Road to Peace: Chapter Three


wo hundred forty three, Two hundred forty four, Two hundred forty five." Locke set the last coin on the top of the golden pile and pushed it toward the plump man staring wide-eyed from behind the counter. "Ring please," he said, holding his hand under the man's nose, palm up.

"Y, Yes, of course, sir." The clerk hesitated, eyeing Locke suspiciously, then hurried into the storage room through an open door behind the counter.

Bloody fool thinks I stole the money, Locke thought, grimacing. His expression cleared as the man stepped out the door and back behind the counter, a large diamond ring pinched between his sausage-like fingers. "Here you are, sir," he said, dropping the ring into Locke's outstretched hand. "Thank you for your business." The clerk began shoveling coins from the counter into his shirt with a plump hand, using his other hand to hold out the shirt like a huge pocket. "Thank you."

Locke turned away and walked out the door of the items shop, twirling the ring over and over in his hands. Celes is going to love this, he thought pleasantly as he made his way through Narsh. Before he knew it he was walking through the entrance of the inn he was staying at, still examining his new treasure. I just know she will.

"Locke!" A voice called as he walked through the door. Locke looked up from the ring to see the innkeeper rushing toward him, wiping his hands on the apron tied around his waist. "Locke, there's a man in your room, says he needs to speak with you immediately. He wouldn't tell me a thing more then that; just walked up to your room without another word." The innkeeper cocked his balding head, his blue-green eyes watching Locke inquisitively. "He seemed dangerous, Locke. All his cloths were black. Had a mean looking dog with him, too."

"Shadow," Locke muttered, glancing up the stairs in the far corner of the room. "Thank you, Ranin." He turned and made his way through the common room to the flight of stairs, ignoring the men sitting at the tables scattered about the floor. Some looked up as he passes, and a few even called his name over the noise of conversation which filled the inn. He had been staying in Narsh for over a month—taking care of Terra—and knew most of the regular customers to the inn's small café operating on the first floor. But he ignored them all. Why would Shadow be here? I thought he was out doing… whatever he does.

He reached the stairs and started up them at a quick pace, stuffing the ring he still held into his coat pocket. The door to his room stood at the very end of the hallway, beside the bathroom. It opened before he had gotten even halfway down the long corridor, the figure standing behind it almost invisible in the darkness. Even with his face hidden behind a long black scarf, Locke thought the man looked impatient. He quickened his step, the man gracefully sliding away from the door as Locke entered.

"So, you finally decide to return," the man said smoothly. "I was beginning to believe the innkeeper had lied on where you were staying."

"Why are you here, Shadow?" Locke demanded. He had never truly liked when people kept secrets from him, and Shadow kept more secrets then anyone else Locke knew.

Shadow turned toward a window set into the far wall of the room. He stood there for a moment, arms crossed on his chest, staring out the glass. "Edgar is sick." He said shortly, turning to face Locke.

Locke ran a hand through his hair, letting out a long sigh. "How bad is it?"

"Bad." Shadow was staring out the window again. "Celes wanted you there, in case he passes on."

"He's not going to die, Shadow."

"You should pack."

Locke grunted, pushing past the man. He stepped into the closet, pulling a large leather bag out from under a pile of wrinkled clothing and began stuffing his belongings into it. Shadow waited patiently until he was finished, staring out the window.

"How are we going to get there?" Locke asked as they walked out the door of his room, his shoulders sagging with the weight of his bags. Shadow had not asked if he could help carry the load, not that Locke had expected him to. The man never did a thing for anyone in less that someone paid him in advance. "It will take days to reach South Figero, and even more to sail to…"

"Setzer is waiting outside with the Falcon." Shadow interrupted as if Locke was a fool not to have realized it on his own. Locke had a sudden urge to smack Shadow as hard as he possibly could, but quickly suppressed it as they reached the stairs leading into the common room. Ranin raced up to the two of them, looking confused.

"Leaving so soon?" he asked disappointedly. "I can't say I'm surprised. Well, you paid for another four days rent, and if your not staying four more days, I'd better give you your money back." Locke caught Ranin's arm before he could turn away.

"Keep the money. I don't need it."

Ranin arched an eyebrow at Locke as if he were some sort of mystery. "Are you sure? Alright, then. Thank you, Locke." He began to turn away again, then stopped. Sticking a hand in his pocket, he fished out a small, wrinkled slip of paper and handed it to Locke, smiled, and walked away.

"One free ale at The Miner's Café." Locke read aloud, holding the paper up to the light so he could make out the print. He chuckled softly. One ale for the price of four nights at the inn? He had always knew Ranin was cheap, but…

His thoughts stopped short as he looked up from the paper. Shadow was nowhere to be seen. Hurrying out the door, he noticed his companion already more then 100 paces down the street, only a dark shape in the fading sunlight. Once again, Locke had to suppress the urge to run up and hit. Instead, he started out at a slow pace, staying just close enough to keep him in eyesight.

As he walked out of Narsh, Locke realized he had been so intent on watching Shadow that he hadn't noticed the huge ship stationed on a grassy field just 300 paces ahead, the word "Falcon" painted on it's hull. A dozen long, thick ropes ran from the sides of the ship to a large, oval balloon floating high above it's decks.

After a moment, a tall, lanky man stepped out of a hatch in the ship's hull, his long, brownish grey coat dragging on the ground behind him. Locke recognized him immediately. Setzer eyed Shadow as he walked up, gesturing toward Locke. "I see you found him. Good. Let us be on our way, then. I don't have all day." Setzer turned as Locke joined the two of them, slapping him on the back. "Hello Locke, it's good to see you again. Come, lets get on board. We can talk there." Turning, he gestured for the two of them to follow, and walked off at a steady pace. "I have much to tell you, Locke," Setzer said over his shoulder as he climbed through the hatch. "A lot has happened since you left."

Go To:
Prologue || Chapter One || Chapter Two || Chapter Three || Chapter Four || Chapter Five || Chapter Six || Chapter Seven || Chapter Eight || Chapter Nine || Chapter Ten || Chapter Eleven || Chapter Twelve || Chapter Thirteen