The Mount

It always confuses you for the first couple of moments, crossing that invisible boundary between Feyatlas and the Outerlands. Even with your eyes covered by the hood, you can “sense” the change in the air. It gets a little more difficult to move your wings and the sounds reaching your ears are a little muted compared to how they are back home.

Once you have adjusted it is fine though, you don’t miss a single wing beat during the transition, the Knight in the saddle strapped to your back doesn’t even notice the shift in the air, or your reaction to it.

You know the sun is shining because they have you wearing your hood, when you are patrolling at night you never wear it, but to protect your eyes from the sun they put it on during the day. Your Ganalam keeper, Kurbant, was silent when you were summoned to the stables for this trip, his actions rushed as he placed the saddle on your back, affixed the hood to your head and placed the Knight’s weapons into their proper holders on the saddle. There seemed to be no time for you to be told the reason for this flight.

Trips to the Outerlands rarely happen during the day, the risk of being seen is too high when the sun is out. No Knot Person or Barg had ever been captured by one of the giant people, but the threat was always present when the sun was out, and your kind only ventured into that realm if there was something that could not wait until the moon had risen.

So you knew that whatever was going on was of great importance, you also knew that speed and stealth were a priority because there are no other Bargs with you. A single Barg and rider sent into the Outerlands during the daylight. You can smell the scent of saltwater and Redwood Trees, which tells you that you are near the place called California and that can only mean you have been sent to find the Warden of the Two Coasts, and the only reason for that would be to deliver a message.

The Knight on your back signals for you to land. You give a silent scream directed at the ground below, the echo of that scream makes it so that you can picture the terrain and pick the spot for you to take cover. Tucking your wings to your side, you dive toward the ground like a shooting star, too fast for anyone that may be looking to follow. You throw your wings wide at the last moment, breaking your descent and allowing your clawed feet to land softly in the dirt.

You can hear the Knight speaking but you can tell there is no one else near you, and his words are spoken too quietly for you to make them out clearly. The sound of a scroll being unrolled is all you can make out and then you smell fire and sense heat near your back as the Knight seems to burn the scroll before signalling for you to take to the air again.

It is moments like this that make you jealous of your brethren fortunate enough to have bonded with their riders, the ones that share a mind link with a Knight so that they can exchange thoughts without the need for signals or words. Then you would know what is so important, what was happening that justifies such bizarre behavior from a Knight of the Sun.

But you do not share a bond with this Knight and can only hope to glean some idea of what is happening from the events that unfold.

No bond with the Knight is needed for you to understand that something was about to happen when you feel the Knight stiffen suddenly and it is at that moment that you can smell what has alerted your rider, carried on the wind is the scent of a Barg, but not a familiar one.

You consider calling out to the other Barg, all of your kind are in service to the Knot People and any of you traveling in the Outerlands must be mounts for Knights of the Sun; but before you can open your mouth, your rider commands you to change course and take cover in the trees below. Following his direction you bank left and dive, using the branches of the giant Redwoods to cover your movements. You can feel the agitation of your rider through his armor and the leather of the saddle on your back, something has happened that was not planned for.

You imagine the Knight considering his choices, one surely being to continue the search for the Warden, the other being to return to the passageway to Feyatlas. The threat that the Knight saw must be great for him to question his ordered course of action, you have never known a Knight to consider retreat.

Duty calls however and and the Knight commands you back into the air and directs you to return to your previous course.

“We must find the Warden, Beth-Sol has commanded it.”

With your suspicions confirmed you realize that nothing can stop you from finding the Warden and you increase your speed, if the threat is ahead of you and you must not be deterred from your path, you must reach your destination as soon as possible. You try to pick up the scent of the other Barg on the wind but it cannot be found, any trace of its passage has disappeared. All you can do now is continue on as fast as possible to your destination.

The sky remains free of further threats as you travel through an empty forest, the Knight on your back has taken his bow from its holder and draws an arrow, ready to respond if a threat is spotted, but not even a bird of prey is to be found in the sky as you fly swiftly through the trees.

With a tap of a gloved finger, you are directed to turn right and land at the base of a small cliff near the coast. As you approach the ground you can sense the release of tension coming from your rider, as if he is finally able to let go of a breath he has been holding since the Barg was spotted.

Before landing the Knight fires an arrow at a small rock embedded in the dirt of the cliff, as the arrow strikes its target a small passageway near the ground opens and the Knight directs you to it, which you realize means it is the entryway to the stables of this watchtower. You know of dozens such locations hidden across Feyatlas and the Outerlands, places for the Knights to use as bases for their patrols and meeting spots. While you have never been to this one, they all shared specific features, such as stables for your people and hidden defenses against enemies.

Passing through the entryway into a vast stone lined chamber, you are suddenly confronted with the strong scent of human sweat and you realize that the Warden has been waiting for you to deliver the Knight to him so that he may know the message you carry.

“I hope your journey was without incident, Knight.” The Warden addresses the Knight, his voice calm but a sense of apprehension fills the chamber.

“My lord, I fear that is not the case. Half a dozen leagues before reaching you, I encountered something that I fear…I mean something that I hesitate to mention, my lord.” The Knight dismounts from your saddle and comes to attention on a balcony that stands nearly high enough for the two to see eye to eye.

“Speak freely, Knight. What did you see? Be quick, you must return to Knosquellna as soon as possible.”

“Yes, my lord. I may be mistaken, but believe I may have seen a Barg here, in the Outerlands…a white Barg, my lord. Which I know is surely impossible, such a creature cannot live.”

“It is more than possible, I fear.” The Warden speaks softly, his tone more serious than it had been. “What is the message you deliver from Beth-Sol?”

“I do not understand it, my lord, but the scroll said ‘The time has come for the two to meet their destiny, the white flame must burn before the setting sun does’. That is all that it said, my lord.”

“Thank you, sir Knight. Return to Knosquellna and tell our people that I will set things into motion, the prophecy will be heeded.” With that the Warden leaves the chamber and his footsteps fall silent as he turns a corner, lost to even your silent screams.

Your Knight bows in the direction of the Warden before grabbing the pommel of your saddle and climbing back into position.

“Let us return home, swift mount. I fear our day is far from over. I fear the things of legend may be more than fancy tales.”

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