
right out of the house and handed Tovey a basket of sweet nut rolls. That's a
traditional courting gift back home. It had to have been incredibly hard for
her to do it, but she did, even though it was a vast risk."

Well, not
that
big of one really, since his sister is
fantastically pretty, turned out to be a noble which was a thing Tovey knew,
and wasn't related to the man at all, which is rare in those circles. Bethany
being Countess Alan's cousin wasn't exactly that big of a stretch really.
Trice
was her second cousin, or something like that. It meant that Beth and her were
related too, most likely.

Karl at least sighed and nodded still holding the rough
sack.

"That would be hard. He was leaving though, so she had
to strike while she could. It worked out though, you said? After some big
comedy of mischance?" He managed to smile and look at Beth in a way that
was a bit telling, at least to Tim. She didn't even look up to glare again for
her part. That was a shame, since they knew each other and everything. If Karl
liked her and was a Baron, well, if they weren't too closely related, that
would be a good potential match.

Not that he knew either of them really.

"Nothing so comedic or pleasant. Or bad, for that
matter. Tovey is smart after all, and snapped her up before the other fellow in
their group could do it."

Mindy snorted and crossed her eyes at him, which didn't help
her look much better, but did lighten the mood, since Beth looked up for that one.

"Oh? She's the type with boys buzzing all about her
then? I suppose you'll be telling us that Tovey is the Prince, and the other
boy was the Count of Wonderfulness?" The others gave her slightly
scandalized looks, but Tim just let his head move from side to side, then
winked.

"Nooo.
Tovey
is the Count of Wonderfulness and
Alphonse is the Prince, so it was the other way around, completely. My sister
is Countess Thomson now. Tamerlane, if you ever meet her, though she probably
won't hit you for getting it wrong, since we're all friends."

Bethany gave him the strangest look then, and blinked a lot
for a bit, her face screwed into a thinking posture, or trying to. She didn't
seem all that bright, really. That could just be the shyness though. Then, no
one seemed all that smart compared to him, except Taman. Maybe his Uncle Denno
fell into that too.

Finally he kept looking back at her and she reached forward
and hit him on the arm roughly enough that his shield turned on due to the
threat.

"Well? I don't get how that has anything to do with
this. Am I supposed to, I don't know, take more risks or something and stop
being shy? Is that your point?"

Timon held out the communications device and the other
amulets he'd mentioned, which took both his hands. She managed to receive them
in one though.

"No. Not at all. I already told the Countess that you
were in charge of that section, and if you want to get out of it, well, you can
talk to her about it,
after
the current crises and rebellion are over. I
was just telling you a story to take your mind off the fact that I was calling
Countess Printer on your communications device at the same time. Hi, Holly. Any
news?" It was too familiar, but he was a little kid and not in the same
room to be beaten.
Nearly
, since the woman was only a little over a mile
away and he'd be there with her in a few minutes no doubt. She didn't call him
on that, not in public at least.

"Tim. Good. No one else has reported anything. We have
a team coming in. Count Lairdgren, Alice Orange, Kolb and a few others from the
school. I told them that you had our defenses well in hand here." There
was a bit of teasing in her tone, but it wasn't mean, or at least not very.

"We will in a few moments. Mindy Damic is going to be
in charge of magics for us. I have a few hundred things for her to pass out.
Mainly clothing. Again, not a gift, but at least everyone will be able to look
good when we walk around, for a bit." He wanted to tell the girl to make
sure and get a list of who had what, but she was too busy sitting there with
her mouth hanging open.

Holly spoke clearly, as if to an audience. It was possible,
since he didn't know who was on the other end of the thing. It was both a flaw
and a good feature of the devices. The Austran ones did more, but also had
pictures that could be sent along of the person talking. That seemed like a
mistake to Tim, since a whole lot of folk wouldn't want to be seen all the
time. Still, it would be nice to know if he was just talking to his friend Holly,
who happened to be a Countess, or to Countess Printer, who was busily trying
not to act like a twelve year old boy was on a first name basis with her. In
the future he'd have to always just assume that others were listening, he
decided.

She spoke in a reasonable tone, as if he were an adult, at
least.

"For now this sounds like a good plan. Petra went to
the Capital, so we're good on that score, unless something happens. I really
don't want to send kids in for that, if I can help it. I don't suppose that you
could arrange troop transport if it's needed? I can pay, though I'd love a
discount." She was being a bit heavy handed there, but Timon nodded and
waved at Bethany, so the people standing there would get that she was going to
be in charge of that part of things for them.

"Two hundred gold for each thousand shipped to the
Capital. Add a hundred for every extra thousand miles past that. That's better
than half off for this kind of work, and I'm only doing that since I don't want
you to sabotage my school marks because you're unhappy with me."

That got a laugh at least. One that sounded forced, but
several others went along with it on both sides of the device, which did let
him know that there really was an audience, and not just servants. They
wouldn't have let themselves be heard, so it meant nobles of some kind, most
likely.

"Yes, rather. That would be a better threat if you were
actually
attending
classes and not just sitting in. Hopefully we won't
need the transport like that, but I want to stay ready. I suppose that goes for
the kids there if we have to take them out? It isn't lost on me that the whole
city of Printer could have been taken, if the size of this thing is as great as
I've heard."

Timon let his face screw up a bit. It wasn't that he wanted
to force Holly to give him gold, since they were friends now, after a fashion,
but... Well, nobles would run all over you if you let them. It was important to
make it at least seem like they were trading with you, in everything you did,
or they'd try to take advantage of you later. Even the good ones did it. They
just felt bad about it after the fact.

"That depends. If they're working for me then it's at
my expense, clearly. As for the rest, well... let's call it a gold per head?
Depending on the distances traveled and only for this emergency."

There was a rustling on the other end of the small focus
stone device in his left hand and finally a voice that sounded like it belonged
to an older male grumped at him from across the room. The man had to speak up
to make that work too, it seemed.

BOOK: Kingdom of Stars (The Young Ancients: Timon Book Three)
7.22Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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