Sam heard the sound of horses approaching Kobo’s entrance gate. He was shocked by what he saw. He snuck out of the back window of his home and headed towards Rayden’s residence. “Rayden, Rayden! Come quick!” Sam yelled into a window.
Rayden opened his door. He was holding a large cup of berry juice. Sam grabbed the cup and threw it into the grass. Rayden had a somber tone. “Do you know how much gold that cost me?”
“We don’t have time to discuss it. Kobo needs you, now!”
“If you haven’t been told. I have been relieved of my duties. I lost Nestor’s prize possession to an ugly troll in the outer Crescent.”
“I know Agnes is gone. This isn’t about her. Well, I don’t think it is. Nestor and Grant have gone to Ash village. I didn’t know who else to call on,” Sam told Rayden.
“Teffani and Oberlyn, they are Kobo protectors. They can help you with Kobo matters. You haven’t even said why Kobo needs help.”
Sam rubbed his hands together. “ I didn’t believe it myself to be true. I saw them getting off of their horses. Their black cloaks and dead expressions.”
Rayden was growing impatient. “Sam…”
“The knights of the Punishere, well two of them are here at the gate.”
“You saw them here? And not in a night terror?”
“Yes, by the front gate. It was just the knights not the Punishere. You should talk to them. Get them to leave quickly.”
The knights of the Punishere, waited patiently at the gate. Rayden and Sam approached the gate slowly and cautiously. Rayden stood strong and puffed out his chest as far as he could. Sam wore a fearless face though he was beyond concerned.
The taller knight spoke, “I am called Pure and this is Purge. We are knights of the Punishere.”
Rayden walked up to the gate. “First question, who named you guys? It’s very strange. Second question is why are you here? You have no control here and we obviously can’t let you in.”
Pure answered, “Rayden you are always the joker. I thought that Koboians showed courtesy. Surely Nestor can let us in.”
Sam was eager to enter the conversation, “Well, we thought that Bristolians had manners. You show up to Kobo uninvited.” He was pleased with his comeback. “Nestor’s not here to let you in.”
Purge stated, “Then Grant then. We’d like to talk to Grant.”
“Not here either.”
Rayden was growing thirsty in the heat. “What do you want? I lost a cup of berry juice for this.”
Purge laughed. “No wonder you are fourth in line, Rayden. You just can’t concentrate for too long.”
Pure pulled out a thin scroll from his cloak and passed it through the gate to Rayden. “Read it, joker.”
Rayden skimmed the letter and then gave it back to Pure. “You are never getting into Kobo without a war. I don’t care what the Punishere wrote. We don’t have your property. Never have and never will.”
Pure informed them. “We are searching every village. If you have what belongs to us, you will pay deeply and not in gold. You don’t want to find out how powerful the Punishere is.”
“Are you threatening us on our own land? What is this all about? We don’t want anything of yours.” Sam was growing annoyed.
Rayden clued him in. “They think that the future Punishere is hiding here in Kobo.”
“That’s utterly ridiculous. Nestor would never let a Punishere set foot in Kobo.”
Rayden continued, “It sounds like the future Punishere ran away. You guys are quite stiff. Maybe you should change your approach to punishing. You probably scared the young man away.”
Pure didn’t make any eye contact. “The future Punishere is a female.”
Sam laughed loudly. “You two were almost believable. Wow! I hope you know that you can get into loads of trouble for pretending to be Knights of the Punishere. You have a good act though. You are even dressed the part and with those black horses. Let me guess you are thieves from the Crescent? I’ll help you out. Don’t tell people that you are looking for a female, doing so kills your story. There has never been a female Punishere in the history of Bristol.”
“There will be one soon.” Purge pulled off his one black glove. He showed his right hand to Sam. Sam jumped back after seeing the blue eye that had been implanted into Purge’s palm. Purge slowly put his glove back on. “So, I can see what others can’t.”
Sam refused to believe it. “Any witch could’ve given you that eye. We are dealing with our own real missing person.”
Rayden shot Sam a disapproving look. “Long story short, we don’t have your future Punishere. Journey back to Bristol. Thank you for visiting.”
“Well, don’t thank them.” Sam and Rayden started to walk away.
Pure smiled. “You said someone of yours is missing? Someone important?”
“Everyone is important here,” Rayden answered. “Farewell now, freaks. It’s a long way back to Bristol.”
“Your right,” Pure agreed. “We haven’t seen Agnes at the Bristol market lately. We hope she is alright. Is she still alive? She is very old and all.”
Rayden stopped. “Do not come back here again.”
Pure continued to talk through the gate. “Perhaps, Kobo should be banned from the marketplace. You believe in fairness here. You won’t let us freaks enter Kobo to simply check things out, but you humans walk through our gates every day to sell your berries. I think I should talk to Grant about this issue. He handles the gold, right?”
“I told you that your next Punishere is not here. If you ban us from the market, your people will find other ways to get the berries. You would only be hurting your own marketplace. If you see Agnes out there send her home.”
“That joker has a point,” Purge acknowledged. “He can be wise when he wants to be.”
The two knights of the Punishere rode their horses back to Bristol. They doubted that Lottie, the future Punishere was hiding in Kobo, but they had to look under every stone. Nestor certainly disliked the Punishere because of his own punishment. They questioned the witches in the Crescent, but none of them were willing to help. They might just have to wait until Lottie’s older brother Lafet’s term as Punishere is over. Lottie would have no choice but to take up the position. Her dead ancestors would not rest until she did.