| Ezra had decided to leave the bedroom
as he wanted Vin to get some more rest before he disturbed him
The first thing he had done after leaving Vin was to reclaim his boots
and head for the stable. After checking on the two familiars, he
started looking for the firewood Vin had mentioned. He finally
it at the end of the stable which was more of a open storage area as it
also held a few bags of grain and the bales of hay for the
Giving the area a good examination he also found a door partially
behind the hay which he could not resist opening the lure of the
It opened on a large workroom, on one side Vin had obviously been tanning hides, which raised an eyebrow as the room had none of the distasteful smells usually found in the primitive Muggle curing process. Curious he made his way over to the curing vats and frames only to be surprised by Vin Tanner all over again. This wasn't some primitive Muggle hide curing setup but that of a skilled master in the Magical fur and hide trade. Obviously at sometime in his young life Vin had been apprenticed to a Wizarding specialist in the Magical trade. The curing setup wasn't new so had probably belonged to the original owner of this intriguing tent. He would have to ask Vin about this Adrian and Elsbeth he mentioned. Ezra had only a vague idea of what magical curing entailed but it looked to be very involved process and some of those vats looked positively dangerous, especially the heavy moulded glass vat filled with the most sickly lime green glowing liquid thick with blue fibrous material that looked like some type of stalk. The sickly green glow of the liquid shined balefully at the world in warning even through the heavy glass of the vat. Just looking at that sickly green glow gave Ezra a shiver of foreboding that made him decide he didn't want to be anywhere near whatever that was. He found himself profoundly relieved that the vat had a heavy glass lid sealed into place with what felt like three different locking charms which made him feel better as with that many precautions Vin must also be wary of the contents of the glass vat.
Disconcerted by his reaction to the glass vat and its contents, Ezra moved to a central table that seemed to serve as a packing table as it held a foot high, four foot by two foot trunk with the Le'Herne Clan Crest embrossed on the lid to which a Unicorn had been added. Extremely curious as the Le'Herne Clan was the most famous and expensive of the Magical fur and leather supply clans, as well as the most secretive one, as Apprentices outside the bloodline were usually either adopted or married to a clan member, Ezra opened it finding it full to the brim with pelts ready for shipment. Picking up one of the many cured rabbit hides he found in the trunk he found it incredibly soft and had the unmistakable feel of the more expensive of the Magically cured pelts. Ezra was impressed preparing hides and pelts for the Magical fur and leather trade took extensive training. The curing potions alone took a lot of skill to make and the specialty potions for the higher level work were recipes passed down only through the families and never given to outsiders. Curious he searched the hide for the Wizard trademark, a trading mark told a buyer everything they needed to know about Wizarding goods within the more specialised trades.
A Wizarding trading mark traditionally only had three sections, the maker mark which covered two sections and the Goblin evaluation in the third. The first section of the maker mark had the trading clan or guild house followed the second section containing the individualised mark repesenting the maker this included their skill level. Every registered apprentice was issued with a individualised mark when they accept the apprentice training contract in a trading clan or guild. Vin's had a Unicorn Head with a Ice-Drake using the horn as a perch as his indivdual mark but it was preceeded by the Le'Herne Dragon Knight trading mark representing Vin's clan-guild affilation, the M for Master level was an even greater surprise as it meant Vin had passed the Master tests of the trade.
The third section was empty at present as it be would be filled by the Goblins after they graded the furs for sale. The Goblins had a scale of one to five in each skill level, A 1-5, J 1-5, M 1-5, so the Goblin section of the mark usually contained a grading date mark and bank branch, followed by the Goblin evaluation of the product out of the fifteen levels of Magical workmanship. The Goblins were not above marking a Masters work as substandard if they thought it not up to a Master's skill level so it was not unusual to find a registered Master level crafter classified by the Goblins as Journeyman level or an Apprentice classified as Journeyman level. In rarer cases a Journeyman could be considered by the Goblins a Master and marked as such. Most Wizarding people were inclined to go by the Goblin mark as they were the most unbiased in their evaluation of something made or crafted both inside and outside the Wizarding world as their Horde Magic might depend on that valuation in the future so they never compromised their Magic base refusing to under value or over value work or goods of any sort.
Ezra swallowed. The Cajun Le'Herne clan had almost been wiped out during one of the more bloodthirsty of the New Orleans feuds fifty years ago. There were only two confirmed survivors out of a clan almost a hundred strong. A night of bloody mayhem stemming from pureblood idiocy had nearly wiped the Le'Herne from existence for the crime of being part giant. Other rumours insisted quite a few of the younger children had survived that night but nothing had ever been confirmed. The two known survivors had been an elderly set of male and female fractural twins, it was whispered that they set themselves up as targets for the contract to hide the rest of the clan which at the time was mainly children. To this day that was still an unconfirmed rumour as after that night the elderly siblings sold everything and disappeared into the American Muggle west. Their only contact with the Wizarding world through the New Orleans Goblin bank who acted as their agents, first selling the vacated land and buildings that once belonged to the massive clan then selling the hides and pelts the Le'Herne sent them and returning supplies with the money the hides and furs brought. Over the years quite a few assassins had attempted to close the open Le'Herne contract on the last of the Le'Herne, they had all died their bodies returned as an object lesson on the folly of hunting Le'Herne.
The clan mark began to appear more frequently over the years since the attack but even then no one could confirm if any of the new Le'Herne apprentices were the whispered surviving children of that bloody night as the elderly brother and sister had been known to take in Wizard strays on their travels, usually Muggleborn children abandoned by their Muggle parents unable to cope with the Magic in their children when it manifested but occasionally a Wizard orphan would cross their path and be gathered into the Clan as they rebuilt from the ashes.
Elsbeth Le'Herne-Vortigue had been a low level Seer who after the death of her husband Raphael Vortigue and their children by the assassins during that night of terror found her Seer gift had started to home in on such children. The Le'Herne twins never formally adopted any of their strays as they called them rightly fearing their becoming Le'Herne targets if the children took their name but all of them were trained in the Le'Herne trade and used individualised marks under the Le'Herne trading mark with pride. In the years since the attack the Clan seemed to have mutated into some strange trading conglomerate under the old Le'Herne trading symbol of the famous Le'Herne Dragon Knight seated on a Dragon ready for battle. The new trading comglomerate had since branched out into other trades and was fast becoming one of the best known trading marks in the Wizarding world.
Five years ago, the feud had officially ended when Adrian Le'Herne had returned to New Orleans to bury his sister with her dead husband and children who had been killed during the original bloodbath, with his sister dead what was believed to be the last living blood Le'Herne had hunted and killed the original instigator of the feud. The elderly Le'Herne had died in the process, which had ended the half century long feud in a brutal Wizard duel which took out the Wizard who paid for the contract. It had been quite an object lesson for the Wizarding communities as the only beings to gain anything from the feud had been the Terakan Assassins originally paid to kill the Le'Herne Clan.
Well, thought Ezra in a little awe, I guess I know who Adrian and Elsbeth were and why the furniture was designed for people over seven feet tall, the Le'Herne twins had been an eighth giant their maternal great grandmother had been from one of the extinct northern giant tribe. The giant tribe in ancient days had been called Frost Giants by the Norse due to their mastery of Elemental Ice Magic, Frost Giants had been an anomaly amongst the giant races due to their intelligence. It also explained the coach in the stables, the elderly siblings had probably been the victims of the attack that devastated the expensive coach. Somehow before their deaths Vin had encountered the Le'Herne twins and they had considered him one of their strays enough to teach him their trade and give him a place in the new Le'Herne conglomerate.
The measure of Vin's skills was the fact that he had gained the rank of Master at a young age in such a specialised field it also added quite a lot of value to his work. The true test would be the grade the Goblins gave Vin's work before sale but Ezra only had to feel the incredible softness of the pelts and the aura of Magic imbued into the common Muggle deer and rabbit pelts during curing to know Vin had earned that Master mark and the Goblins would have no qualms about classifying his work Master level. Once the Goblins graded Vin's work as Master level his Magically cured pelts and hides would fetch high prices amongst the Wizarding communities of the world, true Master level furs and hides were a rare thing and highly sort after buy Wizards and Witches world wide which was why they were so expensive. Muggle cured leather and fur might be both cheaper and more plentiful but hadn't the Magical flexibility of the Magically cured and prepared ones. Looking through the numerous hides and pelts obviously packed for shipment into what seemed to be an open trunk augmented with Wizard space. Ezra found it to be filled with deer and rabbit along with a few of the more troublesome predators Vin was often called on to hunt by the ranchers in the area when they attacked the herds. Rabbit pelts and deer hides might not bring the high prices the more exotic furs and hides from Magical creatures brought but that was to be expected as for some reason North America did not have the larger Magical beasts such as Dragons to contend with. Even with only Muggle hides Vin probably had at the very least two hundred Galleons worth of Magically cured fur in his workshop ready for shipment. Given the present conversion rate at the moment was fifteen American Muggle dollars to the Wizarding Galleon that meant Vin had potentially a minimum of three thousand Muggle dollars in Magically cured rabbit and deer hides sitting in this trunk. Ezra blinked, good grief and that was from hunting a few rabbits or a deer every so often for the Four Corners diner, just how much money had Vin made while hunting Buffalo and what had he done with it?
Shaking his head he looked around the workshop finding a few other interesting features that told him the Le'Herne twins had not limited themselves to the hide and fur trade but had branched out into collecting Magical potion ingredients in their travels. That wasn't unusual he had resorted to that on more than one occasion himself to gain stake money for a poker game when he first started making his own way in the world away from his mothers stifling control. He hadn't done any ingredient foraging for a few years but that was more of a lack of buyers this far west into Muggle America than not encountering potential Magical ingredients in abundance. It was a constant source of amazement how little of the true world Muggles actually saw due to their Magical blindness of the world around them. A professional level potions lab as well as a small blacksmith forge and carpentry workshop completed the tent workroom.
Off to one side he found two more of the large doorways as well as a much smaller one that couldn't be more than four and a half feet at the highest point, opening it he looked in and saw what seemed to be a small rooms triple high with staircases and balconies around a open area with a proportioned fireplace with small seats and tables and chairs. It took him a few moments to realise he was looking at quite opulent house elf accommodation with at least eighteen individual rooms in the complex, and there was another exit on the other side of the shared common room. The house elf complex had a layer of dust showing its disuse but it was another piece of the puzzle he was finding in this intriguing tent.
Closing the door he moved onto one of the larger doorways a quick look inside showed that it was merely a storeroom a few large trunks were stacked along the walls. Directly opposite the doorway was a cupboard in which he found what appeared to be a broom rack and armory although the dozen or so brooms he found were obviously designed for larger than average people. A normal size Wizard or Witch would find them uncomfortable to ride due to the extra length and thickness of the handle, they were of a old design which had been top of the range sixty years ago, a model known for its shear guts and staying power over long distances. The size of them would have given them even more power than a normal model which even sixty years later would make them able to compete with today's more flimsy models which had been moving towards lightness over shear guts and staying power. A Wizard carpenter if they were careful could probably whittle these monsters down to normal human proportions and still keep the power of their original configuration. It would be afinicky job more suited to a wand maker than a normal carpenter as the Magical cores in the brooms would be delicate to work around. Even so, in Ezra opinion, it would work out more cost effective than purchasing one of the flimsy newer brooms he had seen on his last enclave visit, even his own battered school broom had more guts than those ridiculous things which was another reason he had never bothered upgrading the battered old thing as he had been determined to wait out the current craze of extremely fast but flimsy, highly breakable toys likely to shatter in a strong wind. The armory had heavy shields of all shapes with the Le'Herne Dragon Knight on them and a plethora of swords and other Knightly weaponry as well as a range of crossbows and other archery accruement's of all shapes and sizes. Ezra snorted, obviously someone in the Le'Herne clan had taken his or her trademark seriously.
The second doorway led into a Wizarding laundry room; five big stone washtubs that Magically dunked and scrubbed the clothes as hard or soft as you set the washing spells. Ezra found jars of sweet smelling Wizard washing potions neatly arranged on the shelf above the tubs, opening a few of the jars Ezra found each jar held a different fragrance, if Vin had made these potions he obviously had been experimenting with native ingredients as instead of the inevitable rose and lavender scented potions he found pine and spruce, and a scattering of the Magical wildflowers and herbs to be found growing wild in the mountains and land around Four Corners.
Further along Ezra found soap moulds full to the brim with almost cured soap with the same delightful smell emanating from them as the washing potions. Vin was obviously quite a talented potion maker able to make many of the every day potions routinely used by a Wizarding household, an enviable and saleable talent as he knew from experience, most Wizards and Witches were indifferent potion makers at best usually buying such things ready made from Wizard shops as the bought potions were usually of a higher standard than they could produce with their own limited potion making skills. Ezra himself was not a brilliant potion maker but well above most Wizards and Witches in the world due to his mother's insistence on applying himself in potions while at school. Her unending badgering had put Ezra's potion making skills above most people despite his extreme dislike of the messy sometime nauseating subject. Maude's badgering had been simply to have Ezra capable of making advanced potions such as the 'draught of living death' for her scams something she was incapable of attempting to make herself given her tendency to burn even water. As she had often pointed out if she had been any good at potions she would not have been reduced to marrying a Muggleborn like his father for use of his potion skills in her scams.
Large heated drying racks behind glass doors completed the room. It was the sheer size of both the washing and drying rooms that confused Ezra, just like the stable, kitchen, dining room and house elf complex, the laundry was more in keeping with a large Wizarding mansion than the small canvas tent he found them in.
His curiosity satisfied for the moment he returned to the main stable and started filling the woodbins in the main part of the tent. In the owl message to Travis he had given the camping area near the collapsed bridge as the starting point of the trail he would mark while he pursued Vin's kidnappers which was the main reason he had had Chaucer meet him back here while he went after Vin. He had no idea how long it would take the rest of the seven to get to the bridge but given the blizzard like storm outside he knew they would be in desperate need of the warmth of the fireplaces, if the weather didn't force them to turn back. Although how he was going to explain Vin's Wizard tent was beyond him.
He had at least warned Travis to expect Magic on this trail so the Judge would have some warning, not only had Ezra been forced to use Magic to track Vin's kidnappers but the destroyed bridge had definite Magical traces on closer examination hinting that the kidnappers themselves were either Wizards or Sorcerers. He had included that information in the letter he sent Travis so while the Judge was going to have a fit at the introduction of Muggles to the Wizarding world in this manner he had at least given the Judge some warning. Hopefully the rest of the Seven would be able to cope with the world he was about to introduce them to. The Seven were in many ways closer than family so the breech in security could be classified as truly no worse than introducing the immediate family of a Muggleborn to the Wizarding world a point he had been sure to stress in the letter he had sent. On the whole he did not think he and Vin would have much trouble with Travis, it was his and Vin's future dealings with the rest of the Seven that might suffer in future due to this incident. It all depended on if they needed to oblivate knowledge of the Wizarding world from one or all of them if they could not cope with the influx of Magic in all its chaotic beauty and terror into their lives.
After reducing the wood stack to kindling more suitable for the fireplaces he decided to make use of the laundry and drying room while he had the time, gathering everything in need of laundering from where he had discarded them on arrival he set them to washing while he started filling all the woodbins to overflowing and stacking a goodly amount outside the bedroom door to fill the bedroom box later on. Returning to the laundry room he transferred the washing to the racks in the drying room. Even Vin's atrocious Buffalo coat and buckskins had been easily washed using the appropriate Wizard potions Vin had on hand in his laundry.
Feeling incredibly spoilt at the thought of the luxury of Wizard washed clothing in the near future, Ezra was almost bouncing as he headed for the kitchen to check the larder. Vin might have soups and stews ready for heating but that was no guarantee any of it was suitable for someone who had gone through Vin's ordeal. Magical healing often brought new problems. If he was right in his estimate of Vin's original internal injuries gleaned from that vile conversation he had overheard, Vin's attackers had somehow managed to Magically heal massive damage to his rectum and anal passage in an effort to hide their foul deeds. That combined with the lack of food made Ezra wary of attempting anything more solid than a chicken or meat broth suitable to a invalid until he found out if Vin could tolerate anything more solid.
After a thorough washing he started searching the time frozen larder of perishable goods for the made up soups and stews Vin mentioned, he found the method of labelling interesting as instead of writing the contents on the containers Vin had somehow spelled the bottles and containers themselves to recite what their contents were when held. It was a novel method of labelling and highly effective probably born from Vin's lack of written skills. It proved once again that Vin was highly intelligent and able to work around his illiteracy handicap quite well thinking up effective ways to compensate, Ezra had never seen this spell before he would have to ask Vin to teach it to him when they had the time. The larder was well stocked with butchered meat and other perishables, including some out of season fresh fruits kept as fresh as the day they were picked by the stasis spells. The only thing that brought a frown was a glass jug of what appeared to be milk and a dish of what also appeared to be butter extremely white butter but definitely butter. Curious, Ezra held the jug up to the light expecting to see the silverly moonlight like glow of Unicorn milk given the conversation he had with Vin earlier. Definitely not Unicorn milk he decided after a few moments to make sure he wasn't missing any hidden iridescent glow. His curiosity now fully engaged as neither the milk jug or butter dish were labelled. He decided to ask Vin about them when he had a chance as given Vin's acknowledged aversion to Muggle milk he doubted they were normal milk and butter.
Choosing a gallon container that told him it was chicken, vegetable and barley stew, he took it over to the sink and opened it. The stew was so thick you could cut it with a knife probably due to the addition of barley to the pot to soak up excess water before Vin stored it. Ezra had seen this type of ready made stew in some of the southern Wizarding homes, they made concentrated soups and stored them in the magically time frozen larders to be watered down to the desired consistency when it was to be eaten. By concentrating the soups and stews for later thinning a Wizard family could get more use out of the Magical larders as the containers needed were smaller. In a cupboard next to the stove he next found some cooking cauldrons. Emptying the container of stew into one with a self stirring spell, Ezra then added another gallon of water to thin the result leaving it to heat, the cauldron was well left to the care of its Magic. Next he searched for bowls and cutlery he would puree Vin's into something suitable for an invalid once it was ready to serve.
When the stew was almost ready he went to wake Vin and add more wood to the bedroom fire, floating in the wood he had stacked outside the room and into the empty woodbin, deliberately making noise as he tended the fire so Vin would not be startled when he approached the bed.
"Ez," said Vin in relieved recognition, "Guess I fell asleep on ya!"
"Indeed you did, Mr Tanner, but it is to be expected as your body went through quite an ordeal," reassured Ezra quietly.
Vin had been trying to pull himself back up onto the pillows he had moved of during his slumber, finding it hard going due to the Magically stiffened material encasing his torso and legs. "Hell, Ez," he complained in annoyance at the lack of movement, "Why ya got me trussed up so tight? I can hardly even move, ya got me more trussed up than a woman in one of them fancy corsets they favour back east."
"Here let me help you," he said immediately going to help the younger man in his efforts to regain an upright resting position, holding him gently as he repostponed the pillows and settled him back into a comfortable seating posture, the makeshift body brace gave no movement the length of Vin's spine from neck to pelvis, which meant Vin had to rest supported entirely by the pillows. "After you have eaten I will check your back and if the muscles have healed enough to support your spine without a full brace I'll lighten the support." Offered Ezra placatingly.
"I injured my back?" asked Vin horrified. Ezra could see his mind racing, Vin's spine was his weak point due to the curvature, he often had days when he ached from the effort of just standing straight, damaging it more wasn't something he wanted to deal with.
"Relax, Mister Tanner, I was forced to do something quite drastic due to the plethora of broken bones your poor skeleton had endured during the trip down the river. Time was of the essence and we would both have expired if I had tried setting them by Muggle means, I was forced to use a spell called Petrificus Totalus, it was first invented as a battlefield emergency spell to realign bones correctly for binding in place. Unfortunately, it is not something recommended for someone with your spine curvature as it ripped the muscles as it forced your spine into the correct alignment. I did my best, Mister Tanner, and whatever those miscreants gave you was still promoting accelerated healing in your body to some extent when I preformed the spell. So I have every reason to expect your back to be healed into the new correct alignment a lot sooner than it would be if the spell had been used under normal circumstances. I fear until that occurs you will just have to endure having your spine supported until the torn muscles are healed enough to give your poor back even limited support, even then I fear you may be forced to endure some sort of brace for the foreseeable future until you are healed enough to be rid of such things," said Ezra apologetically.
Vin had listened to Ezra's verbal babble about what he had done in dawning disbelief finally working out the important detail, "Ez, ya fixed my back?" he exclaimed incredulous, happy for a few seconds before old knowledge took away any pleasure. "Oh hell! Miz Elsbeth took me to a Magical healer when they made me their apprentice and we got my wand. He claimed I might end up bedridden for a year or more if he fixed it. My muscles would have to recover from the rearrangin' seein' I was well into my late teens by then and my body didn't have a child's give no more. Plus he claimed my bones ain't as strong as most people 'cause I should have been having Unicorn milk or somethin' he called seaweed milk, during my formative years. That healer was real through and the grumpy little Goblins were real helpful trackin' down the medical information on 'The Lords' once they found out who I was. Fact is, they were the ones who insisted on the Goblin healer Miz Elsbeth ended up taking me to, seems my being a Unicorn Lord means I'm a Magical being and 'cause of that I have different needs than normal Wizards and Witches, which is why the Goblins sent me to the Goblin healer instead of a human one. My being a Magical being shows in little things like Muggle milk makin' me sick. It seems from what the Goblins found out, that only happens when a 'Lord' don't have enough Magic in their diet, which is why I need Unicorn milk or the real Magical seaweed milk the Goblin Healer recommended I drink 'to Magically fortify my bones', seeing Unicorn milk is so expensive. I had 'Magical Malnutrition' accordin' to the Goblin healer but as long as I drink the seaweed milk regular so my bones get stronger and fortify my Magical nature I should be able to drink even Muggle milk eventually. Meanwhile he recommended I use the seaweed-milk as a way of 'mitigating the unfortunate effects of Muggle milk product ingestion' which means if I have some of Miz Nettie's peach pie I have to make sure I drink some seaweed milk to stop me upchuckin' it within a few hours due ta the butter she makes the pie crust with," sighed Vin in disgust.
"So that is what the milk and butter in the larder are, it wasn't Unicorn milk and I didn't think it was Muggle milk after what you told me," exclaimed Ezra, glad to have his curiosity satisfied so easily. "I remember sea-milk quite fondly from my school days, I must admit I am truly envious of your supply line, Mister Tanner. My mother does indulge my fondness of sea-milk occasionally but usually only when she wishes me to take part in one of her scams as an opening bribe so to speak and to obtain it myself would require my visiting a Wizarding enclave to purchase it in person."
"I ain't got much of the syrup left just another thing ta put on my supply list for the Goblins ta send me when I send the furs, if ya want some I can always get extra. I keep getting sidetracked and never get the supply list written, just got a little stubborn I guess wantin' to write it myself this time instead of using Miz Elsbeth's feather pen like I usually do. I'm real low on a lot of other Wizard things. I know I'm out of Pickle Frond poison and without that I can't make another batch of the curing potion for the hides. The other curing potions just don't give the Magical boost that lets the hides and pelts take or repel spells proper which brings down the selling price, if I use 'em. I also need a new pair of Dragon hide work gloves, if Miz Elsbeth and Adrian were still living she'd have had Adrian to tan my hide if she discovered I was using my flying gloves in the workshop just because they're Dragon hide. I've been real careful with them but one of these days I'm going ta mess them up real good measuring Pickle Frond poison and other ingredients so I better just give in and use the feather pen again. I was gonna finish the shopping list and send the furs and hides when we returned to Four Corners this time but if ya fixed my back I need ta dig out Miz Elsbeth's 'plan of action' and see if I can salvage something from it as well. If I don't have some plan in place Nathan's gonna drag me back to Four Corners until I recover. No way in hell, am I gonna let that happen," growled Vin mulishly. "It would drive me mad stuck in a Muggle bed all day for months at a time. At least if I live Wizard until I recover, I ain't gonna be confined to a bed all day, even if I won't be doing much work. I still have Miz Elsbeth's float chair to use while I can't walk and all the other Wizard things that let Adrian take care of her, it's all in her room, Adrian put it in the green trunk in the store room when she died, all I have ta do is shrink the dining room down again and put her room back in place to get it all out." Vin muttered to himself obviously planing some future course of action, probably not even seeing Ezra anymore to spooked at the thought of Nathan dragging him back to Four Corners and months of helplessness.
Unable to watch Vin think himself into a tizzy, Ezra moved closer and gently took Vin's face in his hands forcing their eyes to meet until they refocussed and he was confident Vin was actually seeing him not some imagined future helplessness. "Vin, I swear, I will not let Nathan do that to you. If all else fails I will kidnap you myself and we will live in this fascinating Wizard tent in that valley you spoke of until you are fully healed," promised Ezra gently, unconsciously stroking Vin's cheek bones in a gentle caress of reassurance as he continued to hold his gaze. Only when Vin's eyes closed in shaky compliance and he moved into the gentle caress did Ezra come to his senses, being careful not to make any sudden moves to startle the recently traumatised young man he disengaged and said gently. "See, Mr. Tanner, you have nothing to worry about between the two of us we have the hereditary cunning and deviousness of the Malfoy and Slytherin bloodlines at our beck and call. While kidnapping you from Nathan's over zealous clutches and running of to a valley and living in a Wizard tent does seem drastic it is on the whole a serviceable emergency plan, if the worse comes to the worse and Nathan will not see reason."
"Can't really see ya living in a tent, Ez," blinked Vin, gazing at his friend curiously feeling strangely forlorn at the loss of that gentle reassuring touch.
"Ah! Mr Tanner, the operative word here is Wizard tent, this delightful mobile abode of yours puts any accommodation outside of a Wizard enclave to shame. I can assure you I am quite willing to endure the extreme hardship of living in a lowly tent with such delightful things as a working water closet, a wizarding bathroom, kitchen and laundry over winter until you are well." smirked Ezra. "Such a sacrifice I am sure I can endure in the name of our friendship. After all just look at the luxuries I shall be giving up in Four Corners this winter, a cold and drafty bedroom above a noisy saloon, a chamber pot or Muggle outhouse one has to leave the limited warmth of indoors to use in all weathers, and the delight of sharing and paying for a turn in the Four Corner public bath house when I want to be clean."
"When ya put it that way, how can I refuse such an extreme sacrifice on your part, Ez," chuckled Vin softly.
"Exactly," smirked Ezra, "If you had declined my generous offer, I would have probably stolen the tent for the joy of using the water closet alone. Now I really must return to the kitchen and tend to the delightful stew I have heating before it burns. Even the extremely helpful self-stirring cauldron I discovered in your cupboards will only stop our dinner from become spoilt for so long."
After they had eaten Vin sent Ezra for his wand which he kept in a hidden sheaf on his saddle and the Tanner family bible, more rightly called the Tannerae Book of Shadows, and a portable writing case from the other room. Then they started planning their campaign against Nathan and his smothering, breaking off occasionally to add to the supply list Vin had in the case. Occasionally, they noticed the walls shudder and they would stop and look at each other in worry before continuing but eventually the shudders were like mini earthquakes and couldn't be ignored.
"Vin, the wind must have picked up, I do not like the way the walls are shuddering. How much of this will the tent take?" questioned Ezra in worry.
"It can take a lot, the floor anchors itself to bedrock if it finds it anywhere up ta four feet down, so it won't pull it out of the ground but ya got ta understand even anchored it's still only a canvas tent. When it's up the internal wood walls give it a lot of strength plus everything inside the tent adds to the anchor weight as the Magic don't need to do anything about it when it is a tent only when ya get it down for carryin'. When its up it uses everything for stability including the water cistern which takes forever to fill its so big but Ez, even with all that extra weight as anchor it's still just canvas on the outside and Ms Elsbeth said that can counteract a lot of the Magic. From the way the walls are shuddering it must be blowing a gale out there," said Vin just as worried. "Might have been better if ya had made them walls to go with the roof ya made, Ez, probably would a cut the wind down at least, too late for it now you'd never be able ta weave branches in this wind."
"Indeed, Mr Tanner, I would not even dream of attempting to weave branches in such a wind. Let us hope our compatriots have given up braving this weather and returned to Four Corners," sighed Ezra standing up, frowning as the structure shuddered again. "Looks like I shall be braving the ice and cold again if our abode is to survive this onslaught."
"Ez, ya said it yourself, ya can't weave branches in this wind," objected Vin, attempting to get up to stop him.
"Put those blankets back in place, Mister Tanner, both of your legs have broken bones neither will support your weight and will sustain even more damage if you attempt such a foolhardy thing. I have no intention of attempting to weave branches as I did in for the roof, what I intend instead is a simple transfiguration to turn what I am sure is by now an abundance of snow around our abode into ice walls between the trees I used for the roof. I became quite skilled at creating ice walls and other temporary structures against the winter weather when I was in Canada. It should not take more than a half hour to accomplish at most and I shall be well rugged against the cold and wind the entire time."
Vin sighed and nodded, "May as well use my flying cloak, boots and gloves, the Dragon hide will cut the wind better than anything you have on ya and the fur lining on all three are spelled to be warm when the outer temperature of the Dragon hide drops below body temperature, which should stop ya freezin' to death out in that wind," grumbled Vin worried. "Hell ya probably may as well dig out the hat from chest in the lounge room where I last hid the dang thing so Miz Elsbeth couldn't make me wear it, it's real warm and has straps so it won't blow of and keeps the hood from falling over ya face, just don't laugh at how fluffy the thing is, it's based on some traditional design for warriors who fly horses or Dragons into battle at least she left out the metal between the fur lining and the Dragon hide when she made it. Although she did show me how to put it in as tradition demanded the Le'Herne Squadron know how to maintain their flying armour ready for battle against the Demon Hordes, if the Emperor calls them to battle to prevent another Ragnarok and the Fimbulvetr to follow." laughed Vin.
"You have got to be joking?" said Ezra startled. "Hold on, isn't the Fimbulvetr the dreaded Winter of Winters suppose to occur before Ragnarok the final battle in Norse mythology."
"Maybe that's the next Ragnarok, according to Miz Elsbeth who was real insistant I learn the history of the clan, the Ragnarok already happened and the Fimbulvetr lasted thousands of years during which little of the Empire suvived the ice and snow. That Ragnarok she talked of was the final battle when the Demon Hordes broke through into the birth place of all life, the Emperor of the time and his Immortal Court realised drastic measures had to be taken or all life would be lost as the Empire fell to the Horde. The birth place was evacuated and the Emperor and the Court did final battle as they Spell sung the the cradle of life to the bottom of the sea closing that gateway forever almost all the Court was destroyed and the survivors were insane from their own power but the Emperor's chosen Heir was called through Time as the Cradle sank, so the Sidhe throne still had an Emperor and at least some of the intricate protection spells holding back the remaining Hordes survived the Ragnarok. The destruction of the cradle of all life almost destroyed the world and brought the great Fimbulvetr on the survivors, little of the Empire survived the millennia of ice and snow as the world recovered."
"The destruction of Atlantis, I have never heard the destruction myth told in such a manner it seems to be a strange mix of Norse and Siren Mythology yet seems to have the basic facts right," said Ezra in wonder.
"The Le'Herne Clan are real old, Ezra. The Clan's original name translated to 'Children of Dragconis' claimed they use to fly Dragons into battle not horses. They're real deadly and real loyal to this Emperor they mentioned. They said 'Mortal kings and governments come and go but the Empire and its ruler is eternal'. The Children of Dragconis learn to fight from the time they can walk not to mention how to recognised dangerous Demons and what kills them. I tell ya learning how to fight with a sword and shield in the air sure was fun, but damn I was sore afterwards. Then they made me learn it on a broom which was even harder. Learning to hit a target with a bow and arrow or crossbow from a winged horse was easier it ain't a whole lot different from normal horseback just a lot more angles and directions ya got to watch but it was fun to," smirked Vin. "I'm just a baby learning his first steps compared to the other kids but Adrian just laughed and claimed as a 'Unicorn Lord' I wouldn't be fighting with the Squadron anyway come Ragonok as I'm one of the big guns and part of the 'Court' and started teaching me Frost Giant Magic, saying the Elements would love me and dance when I call." Vin shivered, "Now that stuff was scary, Frost Giants are Ice Elementals and most Wizards can't do their Magic. I can't either, at least not with my wand but I can call up an ice storm or shatter metal with my harmonica if need be, which made Miz Elsbeth laugh and say music and song was always the 'Sidhe Court's' best weapon against the Hordes and I'd fit right in."
Ezra frowned, "The ability to channel Magic through a musical instrument is a purely human talent and in many ways very similar to the use of a wand to channel Magic. In fact, if I remember my History of Magic lessons correctly, before wands and staffs were invented musical instruments were commonly used as a focus for a Wizard's innate Magic. Even low level Sorcerer like Shamans and Medicine-men have been known to use musical instruments such as drums to channel power but even in its strongest form, Bardic Magic as it is termed cannot control the elements as you describe. Elemental Magic is not a human talent. Every case of Elemental Magic used by a human has been traced back to non-human blood in the family. Bardic Magic on the other hand is a human talent, which means, Mister Tanner, you are the rarest and most dangerous of Magical Being's, what is known as a 'Elemental Bard' also known as the 'Elven or Siren Bard'. What makes you so rare, Mister Tanner, is not that you have Elven Elemental talent or even the human Bardic talent but in the fact that these two very separate hereditary Magics have merged creating the same effect as Siren Song without Siren blood. Elemental Bards are the product of Elven/human bloodlines but are extremely rare and usually is an indication of another Magical Race somewhere in the family tree acting as catylist for the merger. In your case, Mister Tanner, probably all that divine-blood in your paternal family tree did the deed. What is known is that even one drop of true Siren blood will cancel any possibility of the gift occuring as the Siren vocal structure is the gifts natural outlet. Elven do not have the Siren vocal talent they deliberately gave it up when they became Elven. Humans also do not have the talent, so in the Elemental Bard the Siren ability to manipulate sound channels through the human Bardic talent and for all intents and purposes such a Bard can be classified a Siren except instead of manipulating sound with vocal song they play music, the musical instrument of choice is their Siren voice."
"Ez, I don't have that type of power. I might be able ta use Frost Giant Ice-Magic with my harmonica but I ain't Siren level ya got the wrong idea," objected Vin.
"Sirens used battle torques to ampify their ability, so it is a moot point. Vin, for you to use your Elemental talent at Siren levels a skilled Magical tinker would have to first get hold of a Siren battle torque and then rebuild it into a musical instrument for your use without destoying the delicate torque magic something that has never happened nor is likely to occur in future so you can relax, just be thankful that unlike the rest of us poor Elven descendents you have some control of your innate Elemental Magic by channeling it through your harmonica."
"Relax, Mister Tanner, I am not a fool and I know my limitations well. I have long since realised most of those born with Elven blood do not feel the lack, I know mother does not as she can channel the limited Elven powers she has quite well. Ironically, I fear I can blame my father's presumably inferior Muggleborn bloodline, mother so likes to sneer at when I displease her, is to blame for my dissatisfaction and lack of skill with the traditional channelling of Elven magic."
"Ya think ya Pa was Siren despite him being Muggleborn?"
"It is the only thing that makes sense, other than Siren Song the other main gift is Probability Magic, occassionally I do have flashes of that unsettling talent, mainly when a game of chance will cause my death if I continue on a course of action. Needless to say mother would make my life hell if she knew I had even a fraction of the Siren talent so I trust you never to mention it in her hearing or to anyone who is likely to mention it to her."
"My ma was Slytherin born, Ez, I ain't about to let something like that become common knowledge. People would accuse ya of cheating even more than they do now if they know ya have even a touch of the Chaos pathway talent. Grandpa Red Hawk told me about the Chaos Lords and their gift. It's real delicate 'cause they play with the building blocks of the universe and the universe knows what it wants and doesn't like changing pathways, so if they don't follow the rules real careful the universe will swot them until they are likely to wipe themselves out of existance. It wasn't to hard to work out that's basically what happened to the Emperor and his Court during that Ragnaork that sunk the cradle of all life. From the discriptions they sounded like the Chaos Lords Grandpa Red Hawk talked about when I's little. The changes they made to the Chaos pathways were so great and massive the Universe wouldn't let them exist after they done it. When the Court returns as they must if the world is to thrive, they will be changed never to be what they once were as that's the price the Universe demanded to change the pathway."
"Chaos Lords, I have never heard Sirens called that before, usually they are called Song or Sea Lords," mused Ezra. "Even the Le'Herne called them Sidhe a old term for both the Siren and Elven of Atlantis as well as the Phoenix and Ice-Drake. Sidhe is Atlantean for Born of Life-Fruit, it has been miss applied to many creatures of Fey nature over the centuries, when truthfully the ability to ingest Atlantean Life-Fruit and thrive is the true test of whether or not something is Sidhe or close enough to Sidhe to not die at least."
"Grandpa got it from his Pa the one that married Belladonna, he called himself Comanche but I don’t think that's all he was, as Grandpa remembers him being able to drink Unicorn milk like Belladonna and having Unicorn green eyes for all his hair was midnight black," shrugged Vin.
"Unicorn green eyes?" now Ezra was definitely confused.
"Unicorn milk leaves its mark on a person and their descendents. Something stopped it effecting the Elven too bad but even so they changed colouring eventually as if whatever was protecting the Siren lost strength in the Elven until finally all them generations of raising their kids on Unicorn milk left its mark on the breed. They started out Siren dark then the Unicorn milk changed the colours, Unicorns only have bright blue or green eyes, so do Unicorn Lords. Thankfully Elven ain't that bad they have all the different blue and green shades plus all the greys, so in Elven eye colour ain't a dead givaway of the heritage, like it is for the 'Lords', shows more in the hair colour than the eyes in Elven descended like yer ma. My Ma, had black hair and tawny brown eyes plus I got some Comanche blood from Belladonna's mate, so by rights I should be darker than I am, if Ma had been a blond I'm betting my hair would have been as pale as Maude's, that surely would have been a sight me looking like Great Grandma Belladonna with her big blue eyes and silver hair," laughed Vin, shaking his head at the thought. "Grandpa claimed ya couldn't really tell her from the Unicorn she played with by colouring. Wouldn't surprise me, if that wasn't how all those stories of Unicorns taking human form got started, someone saw a Tannerae or one of the other 'Lords' playing with the herds." While they had been talking the walls had continued to show the onslaught the tent was enduring, "Damn that's getting worse, ya best go get my flying gear if ya going to go out in that," sighed Vin with a frown of worry as the wall shook again.
"Calm yourself, Mister Tanner, I fully intend to use temporary waterproofing and heating charms on my apparel before venturing outside but as you so graciously offered I shall certainly acquiesce to your request that I use your Wizard flying apparel against the unseemly weather as well as they will certainly give more protection,"smirked Ezra.
"Just don't take chances out there. I'm stuck in this bed and can't come get ya without a whole heap of trouble if ya keel over and look like dying," snapped Vin.
"I do not intend to keel over , Mister Tanner, but for my own enlightenment just how do you intend to come get me if I do by some chance keel over, even a Unicorn Lord with a knight in shining armour complex such as yourself have their limits, and from the damage you have sustained you have definitely reached yours." snapped Ezra back.
"Ez, I ain't no knight in shining armour, I'm a Wizard and I have a wand and even better I have a familiar out in the stable. I just have ta whistle and that ornery no account cuss of mine, calling himself a horse, will come running even into this bedroom so I can climb aboard and come after ya if I need to. I could probably even get to Adrian's cloak and gloves on the way out, if I'm on Peso it won't matter if the cloak is more than a foot too long or my hands rattle around in the gloves they will still keep me warm, so keep that in mind."
"Really, Mister Tanner,"chuckled Ezra his breif anoyance at the smothering giving way to amusement, "Even I would hesitate in giving my familiar access to my boudoir, if your Peso is anything like my Chaucer, he will take that as permission to take up residence beside your bed at night."
"Yeah well, ya ain't wrong about that, that's just what that ornery cuss would do. I told ya it would be a whole heap of trouble which is why I don’t want ya making me come after ya that way." laughed Vin, knowing damn well Ez was right, Peso would take it as permission to be in his bedroom instead of the stable from then on.
"I solemnly swear I shall do my best
a fate on you, Mister Tanner, if for no other reason than to prevent my
own spoilt devil from getting ideas," laughed Ezra as he left.