The Completely True Tales of Jax: Part 4

Have you ever been to Pacia? It is the opposite direction of Crewda, to Arden’s west. At that time the Rokuo Forest divided the two kingdoms without a clear distinction of who owned what, but for certain, the Candecent River was well within Arden’s borders. Once you crossed over that you had better be on your toes!

The people of Pacia made the Crewdans seem tame. It wasn’t that they were savages- far from it! They shared a border to the North with Mesu after all, and you might have heard there were constant battles there. The Pacians took what they could plunder from Mesu and turned nearly everything fully thing into a weapon. And while for the most part they formed war parties and attacked head-on; they were also known to send scouts ahead of them wherever they went. Those scouts were the finest in all of the land. There was no way to detect them until one of your friends hit the ground. They’d pick off the best fighters before the battle even began.

Now I only heard all of this while Bren and the rest of us were heading that way. To try to cross through the Rykuo was suicide, but the ship routes were relatively safe. We boarded a ship and set sail along the coast. The tides there were always against us, and so it took a lot longer than I expected. After hearing what was ahead, I was just as happy to keep to the ship. On the last leg of our journey, Captain orders us all out of our uniforms and into regular type clothing. That was the first time I wondered if I should have asked before then what we were doing in Pacia!

The first port we hit in Pacia is called Myrdina. It was the only safe port to stop at in Pacia as it was close to Arden’s border and it was the largest port in the kingdom. A lot of business was the secondhand merchants who would be the go-betweens for the ships and distributors as most ship captains were afraid to step foot off their boats. One could get in, drop off their goods to these middlemen, and get out before attracting too much attention. I got the feeling right away that Captain liked the attention though. He marched through that place like no one could touch him. I had never seen him brandish a sword before, so I couldn’t say yet if the bravado was warranted, but I had seen him talk himself out of that situation in Crewda.

Captain took a look around the place and it was pretty busy! There were shops and restaurants as you would expect, and chaotic foot traffic. He asks a few of the shopkeepers and they direct him to the largest purveyors of spirits that he can find and then tells the lot of us to get settled in, order a drink, and just try to blend in. I liked the sound of that!

So, Bren and I settle in. We order a drink. We wait. We order another. We are trying to take our time, but we keep getting bored. I order just one last drink. I mean, it isn’t even noon yet so I should take it easy, right? That’s when I notice that the lady serving our drinks is getting awfully touchy. I mean, not that I mind a little bit, but she wasn’t really my type. I mean, what if that girl back in Crewda found out?

Bren and I are laughing it off when the same lady comes back and she’s mad! Like madder than Captain was when we dropped his favorite… well never mind about that. It wasn’t me!

She goes, “You two are trying to swindle me! You’ve been drinking all morning and you haven’t got any money!” Then to prove it she shows us our empty wallets! Can you believe it? She pinched our purses and then claimed we were thieves!

Captain is laughing his head off at it all. The other guys are hooting at us too. Then he says, Captain that is, he says, “Perhaps we could ask Belore to settle the dispute?” The lady was mouthing off to us, telling us to be quiet, but then she was the one to go silent.

“What do you, a foreigner, know of Belore?” Though she was trying to be obstinate, you could tell she was scared. Her voice cracked a bit and her shoulders slumped.

“What is there to know?” Captain said like it meant nothing to him, and he sat back down and ordered another round of drinks. The lady sulked off to get them. I was looking forward to my next drink, but before it arrived we were interrupted…

The Completely True Tales of Jax: Part 3

At this point, nobody seemed to remember that I was not a part of the original group of men that had been assigned to Captain. He didn’t seem to notice either. I wasn’t old enough to officially be part of the king’s guard, but I was big for my age, so nobody questioned it. Bren certainly wasn’t going to say anything. We’d become good friends at that point. I just sort of tagged along as the guys headed back to Pent.

I had not been to the city in some time, but it was just as I remembered it: smelly and crowded, and all noisy all the time. I guess it was no different then than it is now! The castle was pretty much the same too, though I’ve been there ever since, so how would I notice the little changes?

Ramoth was pleased with the news that we had settled things in Gesh and invited us all to a feast that night. I was thrilled. Bren gave me some of his extra clothes. They were a bit snug, but it was close enough. Captain warned us all to keep our mouth shut in front of Ramoth. We were to say “yes” and “thank you”, but that was it! That was fine with me!

So, we get to the dining hall in Pent, and it is huge! I had never seen such a place. You could have fit my whole house in there. At the head of the table is Ramoth. Next to him is this guy who is laughing and telling stories about some pretty influential people. At least I gathered they were by the looks of horror on some of the guest’s faces at the mention of their names.

It turns out that it was Cailar. He was a bit plumper back then and had color in his cheeks from smiling so much! Did you ever see him smile? Well, never mind. Back then, he smiled plenty.

On Ramoth’s other side was a woman so lovely, I am not sure how to describe her. Imagine the most beautiful woman you have ever met. Think of her soft hair, the curve of her bottom lip, the way she ignores you; Take all of that and then take one big step back from that- that is how magnificent Princess Kayla was. She was definitely in the top ten of women I had seen up to that point. Maybe just the top twenty, let’s say, but no less than that!

I think my jaw hit the table, and I notice that she is looking right at me! I am way too young for her, but maybe she doesn’t know that. I ran my fingers through my hair… What? Well, of course, I had hair back then! It was thick as mud and the same color too. It might be because I seldom washed it.

Anyway, I run my fingers through my hair and give her the best ‘Jax smile’ I can. She doesn’t even flinch! It was like she was looking right through me with those eyes of hers. I turn to Captain, who is sitting right beside me to see if he is seeing what I am seeing, but to my amazement, he is looking at her too… giving the best “Jax smile” he can! Hey, buddy, that is my schtick!

Now I am starting to understand why Ramoth sent Captain off on this certain death mission. The princess is giving him a look… you know the one, but she is engaged to Cailar. Not that she wasn’t giving Cailar and just about everyone else in the room the same look from time to time, but you could tell she was intrigued by Captain. And why wouldn’t she be? He was a fine specimen of a man! I could see that after a while, Captain began to ignore her, and this drove her crazy. She walked by a few times trying to get his attention, but it was no use. Cailar did not even seem to notice. He and Ramoth were pretty close, and the more they drank, the happier the two of them seemed.

The next morning, I woke up with such a headache! Bren was jostling me, telling me to get packed up. We were all headed to Pacia immediately. So much for the cushy life!