The Nightmare Rider - chapter 07


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Chapter 7 of
  The Nightmare Rider




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Chapter 7


Patrick wandered the camp. Everyone had drifted off to sleep. He stopped and braced a hand against a tree. He could feel prayers being made. The prayers were more powerful than before. The influx of power subsided to less than a trickle. As if now a slow drip. Patrick smiled to himself. It seemed the Malzeek family were turning out to be quite devoted. This was good.

"My Mistress," Daalumos called softly and revealed himself further down the path.

Patrick walked over, "what is it?"

The Lust informed, "Mortals. A group of them are approaching. They are fit for battle."

"This is not good. How many," Patrick asked.

"I counted ten. All are mounted and well armed. There is something strange about them. I felt a bit of Divinity," Daalumos said.

Patrick looked down the trail and explored it mentally. Sure enough. There was a trace of Divinity approaching slowly.

"Divinity is there but very weak. The grandchild of a Demi-God or some such. They must be weak or not very skilled to be traveling with a contingent. Especially along this route and at night," Patrick surmised.

Daalumos snorted, "we have only a few minutes before they gain sight of the fire. What do you command."

"Stay far back and suppress your influence. I will have to deal with this as a Mortal would. Go," Patrick instructed.

The BloodLust disappeared. Patrick went over and woke Jessica.

"Wake up. We have a problem," Patrick said quietly.

Jessica woke up, resisting the urge to stretch but grabbed her battle sword.

The shifting around had alerted Orvin, as he slept lightly.

"Is something wrong," Gareth asked in a low voice.

Patrick nodded, "riders. Small group. I can already see their outlines in the distance. They're a small group, traveling at night down this route. We have only a few more minutes. Orvin go back as you were. Pretend to sleep. I'm going to try the 'we're not here and neither are you' attitude. If not then Mulhanten and I will fight and you two escape behind us. We'll find you later, just stay together. Let's go."

Orvin went back to the wagon and grabbed a small bag then laid down. Jessica, under Patrick's instruction moved Mars further into the campsite. Daemon was moved as well. The two robotic horses were now blocking some of the light from the campfire. More importantly they were a visual reference as a point not to be crossed. Jessica took the position Patrick indicated and stood casually, sword in hand. Patrick took position back from the trail the same way. He would be the first contact, if any.

Soon they heard the soft sounds of several horses walking quietly toward them along with a dragging sound. The group slowed more as two lead riders approached. They stopped their mounts at the opening onto the trail and drew their swords. Patrick could see they were looking over the camp.

In a low voice Patrick addressed them, "we're not here. Neither are you. My contract ends at the trail."

Anyone that had ever dealt with Solos would understand the implied meaning. If they did not engage, Patrick would not. The two knights nodded to each other then one waved to the group to continue on. Quietly the group of eight walked past. Three riders rode at the back side by side and dragging some branches, scrubbing their prints from the trail. The one in the center was a girl dressed in male armor. Patrick could tell by the shifting in the saddle as she rode. Patrick nodded for the two to move on. When the sounds of the horses faded from their hearing Jessica relaxed. Patrick turned away finally and Jessica sighed in relief.

Orvin got up and joined them.

"They just passed us by," he asked.

Patrick nodded, "They have the same interest we do. Passing unnoticed. Our focus is you and your wagon. Their focus was the rider in the middle. They won't be back. You can return to sleep Orvin."

Gareth nodded, "well that battle was won by my account Solo Fotens. I'll add a day's battle wages."

Patrick and Jessica watched him go back over to the wagon and lay down. Apparently everything had been quiet enough not to wake Zelle. Quickly they re-positioned their horses.

Jessica walked over to Patrick and asked quietly, "The rider in the middle was their charge? Looked like a girl in boys' armor to me. I could see by the way she was riding. She wasn't comfortable. The armor wasn't the right size."

"You're learning again. You're correct. So a girl disguised as a boy in armor that didn't fit traveling in secret. What could it mean," Patrick asked.

"Possible fiance. Possible ransom return. Possible Emissary," Jessica listed immediately then said quickly. "Or possibly escape. An exile."

Patrick nodded, "those are all very likely possibilities. You only forgot one."

Jessica thought but drew a blank and shook her head.

"Possible temple maiden. Training to become a priestess. One selected to undertake that would travel in such a fashion," Patrick informed her.

Jessica smacked her head, "that was dumb. I should have thought of that."

Patrick shook his head, "You've never known that situation. Actually I've ridden escort for one. She was joining the sisterhood of Diana."

"So by saying that the contract ended at the trail that was the signal that they were not a concern unless they made themselves one. You knew from what they were doing and how they looked that they did not want to engage unless they had to. We do not want to engage unless we have to. Solos use implication and innuendo to convey their message. You said we weren't here and neither were they.We would ignore them if they ignored us. Right," Jessica asked.

Patrick nodded, "correct."

"Ok so conflict was avoided. Wait. UNNECESSARY conflict was avoided. The job was done without endangering the client and that's what matters. The terms of the contract were upheld," Jessica said.

"Again; correct. Anyone else would have provoked them into a fight. So yes, by using the implication that we are Solos under a specific contract, they ignored us. The only reason the two riders stayed was to ensure we did as we said we would. Better to have the certain pay of escort than risk everything for a battle pay and bonus. Because Orvin was awake the whole time and knew what was happening he is adding the battle pay anyway. The girl slept through the whole thing. She is none the wiser and it is best that way," Patrick explained.

Jessica nodded, "yes. You're right. Nothing would be gained by frightening her. Better that she not know."

Patrick nodded, "exactly. Get some more sleep. I'll wake you up in a while to take watch for me."

Jessica nodded and went back her previous spot, jammed the sword down and settled back against it. She had no idea that she fell asleep almost instantly. Patrick could feel Daalumos' presence as he moved off to circle around in a patrol. Patrick leaned back against Daemon and dozed for about two hours. It wasn't real sleep but would serve well enough. He eased back into wakefulness and went over to Jessica and nudged her. Jessica startled then looked up and nodded. She stood and took her sword.

"It should be dawn in about two or three hours. Wake me when you first see it," Patrick said.

Jessica nodded to him, "right."

She watched him jam his own sword into the ground and settle back against it. Jessica added some wood to the fire and wandered around. She occasionally sipped from her canteen. For the most part she paced back and forth to watch the trail.

Jessica reached into her saddlebag and took out her tablet and began to write.

"I need to do this while its all still fresh," Jessica said occasionally glancing up to look down the trail.

For almost three hours she made her notes until she noticed the sky staining with a gold tinge. Jessica finished her note and put the tablet away then woke Patrick. She was stunned at how quickly he was on the move. Quickly he checked over the camp then explained that he was checking for traces of their presence and disposed of it. Orvin was awakened followed by Zelle. Breakfast was prepared and eaten. Patrick handed Jessica a meal bar. Half an hour later Patrick was covering the campfire with the dirt he had dug out for the small pit. Jessica directed the wagon onto the trail after Zelle and Orvin climbed on then moved opposite Patrick to ensure all traces where gone. They even used leafy branches to wipe away the tracks.

"Why did they do that," Zelle asked.

Orvin smiled, "why don't you ask?"

Zelle called over, "excuse me. Why did you do all of that? Is it that important to look like we weren't there?"

Patrick walked over and nodded, "it is Miss. By maintaining the appearance that the trail is used only by the local farmers we can use it again. If we left obvious traces then word would get around about it being used. If word does get around, bandits will start working it and we'd be no safer than using the main roads. Your uncle and his goods would be at risk."

"Oh. I see the sense of it now. Thank you for explaining and I hope you weren't offended by my questioning," Zelle offered.

Patrick shook his head, "no offense taken Miss. You've never been exposed to Solos before. My apprentice is still learning as well. Solos prefer to be traced and tracked by one method. Our records. Holding to the terms of the contracts. Good Solos are only known for the jobs they've done. Bad Solos are known for everything they do."

Jessica interjected, "altercations that are not contracted, disturbing locals, signs of obvious passage. All of those things are bad. It gets attention that has nothing to do with contract terms. The goal of a Solo is to only be known when a job comes up. Otherwise to go unnoticed. Should a Solo be noticed then the reputation of adhering to the terms should apply. A job done is that your journey is completed. A job well done is your journey completed safely with measure of reasonable comfort for your uncle and yourself, Miss. Anything else would be unprofessional."

"So only the terms of a contract are important. How you feel about something doesn't make a difference," Zelle asked.

Patrick and Jessica were mounting their horse. Patrick gave her a subtle nod to answer.

Jessica answered, "correct Miss. The moment it becomes personal that's when a Solo is no longer a Solo. That's why we have no homes or countries. No politics. Only the terms of the contract. That may seem cold Miss, but its the Solos' way. Nothing is ever personal."

"We should get moving. We can make it by nightfall," Patrick stated.

Orvin nodded and urged the horse forward. Patrick and Jessica took the lead.

They were ahead enough for Jessica to speak comfortably and ask, "Solos fight battles and serve as escorts. What else do Solos do?"

Patrick looked over then nodded, "even more than that. Some regiments and battalions specialize. One example is the Sixth Battalion of Freebooters. They specialize in rescue. Say you were kidnapped during transit by bandits, the Sixth Freebooters could be contracted to bring you home from their stronghold. The Fifth Regiment of FreeLancers could rescue you if still in transit. The Tenth Regiment and Battalion work together. They can provide temporary law services if there is no Marshal for a city or village."

"Really? That's something I would never know isn't it," Jessica asked.

"The Fourth Regiment and Battalion work together too. Mainly they are investigators," Patrick informed her.

Jessica thought about it, "They investigate battle sites?"

Patrick shook his head, "they'll investigate anything. Battles, crimes, troop movements; you name it. When you want to know what is or had happened, they're the go-to Solos."

"So the lower the number," Jessica speculated.

Patrick shook his head again, "not necessarily. One through Ten yes. But its not so easy to join them. You have to have a very good record. Eleven through Twenty-Two work entertainers until they hire their own personal protection. Again, you have to have a solid record. People think the lower number the more illustrious or better the unit is. That's not true. The HIGHER the number the more strict they are. Higher numbers haven't been around as long to attract the less disciplined. In short, if you want true hardcore Solos; go for the higher numbered units. They are made up of the ones that are fed up with low standard inductees."

Jessica understood, "so higher number units are more sought after because of their reputation."

"That's right. I don't have to look for work. Jobs come to me, because I'm the last. I'm the reason the Eighty-Sixth still is listed," Patrick stated.

Jessica nodded, "I get it now."

Patrick glanced over, "the only problem is making sure you stay off the roster. Otherwise life will get complicated. Female Solos get a lot of attention. Good female Solos are watched. Good female Solos that are attractive, well I think you get the idea now."

Jessica blinked then full comprehension hit her. Liaisons. Patrick was highly skilled, even though still in the Academy and he was definitely attractive. Those qualities would make him sought after. If word got out about her, there would be a demand. Her Academy record was good for a student of her year. The Tournament results would affect that as well. If she were a Solo then all of that together would definitely garner attention she didn't want.

"I want to ride ahead for a few minutes," Jessica said then did when Patrick nodded.

Jessica looked around then took out her tablet and made notes of the newest things she learned then put it away and checked around again. She waited for them to catch up then made a round of the wagon. At midday they stopped for lunch. Jessica made sure Zelle had time and privacy to attend her own matters. They were only stopped for half an hour then back on the trail again. Unfortunately the trail joined back up to a road. Soon after that Daalumos spoke to Patrick only.

"My Mistress. Mortals are ahead in concealment lying in wait," The demon informed him.

Patrick responded so that only the demon could hear, "how many?"

Daalumos laughed, "only six Mistress and they looked rather ragged."

Patrick looked over to Jessica, "remember; we are on a road now. Not a trail. Be wary. There's no trail we can divert onto to reach our destination. Anything can happen now."

Jessica nodded and tightened her grasp on her lance. She also saw him reach back and take up his shield so did the same.

"Up ahead. I saw something in the brush. Act casual. Hang back and you can have any that get past me," Patrick said in a low voice. "Daemon. Battle."

Jessica said in a low voice, "Mars. Battle."

Both horses were now set into battle mode. They would be controlled using feet and knees instead of the reins. Patrick urged his mount forward to give space between them. Only Daalumos could hear him now.

"I feel fear from them. Daalumos, if any of them get past me feed her enough to keep them off her. Only feed her," Patrick instructed.

The Lust chuckled, "oh this should be amusing!"

Patrick gained the brush-line and slowed Daemon. He could feel anger and fear coming from both sides. Patrick knew he had to be careful and only take in the fear without stoking it. If the fear circulated then the facade of Patrick Fotens could be compromised and have to be discarded for the true form of Phoebe. Suddenly six men burst from the undergrowth. Patrick thrust his lance forward. Three charged him and the other three ran towards Jessica. The man on the right's spear wasn't as long as the lance and shrieked in pain as the lance tip melted into his chest. Patrick let go of the lance and pulled his combat sword. Each man held a sword in his left hand and spear in the right. Two attacked him and three ran at Jessica.

Jessica heard a whisper in her ear.

"They are coming. They want you. They want the girl. They'll have you both if you fail Jessica. As much as you hate HIM, for them to do THOSE things to you would be so much worse. They would do it to the girl too and make you watch them."

Rage welled up within the Princess and she snapped her visor down with a snarl then charged forward.

Patrick used his shield to block the spears. From the pressure commands Daemon spun to the left as Patrick shoved the spears aside and swung the sword to take off their tips as well. He clenched his legs tight and tapped with his toes, Daemon kicked out his back legs. The man behind was thrown back from the kick. Patrick slashed downward, clashing with the swords now shifting hands.

Jessica yelled in fury as she used her legs and feet to make Mars lunge forward. She aimed the lance at the man on the far right and drove it through his chest, high of center. She let go of the lance and gave Mars another command. The robotic horse reared up to paw at the attacker in the middle. The other thrust his spear at her but only struck her shield. She shoved away at the spear on her left as Mars trampled the man in front. Jessica wheeled him left and swung her sword knocking the spear from the left side man. Mars continued to turn around and she slashed again. From her commands Mars pranced sideways to keep crowding the man now on her right as she swung the sword again. The tip sliced down the side of his face and he screamed. Jessica made Mars surge out from between them and circle around to charge at the remaining attacker. His sword ended up slamming into Mars' neck and merely clanged. Jessica thrust her sword forward, having to lean forward in her sadle to follow through. Her move was rewarded with a bellow of pain. The sword was pulled free and Jessica made Mars trample him down then circle back for the last man.

Patrick had managed to get one of his attackers to turn in confusion and he slashed high across his back making him go down. The last man now realized he was alone and bolted back into the underbrush. Patrick dismounted and checked the two bodies. Both were dead. He pulled his lance free and leaned it against Daemon then began dragging the bodies to the side of the road. Jessica saw and did the same. She was calming down but to be so angry like that was foreign to her.

"I am Jessica Weyden. I am the crowned Princess of Lurbourg," Jessica whispered to herself in effort to calm herself down even more. "I will own my anger, my anger will NOT own me!"

Slowly the rage subsided. She now felt as if the skirmish had lasted for hours instead of only mere minutes. After a drink from her canteen she cleaned her sword and lance then re-mounted as Patrick approached.

"You didn't seem to have any problems or call out," Patrick remarked.

Jessica nodded, "I'm fine. No problems. Just a little tired."

"It was real combat. It's much different from training," Patrick informed her. "Its done now. We move on and get paid. Its just the job."

Jessica nodded, "uphold the contract. Nothing is personal."

Patrick and Jessica rode back to the wagon. Gareth had his arm around Zelle.

"We're ready to move on Orvin," Patrick stated.

Jessica spoke up, "Miss. Everything is fine now. They never got past us. You both are safe."

Patrick nodded, "We did our job. We can't linger though, we need to move on. Just breathe slow and easy. You'll be fine. Let's go Orvin."

"Right," Gareth said and urged the draft horse to continue.

They rode on, but at a faster pace. The sun was starting to set when they reached the city border. A group of guards stood by the side of the road.

"Solo of the Eighty-Sixth FreeLancers with apprentice, merchant escort," Patrick stated.

Two of the soldiers stepped back to inspect the wagon.

Orvin spoke up, "Gareth Orvin. I'm expected."

The leader had been looking at his tablet and looked up, "Orvin; Gareth? Yes Sir. Proceed."

The wagon moved on, as did Patrick and Jessica. They fell in behind the wagon since he knew exactly where they were going in the city. They made their way through until a large mansion came into sight. Orvin headed directly for it. The gate was open and he led them inside the grounds to stop in front of covered front entrance. A young man came out as did an older couple. Orvin was helping Zelle down.

"Welcome! Thank you Gareth. You must be the Solos," The woman stated.

"Thank you very much for safeguarding Shazelle," the young man said after kissing her.

The older man held up his hand, "please forgive our small ruse Solo Fotens. I knew your former Commander well. I asked for you by name. Baron Larkiel, I'm the actual contractor. I'll of course revise the contract to reflect the true nature of the assignment, along with the appropriate bonuses."

Patrick looked over at Jessica and nodded. Jessica took off her helmet.

"I've heard of such doings," Jessica said.

The older woman rushed up and whispered into his ear looking very alarmed. His eyes almost popped out of his head.

"Princess Jessica Weyden? Of Lurbourg? She can't be," the Baron said then recognized her. "By the Goddess, you are!"

All four quickly acknowledged her with a bow or curtsy. Even Gareth Orvin jumped from the wagon to do so.

"Weyden is posing as my apprentice as a supplement to her education," Patrick informed them.

"Please accept our hospitality for the night! Solo Fotens. Princess Jessica. Be our guests," The Baroness exclaimed.

Jessica looked over to Patrick, "its up to you."

"Very well. We have to leave early in the morning. The Academy expects us back tomorrow evening," Patrick stated.

"Right this way," the Baron said then showed them to the stables for their horses.

Patrick and Jessica stabled their horses then collected they travel bags and followed him inside to be shown to rooms for the night. Jessica nodded to the maid waiting for her in the room. Quickly she was relieved of her armor and shown the bath. She wanted to giggle to herself as the maid quickly helped her bathe and cared for her hair. By the time Jessica was done applying her make-up and styling her hair in a simple fashion, a gown and shoes waited for her. She had just finished dressing when a knock came from the door, answered by the maid.

"Your Highness. Solo Fotens is waiting for you in the hall," the maid announced.

Jessica went out and met him. Patrick was in his Eighty-Sixth uniform, which looked freshly laundered.

"Ready Weyden," Patrick asked.

Boldly she slipped her hand into his arm, "yes."

Patrick arched an eyebrow, "out of character for you."

Jessica sighed then faced him, "Solo Fotens. Patrick, if I may. I was wrong before. I believed false statements. The blame lies with me for the way I regarded you and all Solos. I did not know all of the facts. I want to make amends for that. You have my most sincere apologies and the assurance that I will never do so again. I know that Solos do not have friends exactly. Would it be acceptable for me to say that you are someone trustworthy of any assignment? My first choice if ever I needed a professional. No, not my first choice. My only choice, for a professional."

"Quite the turn-around," Patrick commented.

"I was foolish. Self-absorbed. Very very wrong. I'm not speaking out of pride or family honor. Not even personal honor. What I did was wrong. I ask forgiveness. If I must pay for it, I will. Name the price you want," Jessica said firmly.

"We will face each other again. I want nothing less than your best. Should we face each other at Tournament the same will apply. You can not ask me for forgiveness. We faced each other on the field and I won. The only forgiveness you have any right to ask is from your parents. All that is left are the terms of the contract," Patrick stated.

Jessica sighed, "that's all I can get. Still, I was wrong for what I did. With all my heart I apologize to for the way I treated you. I will abide by the terms."

Patrick nodded, "let's not keep our hosts waiting."

Jessica slip her hand back onto Patrick's arm and followed him to the dining room.

"Ah there you both are. Please join us," The Baroness welcomed them again noting their entrance.

Jessica nodded to her, "well I am in Solo Fotens' charge. Any opportunity to learn something, I won't waste. I do have so much to learn still."

Shazelle came forward and curtsied, "Highness. I can't imagine what you have left to learn, I was completely fooled by your disguise. I'm so very glad that I was in your care."

Jessica took her hands and smiled, "you're a very nice young lady. Hang on to that."

The Baron entered, "pardon my tardiness. Please be comfortable. Highness please take my seat. Solo Fotens, right here if you would."

The Baron had indicated Jessica sit at the head of the table with Patrick in the first seat to her right then sat opposite him after seating the Baroness. The butler came in, leading the dining staff to serve the dinner. The conversation was light, as three of the diners were more interested in eating than talking. After dinner the Baron asked Patrick to join him in the study. The Baroness asked Jessica if she would like to join her, but she declined stating that she would accompany Patrick and the Baron.

Larkiel closed the door after they came in.

"Please be seated," he gestured to a group of chairs.

Jessica sat down as did Patrick, Larkiel sat opposite them and brought out his tablet.

"Again, my apology for the ruse Solo Fotens, though I must admit your ruse was better than mine," Larkiel confided.

Patrick took out his battle ledger, "business Larkiel. Three days of escort for a noble. Two days battle wages with victory bonuses for both. For each day of deception a penalty of half that will be imposed. These rates are for one Solo and one Apprentice. Plus expenses."

Baron Larkiel nodded, "of course."

A total was reached then approved and the contract re-written and sent back to Patrick's ledger after being signed. The Baron counted out the coins in front of them then bagged them.

He passed the bag over, "There we are. Does this settle the account and conclude the contract?"

"It does," Patrick nodded. "We'll be leaving at sunrise."

"Thank you for the hospitality Baron," Jessica added.

"Consider it an apology to you both. I hope you understand," Larkiel said.

Patrick stood up, "Good evening Larkiel."

Jessica and Patrick went out. He guided her into the garden and they walked.

"When he made the statement 'he hoped we understood' there was no reply to give. The account had been settled as per the revised contract. Anything other than disregard to the statement would have implied personal involvement. You thanked him for the hospitality. That is acceptable but not expected. Normally the invitation would not be accepted. We get paid and immediately move on," Patrick informed her.

Jessica thought about that then asked, "why did you accept the invitation? I had said it was up to you, which it was because I am still in your charge."

Patrick stopped, "for your benefit. You already know how Solos deal with the general public now. You needed to learn how Solos deal with people of standing. Noble or royal are regarded in the same manner. Hospitality was extended mostly for your benefit. Larkiel knows he had to make up for tricking us, normally that would have simply been everything that happened in study. Staying overnight and all that is for you. Had you not been who you are he wouldn't have felt guilty for doing it. He feels guilty for tricking a royal, something a noble isn't supposed to do. He had a reason to trick a Solo and was willing to pay the penalty for doing so. Tricking a royal learning how Solos work wasn't part of the equation."

"I would like to say that everyone should be honest all the time, but I'm guilty too. I guess only the Gods and Goddesses are truthful all the time," Jessica commented.

Patrick started laughing. Jessica looked at him in confusion as he laughed even harder. For several minutes he laughed and she was starting to think he was laughing directly at her.

"And just WHAT is so funny," she asked, annoyed.

Patrick coughed from laughing, "you think Gods and Goddesses are always truthful! That's very funny!"

Jessica looked shocked, "what do you mean? They aren't?"

Patrick looked at her finally, "The Gods and the Goddesses can be relied on to do one thing at all times. Serve themselves!"

"But they reward prayers! They've even been known to take mortal wives or husbands," Jessica protested.

Patrick chuckled, "they've also been known to seduce and rape. For every ten thousand prayers, only one will be answered. Answered for the express purpose of ensuring continued faith and worship. They've been known to also take part in mortal battles, mostly out of boredom. They watch and place wagers on the outcome. I pray to none. Owe none. Commanded by none. I serve only myself. That is something they and I understand."

Jessica was shocked but thought it was now or never, "why did you take my mother's contract?"

"Only the incredibly stupid would refuse. If I wanted to I would not have to work for at least ten years. The question you should be asking is, why you and not herself? Only one person can answer that," Patrick stated. "Ask her."

Jessica suddenly felt small and alone, "h-have you ever? Before?"

Patrick shook his head, "no."

"I'm afraid," Jessica confessed.

"I'm sure you are. I can not help you Weyden. There is no reason why I can not fulfill the terms. You are still under your parents. They see no reason why the terms can not be fulfilled. Any objection you have, must be made to them. I suggest you retire for the night. Tomorrow will be here soon enough. Tomorrow things will be like the first day. I will be protecting you more than teaching. Good night Weyden," Patrick said.

Jessica slowly walked away and went inside.

"That was in an interesting conversation," Daalumos remarked from inside a shadow.

Patrick turned, "don't you mean that it was amusing?"

The Lust chuckled, "oh it was. I meant your side. It was almost as if you were pitying the Mortal. Still I wonder why you choose to continue this nonsense."

"How long have we been here," Patrick asked.

Daalumos replied, "almost ten mortal years."

"Seven years before taking this facade. Two years with the Solos and eight months at the Academy. I learned next to nothing in those first seven years. I have learned more in the eight months at the Academy than I did the two years with the Solos. There is still more to learn," Patrick stated.

The bound demon snorted, "as you wish my Mistress."

Patrick went inside to the room he'd been given and went to sleep so after.
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