Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Chapter 9: The Road Home

        Caden and Rilyn settled their bill with the Blue Fox. True to her word, Cassy didn’t charge them for all the special food she was giving them. Caden wondered about how quickly the rumors had spread.
        Rilyn went back to the table and fetched Father Achilleos, who was finishing all of cold mugs of cinnamon tea. Caden went out the back to the courtyard where he saddled Starlight. He led the old girl out the courtyard gates.
        On the other side of the gate he saw the strange little rodent watching him. Caden stopped. The rodent stood up on it’s hind legs and twitched its nose. Caden tilted his head to the left. The rodent did the same. Caden smiled. He knelt down and stuck out his hand. The rodent ran up to him and scurried up his arm. Caden laughed as it’s little claws tickled his skin.
        Rilyn walked around to see what was taking Caden. He looked at the rodent. “That thing is going to give you a disease.”
        “You worry too much.” Caden took the rodent off of his shoulder and set it on Starlight’s saddle. “Look at it, it’s healthy.”
        Rilyn shook his head and walked away.
        They walked through the Market of Tinate and gathered supplies for the trip home. Caden took some money from Rilyn and bought ingredients to make a thank you gift for the mayor.
        Father Achilleos was an old man. He walked beside Caden and Rilyn for three hours, insisting that he was fine, but Caden saw him slowing down. They took more breaks to let him rest. Yet he refused the assistance of Starlight. Caden offered after every rest, but Father Achilleos always turned him down.
        Caden looked at Rilyn walking with his cane, and Father Achilleos leaning on the sacred staff of the Sages. He considered riding for a while, but felt guilty. Rilyn was still afraid of Starlight after the bite she gave him, but Caden couldn’t understand Father Achilleos’s reasons.
So they continued to walk, leading Starlight be the reigns. Caden thought about his father. He was going to be angry with Caden for taking the money and horse without asking. She didn’t even save them much time since there was always one person walking. At least the Mayor’s generosity kept him from spending any of his father’s money.
        As much as he regretted lying to his father, but would his father understand him leaving again? Would he agree to letting Caden leave Erdon and hunt down five dragons to prove that he was strong enough to join the quest for the Dragon Queen?
        They stopped to eat lunch next to a small brook. Caden watered the horse while Father Achilleos and Rilyn sat and talked under the shade of an old oak. Caden shivered, he felt a cold chill run up his spine. He looked around, but couldn’t see anything. He looked at the stone sword. He untied the straps holding it to the saddle and pulled it away. He lifted it in both hands then held it in one. It felt light. He walked up the bank to Rilyn.
        Rilyn was laughing at a joke Father Achilleos told him. He looked over at Caden coming back. He lifted an apple to give to Caden, then saw the stone sword. Rilyn dropped the fruit. He stood up and drew one of his swords.
        Father Achilleos looked at them. “What’s wrong?”
        “I don’t know,” Rilyn said, “and I can’t explain it. But if Caden can hold that sword, then something is wrong.”
        Caden stopped next to Rilyn. “See anything?”
        “No, you?”
        “Not yet, but I can feel it.”
        Father Achilleos watched them. He took out a small book, ink, and quill. He recorded what he saw in a simple black line sketch.
        Caden turned and pointed into the woods. A group of shadows got darker, turning almost pitchblack. Rilyn nodded. “Yeah, I see it.”