CHAPTER 3

The whole town had gathered to see him off again.

Tables were set outside the tavern and a feast was prepared for a morning celebration. Lord Jacob and the townsfolk of Ironsville was there to send him off at Zywedior where Fayte began his pilgrimage. But Lord Jacob's wife, Lady Linda, said there was no reason why they could not send him off again with a celebration. They led a peaceful life in Ironsville and sometimes peaceful was just a nicer way of saying boring.

"Some laughter and cheer will do no harm," Lady Linda told him.

So they cheered and laughed, danced and sang, and chattered excitedly about the duel they just witnessed. Everyone agreed that Lord Jacob had put up a good fight. It was Fayte who had surprised them all. Even Wilson had to admit that Fayte's skills had improved tremendously over the past few months.

Fayte could not tell the difference himself, but accepted their praises humbly. In the midst of the celebration he excused himself and went to the town's gate to share some of the food with Martin.

"Ah, breakfast from Jayden?" Martin said, rubbing his hands together as he accepted the plate of meat and skin of juice. "The man’s a fine cook for a tavern keeper I say."

Fayte agreed and he left Martin to enjoy his meal while he went up to Sir Ian. The knight was standing outside the gate alone. His knight's armour was pristine in the morning sun, holding his gauntlet hands behind him as he looked to the distance.

"Sir Ian," Fayte greeted. "Fair morning to you."

"Fair morning to you as well," he said. "I believe we ended things off on an unpleasant note the last time we met."

Indeed. The last time they met, Fayte had just arrived at Ironsville with Emily after she helped the Saldarian Prince escape from Castle Rondiar. Later that night Emily was kidnapped by slavers and Fayte had rashly put the blame on Sir Ian. Alas it was Emily who got herself into trouble, as usual.

"I apologize for speaking out of place," Fayte said and Sir Ian smiled, accepting his apology. "Sir Ian, if I may ask…"

"About what I said early during the duel?" Sir Ian guessed.

He was right.

The knight looked away and stared off to the Green River. "We live in a rather peaceful time even though we are surrounded by dangers. Well, perhaps not surrounded since the Saldarians are our friends now."

Fayte could tell from his tone that Sir Ian hardly believed that.

"That is why most squires and knights rarely see any action until they are older," Sir Ian went on. "It is different to duel with a comrade, even with real swords, when you know that the other party does not mean to kill you. Do you agree?"

I do. Fayte nodded.

"I thought so," the knight said. "It changes you once you've experienced having another man come at you with the intent to take your life. It changes you when you are forced to cut down that very man, even if you do not wish to. Lord Jacob and the others neglected that fact and when I saw that look in your eyes…"

Fayte thought back to the moment before Sir Ian spoke up. What did he see? Confusion? Fear?

The knight looked at him, realizing that Fayte didn't know what he saw. "I saw focus and calm in your eyes. A look that said you were not panicking, though you may be confused. A look that said you were not afraid of death, though you fear what you must do."

And killing Lord Jacob was what I feared at that moment. Sir Ian's words made Fayte wonder, for the knight was rather young himself, yet he spoke with such wisdom.

"Truth be told I may have been too worried," the knight said, smiling again. "The thought may have occurred to you, but I doubt you would ever hurt Lord Jacob just to win this duel."

"I would have let him tear me open than put my sword through him," Fayte said aloud to hear the words himself.

"And I believe you," Sir Ian said. "Well fought, squire. With skills like that I have little doubts the Whiteguards would not accept you. Well hello there, little girl. Tiring out Lord Jacob for Fayte here was a very clever idea."

Amelia hid behind Fayte as she peeked at Sir Ian. "Thank you."

"Did you need something, Amelia?" he asked.

The girl had her hair tied into a ponytail today, with her box of miniature flower collection slung across her chest. She looked at Sir Ian curiously for a moment before she turned to Fayte.

"Will you become taller like Sir Ian once you become a knight?" she asked.

Fayte forced a smile. "Are you saying I'm short?"

The innocent girl nodded with hesitation.

"Alright, let's go find your brother," Fayte said, lifting up her into his arms. "Will you come join us, Sir Ian?"

The knight shook his head.

"But Lord Jacob is asking for you," Amelia told him. "I was told to come look for you. There's a rowdy stranger at the tavern and he won't pay for his meal. Uncle Jayden is really mad at him."

They returned to the tavern to find the celebration died down. A few of the men had surrounded a guy laying on the ground. Jayden was standing by his head with his arms crossed.

"What happened?" Fayte asked as Amelia squirmed out of his arms.

"Drunk customer who can't pay for his meal," Wilson said with a shrug. "Nothing new. Until he pulled out a sword."

That was when Fayte noticed a red fire glyph underneath the drunk man. Just a few steps away he saw a mage dressed in a simple tunic and pants. The young man had his right hand held out as he stared intently at the drunk man. Normally mages wore their robes so Fayte wasn't surprised that he missed him.

"No wonder Randon is nervous," Fayte said, watching Sir Ian approach the drunk man.

Randon was from Ironsville but he was young and timid by nature. That wasn't to say that Randon had no place being in the Order of the Elements. Magic was not used for combat only. And in a town of iron smiths, one who could wield fire would surely come in handy.

"Randon, you can relax now," Wilson said.

The mage glanced at him and saw Sir Ian approaching. He curled his fingers back and slowly lowered his hand, causing the fire glyph to disappear. He sighed a breath of relief and wiped the sweat from his forehead. Fayte and Wilson went in for a closer look.

"Oooohhh! Hello shiny man!" the drunkard said, rolling on the ground.

Jayden shook his head. "That's it, I am never allowing travellers into my tavern anymore."

"Then we may as well shut our gate to all outsiders," Lord Jacob said. "Don't worry, Jayden, I'm sure Sir Ian will sort this out for us. Jenson, show Sir Ian the sword."

Lord Jacob's younger son stepped forward and held out an oddly familiar sword to Sir Ian. Fayte swore he had seen that sword somewhere before. However it was not for the same reason why Sir Ian recognized it. Definitely not, because Sir Ian drew his sword.

"Good priest," the knight called. "If you would be so kind as to lend a spell to make him sober."

"Don't bother," Jayden said. "Sweetheart?"

Fayte watched as a girl his age walked over with a bucket of water.

And emptied it over the man.

"I'M DROWNING!" he screamed. "AHHH, SAVE ME! I'M DROWNING! I'M- Ooohhh pointy!"

Sir Ian held his blade to the man. "Who did you steal this sword from, vagrant?"

Fayte stared at the man and he swore he had seen that long and sickly thin face somewhere before.

"Sword?" the man said, lost, until he saw the old sword Sir Ian was holding in his other hand. "Ma sword… Give me ma sword-"

"I remember you now!" Fayte exclaimed. "You were there at Eres Star City! I sat next to you in the tavern and later that day you were attacked by those false knights!"

The man tilted his head as he stared at Fayte. "Hey! Ye that dumb squire who pretended to be a knight but got caught! Ye not too bright aren't cha?"

Fayte nearly went over and kick him in the face. "Why are you here in Ironsville?"

"Do you know him?" Sir Ian asked.

"We've met before but I know not his name nor origin."

The knight turned back to the man and sheathed his own sword. "This sword, did he have it with him when you met him at Eres Star City?"

"That's mine!" the man said but was promptly ignored.

Fayte nodded. "The false knights were going to imprison him for carrying it out in the open."

"Hmm," Sir Ian went, thinking. "Still, I can hardly believe that this sword belongs to him."

"But it's mine…" the man whined.

Wilson stepped forward. "Why so?"

"It's a Templar's sword," Lord Jacob said. "No way a vagrant like him could own one."

"A slim possibility," Sir Ian said. "Likely this was stolen from one of the families with a bloodline of the Templars. It may be old but I can't imagine anyone throwing this out."

The weapon was rusty and badly corroded. Fayte had seen Templar swords. The most prominent distinction that set them apart from a knight's sword was that they were made from Eresteel. A rare metal found deep within Mount Erestor. Templar swords were usually more elaborate as well, with black leather handles that were sometimes bounded with silver wire. This old thing Sir Ian was holding now looked more like a mercenary's sword than a Templar's blade, but Fayte could see it now after examining it. The weapon was old and corroded, but he could see the work of a master smith in the joints and how the rust were largely isolated around the crossguard. If this sword was sharpened it could still be used as a lethal weapon.

Jayden was eyeing the Templar sword now. "I'll gladly take that sword as payment for his drinks and lodging." Then he turned to Lord Jacob. "I'll sell it to you just enough to cover his bill."

Lord Jacob raised a thumb. "Deal."

"No deal," Sir Ian said. "I am confiscating this weapon on behalf of the Order."

Both men started grumbling but they knew it would never happen.

"But that's ma sword!" the man said, then he started kicking his leg and spun on the ground in circles. "It's ma sword! It's mine! It's mine! It's mine- OUCH!"

The man sat up and looked at Amelia. Lady Linda hurried over and carried the girl away, tossing away the stick that Amelia used to hit him on the head.

"Aunt Silvia says we shouldn't be spoiled children and cry when we're punished," Amelia told him.

Wilson beamed and gave Fate a nudge. "See that? That's my sister."

"Lady Sera eats children who are naughty and spoiled," Amelia added.

"Best have a word with your sister about that," Fayte told Wilson with a nudge in return.

Sir Ian shook his head at the vagrant. "Fayte, I assume you are headed for Oaksblade from here?"

"Aye." Fayte answered. "Just have him bounded and I'll take him there for you."