The Completely True Tales of Jax: Part 9

What is up with all this food? Hey, part 10, you say? That is pretty amazing! Think anyone will actually read all this when we are done? Yeah, me neither. Wait, count again. Haha! Well, I expect a spread twice this size the next time then!

Where did I leave off? Okay, let me finish what is in my mouth, and I won’t eat more until we are done. Right, we were in Pacia, still on our way to Dione. Have you ever been to Dione? I don’t mean here. Yes, fine, we are in Dione right now. I mean the other side of Dione, the western part where all of the trade routes are. No, the major trade routes, not the tiny one that goes to Paultry!

Well, the major one that runs from Mesu to Pacia ends on the border of Dione right where we arrived. The forest gave way, and there was a huge market right in this flat clearing that went all the way to the disputed area between the two countries. Believe me; you wanted to stay away from there! Far away! South of the market, there was a space where people camped. There was a small river. We are standing there trying to figure out if it is a legitimate river or just a collection of all of the disgusting… okay, nevermind. Would you pass me that piece of cheese?

What? Right, the market! A lot of stuff could be found in this market. I mean, almost anything- tea, fruit, cheese, those little tassel things you see on hats sometimes… anything! So, you get the idea of where we are at; the road through the woods ended at this open market. To the north was the other route that led into Dione, but the people of Dione were pretty wary of letting anyone use it. You had to hire an official escort and pay them handsomely if you wanted to travel that way.

We had some stuff we had looted from those bandits, so Captain sent us in pairs into the market to see if we could barter for supplies. Kent and I were supposed to look for food, but we ended up finding a place that had wine! Captain had the foresight to keep the goods with him, so all we could do was nose about to see if they would be willing to trade. They weren’t, but apparently, there was a guy who would buy the stuff outright. His name was Baruk, and his booth was right near the road to Dione, so we headed that way.

The guy looked fully shifty! He was sitting at the opening of his tent, but the goods were kept inside, out of sight. I had a bad feeling about all of this. Baruk seemed very interested in what we had to offer, so we got Captain.

Now Captain was an exceptionally good judge of character. I mean, just take, for example, how much he liked me! So, when he gave us the nod, I thought, “Maybe I am being paranoid!” The three of us piled into the tent, and Baruk offered us tea in these tiny gold cups. I drank it to be polite, but it tasted like mud. Come to think of it, maybe it was! Baruk and Captain started to haggle, and I sort of lost interest. I was peeking outside the small opening in the tent. There were a lot of people milling about out there, and after spending that time in the woods, I was a bit wary in such a small place.

Finally, the two men shake hands, and Captain hands over the goods for some amount of money. The man waves us good-bye, but as we are leaving, he mentions that he is, in fact, one of those men who could escort us thought Dione if we wished. Captain indicated that he was indeed interested in passage to Mesu. This was news to me, but I totally kept my composure! Mesu? What in the Arden did he want with Mesu? This was getting crazy!

Anyway, we left and set up camp for the night. I was glad to get out of there! We were just getting settled when Captain came up to Kent and me and gave us some money to buy the group wine. Apparently, he was really happy with us for finding Baruk. I knew I liked that guy! Trusted him right away!

We bought as much as we could afford and got drunk off of wine and stuffed ourselves with the last of the bear meat. I slept well that night for a little while, but because of all the food and wine, I woke up thinking about that creepy guy in the tent. I went out to the river to get a drink, and I can assure you it was not water. Whatever I put in my mouth, it was not water! My hand is three different shades of brown, and at that point, the bear meat and wine made a second appearance. Believe me; it was a more pleasant taste than whatever that sludge was that I tasted. Slept good after that, but I would have to see Baruk again in the morning. That was when Captain told us all to pack up; We were headed for Mesu!

Anyway, that is enough for now. You okay? Looking a little green, Anny. I am just wondering if you are going to finish that cheese or if I can have it? Thanks!

The Completely True Tales of Jax: Part 8

No, I have not been avoiding you! What? You’re crazy. I just wanted to make sure you have enough kindling before I head back to Paultry, but have you seen the weather? I might wait a bit longer. Okay, relax! I’ll be ready in a minute, just let me finish this drink. I know, I already had too much. How much tea have you had today? It is the same thing! Besides, I am going to need it if you want me to go on. I don’t usually talk about what happened next to anyone, but if I don’t, you won’t know what happened to Bren. Even saying his name…

You ever wonder what it would be like to take someone’s life? Okay, I know you haven’t, but think about it. What if you had no choice? What if it was a matter of you or them? Would you be able to do it? What would it feel like? How would you feel after?

I was thinking about all that as we were walking along the trail towards Dione. Why wouldn’t I be? Here I had gotten myself mixed in with this bunch of very nice mercenaries, and at first, I was excited to be going off on an adventure, but seeing how well armed they were and how unarmed I was got me to thinking that maybe I just didn’t belong. I didn’t belong on the farm back home either, and there was no way I could go back now, but did I belong here?

Anyway, so, I told you about how Kent was teaching me how to use a sword? Petten? Okay, Petten. Fine. Yes, he was still doing that- showing me how to defend myself mostly. I had taken that fully stick we found, and as we moved along the trail, I used the edge of my father’s ax to clean it up a bit so that it more closely resembled a wooden practice sword. Petten made fun of it, calling it a fully disgrace, so I started calling it “The Disgracer.” Cleaver, right? Ha! Well, you know me!

So, Bren and I are chatting as we go, and suddenly there is this terrible pain in the back of my leg. I turn around, and there is Petten laughing his fully off at me. “You got to watch you back!” he’s bellowing at me. Then the rest of the day, he kept doing it until I decided it was only safe if I had one eye on him and one on the trail. That is a good way to get a headache! Petten caught on that I was watching him. After I had managed to block him several times, he moved on ahead of us.

I was glad he was finally bored. Bren and I go on talking about our lives back home. Maybe that is why death was on my mind… Anyway, it turns out he had a pretty similar background to me. He had also been raised outside of Pent but his family delt directly with the traders in the city, not Gesh like my family did. We’re talking about trade routes when it happens again! WHACK! Only this time, Petten got my other leg!

Now I am wobbling and cursing at this fully of a guy and Bren and Petten are laughing at me. How did he get behind us? Turns out he went ahead of us, hid behind a tree, then snuck up on us. Clearly, my training for the day was not over. Petten makes a big show of walking ahead of us, but now I know he is going to be back. And he was! Like ten more times, that fully guy came leaping out of the woods at me, but eventually, I caught on and learned to guard my back. It was none too soon either because I thought my knee was going to just pop out of its socket or something; it was throbbing so bad.

Because I couldn’t walk well, Bren and I fell to the back of the pack. We kept talking and joking when I see Petten coming at us again out of the corner of my eye. I nonchalantly go to block him again when I come to the realization that this time it is not Petten. This dude has a real sword, and he wasn’t swinging for my knee but for my head! Somehow, I blocked him with “The Disgracer,” but he did not let up. He wasn’t alone, either. Twenty… no, a hundred men came rushing out of the woods! We were each outnumbered ten to fully one!

Bren screamed, bravely notifying the rest of the group that there was some trouble at the rear. The others came rushing to us, but Captain was stuck behind all of the men since he had been at the front, and, mind you, we were all fighting at the rear.

My whole mind went completely blank. Everything moved in slow motion as I tried to fight three guys off at once. Bren and I stood shoulder to shoulder and just kept trying to slow them down until the others could get to us. To his credit, Petten was one of the first to reach us. He ran one guy straight through! I had never seen anything like it! What just poured out of his…, oh, never mind the details!

The one who was trying to take me out, he had this huge sword. Before I know it, “The Disgracer” was just a tiny splinter. I threw into the woods, then pulled out my father’s ax.  I didn’t even hesitate. I chucked it right at his face. I don’t think that guy thought I had it in me. I didn’t think I did either. He’d sort of looked to the side for just s second to see where “The Disgracer” had gone, and as he turned back, my father’s ax landed square in his forehead. I’d only ever thrown the ax at a tree, but the same rules applied.

He dropped to the ground; Just dropped. I stood over him, looked down, you know, facing my fear as it were. I felt nothing. That was it- just nothing at all. My next thought was to keep going, so I grabbed his weapon and my father’s ax.

I do not recall clearly what happened just after that. Somehow Captain got to us, and together we slaughtered them all. The two of us together were amazing. With my new weapon, no one wanted to come near me, so I let Captain take the brunt of it! Not one was allowed to escape. But then it happened. I saw Bren was in trouble. There was only one of the bandits left, and he had Bren separated from us. I grabbed my father’s ax and, without thinking, I chucked it right at the guy who was attacking him like he were nothing but a scrawny maple!

Only I missed. I… I hit Bren instead in the shoulder. He doubled over, and when he did, I ran in. I was just swinging without thinking. The guy knew what he was doing and began beat me down. I could barely keep up. I am thinking Bren, and I are both dead, and maybe that would be better than living with what I had done. I could hear the others shouting, telling the man to run while he had the chance. He was too scared to run. He just kept swinging at me.

But he didn’t give up on us either. Captain, that is, used the guy’s focus on me to rush behind him and run him through. I was relieved, but Bren was badly hurt. I was sobbing and cursing myself when Captain, relaxed as can be, says to me, “True strength is demonstrated in control. Control your weapon. Control your movements. Control your thoughts. Control your emotions, or others will control you.” Then Captain just walked away.

Bren tried to convince me he was okay, but he was having a hard time standing. Petten and I bandaged him up while Captain and the others piled all of the bodies between two large trees. Then they made a sign and hung it on one of the trunks. It said, “Beware Arden” in three different languages, not that I could read any of them yet. We looted what we could. I got some armor, and obviously, I kept the sword. We started walking again, but it was clear Bren was not going to be able to keep up. When we encountered a caravan going the other way, Captain paid them to bring Bren back to Myridian.

The thing is, none of us ever saw him again. None of us! When I hear of someone named Bren, I check it out. I keep hoping, but it is a pretty common name. So I still have no idea if he made it home, but I would like to think that he did. That’s the thing, I pretty much know what happened to the others, but not Bren. So in a way, it is like he lives on forever.

For Part 9 Click Here!

The Completely True Tales of Jax: Part 7

So, after a good night’s sleep at Belore’s palace, we headed north towards the border of Dione. There was a spot where people from Pacia and Dione could trade, but it would take a few days to get there, and we would have to pass through the west side of the Rykuo forest. In the meantime, the guys were giving me a hard time.

“Go fetch us some wood!” they would tease. I teased them right back, telling them what they could do with their request. Eventually, one of them, Petten, challenged me, and I fully learned a lot from him.  For one thing, do not bring a wood cutting ax to a real battle! We dug through the woods and found a big stick. I started swinging that thing around, and we pared back and forth to pass the time.

Remember I told you the food in Pacia is quite spicy? Well, halfway through the day, it started to catch up to me, if you know what I mean. My arms were burning from swinging that stupid stick around, sweat is pouring down my forehead, and I was feeling a bit bloated. I know that in the next several minutes, I am either going to earn my rank among these fine men, or I am going to embarrass the fully out of myself!

I’m ready to let it go when Captain put up his hand, and the entire party stops walking and goes quiet. We are all looking around, trying to figure out what the problem is when we see it: ahead of us on the trail is a bear! This was not an ordinary bear. It was the largest bear any of us had ever seen! It was like seven feet tall and was foaming at the mouth. Its paws were as big as a plate, and it looked hungry. Mind you, I am trying to keep myself quiet, but my stomach starts making these terrible sounds. Everyone looks at me with a horrified look, like I was about to get us all killed.

The bear is looking right at me too. I can see Captain put his hand on his weapon. I had only seen him fight hand to hand. Imagine him with a weapon! I was worried for the bear! But then it happened. I could hold back no more and, to put it delicately, let lose the vileness within me. It was horrendous and loud. The bear heard it or smelled it and took off running in the other direction! He took like three big steps, then fell dead right there! We were saved!

From that day on, I gained my first nickname: Jack the Vile. It sounds impressive, right? They would poke fun at me, saying no one was as vile as me, given my size. One guy, Kent, insisted he went blind for an hour, but I swear it was less than a minute! Petten carved the beast up for us, and we ate bear meat for well over a week!

For Part 8 click here!

The Completely True Tales of Jax: Part 6

Litna…that was her name; Belore’s wife. She was as tall as she was pretty with arms like tree trunks. When she met me, the first thing she did was laugh and slap me across the back. She left a handprint where she struck that was there for a week! Her laugh was startling, like the sound a cow might make if you tickled it.

She welcomed us into her home and offered us all something to drink while we waited for dinner. I did not want to be rude, but I had not eaten all day, so I just sat there nursing two or three cups before the food came. Have you eaten in Pacia before? The food is spicy! Really spicy, like their…never mind. I said, never mind!

Captain and Belore were real chummy at this point, joking and comparing who’s men were stronger. We got into a competition. Belore suggested that Captain leave one of his men in Myridian as security. That way, if he or any of his men did not return, there would be some sort of payback. I took one look at Litna and tried to volunteer, but Belore suggested a wrestling match. Whoever won would stay behind.

Now mind you, I was like ten pounds soaking wet back then. Bren went first and got walloped. I went like third or fourth, and it was the same. Finally, this guy named Hindell comes out victorious. I think he might have been cheating, but it did not matter because then Captain challenged him! Captain whooped him good, fully tackling him to the ground and flipping him over his shoulder. I stood there with my mouth open like a fool.

Belore shook his head, questioning if Captain really trusted his men without him. Wouldn’t it make more sense if he went along instead? So, Captain challenges Belore! No weapons, just hand to hand combat, winner gets to lead the group into Dione.

I guess I do not have to tell you what happened next. For all of his height, Belore was slow on his feet, and Captain ran circles around him. Captain beat him like he were me at the time. All the men cheered, and Captain suggested that Belore use his time in Myridian getting stronger before the group returned.

True to his word, Belore stayed behind. Captain now had a group of like twenty men. Nah, let me count… like fifty! We waited for morning, then headed north.

For part seven click here!

The Completely True Tales of Jax: Part 5

So, I told you about Pacia last time, right? It has been so long I do not remember. Okay, then, well, we had been in Pacia a few hours. I am not sure how long it really was because I was drinking, but Bren insisted it had only been a few hours when Belore showed up. I mention him, didn’t I?

Maybe I did not mention that Belore was a foot taller and twice as round as any of us. When he was around, you knew it, and you’d end up with a crick in your neck trying to talk to him because you had to look practically straight up at the sky. Now that I think about it, the sun was right overhead at the time, so maybe it had only been an hour or two, but I can get a lot of drinking done in that time!

Anyway, Belore walks up to us, and I see the server from before is pointing at me, but before Belore can say anything, Captain calls out to him, “Hey, over here, big guy!” That got his attention! “I hear you run this place.”

Belore got right up to Captain, standing so close that you couldn’t fit a blade between them. “What is this I hear of an outsider taking advantage of this fine establishment?” he said. I sort of hit the floor. He spoke fancy like the royalty did. Turns out, he was a royal. His father was the king of Pacia: King Zaran. I wonder if Captain knew that because he pulls his official jacket out of his bag and flashes it at Belore.

“You stole that?” Belore asked him. I could tell from the look on his face that he was trying to decide if Captain was saying he was from Pent or offed a guy from there.

“We should talk,” is all Captain replied. He patted the table, and Belore shrugged. When he sat down he made the chairs look like they were for children.

“Buy me a drink,” Belore ordered, and Captain did just that, dropping a fair amount of coins on the table to show he was serious.

The two start to chat, and Captain explains that Ramoth sent him to straighten the place out. I am thinking to myself, “Is he crazy?” Like, what is he thinking? Does he expect Belore to do anything other than flatten us? But here is the catch, Captain mentions that if they do what Ramoth wants, the whole town will go under. Nobody would benefit from that. Captain explained that Ramoth is thinking he can send some men over and take over the business of the middlemen for himself. You know, they get quite the cut of what comes off the ships, but really anyone with the forces to do it could, well, do it if they are willing to step on the toes of King Zaran.

I can see Belore is thinking about it. He asks Captain if he can talk to his father about this, but Captain doesn’t like that idea. “No,” he told him firmly. “I’ve got to get back and do not have the time to hang around waiting.” I knew that was an outright lie, but Belore bought it.

“Okay,” he said. “We do not want a conflict more than we already have.” Remember that Pacia was at war with Mesu at the time. If we attacked, they would have a hard time splitting their forces. They could, but Belore didn’t know that Captain was fibbing. Belore offered to pay Captain off if he’d go back to Arden and tell Ramoth to forget about Myridian.

I should have trusted Captain was up to something right then because Captain then asked Belore something odd. He said to him, “Wouldn’t you want to never have to worry about Arden again?” I shouldn’t have been listening in, but I was. I almost spit out my drink!

“Of course!” Belore admitted. I should mention the two were really drunk by now. At least they were acting like they were. I’d seen both of them finish off a whole pitcher and be fine, but I wasn’t even sure at that point how much I had drunk!

Belore’s wife was lovely, by the way. A real gem. What? Yes, it is crucial! I mean, if I looked at her wrong, she’d probably take my heart out of my chest, but other than that: absolutely beautiful.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, “We can help one another!” Captain goes on. “If we join forces against Dione, I can guarantee Arden will become your ally.”

Now you know, and I know that Dione is mostly mountains: The Venom mountains. If I draw a picture, it will be clearer. Here:

A map of the plains separating Mesu and Pacia according to Jax. Dione is denoted by the Venom Mountains while Arden’s west boundary is the Rykuo Forest.

You can see the problem. Dione was considered anything in the mountains, but there wasn’t anything clearly defining where Mesu ended, and Pacia began. There was the same problem with Arden. The Rykuo Forest made it hard to tell where one country ended, and the next began. You recall the Rykuo Forest, right? Remember that one time? Ah, I see you do! I’ll never mention that again.

Okay, getting back to it; if Arden and Pacia could work together to take over Dione, then Pacia would have two less borders to worry about. There was only one problem with that; Dione was not that inhabited. It was mostly nomadic traders who traveled between Mesu, Pacia, Arden, and Paultry. How do you start a war with people like that, and what would Ramoth think when he found out what Captain was up to? Did he already know?

A Mythic Update #493

Sorry for the lack of updates! I have been working hard on completing the sequel to The Myth of Arden. That book, The Myth of Arden: Isle of the Empress, is entering its final editing phase! I hope to have it ready for publication soon.

So for this week, I am taking a bit of a writing break to get other projects in order; But once all the socks are sorted again, I’ll hopefully have time to get The Completely True Tales of Jax back on track. I’m very excited about that series!

So stay tuned! Thank you for your support so far!

Dad’s Chicken Marsala

This was one of my favorite things that my father would make. He usually did not work off a recipe, but luckily, my little sister wrote it down. The chicken cooks in a marsala gravy, so it goes great with a big pile of mashed potatoes! Obligatory “Enjoy”!

You will need:

  • 2-3 Chicken Breast
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Medium Onion (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1/2 cup Marsala Cooking Wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp Thyme
  • Olive Oil
  • 1-2 cups Flour
  • 6 Tbs Butter
  • Frying pan
  • Medium baking dish

Step 1: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Trim chicken breast. Butterfly into two pieces or cut into strips if the pieces are large.

Step 2: Coat chicken in a 50:50 mix of egg and water. Dredge in flour. Using olive oil, brown both sides under medium/low heat. Set cooked chicken aside in baking dish.

Step 3: To prepare the gravy, melt 6 Tbs butter in pan used to cook the chicken. Add onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add left over flour from step 2 (about ½ cup). Add 1 cup chicken broth, ½ tsp Thyme, and ½ cup Marsala cooking wine. [Alternate recipe: Substitute marsala wine with white wine and 3 Tbs lemon juice to make Dad’s Lemon Chicken].

Step 4: Bring gravy to a simmer to cook off the wine, stirring occasionally to incorporate the flour. Once simmering, turn heat down to low and allow sauce to simmer until thickened, about 5-15 minutes. Continue to stir occasionally to prevent burning.

Step 5: Once sauce is thickened, remove from heat, and add ½ cup heavy cream. Pour sauce over chicken in baking dish. Cover with foil and bake at 325 for 1 hour.

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…

For Part 5 click here!

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!

For Part 4 click here!