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       Eldnium, p.29

           Enoch Pyle, Jr

  They didn’t rebind Landon’s hands. In fact, the two guards whose lives Landon had (accidentally) saved treated him quite well on the way to the castle. And while Landon knew he was still being delivered to a hero-slaughtering Queen on charges of heresy, he couldn’t help but feel appreciated by the two men.

  “I still believe it an accident,” the first guard said to the other.

  “Accident or no,” the other responded, “he killed what has never been killed before. And after breaking out of his bonds!” He gave Landon a look and plopped an armored hand on Landon’s head, messing his hair. “In that place, against that beast, this boy was brave. That counts for something.”

  “Claiming to be a god, though. His heroics were not those of a god. He’s certain to be taken to the post for heresy.”

  “I fear we’ve not yet seen his power,” the second guard said. He looked over his shoulder, giving Landon a fiercely curious look. “I sense there’s more to him than these ragged clothes.”

  “Bah, your senses are like a wragenbul. Blind and stupid.”

  “Wasn’t your mother a wragenbul?”

  The two guards laughed, and Landon was pleased to learn that “mama jokes” weren’t exclusive to his home planet, and that the two had enough sense to not rip each other to shreds over a harmless joke. Maybe he’d survive this arrest after all.

  As their travels brought them nearer to the castle, Landon began to notice its glass stones glittering in the midday sun. Its beauty astounded him—a castle like nothing he’d seen before. The planet was obviously home to many wonderfully unfamiliar elements, and Landon’s mind went back to the stone in his pocket. He reached in and put his fingers against it. What had Ah’ni called it? Eldnium. Still there, safely waiting to be sold or traded once off of this planet, and as he found his mind wondering what it might be worth and to whom, he could feel its warmth moving into his fingers.

  Something made Landon think that this little crumb of eldnium might just be worth more in his pocket than in barter.

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