As the sun fell under the royal palace and radiated its last reaching streaks of light over the city, Samuel Ford walked alone, half angered and half ashamed, through the grasping alleys of Taelliwey. Under normal circumstances, he would have returned to his barracks during his time in Taelliwey, and embraced the serene comfort that was his home. However, tonight he did not have that luxury. Instead he opened the door to a place that Ashley had found for them.
It was a quiet, secluded little building that was being rented out by a kind old lady who owned a jewellery store. It was all Sam needed to achieve what he planned to achieve. Seeing as Ashley knew all about this sort of thing, Sam had asked her – while he was with the Taellian Council – to collect every scrap of information that she could about old magic, red energy, and more specifically, Garn. Sam wanted to know everything in order to stand a chance against this new unthinkable enemy.
The next few hours crept drearily up on he and Ash as they sat together in the light of a lantern to read. Ashley was fine as far as blue energy was concerned, but in all of her experience she had never heard of red energy ever being used… well, not from a scientific perspective, at least.
Sam looked at an aged tome filled with information of spells and sorcerers and possessions, and a great number of other dreadful things that were too ghastly to think about. As for Garn, they found very little luck. It appeared that, for someone who was so well known, there was very little that anyone actually knew about him…
There was a knock on the door. It was surprisingly loud and slow at such a quiet time. Ashley, whose eyes had fallen heavy, suddenly sat up and her eyes snapped to the door. Sam cautiously collected his revolver from the nightstand and edged slowly towards the door. He opened it, just an inch, only enough to see who it was that waited on the other side.
Commander James Regan stood in the night air outside the room. He wore a heavy coat and a bowler hat in order to hide himself from the cold and the onlookers in the shadows. Sam opened the door fully but blocked the way in. He held a cold look in his eye. “What do you want?” he said.
“There are things that need to be discussed. May I come in?”
Sam remained where he was. “You made your decision,” his voice was low and sturdy. “Abide by the council.”
“You were many things, Sam, but never a fool.”
Sam hesitated, and then stood aside, allowing James to enter. The commander removed his coat and hat, before sitting serenely at the table and observing Sam’s work.
“I see you’ve followed your orders well,” he said with a laughable tone.
“Did you expect any different.”
“I suspected what I see here.” James looked at Ash, who held a rather confused guise as James set down a picture of Garn. “And who might you be?”
“Why are you here, James?”
The commander was silent for a moment. He stroked his beard as he thought, as if he were arranging his words. “I am here to help you stop Garn,” he said finally. “I don’t know if what you say is true, however I trust your judgement.”
“Why come to me now?” Sam asked. “Why not during the council meeting? They could have helped us.”
“The voice of a single man does not speak loud enough to change the minds of hundreds. No matter what I said the outcome would have been the same. I was merely trying to save you your honour.”
Ashley stood up and turned to James. “Thank you,” she said, her voice glowing.
“Okay, so what now?” Sam insisted.
“It’s your case,” the commander said bluntly. “However I suggest patience.”
“Patience.” Sam repeated, almost like a question.
“Yes, patience. We know very little of this man’s capabilities, let alone his location. Indeed I suggest we sit in this room and read every book we can find, soon enough Garn will pop up and then, well, then we’ll go from there.”
There was an instant knock at the door – slow and subtle. Sam reached for his pistol again and James sat up straight like a meerkat. “Does anyone else know that you’re here right now?” James said promptly.
“I’m surprised you did,” Sam responded.
He stood up and moved slowly to the door, much in the same manner as when James had knocked. He turned the handle and peaked through the opening. To his surprise, he found that, standing in the cold dark was the figure of an old man. The man stood as straight as a flagpole. His milky white hair was combed to perfection, as was his pointy moustache. He wore a silky red vest and black trousers and in his hands he held a large white envelope.
“Commander Samuel Ford, I presume?” The old man’s voice was eerily slow and yet punctual.
Sam inclined his head. He was suspicious, however ultimately puzzled. “Who are you, old man?”
“I serve lord Pallerii at the Royal Taellian Treasury. Yes, he sends his regards.”
“Regards?” Sam felt a deathly chill crawl down his spine.
“Yes,” agreed the old man, “regards, and this:”
The man placed the envelope in Sam’s hands before taking a single punctual step backwards. “Good evening.” The man offered a short bow and then headed off back into the night.
When Sam returned inside, James was still at the table and Ashley was waiting with wide eyes, as if she was wanting for an unspoken answer.
“Garn sends his regards,” Sam repeated the message.
“Garn?” Ash seemed just as confused.
“Yes,” Sam confirmed, “and this:” He opened the envelope, still curious as to what was inside. When the slip of decorated paper fell into his hands, he began to laugh. “Well would you look at that,” he chuckled. “He’s invited us to a party.”ns22.214.171.124da2