A Pair

by Chris O'Kane

"Two, three, four five," Terrant counted. "Five from Malderburg."

"Five," George said slowly.

"Five plus the four from Malhiem and the fifteen from Mycransburg makes twenty four," Terrant said. She wrote that number onto a piece of paper on the desk in front of them.

"That's enough for the moment," George announced suddenly. "I'm hungry!"

She lay down the pen and stretched. "So am I. Dinner sounds nice!"

George picks up a bell off his desk and shook it. The bell rang loudly in the room and echoed throughout the room. A few moments later a young looking, female bear, her fur colored all black stepped into the room.

"Dinner Susanne," George ordered.

The bear morph gave a nod and vanished from the room. She returned a few moments later pushing a large cart.

George's apartment was large even by Metamor standards. A large bed
rested in one corner. Near that was the desk the two had been working. A couch and sofa were in the middle of the room. In the corner opposite the desk was a large wooden table that the bear was now covering with plates, platters and other items.

"Dinner is ready," Susanna said and left.

George and Terry made their way to the table and she got a good look at the meal. On the table was a setting for two along with an impressive array of food and drink. An entire roast duck surrounded by a mound of various vegetables. A bottle of wine and two crystal glasses sat together on one side of the table.

"This is too much!" the woman says surprised by the lavish feast.

He laughed. "I did promise you dinner!"

"This is not dinner it's a feast!"

"Please sit!" George said. "Before the duck gets cold and the wine warm."

The woman shook her head as she sat down. "How long have you been
planning this?"

George shrugged. "You deserve it Terry."

Terry blushed and laughed nervously, "You do know how to flatter a
person. How often does the Duke require these reports on your scouts?" she asked changing the subject.

He stuck out his tongue and laid his ears flat. "Every month," George answered. "Which is too often. And he wants an accurate counting of all the scouts."

"Well Thomas does need to keep track of all his soldiers," she commented.

George shook his head. "Leading the army of Metamor is the task for a general not the Duke."

"Metamor hasn't had a general since Thomas's grandfather was the duke," Terry said.

"The Duke needs one even more so now. Nasoj is still a threat and a host of new threats are growing both to the north and the south."

"Who do you suggest for the task?" Terry asked. "You?"

George shook his head sharply. "No! I have enough to lead the scouts."

"Who then?" She asked leaning closer. "Rickkter?" then she smiled and started laughing.

The old scout gave a bark of laughter. "He would never so foolish as to accept that!"

She nodded in agreement. "I have a question. A personal one," Terry
asked. "Are any of the stories Misha tells about you true?"

George gave a bark of laughter. "Depends on which ones he is telling."

"He says that you've been a general and led armies in combat," the woman commented.

George shrugged. "I've commanded a few armies," he answered vaguely.

"Any armies in Marigund?" Terry asked without looking up from her meal.

George's eyes sparkled. "Twice. Not the grand army of the last crusade but still a good sized army. The last was in 692. It was just a few hundred people. I've fought in Sathmore, Pyralian kingdoms, the Flatlands, the southern continent, I've even been to Yamato."

"You ever take slaves?" she asked.

"You mean raid a place, take captives and sell them?" George asked. "No," he said shaking his head.

Terry smiled broadly. "I was hoping so. I do not see you as a slaver."

"Thank you Terry. I have killed quite a few," he said cheerfully.

"So have Edmund and I over the years," the woman said. "We even snuck out in boats and captured a slave trader. I will admit to enjoying seeing the slavers hang."

He gave a yip of laughter. "I've had few joys in this world more then killing people who deserved it."

She scowled and shook her head. "I shouldn't enjoy killing anyone."

George reached over and touched her lightly on the chin. "Terry, my dear. I don't like killing. No smart person does but there is no other way to deal with evil sometimes then killing. Those slavers made their own choices in life. They didn't HAVE to be there. Sometimes evil must be removed at the point of a sword."

The woman slowly nodded her head. "All too true. Edmund says we all must explain our choices in life when we stand before the Great One in final judgment."

"Edmund is a very wise cat," George commented.

Terry leaned forward. "I have a personal question for you.," she
whispered. "Did you and Misha meet when you kidnapped him?"

The old bandit laughed. "Not exactly. He was one of the guards protecting a wagon my people attacked."

She laughed. "Your people? Don't you mean bandits?"

George shrugged and ate a forkful of duck before answering. "Bandits, rebels, repressed people fighting for their rights. Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference."

"Things in real life are never so open and clear as they are in the old tales," Terry commented shaking her head.

"True. Certainly the merchant who owned the wagon was a ruthless one. My ambush went perfectly. Archers took out the lead riders and when we charged the wagon they all bolted. All except one person."

"Misha?" she asked.

"Oh yes!" George answered. "When I walked to the back of the wagon there he was with her in his hands. That massive black axe of his. I realized then that this was not going to be an easy victory. He held us off for over two hours swinging that axe with a skill I'd rarely seen before or since."

"How did you wind up friends?"

"I couldn't defeat him with weapons so I talked to him," George
explained. "I explained that he was alone and eventually would get tired. And did he really want to die for a merchant who had fled and left him to die? And if he surrendered I would treat him fairly."

"Excellent points. Did he believed you?"

"Eventually," the old jackal explained. "When he also explained that his father was a rich Marigund merchant and could pay a hefty ransom all thoughts of killing him vanished."

She laughed. "I can imagine so!"

"He wrote a letter to his family telling them to pay the ransom
explaining that he had been captured in battle but not mentioning that he had been captured by a bandit."

"Common enough happening," Terry added. "Ransoming a prisoner captured in a battle. I know people who have gained considerable wealth that way."

"It took over a month for the money to arrive," the old scout said. "In that time we took to talking and became friends."

"Amazing. A tale worthy of the old ballads," she said.

George took a long drink of wine, "Thank you. How did you meet Edmund?"

"Nothing so astounding," Terry admitted. "I joined the Order of
Protectors and I was assigned to him. Since then we've soldiered across the Midlands in defense of the innocent. We've guarded pilgrims caravans, fought bandits, overthrown tyrants and fought many battles."

"Those are the exciting parts of such a life," George commented.

"Unfortunately those were few and far between. We've also done boring guard duty. Edmund was made the overlord of a small demesne for over a year. I spent the time supervising farmers and counting sheep and cattle. Very boring."

George nodded in agreement. "I know that all too well. I hoped being the Scout Commander at Metamor Keep would be exciting. But experience told me otherwise. I hate doing reports but I do know they are important."

"How did you do these reports before you met me?" Terry asked.

"Diane would help me but I prefer working with you," came the

Terry pointed to herself. "Why me? There must be a score of others here who could help you."

"Well Diane hates doing scribes work and prefers leading the scouts," George explained. "And besides you're a lot cuter."

Terry smiled and laughed. She scritched under George's chin, "We're a pair."

Terry stood up and stretched, "That is the final one!"

"Wonderful!" George said in a tired tone.

She looked at the small clock hanging on the wall near the desk. It read three in the morning. "Oh lord. I'm due on the archery range in some four hours. I'm so tired I don't even feel like walking back to my own bed."

"You are welcome to sleep here with me. My bed is large enough for two," George offered.

"Share a bed with you?" she asked slowly. "No."

"We are both tired and need a good nights sleep. I am offering you my bed just for rest not for a night of love making," George explained calmly.

Terry did not answer but just looked at him dubiously.

"Terry. I do not want to push you into anything you do not want to do. And my keen jackal's nose tells me you're in heat and neither of us wants children."

"No!" she answered and hesitated for a moment. "At least not right now."

George nodded. "Someday when we are both ready we can enjoy some bed
sport but for now I will act but honorably and save you a long, cold walk to your apartment."

She smiled. "You have been more honorable then many nobleman I have known in my life."

The jackal laughed. "I'm not sure if you just complimented me or insulted me."

Terry tapped him lightly on the muzzle. "That was a compliment you silly, old hound."

He laughed. "Then thank you!"

"Do you have a shirt I can wear?" she asked.

"Why bother with a shirt? Just sleep without any!"

She narrowed her eyes and glowered at him. "A shirt please."

George shook his head. "Women." From a dresser drawer he pulled out a large cotton shirt and handed it to her.

Terry took the shirt into the small room that held the toilet. There she stripped off her shirt and pants. The woman held up the shirt and stared at it for a moment. It seemed a little short and wouldn't cover nearly enough to satisfy her.

Terrant was tempted to simply toss the shirt aside and go to her own
apartment but the idea of sleeping with George even if nothing happened but sleep appealed to her. She liked being with him. It had been the reason she had agreed to help George with those reports. Was it love? Terry trusted George. The idea of the two of them having passionate sex came to mind and she blushed a bright red and pushed the image from her mind. "Someday but not tonight," she told herself and put the shirt on.

The woman looked at herself in the mirror. The shirt came down only
halfway to her knees but it did cover all the important parts.

"You look fine," George said as Terry stepped back into the room.

She blushed. "Thank you."

"Now let's get some sleep." George pulled off his pants and climbed into bed wearing only a pair of shorts.

Terry self consciously pulled down her shirt to try and make it cover more but to no effect. Slowly the woman sat down on the edge of the bed making sure her shirt covered her as much as possible. She lifted her legs onto the bed and quickly pulled the covers all the way up to her neck. Only then did she start to relax a little. The bed was soft. Surprisingly soft and comfortable and she found it hard to stay awake.

The woman cast a glance over to George. The old bandit was sprawled on the bed sound asleep with the covers pulled down. She got a good look at his body at least most of his body. His shorts covered his midsection but left his legs and torso exposed. A part of her was embarrassed and another admired the fine and well muscled male body displayed in front of her.

Terry closed her eyes but sleep just would not come. She turned onto her side but still she could not sleep. The woman could not actually see his body and he was wearing shorts but her imagination kept picturing him otherwise. Finally she pulled the covers up to his chest and put her imagination to rest for the night.

"Good night George." Terry turned over onto her side and went to sleep.

"Good night Terry," George said sleepily.