Chapter 4: A New Journey Begins (Part 1)

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Out the city gates of Lorlyn, the four of them tracked onwards not knowing where they were headed next. They looked off to the morning sun, the sight of summer glistening heated rays against their skin, with warm winds to cloak their arrival. You could hear the grass sway, the birds chirp a pretty song, and the water under the bridge behind them holding the scum smell of a dormant lake.

In the near distance stood a small man, a half man to the eyes of Theodren. He came running on foot with a slightly stained slip of paper in hand, and a dirt covered face in their greeting. His hair was blond, like gold poured in water, but in that state it seemed the gold turned to a life of wilderness, of mud and plants. His bangs were like little blades that lightly fell beneath his forehead, reaching the tips of his clean brows stained also by dirt. His face looked vaguely scraggly, yet of youth. His cheek bones made him seem younger than he likely was, as was the case with his thin bright brown eye brows. His blue eyes gave a look of innocence, yet exhaustion from a long road he oddly took with no stallion, not even a carriage in sight.

"Wait!" He said with a loud voice, breath almost depleted. "I ran two hundred miles to deliver this for you." He held out his hand, bending his knees while looking down in exhaustion.

"A courier who traveled on foot...for two hundred miles?" Theodren looked in confusion. "In what sight of heaven could such an unholy insult-" He was cut off.

"Sven." Valora walked up to him, head slightly slanted down with a smile similar to holding a baby.

The young man's face was held firmly on the padded grass covered ground, with light sounds vibrating below her feet.

Carrion approached the man while on horse back, getting off his horse and taking the letter that was then laying beside him, without uttering a single word; no more than a look of mild concern mixed with disappointment.

"Oh! Wait, wait, Valora!" He got on his feet, looking fresh and full of energy. "I found a few dewberries hidden on the woodland trail to Drakon. I promised I'd give you some at our next company." He placed the bag in her hands.

"That's...uh...thank you." Valora struggled to admit, her face blushing with discomfort as she held the bag in hand.

"Eat up." He said as they released, excitement in his tone, like a childish smile overwhelmed with joy, craving the sight of something in sorts.

She looked excited to finally have one of her favorite delicacies on the mainland. She opened the bag, took one of the berries, to her eyes becoming wide open.

"They, um, they taste wonderful!" She gave a fake smile, eyes closed.

"So let me get this straight, you ran two hundred miles on foot, just to give us a letter?" Theodren said.

"I've not a clue where my horse went. Lost it not long after I left the place. Master is gonna beat me for this one." He lifted his hand, rubbing against the back of his hair in nervousness.

Valora couldn't get the taste out of her mouth. She just kept spitting behind Sven's back.

"You seem young, perhaps even younger than I am." Zoran stated as he investigated Sven at a distance.

"A bit rash to give such early judgements. Valora might as well be older than each one of us as it is. Said it herself once." Theodren remarked, crossing his arms while still on horseback

Zoran nodded his head with a sigh, walking closer to Sven, asking "where do you come from?", to which Sven replied:

"Oh, just raised by a young couple honoring the pleads of a dying mother. Nothing new in this world, now is it?" Sven answered swiftly, like a bird calling to the chirps of another.

"From what house?" Zoran asked not nearly as quickly, but rather in a sophisticated fashion.

"Coldcloak." Valora interrupted, the screams of a dying frog scratched against her throat in voice. "It's nice to see you again."

"Hm." He smiled, hoping to embrace her with a hug for their long departure, but she backed away a few footsteps. "It...um...it has been six months without seeing you, and you still call me by my background?" He asked, ignoring her denial of his affection.

Valora started spitting again, and Carrion began rolling his eyes gently at the occurrence, not giving a single glance to either of them.

"I am not like those drunken savages of Greymeria. I was likely thought of as a weakling, shipped away so my embarrassing existence held no ground."

"Well...then, open the letter immediately! If it's from Drakon it must be dire, I'm sure." Theodren said, impatient by the informal greetings, leading his horse towards Carrion.

Carrion took out the paper and read it carefully.

"I ask for you now, to each one who stands beside this reader. I summon you now, with haste in your stride. Do not disappoint me by your unwanted death." Carrion read, looking closely with a squint in his eyes, sounds of the paper being moved by wind, and a solemn sigh in his voice after finishing. "That's him."

"Well, the king no longer needs us. I'd wager it'd be best we take responsibility, and fight by our true master's side once more; even if he is a minor inconvenience in times." Zoran said.

"Come now, then. We should arrive in two weeks." Sven replied.

"TWO...weeks?" Theodren gave a look of surprise and annoyance."Has the battle rung a new volume to my ears, to not understand what he said?"

"Just ride with me. The horse can handle two men if need be, and you are certainly less baggage than I." Valora calmed down, riding near Sven.

"Then off we go." Zoran replied calmly, getting on horseback and pulling his lead after finishing another entry to his journal.

"Of course, sir." Replied Sven.
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Up the path they went, through wind and rain of a bitter summer; and the further north, cold as the days of autumn in the Capitol.

There, passed the nearest city: Frostford; they looked on to the posted sign of engraved wood of the road's only entry to Drakon (their destination).

They saw the trees sway. Heights of pine and their various needle tips, to dark green colors of the unpredictable branches of oak and ash, and of snow tipped rugged mountains in the distance from the left side of the pathway. Like an empty road it was clear, yet cloaked by the shade of the trees on either side. It was a frightening path to take by night, some would admit, for bargs did occasionally take refuge in its sides.

"So how has life been treating you? The tall man there says you were poisoned. I wish I could've been there, to take on whatever threat it was that brought down such a mighty heroine." Sven told her, his arms lightly held against her sides for safety on their ride north, care yet awkwardness in each word he remarked. "It pains me that I couldn't."

There was a brief moment of silence, voices from the others talking among each other as they rid on. Valora glanced her eyes back at him, but only shortly; turning back to face the road ahead with a sigh.

"Sven, for as good a heart as anyone should have, be quiet." She replied, overwhelmed by the traveling and flashbacks to the times she despised looking back on, and so often did he until that moment make consistent reminders of those things that haunted her, beyond his knowledge.

"Oh, um...yes m'lady."

"Please do not call me that."

"Yes sir!"

A groggy sigh was omitted from Valora, for the time being, though she wished to had sung it in volume. Night was nearly over the horizon, and soon then Sven's fear of the Drakon night was to be summoned.
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