Monday, February 1, 2016

The King's Challenge #194 and #195

TKC 194 and 195



There are no words to describe the quality of silence we descend the mountain in. Most are stunned by the reality of the Ilfin/Glonu wars … and how they fit into that. Yes, Kay has revealed also the ships on approach to Massin.

We must make haste across the plains to where the plateau peters off. There is the cave system and maybe we will escape the wrath of the Glonu entering our airspace if we vanish into the earth itself.

Seven days is not enough time, though. It took us longer to cross the plains to Arc, and we had the use of Horin’s light bridges. No such advantage will be ours this time.

Hope in hand, we depart the ancient stones and deceit of Arc.

Night has fallen again before all are off the mountain pass. We do not stop; we go on. This march will not allow us rest; we will walk until our feet fall off. All day we walk, in dryness, in heat. Far away there are rain clouds; too far to offer relief here. In the early dark hours Kay calls a halt. We will sleep for two hours and then go on.

I drop my pack and my legs give way. Sitting untidily on dry sand filled with sharp stones, I allow my head to sag down. I am instantly asleep.

Kay’s gentle shake awakens me. “Come on, Siri; time to go.”

My stomach is filled with acid and my eyes are gritty with weariness, but I clamber to my feet. I realise Kay must have helped me to lie down. I wonder if he slept at all. He hands me a mug of tea and a crust of bread. I swallow and chew simultaneously, I am that hungry.

“Easy,” he laughs.

“Did you sleep?” I manage to mumble.

“A little.” He takes me by my shoulders and moves me until I am facing east. “Look. What do you see?”

Squinting, I see nothing. After wiping my eyes clear of sleep’s crystals, I look again. Then again. “Camp fires.”

Kay nods. “Others are on the plain. We must be wary.”

Bugger. Have I the energy for that as well? Walking is about all I am able to focus on right now. “When has anything been simple in recent times?” I mutter.

“You are moody,” Kay grins.

I am, yes. This entire adventure has been fraught with dilemmas and conundrums; I am sick of it. Give me a warm bed in a small cottage and leave me there, will you?

He laughs at the glare I send him and then gestures. “We go on!” he calls to the night. Concerted rustles reveal we have resumed the march. Kay takes my hand and my pack and drags me onward.

The fires grow ever brighter. Whoever is out there is not moving. They have stopped for the night.

Kay takes us around them and tells us to go on walking. He doubles back to the campsite thereafter. We need to know who we are dealing with in this great emptiness. If we can see them, they will soon notice us. We are a fair-sized crowd.

My heart sits in my throat, but I lead our people on, trusting to Kay to come out of whatever he finds alive.

The unmistakable sound of hoof beats halts us. We crouch in the darkness and make as little noise as we can. Friend or foe? With or without Kay? The tension alone will floor me soon.

Swinging crazily, a lantern on a swift horse bears down on us, and then abruptly halts. “Siri!”

I shoot to my feet. “Kay!”

“Messengers, Siri,” Kay calls out, walking his horse closer. He dismounts and leads the animal in. “Messengers and horses. Enough horses. They are few, but they brought all their horses.”

I hear the glee in his voice. It is good news, indeed.



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