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The Song of Steel

Book One - Chapter 25

By W.R. Logan


Copyright 2004 W.R. Logan

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Warrider Claymen



from hours of useless interrogation marred

his face. Pike was the best interrogator in the history

of the Steel Tide. This time, however, his tactics fell

short. Six hours of questions resulted in no answers

from his captive.

“Still haven’t gotten anything out of him?”

Gregor asked.

“Are you kidding?” Pike shook his head. “I

know more about Solaced than most of the people

living there. Old Sparsebeard told me about how the

foundations of the city were built, and how his father

helped build the sewer system. I even know the

name of a good smith who will fix my armor for a

copper a dent. But do I know where Solaced is? No.”

Gregor looked over at their prisoner. They had

not even been able to make him give his name. Pike

started calling him “Sparsebeard” because the man’s

green beard was filled with large bald spots. Sparsebeard

gave them a wave of information about everything

under the sun. Every time Pike asked him a

question, the druid would answer it with a story.

W. R. Logan


The stories were long, pointless and had nothing to

do with any of the questions. At first, Pike tried

beating the information out of the druid. That just

seemed to make him ramble more.

Pike pushed some of the foliage growing on his

forehead to the side. He pulled a thread from his

cloak, and tied it around the red flowers to hold

them out of his eyes. The foliage was beginning to

spread. Since the battle, the flowers went from a

light sprinkling on his head, to a full bush running

from his head, down his back and starting on his

forehead. If the magic didn’t wear off, Gregor

thought Pike would soon grow roots.

Pike must have felt his stare. “They’re Red

Bells,” Pike told him.


“The flowers,” Pike answered. “They’re Red

Bells. Sparsebeard told me. The red are a rare sort,


“Oh,” Gregor answered. “I have heard of those.

Women used to plant them along their walkways

when their husbands went to war. The trail was

supposed to help them find their way home.”

“Sounds like Sparsebeard is rubbing off on

you,” accused Pike.

“Sorry,” Gregor apologized. “Have you had the

mages try to break the spell?”

“They said the spell has no known counter.”

Pike turned his head to the druid. “It was some type

of growth spell. No one ever thought to make counters

for growth spells.”

The Song of Steel


“Guess no one ever thought we would be fighting


“Why are we fighting druids, Gregor?” Pike

asked bluntly. “I see no reason in this madness.”

“Because our king commands it.” Gregor didn’t

want to openly discuss his misgivings about the assignment.

“I’m afraid that just doesn’t seem enough anymore.”

“A man of the Tide is afraid of nothing,” Gregor


“You know it’s not that kind of afraid. I rode

with your brother in the Slaver War, Gregor. He will

vouch for my courage well enough.”

“I know,” Gregor agreed. His brother told him a

great deal about Pike.

“I almost died in Vale.” Pike pointed to the

druid. “One of those saved my life, Gregor. And this

is how a man of the Steel Tide repays his debts.”

“The king has his reasons, Pike,” Gregor explained.

“We have to trust in him.”

“If I believed there was anything of King Gyger

left in the man, I would,” Pike promised, “but he is

just a puppet for the church to use.”

Anger got the best of Gregor and he hit Pike in

the face with the back of his hand. Pike tumbled off

the stump and to the ground. The vines on his head

immediately attached to the earth. Gregor ran over

and helped the man to his feet. Pike moaned in pain

as the newly grown roots snapped off and were left

in the dirt.

“I’m sorry, Pike.”

W. R. Logan


“It’s okay. I deserved much more. It’s just I…”

“I understand. I’ve had the same feelings.” Pike

lowered his head and drew a deep breath. Gregor

admitting his doubts seemed to relieve the tensions.

“Let’s just do our jobs and pass judgment after the


“Agreed,” Pike said.

“Now let me see if I have any better luck with

the druid,” Gregor said.

“Good luck,” Pike told him. “And ask him how

much that smith charges for dents in leggings.”

“I’m sure he will tell me that without asking,”

confirmed Gregor.

The Warrider made his way across the small

clearing toward the prisoner. They hoped to loosen

the druid’s tongue by letting him sit in the sun, but

the rays seemed to bend around the man. A perfectly

round shade spot encircled the druid.

“So, Sparsebeard,” Gregor said, “That is one hell

of a trick with the sun there.”

“Wish I could take the credit,” the druid admitted.

“The enchantment is in the robes.”

“The brownie we captured before you lacked

that ability,” Gregor said, trying to get a reaction.

“Garflin?” Sparsebeard asked. “You have Garflin?”

“We did, but alas, the little one was not as resistant

to Pike’s charms as you.” Gregor smiled when

he saw the panic on the druid’s face. “You see, Pike

never interrogated such a small creature before. He

didn’t take enough off his blows, and I am afraid the

brownie’s head burst.”

The Song of Steel


“You bastards.”

“Now, now,” Gregor teased, “you had a hand in

his death as well. It was your root trap that caught


“I’m so sorry, Garflin,” the druid whispered to

the wind.

“Why just him, druid?” Gregor grabbed the

man’s chin. “Over half of my men are dead by the

river. Do you have no pity for them?”

“None,” Sparsebeard replied firmly.

“Then let’s talk of war,” Gregor suggested.

“Garflin once told me plant growers know nothing

of war, and I shouldn’t talk of things I don’t

know,” the druid said. “So, you want to talk about


The flowers. Of course, the flowers. “Do you know

the legend behind those Red Bells?”

“Yes, women planted them to help their husbands

find their way home from war.”

“You’re quite the historian.”

“Only on plants. The White Bells are used for a

totally different purpose. They were thought to

chase unwanted spirits away from dwellings, or to

keep a wandering spirit in the ground. Kings used to

have them planted on the graves of men they executed.

Especially the innocent ones.”

The druid kept on rambling even after Gregor

stopped listening. Gregor motioned for Pike to join

him at the stump.

“Get the men ready to move,” Gregor told him.

“He told you how to get to Solaced?”

W. R. Logan


“Not in so many words,” Gregor admitted, “but

I think I have a pretty good idea.”

Pike ran off to gather the men. Gregor knew

both he and Pike would feel much better with a

sword in their hand and a foe to use it on. This sitting

around gave them far too much time to debate

the morals of their job. A knight should be like a

sword and take his king as the wielder. A sword

never questioned its wielder.

“Leaving so soon?” Sparsebeard called to him.

“Hope you have a nice trip back to Karal.”

“We aren’t going to Karal, druid,” Gregor said.

“We are going to find the trail of Red Bells you

made for us, and see to whose home it leads.” The

look of shock on the druid’s face told Gregor his

suspicions were correct. Sparsebeard’s knowledge of

the flower bled into his spell. At the end of the trail

of Red Bells would be the druid’s home.




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