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Planetouched - Chapter Seven (Discussion and Decision)

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As they entered the Inn, Duncan approached them with more cheer then was necessary.

“Well now, I see you've brought someone new to my establishment. Now who is this young lady?”

“This is Shandra,” Maria replied warily, “Shandra this is Duncan, my good old Uncle Duncan.”

“Please lass, come in, come in,” Duncan gestured ignoring her barb, “This here is the Sunken Flagon, I own it – you'll be safe here. Grobnar play a tune or something to make the lady feel welcome!”

Duncan's display was slightly nauseating but also amusing as he proceeded to have an argument with Grobnar about what he should play and why.

“Well the Innkeeper certainly runs hot and cold,” Shandra mused.

“Judging by his tone and that look in his eye...just call him Uncle Duncan at every opportunity,” the girl replied laughing.

Suddenly Shandra turned serious.

“What happened at my farm? Who were those creatures? And why were they after me?”

Maria sighed and related the whole sorry story to the woman. Shandra's expression went from disbelief to shock and finally settled on amazement, her eyes growing bigger as the story went on.

“Shandra,” it was Casavir, “We realise this is difficult but your life may be in danger. I swear to you we are trying to protect you, not make more trouble for you.”

Maria smiled at the Paladin, silently thanking him, he nodded in return knowing how she felt.

As the story went on and the topic of Haven came up Shandra added what input she could, there was supposed to be a series of trials to pass and a pint of fresh Jerro blood to open the door.

Her expression changed.

“You didn't bring me here to bleed me did you because I'll have something to say about that.”

Maria assured her that was not the case and was about to start on the topic of who should take the shards when Shandra stood.

“Look, I can barely think let alone stand, I really need to rest. Two hours of talking is enough, we can discuss it more tomorrow.”

“Well there's plenty of room here,” Duncan pitched in having been listening in the whole time, “Always eager to help a lady in distress here at the Sunken Flagon.”

As Shandra retreated upstairs Maria shook her head at the way her Uncle was watching the woman, she really didn't need that image in her head at the present time. A hand on her shoulder made her look up to find Casavir smiling tiredly down at her.

“Perhaps we should all retire, we are in need of some well deserved rest.”

She nodded and stood, feeling suddenly exhausted. Casavir had been a great help in keeping Shandra calm during their discussion, even Neeshka had commented on how his 'Paladin charm' had won the girl over. She wondered if he found the farmer attractive – not that she cared but Shandra certainly seemed to have taken a shine to him. She snorted.

“I must be really tired if I'm thinking about this,” she muttered to herself as she entered her room.

For hours she dozed, not being able to fall fully to sleep. The events of the past few days kept flittering past her eyes until she finally sat up, resigned she would get no proper rest that night.

“Alarm! Alarm!”

Duncan's panicked voice seared through her thoughts as she heard him running down the hall pounding on doors he went. She wrenched the door open as he came to a skidding halt in front of her.

“What in the hells-?”

“That Flagon is under attack! Grab a weapon and get downstairs!”

He didn't give her a chance to protest as he ran back down the hallway, she grabbed her staff and ran down the stairs meeting Casavir along the way. It was clear he had just woken up, he wasn't wearing his armour and his hair was a mess but he was wide awake and alert.

The place was in chaos; spells, arrows and bits of furniture flying everywhere, hitting walls and almost hitting her.

She had to blast a chair to smithereens as it was hurtled at her head.

“My Lady, look out!”

Casavir stepped in and parried a sword that was inches from slicing into her spine.

“Thank you,” she managed as she let out a lightning bolt, he merely nodded as he moved to the next foe.

For the next half hour the gith came in hordes but finally the last creature was downed, murder in its eyes to the very end. It was at this time as everyone tried to help clean up that Maria noticed someone was missing...

“That lass Shandra has been taken!” Duncan cried disbelievingly, “How in the hells did those gith get into the city?”

“Does that matter?” The voice came from across the room from a man who was leaning nonchalantly against the wall, he looked vaguely familiar to Maria.

“You'd best hurry if you want to get her back.”

He leaned down and retrieved something off one of the corpses,

“Look, this one has a sprig of Duskwood trapped in his boot, that means they came deep from within Luskan territory...and that's where they're returning to.”

“Luskan?” Inquired the Innkeeper, “That's your territory Bishop.”

“Yes but its not my problem, I'm not going into Luskan territory just for some farm girl your lusting after, and certainly not with any kin of yours, Duncan.”

The man sneered the elf's name and he seemed to blush slightly from what had been implied but he lifted his chin and narrowed his eyes.

The Ranger regarded her with a scowl and suddenly she remembered where she knew him from. She had met him the first day she had arrived in Neverwinter and had approached him for help, but he had waved her away disdainfully, not even looking up from his drink.

“If I wanted a wench, I'd go to the local brothel.”

His manner and demeanour had shocked and annoyed her and she had replied without thinking,

“Go right ahead! Say hello to your mother while your there!”

As she turned and stormed away she heard him snort and slam down his drink, he was not someone she wanted to be acquainted with.

“You'll help them Bishop, whether you like it or not.”

Duncan snapped her out of her thoughts with his declaration.

“And what makes you th-”

The look on Bishop's face changed to one of smug triumph as a hidden meaning in Duncan's words dawned on him.

“Wait Duncan I-” The girl began before being rudely intterupted,

“Calling it due Duncan? Are you sure?”

“But I-”

“A woman's life is at stake Bishop. If that's what it takes to move you to do the right thing, then that's what it takes.”

“If you would just-”

“Fine,” snapped the Ranger talking over her as though she weren't present, “It'll be worth it to be rid of you- and for such a small price too. You're a fool Duncan.”

“So be it,” growled the elf.

“Don't I get a say in this?” she was finally able to ask.

“No!” the reply from the two was simultaneous and instantaneous, making her jump.

“All right, pack your bags and grab your weapons,” said the Ranger smiling smugly, “We're bound for the Luskan border. Oh and don't try to be clever, if the Luskan's catch us they'll use us for target practice.”

She turned to see everyone looking at her expectantly and her heart sunk, another decision in her life that was out of her control. But she couldn't think about herself now, Shandra was in danger and it was all because of her. Something about Bishop really riled her but for Shandra's sake she would keep the peace, she would not let his attitude get in the way of saving an innocent.

“Fine,” She eventually relented, “Let's go.”

Planetouched Chapter 7 - Discussion and Decision © slydfox

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