The Story (and links to corresponding reviews)
Part 3: The Old Goat Adventure
Makhabesh grabbed an ordinary sack and started stuffing food inside. "Why not--" A knock at the door froze Quin and Makhabesh in place. Quin heaved a sigh and went to the door. Outside, an old man with a stringy little beard hunched over his cane. Makhabesh thought he looked very much like an old goat.
127 Diamine Blue-Black
"Sir!" Quin said, straightening his spine. The old man cleared his throat. "Wizard Quin, sphinx Makhabesh, you are summoned to Mount Ferovere, to the Wizards' Palace. You are to appear before the High Wizard himself. You are to leave at once! Primus awaits at the keep to open a portal to Norvelt." Quin gaped. "Who's the old goat?" Makhabesh whispered.
128 ESS Registrars Ink
"He's the Keep Steward," Quin whispered back. "He serves the High Wizard." Quin stuffed the food bag into his pack, then he and Makhabesh followed the old man toward the keep. "So, where's this Norvelt?" "It's the nearest portal to the palace." Makhabesh jumped up onto Quin's shoulder. "What's this High Wizard want with us?" Quin shrugged. "Ow!" "You shouldn't shrug with a sphinx on your shoulder."
129 Sailor Shikiori Chushu
As the portal closed behind them, Quin glanced around quickly, comparing what he saw to accounts he'd read as an apprentice. Ahead of them, a trail curved uphill. Elsewhere, trees formed a dense forest. "Why not send us straight to this palace?" Makhabesh asked. "The palace has magical protections against portaling too close."
130 Pelikan 4001 Blue-Black
Makhabesh launched himself from Quin's shoulder. "Ow!" Once above the trees, he circled, and saw nothing but forest, the trail, and a walled city in the distance. He returned and landed again on Quin's shoulder. "I'm going to need to buy a leather jacket," Quin muttered. "What is it with wizards and walls?" Makhabesh asked.
131 Sailor Shikiori Yonaga
Halfway to the first curve of the trail, Quin turned into the forest. "I thought we were supposed to go straight to the palace," Makhabesh said. "Exactly. The path curves." Quin grinned. Makhabesh cocked an eyebrow. "When I was an apprentice, I spent a lot of time in the library. Turns out, the best way to the palace is a straight line. There are magical herbs and such in the forest - ingredients for things like ink."
132 KWZ Grey Plum
While Quin collected a plant with jagged purple leaves, Makhabesh flew ahead until he came across a giant red punching bag hung from a tree limb. He landed on top, puzzling and waiting. When Quin finally appeared, his face contorted through surprise to fear. "Look out!" he yelled. Before Makhabesh could move, something smashed into the bag from behind him, sending him reeling.
133 Diamine Purple Rain
Makhabesh barely managed to get his wings working before he hit the ground. He soared up. A smoke screen puffed into existence and Quin took off running on one side of it. On the other side, a giant black goat with curly horns snorted and smashed into the punching bag again. Makhabesh dove after Quin.
134 Diamine Registrars Ink
"What was that?" Makhabesh asked when he caught up with Quin. "One of the dangers of the forest," Quin said. "They put up the punching bag to distract it from attacking travelers." Makhabesh couldn't figure out how to answer that. "Fortunately, that one wasn't magical, or it could have been much worse." "And you couldn't be bothered to warn me about magic goats!?"
135 Diamine Deep Dark Blue
"So, what else do we need to worry about?" Makhabesh asked. "I'd tell you to avoid stepping on mushrooms, but all you do is ride on my shoulder." Makhabesh ignored that. "What happens if we step on a mushroom." "Depends on whether it's sentient. The sentient ones are all connected underground, and will track you and mob you as soon as they get the chance." And he wonders why I ride on his shoulder.
136 Diamine Midnight
"Are you sure that's not sentient?" Makhabesh asked as Quin reached toward a mushroom. "Positive," Quin said. "The sentient ones all have spots or stripes. These green ones are good for several potions, mostly for healing." Makhabesh watched carefully. Quin had spent the past hour telling about magic bugs, animals, and sentient plants. The sooner they reached the palace, the better.
137 Hero 232 Blue-Black
"Wizard Quin and sphinx Makhabesh," Quin told the guard at the city gate. "We've been summoned to the palace." "They've been waiting," the guard replied, and ushered them into a horse-drawn carriage. As soon as the door closed, the carriage accelerated into the city. "Wings are quieter," Makhabesh said, shouting to be heard over the clatter.
138 Pelikan Edelstein Olivine
At the palace, a man calling himself the High Wizard's personal aide whisked them away so quickly they barely had time to see anyone or anything. Faster than they knew, they were standing in a room with six other wizards - the aide, and five counselors, each wearing a dark blue robe with a different pattern in gold thread embroidered throughout.