Friday, August 31, 2012

Twin Desires Pt 4

Ever wonder about Justin's past?  We get a little taste of it today: Justin will have to set aside his personal grudges and learn to trust.

Chapter Four


                When you hear that a kingdom is neighboring another, you assume they are close. You would be wrong. It turns out that, even though Saludyn is a neighboring kingdom to Tantin, my father’s kingdom, it is extremely far away. And the easiest path from Tantin to Saludyn, is not easy at all. Woods stretched from the edge of our palace to the mountain range serving as the border to our kingdom. If you attempted to go around the mountain range, you would find yourself in King’s bay. So named for the first king who founded the two kingdoms, which, ironically, used to be one kingdom. So we were forced to travel through the woods, to the mountain range, to a tiny path through the Icy mountains, creatively called the Icy path. The plan seemed simple enough, until you took into factor the many creatures within the woods, much less later on. The creatures ranged from the mildest mannered of chipmunks to the deadly bear or mountain lion, yet it did not stop there. Rumors, mostly from drunkards in taverns, told tales of fantastical magical creatures such as the beautiful unicorns, powerful phoenixes were often tried to help travelers.   But there were also tales of the cunning intellect within the minds of creatures such as centaurs of sphinxes, who were just as likely to help a traveler as they were to hinder them. Most frightening of all however, were the dragons.  Dragons were said to be naturally violent, and to detest humans, knights and kings mostly. It was said that this hatred spawned from when a decree was made declaring dragons too dangerous, and thus ordered their existence terminated. The dragon’s treasures were stolen, their eggs were smashed, and hatchlings slaughtered. Supposedly, some kings kept hatchlings as pets, believing that by having such a majestic, deadly creature in their households their family and kingdom were a force to be reckoned with.

                What utter rubbish, I think as Justin continues to tell me about magical creatures and the dangers that we may or may not encounter. Though, What if it’s true? What if the Saludynian king has a couple dragons in his hold? What if the drunken rumors weren’t just rumors? If  they were true, and Adrinna didn’t comply with her captor’s demands, as she surely wouldn’t, would they feed her to the dragons? Suddenly even more frightened for Adrinna’s safety, I turn in the saddle to face Justin.

                “Justin!” I cry fear for Adrinna bubbling up in my chest.

                Justin snaps his mouth shut in frustration. I blush deeply, realizing that Justin had still been talking, and that I just revealed that I hadn’t been paying any attention to him. “What Katrinna?” Justin asks gritting his teeth in frustration as he pulled Flinn to a stop by Zypher.

                “Is it true that-” I start to ask, unaware of the volume of my voice. But before I can get the rest of my question out, Justin quickly slap his hand over my mouth, effectively silencing me. I glare viciously at him, as a slow blush rises in my cheeks. I push impossible thoughts away and try to talk around Justin’s hand, but all I can get out is a few muffled sounds.

                “Shh,” Justin whispers in my ear. I shiver as his breath tickles my earlobe and the impossibilities start pushing their way to the surface. Then I notice the look on Justin’s face. He was tense and unmoving as his eyes darted around, frantically searching the woods around us. Realizing that something was very wrong I pull at Justin’s hand until he moves it away from my mouth reluctantly.

                “What’s-” Justin’s hand flies to my mouth again and he glares down at me as he places a finger to his lips, silently telling me to shut the hell up.

                I huff angrily to let him know how unhappy I was about being silenced. Justin’s lime green eyes intently search the trees around us, flicking nervously from left to right and back again. The woods are entirely silent however, not even animal noises escaped the forest. I don’t pay much attention as I suddenly find myself entranced by Justin. The last rays of dying sunlight were illuminating the left side of his face, making his eyes sparkle.  I picture those eyes staring into mine, raw with desire as I run my fingers through his wavy blonde hair, gently brushing it away from his eyes.

                Just as my imagination takes a turn towards a more physical connection, a twig snaps, and Justin tenses as his eyes focus on a single spot in the trees as I practically leap out of my saddle in surprise. Justin slowly moves his hand from my mouth and grips the hilt of his sword in one hand, and Flinn’s reigns in the other.  I reluctantly drag my eyes to the same point in the shadows, and force my mind to the present, away from the interesting turn my wild imagination had taken. The shadows shift and swirl until they finally spit out a cloaked figure. Then another. The first was a black horse and its rider. The rider was wearing a black cloak with the hood pulled up to hide his face.

                “State your business here!” Justin bellows, gripping his sword handle tightly as I try to push back the fear tingling up my spine.

                The mystery rider smirks. “Why should I state my business to you? These are not your woods. I do not live on your king’s land, for I am not his property.  Pardon me,” the rider states sarcastically. “I meant that I am not his subject. Knight,” The rider spits the last two words like poison.

                Anger flares in Justin’s eyes and he opens his mouth to retort, but the rider beats him to the proverbial punch.

                “Silence yourself knave. We must be onto business,” The dark rider smirks. “You look as if you have considerable amounts of wealthy goods on your persons. Do yourself a favor and remove them.”

                Anger flares hot in my chest, quickly replacing the fear that had been crawling up my spine as Justin stares at the rider furiously.

                “Who do you think you are?! He-” I cry, gesturing to Justin. “-is the best knight in the entire kingdom! Show some respect!” I scream, trying to fry the rider with a single look.

                The rider smirks and lifts his left hand, leaving his right hand to rest on the saddle horn. He makes a complex hand gesture before whistling shrilly. I frown as my ears ring, unsure of what te rider was doing, until I hear Justin take a sudden, short breath.

                All around us, gypsies start appearing from the woods. I look around frantically, as hundreds of knife-wielding, bloodletting, sticky fingered gypsies and bandits appear out of nowhere. I literally stop breathing, before shrinking down into my saddle as much as humanly possible.

                “Since you have played hard to get, we will simply have to kill you. Knights these days,” the rider sighs, shaking his head. “No respect for us honest thieves.”

                “Too true Volos,” the gypsy to the right of the rider says. His hand immediately flies to cover his mouth as he shoots a fearful look towards the rider.

                “Your name is Volos?” Justin asks, his voice sounding strained.

                The rider, Volos sighs. “Yes, my name is Volos. As this slippery tongued idiot let slip. You might also know me by my cheesier nickname, The Rebel. Whoever gave me that nickname deserves to be drawn and quartered.” Volos growls, dismounting his black steed.

                “It’s quite cute,” I say coyly, fluttering my eyelashes. Adrinna had always believed a woman could charm her way out of anything, while I had never believed that myself, it was never too late to try. Some of the bandits snicker as Justin turns and glare viciously at me. Volos pulls his hood back to reveal a ruggedly handsome face surrounded by black, shoulder length hair, his stormy grey eyes stood in stark contrast to his dark hair and I noticed a slight hook to his nose, as if it had been broken and never properly set. He is also well built, muscular, and probably around six feet tall, overall a very intimidating person. I would guess him to be in his early thirties.

                Justin’s back stiffens at the sight of him as his grip tightens around his sword hilt, turning his knuckles white.

                “Silence!” Volos yells at the gypsies around him. The surrounding gypsies fall into a fearful silence as Volos turns his attention back to me and Justin. “Now, we must start working on your demise, so that we may steal your valuables,” Volos growls, he gestures to the gypsies behind him and they start marching towards us.

                “Katrinna,” Justin whispers to me, as Zypher steps back nervously. “When I count to three, you run.”

                “No,” I retort, surprised that he thought I would just run away.  “I’m staying here.”

                The bandits’ approach us, grotesque grins on their faces as they draw their swords. Justin pulls his long broadsword out of its scabbard and holds it in front of him as he pulls on Flinn’s reigns to force her back a step.

                “No, Katrinna, you don’t understand. You need to run. Run as far as you can.” Justin says, continuing to back Flinn up slowly, forcing me to back Zypher up. Justin remains facing the bandits as I reach towards my swords, before realizing they would do me more harm than good.  I reach to the sheath around my waist and draw my knife instead. I hold the knife if front of myself forcing my hand to stop shaking as I was still clutching Zypher’s reigns in my left hand and I needed to at least appear confident.

                “I will not run. We have to save Adrinna, and I certainly can’t do it by myself,” I whisper to Justin furiously, an angry blush rising in my cheeks at admitting my own incompetence.

                Justin glances back at me, and he looks furious, though there seemed to be some desperation in his eyes. “Stop arguing with me Katrinna, just do as I say!”

                “Why should I?” I scream, tightening the grip on my knife.

                “Hey!” Volos yells.

                “What?!” both Justin and I yell to Volos at the same time, both of us glaring at him furiously.

                “If you two lovebirds are done bickering, we are about to kill you here. You’re supposed to be terrified and attempting to run,” Volos growls.

                “Told you, you should have run,” Justin whispers angrily to me. “Even he thinks so.”

                Approximately thirty of the gypsies sprint towards us, quickly covering the last few feet that had been separating us. Justin yanks on his reigns and jerks Flinn to the left, quickly positioning himself between me and the gypsies. Suddenly, I hear a big clashing sound, and peer over Justin’s shoulder just in time to see all the gypsies disappear into the ground.

                “What….. just happened?” I ask softly, trying to look over Justin’s shoulder.

                “I- I don’t know, they just, fell.” Justin mutters, clearly shocked.

                “What do you mean they just fell? Where did they-” I start to ask before Volos cuts me off, again.

                “What is this! Where did this hole come from?” Volos yells to his men, stomping over to the edge of said hole. I get Zypher to move so that I am able to clearly see around Justin.

                “Sir, this is the hole you had us dig this morn’. Was to trap trav’lers you said. And to steal their goods af’er” One of the gypsies shouts out to Volos.

                “What? I ordered no such thing!” Volos yells angrily before pausing and peering down into the hole. “But hey, it worked, see? Easy prey.”

                “Sir, it did work indeed, and they would be very easy prey, only, those are our men in the hole,” another gypsy says.

                “Ugh, my head hurts,” Volos says, clutching his forehead between his fingertips.

                I start giggling at the absurdity of the situation as the adrenaline that had been pumping through my veins dissipated, leaving me on a high of sorts.

                “Katrinna, stop laughing. Now is our chance to escape,” Justin says, turning Flinn around and running off. I back Zypher up before yanking on the reins and running after Justin. But the sudden movement draws Volos’s attention and he shouts.

                “Oye! After them you idiots! They’re escaping!” Volos screams. I glance over my shoulder to see Volos and the rest of his men running after us on foot, before they are engulfed by the earth. I pull Zypher to a quick stop and turn back. Justin notices and follows suit, albeit reluctantly. I stop Zypher at the edge of the new hole and dismount before peering into the mass of angry, confused gypsies at the bottom of the new hole.

                “What’s this hole now?” Volos shouts in a gypsies face.

                I giggle as Volos knocks the man upside the head.

                “Ouch! Sir, you also ordered us to dig this hole to catch pass’rbys,” the gypsy says, rubbing his temple here Volos had hit him.  

                I glance at Justin as he stands by my side, peering down into the hole, silent anger burning in his eyes.

                “Why on earth would I order two holes dug?” Volos bellows.

                “You had us dig this hole las’ night sir!” One of the gypsies shouts. “And this mornin’ you forgot where it was, and ordered another dug!”

                “Ugh, my poundin’ head,” Volos moans, rubbing his temples while the gypsies around him began bickering.

                I start laughing again and Justin looks at me disbelievingly.

                “What, pray tell, is so funny?” Justin asks incredulously.

                “They- He…..Hole…..Forgot- Fell,” I giggle, unable to grasp the absurdity of the situation. Deep in my mind I knew I was making a fool of myself, but the leftover adrenaline didn’t care.

                “Well of course he forgot Katrinna, he was clearly drunk,” Justin says sternly, pulling me away from the edge of the hole.

                I stop laughing and cock my head to the side, confused. “Drunk?”

                “Obviously,” Justin says his jaw tight.

                I glance back into the hole. From what I knew, gypsies couldn’t afford the luxury of alcohol strong enough to get drunk on. Which meant they could only get it for special occasions, or when something terrible had happened. And since the gypsies seemed to be a little worse for the wear, I seriously doubted that Volos had drank to celebrate. I suddenly felt a pang of pity for the gypsy leader.

                “Come on Katrinna, let’s go,” Justin says as he grabs my arm and tries to gently pull me back to the horses.

                “Wait,” I say softly. “We can’t just leave them.”

                “Yes, we can just leave them!” Justin yells, face deep red with barely restrained fury.

                I tug my arm free. “No, we have to help them. Maybe they’ll be willing to help us in return.”

                “They were going to kill us!” Justin screams, staring at me like I was crazy. Quite honestly, I was starting to wonder that myself, but I decided to follow my guts.

                “They just wanted money Justin; they’re probably just hungry, and tired. We can help them, and maybe prevent them from killing anyone else,” I plead, looking towards the bickering gypsies desperately.

                “You don’t even know them!” Justin yells.

                “Oh and you do?!” I scream back.

                Justin snaps his mouth shut and glowers at me, working his jaw in frustration.

                “Justin,” I ask hesitantly. “You don’t know these people do you?”

                “I did,” Justin answers shortly. “ Once.”


                “I knew Volos.”

                I glance towards the hole full of gypsies, who had become strangely silent. “What do you mean, you knew Volos?”

                “We grew up together.”

                “You‘re a gypsy?” I ask incredulously.

                He corner of his mouth hitches up in amusement before he answers firmly. “No. Volos is a knight.”




“Volos is a knight?!” I scream, head spinning with confusion.

                “Well, he was,” Justin says, rubbing the back of his head angrily, clearly at a loss of what to do with his hands, now that he no longer needed to hold his sword. “Volos was my role model when I was younger. I looked up to him. Then after… after the accident he lost it. He rebelled against everything to do with the king, and left. Nobody has heard from him since. He’s a murderer Katrinna, he killed my brother.” Justin says softly.

                I open my mouth to speak, but close it again without saying a thing. I hadn’t known Justin when he was young. Only Adrinna. The two of us were raised alone; every day had been filled with lessons on becoming a princess. Ballet, so we could be graceful dancers at balls, horseback riding, for ceremonies, and the never ending etiquette lessons that I so despised. I’d never thought of Justin’s childhood, never even knew he’d had a brother. As well as I thought I knew Justin, as much as I secretly loved him, I realized I really didn’t know a thing about Justin, other than his time in knighthood. The last thing I wanted to do was rip open some deep, emotional scar by rescuing the man who murdered his brother. Yet… I couldn’t bring myself to leave those men in those pits to die, whether they were murderers or not.

                “I know you want to help them Katrinna, but you have to listen to me when I tell you, that man is dangerous,” Justin says softly, reaching for my arm as his eyes silently plead with me.

                “I’m- I’m sorry Justin,” I say, shaking my arm loose and backing up towards the hole. “I have to help them.” I turn and run to the edge of the hole with Volos in it, ignoring Justin’s frustrated grunts. I stop at the edge of the hole and glance over my shoulder to see Justin decimating a tree with his sword, blinking the images away, I look down and find Volos in the mass of gypsies. He was scowling up at the sky, seemingly lost in thought, while his men mumbled quietly to each other.

                “Hey! Volos!” I yell, crouching down. Volos focuses his gaze on me in confusion.

“Haven’t you ran away yet girl?” he asks in disbelief.

I shake my head, grinning. “No, I’m going to help you out.”

                Volos scowls, “Why on earth would you help us?”

                I smile gently, “Because I cannot just leave you here to die. My morals are higher than that.”

                Volos’s eyes narrow skeptically, but I ignore him and run to Zypher’s saddlebags. I root around until I find some rope which I tie to Zypher’s saddle, ignoring Justin destroying another tree nearby. I double check the knot, then unwrap the rope and start to run back to Volos with the end, only to find Justin blocking my path.

                “Katrinna I can’t let you do this,” Justin whispers, voice strained with emotion, eyes filled with hurt as his chest heaves in exertion and small beads of sweat run down the side of his face.

                I meet Justin’s gaze, carefully avoiding looking at the sword in his right hand. “I have to. You may be willing to leave them, but I’m not. I was taught to have mercy for everyone Justin, and give them a just punishment. Most of them are nothing more than common thieves. I will not let them suffer this death. I am truly sorry for what happened to your brother, and you’ll have to tell me the story sometime, but I must help them Justin. Please.”

                Justin glares down at me before his eyes soften. “Very well. But do not let your guard down. And I will be watching both of our backs extra closely.”

                I smile and jog around Justin to the edge of the hole.

                “Here!” I shout, tossing the end of the rope into the hole. “Climb on up!”

                One by one Volos and his men climb out of the hole. As they climb up I lead Flinn to the other hole and repeat the process. Once all the gypsies are out, Volos turns to me.

                “Why did you help us?” he asks hesitantly.

                I smile gently, “Because I could not leave you to die.”

                “But we tried to kill you.”

                “I don’t think it was against me personally. Besides, you all must  just be desperate,” I say softly.

                Volos goes silent for a few moments before speaking again, “Let me repay your kindness. I overheard you say you were on a quest, to save someone. Let us come, we can help.”

                I turn to look at Justin and see his jaw hanging open in shock.

                “That is a very generous offer, kind sir, but I don’t think we require any assistance.” I reply, forcing back a grin at Justin’s expression as I turn back to Volos.

                “No? You were just overcome by a simple band of gypsies. If it weren’t for my….” Volos clears his throat loudly. “We would have killed you,” Volos finishes, placing his hand on his sword hilt. “I always repay my debts madam, this is no exception.”

                I look back to Justin and he shakes his head slowly. I turn back to Volos. “Give me a minute,” I say, smiling in apology before walking over to Justin.

                “You can’t let them come,” Justin whispers furiously.

                “And why on earth not?” I protest. “We could use the help, because he’s right you know.”

                “He tried to kill us Katrinna!” Justin cries.

                “Excuse me,” Volos says, stepping in next to me and Justin. “But we can be of assistance. You’ve saved every single one of our miserable lives, dear maiden, and we will repay you.”

                I look at Justin pleadingly.

                “Who is this knave that challenges your decisions?” Volos asks, glaring at Justin.

                “He’s my, ah, guard,” I say, glancing at Justin.

                “My perception may be skewed, but I believe guards are to remain silent as they do their duty.”

                “You-” Justin growls, stepping forward angrily.

                I throw myself between the two of them. “Stop it Justin, he just wants to help.”

                “We don’t need help from people like him,” Justin spits.

                “Don’t talk that way to me boy,” Volos growls. “I merely wish to repay my debt to the kind lady.”

                “Then leave us to be on our way and consider it repaid,” Justin growls.

                “I cannot, mine honour would never allow it,” Volos says.

                “Honour indeed,” Justin says furiously. “Where was your honour when-”

                “Enough Justin!” I cry. I turn to Volos. “We appreciate your offer, but cannot accept such a large favor. What I did was a trifle, no more.”

                “I beg to differ madam,” Volos says softly. “It was an enormous act of kindness, to brutes that deserve naught but anger from you.”

                “None the less,” I say, as I start to steer Justin towards our horses to keep him from punching Volos in the face. “We cannot accept your offer.”

                Volos is silent, and only speaks up once Justin and I reach the horses.

                “Did you say he was your guard, fair maiden?” Volos asks slowly.

                I turn to look at Volos and see the gears turning in his head. “Yes…” I answer hesitantly.

                “Then you must be a lady of great riches, to have such an important man as your guard.”

                “Indeed my father is rich, but what does it matter to you? Do you plan to rob us, since we will not accept your offer?” I ask nervously.

                “No, of course not! Perish the very thought!” Volos cries out. “I merely had a thought.”

                “You wouldn’t dare,” Justin growls from behind me.

                “We can escort you on your voyage. We know how to survive in the wild.” Volos says.

                “I already told you-” I sigh.

                “And in return, you can pay us for our efforts,” Volos finishes with a flourish. “Quite brilliant if I do say so. It solves both our problems quite nicely.”

                I remain silent as I ponder his offer. Justin grips my shoulder and spins me around to face him.

                “You can’t honestly be considering this!” he whispers furiously.

                I remain silent.

                “Katrinna, you cannot spend your Father’s money! Besides that, he would never approve of giving it to gypsies, much less letting them join you in a journey across the kingdom!”

                I meet Justin in the eye, having decided. “I’ve made up my mind. You can’t change it.” I spin on my heels and stomp back to Volos, ignoring Justin’s protests.

                “Volos, I will accept your offer. If you help us save my sister, and bring us back to my Father safely, every one of your men will be paid one hundred crowns.”

                The gypsies mutter to each other anxiously.

                “One hundred crowns each?” Volos sputters. “That is way too much, only the king has that kind of money!”

                “I assure you, my Father has enough. My only other requirement is that none of you ever steal, or kill again. Now will you accept my offer?”

                Volos nods.

                “Good,” I smile, and glance over my shoulder looking for Justin, only to see him step in front of me.

                “What are you thinking Katrinna?” Justin mumbles angrily. “You can’t do this.”

                “I have it under control Justin. Besides, if Father finds out, you will lay claim to the idea, no?” I whisper, well aware that Justin would indeed take the blame, if only to keep me from being punished.

                “No, I will not lay claim to this madness,” Justin growls, crossing his arms over his chest.

                I smile, knowing that if push came to shove he would lighten my punishment. As would I lighten his if our positions were switched. “Very well Justin, I will take full responsibility for this ‘madness’ as you say. After all, it will either work wonderfully, or we will all end up dead. And if we end up dead it really doesn’t matter whose idea it was.” I grin, turning back to Volos, leaving Justin dumbfounded at my back.

                “So who are we rescuing?” Volos asks.

                “My twin sister,” I say, distracted by Justin’s smoldering glare aimed at the back of my head.

                Volos raises an eyebrow, “Not many twins ‘round here,” he says. “Mostly just the princesses.”

                I shake my head and look at Volos. “Well, we don’t really look much alike,” I chuckle nervously, glancing over my shoulder to tell Justin to stop glaring at me.

                “What do you want?” I whisper to him.

                “Nothing, my lady,” Justin chuckles.

                “Augh! Don’t start with that again!” I cry, stomping over to Zypher to get a drink of water.

                Justin chuckles before firmly addressing Volos. “Okay Volos. So are you going to help us?”

                “Aye,” Volos answers gruffly. “Me and all my men.”

                “That won’t work,” Justin grunts. I turn from Zypher’s saddlebags and glare at Justin.

                “What are you doing?” I cry.

                Justin ignores me and speaks to Volos as I roll my eyes and tilt the water canteen up to drink. “We cannot afford to take thirty men with us,”

                “A hundred and thirty-seven,” Volos interrupts.

                I splutter and spit out the drink of water I had just about inhaled before I fall into a coughing fit, causing many of the gypsies to stare at me.

                “Fine,” Justin says, clearly irritated at being interrupted, though shock briefly appeared in his eyes at the large number. “We cannot take a hundred and thirty-seven men with us. We would move slowly and be seen quickly.”

                “My men are swift and silent,” Volos growls, clutching the hilt of his sword.

                “Be that as it may, we will be riding on horses. This is a matter of extreme importance. We cannot afford to waste any more time,” Justin snarls.

                Volos and Justin glare at each other as I recover from my shock, and subsequent coughing fit. I quickly replace my canteen and run over to place myself between them. “What Justin means, is that we are in a very big hurry, and cannot afford to have a large troop that can be easily tracked down. Not even men as wonderful as yours Volos.”

                Justin snorts and I glare at him. “We can only have a few of your best men with us, yourself included of course.”

                “You tryin’ to cheat my men out of their pay?” Volos growls angrily.

                “No! Of course not! All of you will be paid the specified amount. But we can only take a few men with us.” I say calmly.

                “Three men, including you, would be perfect,” Justin cuts in.

                “Three of your best men,” I say, fluttering my eyelashes flirtatiously.

                “Fine,” Volos says gruffly as Justin glares at me. “Ajax, Conroy, and Raldyn.”Three men emerge from the mob as he speaks, and gestures to each in turn. “And myself, of course.”

                I look at the four men, ignoring Justin’s sharp intake of breath beside me. The youngest, Ajax, was probably a little younger than Volos, in his late twenties. He had a strong build, and was rippling with muscles. He was a bit shorter than Volos, but more than made up with it in muscles. He had short medium-brown hair, very tan skin, and dark blue eyes. The man next to him, who Volos had said was Conroy, was probably around 35. He had an average build, and was about the same height as Justin, who was 5’ 8”. Conroy had jaw length coppery hair, russet skin, and bright green eyes. The last man, Raldyn, seemed ageless. He could have been anywhere between twenty and forty. He was thin, and almost as tall as Volos. He had blonde hair, that looked almost white, which he wore in a long ponytail. His eyes were endless pools of darkness, black as the shadows lurking in the night. I shudder, Raldyn officially creeped me out.

                “Will these men please you?” Volos asks sarcastically to Justin.

                “These men will be fine,” Justin says, his voice strained. I frown at him, wondering what was wrong with him.

                Volos walks over and talks to another gypsy, who seems to be second in charge. Soon after, the rest of the gypsies melt back into the shadows, leaving us with Volos, Ajax, Conroy, and Raldyn.

                “We need to go,” Justin says. “It’s getting dark, but we can still travel a bit before nightfall. Then we will make camp, and continue in the morning.”

                Volos scowls, but listens. We all mount our horses and ride deeper into the forest.


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