Hanso, Jazan, and Kanrik and the We Hate Hanso Club: Part One
"I really hate you, Hanso," Jazan growled, wishing he could kill the Ixi slowly and painfully, but knowing at the moment, he still needed him alive.
"Aw, come on, old buddy, old pal," Hanso said with an ingratiating smile. "You know you love me. You know we're best pals. You know life would be dull without me. You know the editorial would die without us."
Jazan simply zapped Hanso with his magic, enough to sting, but not enough to damage him any. The last thing he wanted was to have to help the arrogant little Ixi along through the catacombs they found themselves in.
"I wonder where the oh so great thief king got to," Hanso complained under his breath as he rubbed his tail.
At that moment, Kanrik's hand reached out and flicked Hanso's ear. The Ixi jumped about a foot and then glared at the Gelert, who stood in a stairwell.
"While you two were wandering in circles, I found the way out," Kanrik informed them, gesturing over his shoulder with a jerk of his thumb.
Jazan noticed a large bag sitting next to Kanrik. "And a little something else?"
"Yes, because that's why I'm the leader of the Thieves Guild and he's on Faerieland's Captain of the Guard's leash. Here, I got you both something."
Kanrik opened the bag and tossed the 'something' to both of them. Jazan's was a necklace with a ruby in the pendant, Hanso's was a marshmallow milkshake.
"Nabile will love this. You've good taste in presents," Jazan commented as he examined the necklace.
"Yeah, I know, I have to. Hannah's hard to get gifts for, with her adventuring often bringing in such nice rewards. Hannah's rolling in stuff like that, but she still won't let the whole 'leaving her for dead' thing go," Kanrik complained as he tied up the bag again. The slight smile on his lips indicated to Jazan that Kanrik was somewhat amused by Hannah's persistent grudge on that score. It was probably something of a running gag between them now.
"This is a good milkshake," Hanso said, he'd polished off over half of it already. "Where'd you find a milkshake maker down here?"
"I didn't," Kanrik said with an shrug. "It was just sitting on the floor of the dusty crypt I found all the treasure in. Could have been there for years for all I know."
Hanso dropped the cup, his eyes wide. He retched and ran over into a corner to heave up the milkshake he'd just ingested. Jazan gave Kanrik an approving smile, enjoying the agonized groans coming from the Ixi. Looking unsteady, Hanso staggered back over to them.
"Can we just find the girls already?" he all but whimpered.
"For once, I agree with him," Jazan said. "I just want to find my wife and get back Qasala before I have more reasons to end Hanso."
"Well then, lads, follow me," Kanrik said as he hefted his haul over his shoulder and started up the stairs. "And Hanso, I know exactly how much this bag weighs. Try lightening it and we'll tie you up and leave you for the cultists or the petpets. I'm sure some little, rabid fangirl's petpet will find you and drag you home, and you'll spend the rest of your days being dragged around and shown off and having tea parties with Parlax and that crazy girl who follows him around."
Hanso gulped and put his hands in his pockets.
After what felt like hours of following Kanrik up staircases and through passageways, avoiding the hordes of roaming petpets and curse giving cultists as best they could, they finally reached the surface. Above the trees, the grey light that signaled the dawn in the Haunted Woods was tinging the sky. Jazan looked up and sighed; it had been a long day.
The Day Before:
Jazan arrived home early, exhausted after his trip inspecting the border towns that had fallen back under his rule when he and his people had returned to the normal world. The towns had been as empty and ruined as Qasala, but they were beginning to thrive again, now that people from Qasala and other lands had moved out to resettle them. Despite the work it took managing his kingdom, Jazan was grateful to see it coming to life again.
Things had fallen into disrepair during his father's reign due to his descent into madness and his obsession of finding a way to cheat death to reign over the Lost Desert forever. Being trapped in the alternate dimension for centuries hadn't helped things either. The Nightsteed walked beside him, looking as tired as he felt.
An aide came hurrying down the hall to greet them and the Nightsteed groaned. Jazan looked at him quizzically.
"Something is wrong. Why can't we go away just once without something going wrong while we were gone?" the Uni complained.
Jazan tried to keep his face calm as the aide bowed and stuttered. He knew his friend was right, and was as frustrated as he was, but he didn't want to panic the aide anymore than he already was by being cross with him. The poor Kacheek couldn't help being the bearer of bad news.
"Will you please spit it out?" the Nightsteed said to the stuttering Kacheek.
"Some girl, an Usul, got into the palace, and the Queen said she was afriend. They went off to talk together, and then later they disappeared. We haven't seen them since. We looked all over the palace and the city, and we sent off messengers to Sakhmet to see if maybe the Queen had gone to visit her cousin, but they haven't reported back yet. I'm so sorry, my king. We should not have left the queen alone with the stranger, regardless of what the queen said," the Kacheek stammered out.
Jazan buried his face in his hands. "Tell me, was this Usul dressed in a green skirt and had long brown hair?"
"Yes, my king. You've described her exactly." The Kacheek looked a little relieved.
Jazan turned to look at the Nightsteed. "Hannah. That was Hannah. I suppose they went off to Faerieland to visit Brynn. May I leave you in charge?"
The Nightsteed frowned. "Hannah and Brynn are both very capable women, and so is your wife. I don't think you need to go chasing after her. Let them have their fun."
"I'm not going to stop her, I'm just going to Faerieland to make sure that is the case. I'll return when that is done, or I'll return with her if I find her there and done her visiting already," Jazan said.
"There is such a thing as being overprotective," his friend said wryly.
"And there is such a thing as unfortunately having enemies who wouldn't hesitate to trick your queen into a trap by disguising one of their agents as one of her friends," Jazan replied. "Better safe than sorry."
He told the aide to have a carriage readied top fly him to Faerieland and went out to wait for it in front of the palace. The Nightsteed wished him a safe journey and promised to make sure things went smoothly in his absence. Faerieland was only a few hours away and it was still early in the morning, so he could be there and back within the day. He certainly hoped so.
He climbed into the carriage, and Eyries whisked him away from the desert.
"I'm afraid Captain Brynn is away, your highness," a faerie explained. "She and her partner, Sir Hanso, are on vacation. They left this morning."
"What do you mean? I saw the little wretch of an Ixi skulking about in a courtyard on my way in," Jazan said irritatedly, unsure if the faerie was lying to him or badly misinformed.
"You did?" the faerie said, biting her lip. "You have to be mistaken. The Captain has been talking about this trip for weeks. I'm certain they left."
"Why don't you go find out for me? I'm pretty sure I know Hanso when I have the misfortune to see him," Jazan said wryly.
"I'll do that," the faerie said as she rose.
She glided out of the room, leaving Jazan sitting alone. He waited about ten minutes before the door opened again. Hanso, the accursed bane of his existence, sauntered in, looking a little too friendly for Jazan's taste.
"King Jazan, my pal, my friend, my--"
"Shut your mouth before I do it for you. Believe me, it will never open again when I am finished," Jazan warned. "I'm only here to see if Nabile came to visit with Brynn."
"Oh, she's missing too? Brynn disappeared earlier today, as well. I'd say it is safe to assume that they are together," Hanso said.
"Tell me this isn't another case where my wife is off having some adventure with Brynn because you ran off to do something stupid and left her in the lurch again?" Jazan said with a piercing glare.
Hanso shifted uncomfortably and laughed, trying to sound natural. "No, of course not! No, I've learned my lesson. Really, I swear."
Jazan rose, glaring even harder at the Ixi. "You're a miserable little creature, Hanso. Why someone like Brynn actually likes you and puts up with you will always be a mystery to me."
"It must be my endless charisma and my amazing hair," Hanso said with an arrogant grin, running his hand through his hair.
With that, Jazan stormed out.
To be continued...