Jameson Fahrenheit studied a map as he fidgeted with a paperclip. It just didn't make sense. How could a man like Mercury just disappear? Was it the doing of Freddie himself? Or was he kidnapped? Blackmailed? Assassinated? Anything could've happened. There was no telling until he and Brian could search Freddie's house. He wished they could be on their way! They were running behind because of the two extras they had to take. Some oafs named Roger and John. Neither of them had so much as left the city before, much less investigated a missing person! They were in training, apparently. He just didn't see why it was up to Brian and him to take them on their first case. And such an important one, too. Freddie was Brian's partner, and best friend. And Brian wouldn't focus on anything until he knew the fate of Freddie, and that was kinda bad, because Brian was the king's personal Mage, and without him, the city-country of Rhye was completely open to attack. Now the doctor himself strode into the office, the two trainees in tow.
"I've got them, James. Now let's go pick up the horses," Brian said in his quiet manner.
"Alright! I'm ready to be off!" James replied, slipping through the door and heading towards the stairs, the others following. On the way to the ground floor, Jameson inspected the two novices. "Alright, which one of you's John and which is Roger?" he asked them.
"John," said the one with long brown hair.
"Roger," the other added, running his fingers through a mess of blond locks.
"Ok. What training have you had?"
"Swordsmanship," John began.
"Archery, but only basic," Roger continued.
"Small medical things, like how to dress a wound and whatnot," John was ticking things off on his fingers.
"All the normal stuff," Roger concluded.
"Good," James nodded. They were in the entrance hall now, and two stablehands held two horses each.
"Thank you," Brian said to the stableboys as they all took the reins of their mounts. The boys nodded to him and hurried out the front doors. Brian and James swung onto their horses, but John and Roger just stood there. James looked down at the two.
John glanced at Roger and then replied, "Nothing," and pulled himself into the saddle. Roger shifted his feet, patted his horse, and finally mounted up.
"...Allllrighty then. Let's be off," James lead the way outside. For a while, they rode in silence through the city, past the familiar blue-toned buildings of the seaport, but soon they reached the outer wall and had to give their papers to the guards.
"Ok, Mr. Fahrenheit, you're all set. Good luck with Mercury," the head guard said, handing back their permission papers.
"Thank you," he replied, turning towards the tunnel in the wall.
"G'day, Dr. May, John Deacon, Roger Taylor," the soldier added as the others passed.
"Godspeed," they all murmured, following Jameson.
"Listen men, this tunnel's short, so you'll get your first taste of the world pretty quickly here," James said, twisting in the saddle to look at Roger and John. He was surprised to see that Roger looked sickly. "What's wrong, Taylor?"
"Ah, it's nuthin, just itchy eyes," Roger muttered, turning his head away.
"He's allergic to horses," John explained.
Jameson glanced at Brian. Brian shrugged and said,"Well there *is* a balm that Maggie sometimes makes, but I don't have any clue what goes in it. I'd've ordered some if I had known we would need it." Maggie was something of a Mage herself, though she ran the city's apothecary instead of studying magic.
"Well he'll just have to suffer through it," James sighed. "Why didn't you say something?" he asked Roger.
"I thought that if you didn't think I could ride a horse, you wouldn't let me go. And I need this mission; if I complete it, I'll finally graduate the training academy and become a knight."
"How long have you been training?" Jameson realized that Roger and John were nearly as old as he was, and he had already achieved commander status.
"Since we were twelve," John answered.
"But I'm your age, and I'm already a commander," James pointed out.
"Well you were a soldier before that, and you must have done something noteworthy to be promoted so fast. But if we're to be knights, we need more training than an ordinary soldier," John said plainly. There was no hint of smugness in his voice, which impressed James. It took control to stop pride over something like that from shining through. They had reached the end of the tunnel. He grinned as Roger and John gazed about the forest. The trees were huge, they had been there for centuries, ever since the of Rhye had been built. There was a wide road leading up to the wall, well trampled by countless generations trekking in and out. Rhye was the largest state in the Nations Alliance. Its huge success was probably due the fact that it sat on the shore of the Rockwell Sea, which was the northernmost part of a chain of seven seas that spanned the continent and ended in the ocean, allowing even the largest of ships to travel all over the inhabited world. Most people didn't refer to the seas by their names, but by their numbers. For example, Rockwell was more commonly called the First Sea of Rhye. But all that was in the opposite direction. Freddie lived in a smallish village of about a thousand people on the northern outskirts of Rhye. James kicked his horse into a walk, and lead the others at a brisk pace down the road.