The One Who Would Be King Chapter II: On To Durbin

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They rode several hours before stopping for a break.  Searching the plentiful and giving surroundings for something to go with their bits of dried meat, Djar wondered if his decision to leave Demron’s horse was a good one.  The beast was far stronger and much faster than either of their mounts, but Ghaarhart was also far more conspicuous.  He ultimately felt they were better off trying to blend in with the general populace than traveling around the countryside on an armored goblin warhorse. Not your everyday sight, you know.

Cookie managed to round up a few edible roots. Djar simply couldn’t match her seemingly innate survivalist talents, so he left much of the foraging to her. She could always find and identify – the important part! – the best and most nutritional food in the forest. A perfect example was a bunch of sweet tasting bluish-colored berries that she found growing on several long spine-covered vines that snaked their way up a huge oak.

Being a sprite, she did have heightened senses that made it much easier for her to live off the land.  Djar could remember dozens of times when Cookie had gotten them out of several tough spots on their regularly scheduled camping excursions. Finding food, finding the right trail, getting their bearings straight during a downpour – these were all hallmarks of the young woman.

Djar leaned lazily against a tree near the small fire that Cookie had started. He closed his eyes, letting his mind slip well into the past, to much happier times.  He could vividly remember when Cookie joined the family. After getting over her initial shyness, the little sprite would continuously pester him, chanting, among other things:  “I go with jar – like a cookie.”  At the time, Djar thought it was pretty stupid. But his mother thought it was cute, so his parents began calling her Cookie from then on. Even then he had to admit that the name fit her well, but he took more than his fair share of ribbing from friends. He took even more abuse from kids whom he’d never consider his friends. Eventually, however, it became no big deal. It didn’t take long for the two of them to become best friends and nearly inseparable.  Djar found Cookie to be fascinating.  Her outdoor skills were honed to perfection and her wisdom was extraordinary, yet she still retained a kind of naïve innocence. His feelings were always very strong for her, but lately, he simply couldn’t deny feeling something … more. He would have explored those feeling by now, but felt strange. Even though they were not related, they were sort of raised like brother and sister, so it was awkward at best. What would she thing about …

“This Raipar Root’s pretty good,” said Cookie, interrupting his thoughts with her munching on the steaming, yellow root.  “And these berries are great!”

“They are,” agreed Djar, walking over to the fire and carefully taking another leaf-wrapped root from the small cooking fire.

Cookie then gobbled down a huge mouthful of the baked root, then grabbed a fistful of berries and shoved them into her mouth – both of them were quickly dispensing with their courtly manners. Djar’s mother had been no aristocratic prude, but she did teach them the etiquette necessary for state functions. Both of them did maintain a certain dignity too – at least whenever they were in the castle. “How long do you figure it will take to get to Dymorla’s neck ’o the woods?” she asked.

“I’m not sure.  If we don’t run into any goblin patrols, it should take well over a week to get to Durbin Springs.  We can then get some provisions and a small boat to ride the current of Teardrop Lake until we get downriver in the Astabor.  Then we’ll hike southwest through the corner of the South Durn until we reach her keep – or whatever it is she calls home.”

“What are we going to do if and when we find her?”

“I’m not sure.  I’ll worry about that when we get there.”

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