Inheritance: Part Five
The snapping and crackling of a fire drew Mabelle quickly out of her deep sleep. She stiffened. Had they been found? Had her aunt and uncle caught up to them and bound them with ropes while they were sleeping? The Ixi shifted in her blankets. She didn’t feel tied up...
“What are we going to do now?” asked Theo’s voice, and Mabelle relaxed. He wouldn’t sound nearly so calm had something happened.
“We can’t take her with us to Altador,” said the Ambassador, and he made a grunting noise as he shifted around where he sat. “It’s too far away from here to be safe, and who knows what could catch up to us along the way?”
“We can’t leave her alone in the woods, either,” said Theo, and the conversation grew silent. The chirping of petpetpets filled the cool air. Mabelle had been feeling relatively safe moments before, she felt vulnerable now the mysterious air of the forest not helping the message of what her companions were saying.
“You said that they were after this inheritance of hers?” asked the Ambassador.
“That’s why they adopted her.”
“Were there any other clauses to the part where it discusses her coming of age?” asked the Kyrii as the fire made a particularly loud snap.
“I’m not certain,” said Theo. Mabelle sighed, and very slowly started to pick herself up.
“Well, I was thinking, but let me check with her, first,” said the Ambassador as the Ixi propped herself into a sitting position and scratched her ear. “Dear, did you ever get a close look at the will?”
It took a few moments for her to register what he was saying with her sleep-filled mind. She yawned and shook her head before the message made any sense, and gave him a strange look.
“Excuse me, sir,” she said, hoping she wasn’t being disrespectful. “I was twelve years old at the time... and my parents just died. I wasn’t particularly interested in how much they left me.”
“I’ll take that as a no, then,” boomed the Kyrii, who seemed to have a naturally loud voice. “I’ve had to deal with several contracts, and usually when they involve a child, there’s a particular clause that deals with ‘running away’.”
Mabelle’s throat went dry. “What is it?”
“Usually if the child runs away from whomever is taking care of it at the time, the caretaker receives all of the items and such that he or she would’ve received had they stayed,” said the Ambassador, his mustache twitching. “It’s to entice the kid to stay with their family, excluding unusual circumstances.”
“This is an unusual circumstance, though,” said Mabelle.
“Not if there’s nobody to prove otherwise,” said Theo, groaning. He leaned forward and pressed his forehead into his palm. “We’re going to have to go back to the capital as fast as possible.”
“I don’t know if I can go with you,” said the Ambassador, standing up and brushing the dirt off his pants. “It’d be hard to explain to the court of Altador that I was late to their country due to helping out an ‘insignificant’ little Ixi, though I’m sure the King would understand.”
“You have to come with us,” said Theo, frowning, as if he could not believe his mentor had said that. “This is a matter of life and death!”
“No, it’s a matter of inheritance,” said the Kyrii, huffing. “Mabelle’s aunt and uncle won’t need her to receive it anymore, and the only reason why they probably chased after her last night is to prevent her from doing what you’re about to do.”
“They won’t stop kidnapping and murdering just because they received a lot of money,” said Theo. “It’s hard to stop bad habits unless you suddenly receive a conscience, sir.”
Ambassador Borano shook his head, but didn’t say anything in return. Mabelle could tell that he had to think it through. If he didn’t go to Altador straight away, it might reap serious political repercussions. Altador was rumored to be just as intelligent as Brightvale, and neither had always been on the best terms with Meridell. There was one thing, however, that she knew separated the two cultures. Altador had a healthy respect for bravery, for she’d heard rumors about how their King lavishly rewarded the pet who had prevented the Darkest Faerie from returning, even though they’d received knowledge of their history again as well, due to a spell.
They started to pack their things in silence after a meal that was just as quiet. The hired Unis that the pair had brought with them helped as well, but they couldn’t do much other than the few things they could with their hooves and horns and stand still as they were saddled. Mabelle, having found a secluded spot to change her clothing, was now dressed in one of her normal outfits because she knew it wasn’t going to be useful for her to be dressed in her somewhat fine serving dress.
“What are we going to do?” asked Mabelle.
“You and I are going to the capital,” said Theo, pointing at her. He looked at the Ambassador, and she knew what he was thinking. What was the Kyrii—his mentor—going to do? “We’ve got to try and stop them from taking what’s not theirs, and give you something to make a living with.”
Ambassador Borano stood silently by the Uni that Mabelle had been talking to in a pleasant conversation the night before. His name was Frederick, and he had a wit about him that surprised many people after their first glance. He was twitching right now, though, shifting his hooves around and flicking his tail with nervous agitation. The other, Alan, was snorting softly as Theo adjusted the saddle on his back. He was a Uni that was more focused on his duty than anything else, and he seemed to think that the situation was deviating them far from doing it.
“I’m going with,” said the Ambassador, straightening his overweight frame slightly. “I can’t have you kids running around on your own, and who knows if the arbitrator will believe you two by yourselves, anyway. Altador can wait, just a little bit.”
Mabelle’s heart nearly melted with relief. Just by looking at him she could see the indecision that had plagued him. It gave her a new respect for the heavy Kyrii, whom she had begun to lose hope for in the short while he’d been thinking. She smiled as she rolled up her blanket. Things were beginning to look up.
Now all they needed to do was beat her pretender relations to the Capital.
A young, scrawny Bori sat on top of a barrel, looking at his claws. They were small, he’d been told by the other children, and he was feeling particularly self conscious at the moment. It was his size as well that gave him one of the lowest positions in the inn, because nobody wanted a thin creature to greet the guests and welcome them in. Having a plump greeter was a sign of prosperity for the place, and he certainly wasn’t that.
The sound of hooves pounding on the dusty road rose him out of his contemplation. He hopped off of his seat and rushed outside. After all, his master wouldn’t blame him for running out to greet guests, if they were such. Besides, all of the Unis that were there had been taken care of, and he had nothing else to do but sit and mope.
Outside he saw a very regal setting. A peasant Ixi girl with soft pink fur was standing on the ground, gazing up at a shadow Lupe, who was so finely dressed that the Bori thought he must be a nobleman, and not far from him was a Kyrii dressed equally well, who was staring off in the distance as if he were looking at something interesting.
However, when the Lupe handed the peasant a bag of neopoints, and she went inside, he was very confused. Weren’t the servants of the rich generally dressed better than her? Not as wonderful as the people they worked for, but still...
Before he had a chance to even help them, the Lupe and Kyrii started to ride away, and not long after, the Ixi came back with a sack full of food. Were they possibly gathering provisions before heading on? That made sense, sort of, even though it was getting dark enough outside that the trio really should have stayed the night at the inn. The Bori shook his head. Silly travelers.
A while later, after most travelers would have stopped moving for the night—and therefore ending the rush of travelers, his master released him, because by that point it was late in the evening. Chris, for that was his name, ran in toward the kitchen to receive his dinner. They always allowed the workers at the inn to have a free meal every day.
“Did Korin let you free early, Chris, or did you sneak off for a quick bite to eat?” the cook asked as she heaped a pile of food onto a plate for the young creature.
“I’m done for the day, mum,” he said, practically bouncing in place as he waited for his food. “Business is slow.”
“Aye, it is,” said the Cybunny nodding. She handed him the plate. “Here’s your meal. Now go find yourself a place to sit, and don’t bother the guests?”
“Yes, mum,” said Chris, and he dashed off, careful to keep his dinner from tipping over. Sometimes, as he ran, he prided himself on his carrying skills, thinking that he would make a great server, but tonight it was as if his belly were a cavernous hole waiting to be filled up. He couldn’t think of anything but the delicious meal he was about to consume.
The eating hall was fairly empty, he noticed, as he strolled in to find a place to sit. Only a few seats were filled, and it was very quiet as a result. The only chatter came in soft voices. Tonight obviously wasn’t the kind of night where you needed to shout to get your friend to hear you. It wasn’t hard for a kid like him to find anywhere to plop down and eat. He shuffled into a booth near one of the windows.
After that, Chris didn’t pay much attention to anybody. He was too busy shoveling peas and mashed potatoes into his mouth for quite a while. It wasn’t until several minutes had passed that he noticed something else.
An argument. One so quiet that he had hardly heard it at first.
“The innkeeper said he saw them here earlier!” growled a low pitched and gravelly, feminine voice. “That means they’re ahead of us!”
“I know what it means, Anhan,” said another. “We’ll have to pick up our speed in the morning.”
“NO!” This was loud enough that it carried through the whole room. Then it quieted down to a level even softer than before. The Bori had to strain to hear it. “We have to get going, tonight, and travel the whole night through!”
“What’s your plan for if we catch them, oh ‘wise one’?”
“She knows about us now. No point in dithering about that. We’re probably going to have to imprison her in the basement, or something. Or bring her to that witch.”
“The one with that controlling—!”
“Shh! Do you want everyone to hear you? That witch is one of the most popular faces on wanted posters!”
“Fine. Fine. I just hope we catch that Ixi soon. Stupid girl!”
“Clever enough to escape all of the henchmen you hired.”
“I didn’t see her get caught by anybody you hired!”
“That’s because I’m more subtle...”
To be continued...