Chapter 3: Moving Out
Finished writing the last of her dispatches, Dini through down her quill and stretched. She'd been sitting for hours reviewing requests, talking with commanders and issuing orders. Hearing voices outside talking and laughing as well as seeing the flickering light cast by their fire, Dini decided to go join the knights for a while before going to bed. First she checked to make sure Limare really was asleep and not pretending before slipping outside and walking over to the campfire the knights were all sitting around.
Seeing a space between Mestril and Oshir, she plopped herself down into it. All the knights looked at her for a moment before shrugging their acceptance. Dini grinned. "So we leave tomorrow." she remarked.
"Yes. To conquer the world." Kutush added, flashing his sharp teeth into a smirk.
"I believe the term used was 'save the world' not conquer it." Brilt replied.
"Whatever the saying the result will be the same." Hamans told them.
"Yah we're all screwed." Aster said taking a swig from a bottle Hamans had started passing around.
"Fiends!" Mestil cried in mock anger, covering Dini's ears with his hands. "How dare you use such language in front of a lady."
"Especially since she used it first." Sheen added wickedly causing everyone to laugh.
Ostir went to pass the bottle to Mestil but Dini grabbed it. "Haven't you ever heard of ladies first?" She asked before taking a huge swallow of the liquid. She choked on it until Mestil pounded her on her back, making her swallow. The alcohol burned all the way down to her stomach. Eyes watering she gasped. "Well I guess that wasn't wine."
All the knights roared with laughter and continued passing the bottle around. More careful now, Dini took smaller mouthfuls and soon found herself pleasantly warm.
Coltch had just finished telling a horrible joke that had them all in stitches when the Dark Master appeared. He glanced around the circle once before his attention snapped back to Dini. He hadn't expected to find the High Priestess here.
"Why hello there Viswren." Dini called out, words slurring only slightly. "What are you doing here?"
"I came to speak to my knights. I am quite surprised to find you here."
"Well I didn't much feel like spending all my time in my tent so I came out. The stars are beautiful. I wonder what they're thinking?"
The Dark Master only now realized that Dini was drunk. "Who gave her alcohol?" he demanded angrily.
The knights all looked guilty except for Mestil. He was the one holding the bottle. "Well it's not much of your concern now is it, Visy? I mean she's a grown woman and can make her own decisions. If she wants to drink then she's welcome to do it." The leader of the Dragons suddenly snapped his arm out and a moment later caught Dini as she fell backwards. Mestil caught held her until she could sit upright again.
"Is it just me or is the ground on a slant here?" Dini asked no one in particular.
The Dark Master glared at the Dragon leader. "You had better not interfere." He snapped before whirling about and storming back up to the castle. Halfway there he paused and stealthily returned to the edge of their tents to watch what happened next.
No one spoke for a long time. Finally Mestil broke the silence. "Guess I'm not welcome. Big surprise there." He said, causing the other knights to give him weak smiles and relax slightly.
The bottle began making rounds again but this time, by unspoken assent, Dini was not allowed to have anymore. All the knights felt she'd had enough.
Aster was in the middle of a sotry when Dini slipped forward and would have fallen into the fire if Mestil hadn't caught her first. "Careful there. You don't want to be that close to the fire." He said hauling her back upright.
The High Priestess blinked up at him then glanced at the fire before giggling. "Fire is good."
Mestil had to chuckle. "Alright then lightweight, time for bed." He said before picking Dini up and heading into her tent.
Viswren burned with impotent anger at the thought of this rogue knight carrying his High Priestess about like that. This time when he stormed off he went all the way to the castle.
Mestil was stopped almost immediately by Limare. "What happened?" she asked horrified, seeing Dini barely awake in his arms.
The Dragon leader grinned. "The High Priestess decided to experiment with Tikstin. She's obviously not used to hard alcohol."
"Tikstin? She was drinking Tikstin? She's only ever drank watered wine before!" Limare cried.
"Well that would explain her inability to hold her liquor. If I'd known that I would have made her take it easy. Oh well. Where's her bed?"
Limare pointed to an area closed off with a flap. Mestil walked into the little alcove and deposited Dini onto her bed. "Go to sleep, lightweight."
After the Dragon leader had left, Limare went in and fussed with Dini until the aid was satisfied she was comfortable. Only then did Limare go seek her own bed again.
Dinira woke the next morning to a pounding headache and the shouts and orders of the people outside her tent. She groaned and tried to hide her head under the pillow but moving her head only made the pain in it worse.
Limare came bustling in and through off the High Priestess's covers. "Come on you have to get up. We're leaving."
Dini groaned and held her head. It was pounding. The aid sighed and handed her friend the mug filled with murky green liquid she was carrying. "Drink that. It'll fix your head. And let this be a lesson to you about going and drinking Tikstin."
The High Priestess choked down the vile brew and said. "It was Tikstin? I didn't know that."
Limare glared. "Well next time you should ask. Who was the man who brought you back?"
"Man? I don't remember anything about that. Describe him."
"He had blue hair and…"
"Blue hair? That must've been Mestil. He's the leader of the Dragons." Dini got up her headache already fading. The potion might be nasty but it did work. "Well I suppose I should get dressed."
Limare harrumphed her agreement and helped to get the leader of all the religions ready. As soon as they left the tent a small swarm of servants and camp aides descended on the tent and packed it up.
Dini walked over to where her chestnut mare stood and hauled herself up with a bit of difficulty. Her head might not hurt anymore but her hands were clumsy. Limare mounted her own horse and they moved up to where the other knights were waiting. They all cheered when they saw Dini up and about.
"How's your hangover?" Mestil asked grinning widely as Dini rode up.
"Alright. Limare gave me something for my headache; I'm just a little clumsy is all."
"Better clumsy then sick." Tament said slowly.
The High Priestess grinned. "That's true enough."
"Well I don't think you should have a hangover at all, because you shouldn't have been drinking." Limare snapped not at all pleased with Dini's cavalier attitude towards all this. "And you knights should be ashamed of letting her drink like that!"
Mestil chuckled. "She's a grown woman and allowed to make her own choices." He replied echoing his words from the night before.
The aide fixed him with a nasty look, causing him to ride away in mock fright. The other knights laughed again.
"Onward to Hestinmak." Dini called brandishing an imaginary sword.
The entire army waited until the Dark Master appeared and gave the order to move out, before they began making their ponderous journey towards the nearest capital, Kestrick of Hestinmak.