Tuesday, August 5, 2008

25: New Journeys

With all of the preparations done for the trip, Sir Edward and a small troop of men were finally leaving Stranfordam. Fifteen men in all, they were leaving to go find Edith, who had the invaluable book and the dagger. His shoulder still pained him, but Edward wouldn't let that bother him. He had a young maiden to "save" and he would have to move quickly, or else Jard might arrive first. Such a situation could prove deadly because he would have to fight Jard again, and with a wounded shoulder, it wouldn't be easy. He had almost killed Jard in their last fight, but that was simply because the boy's sword had broken. It irritated him that the young knight-in-training had almost beaten him. Indeed, he would like to get revenge on Jard, but he would much more like to acquire a kingdom. Edward's men moved quickly, heading across the river and around The City of Tears, and out into the vast open Desert of Dreams. Kelthisad had said that he needed to find some sort of stream, so Edward figured that in a desert, he would be looking for a river bed. Therefore, every ditch would have to be investigated. After finding this stream, he would have to find a tree, the only tree in the desert of dreams Kelthisad had said, so Edward figured that it would be pretty easy to find. As one might have expected, trees weren't easy to find in the Desert of Dreams. Edward was beyond the point of frustrated when he went to bed that night. One, he had not found either a stream or a tree, two, it was hot, and three, he was sure a visit from Kelthisad would come along with the inevitable scolding. Even through all of these frustrations, however, he was able to fall asleep, and as he predicted, Kelthisad visited him. In a chaotic swirling of dark lights, Edward slipped into a dream.
"You fool" was the first thing Kelthisad said to Edward. "It is not some dry river bed that you are looking for, it is an actual stream, with water in it. You have been wasting both your and my time, thoroughly searching up and down every little impression in the ground."
"I-I-I'm sorry," stammered Edward nervously, "I had no idea that there was an actual stream."
"If I wanted you to search for a stream bed, I would have told to look for a stream bed, but I want you to look for the Hidden Stream. First thing in the morning you will start looking for a stream, not an empty ditch leading nowhere. Now get out of my sight you despicable piece of slime." At this, there was a sudden burst of smoke, which faded into a dreamless sleep.

Maximiliano shaded his eyes, he thought he saw something, but he figured it was just another mirage. They had been in the desert for two days, and looking for Jard had not been easy. With so few men available to search, they could only cover a small strip of the desert. As he kept riding, he decided that the water he saw was more than just a mirage. He hailed The Cock, who was riding far to the right so as to cover more ground, and pointed it out to the criminal leader.
"Zat is strange indeed," mused The Cock. "Vy is zer vater in ze middle of ze dessert?" He stood there a short while, thinking about it, then pulled out a strange horn out of a pouch and blew it. At first casual listen, the device sounded like some terrible, unintelligible noise, but upon a more thoughtful listen, almost everyone agreed that the horn sounded much like a rooster crowing. At the sound of The Cock's trademark instrument, the spread out men promptly turned their steeds towards the sound. He gave Maximiliano some brief instructions, then headed toward the stream while his men gathered around Maximiliano.
"Ze Cock vants us to meet him at ze stream, and zere ve vill look for signs of ozer people," Maximillano explained to the men, then he took off in the direction of the stream, the small band of men following him. When he arrived at the stream, he saw The Cock dismounted and holding something that he couldn't exactly see because The Cock's back was turned toward him. Maximiliano dismounted, and took a step toward his leader so he could see what he was looking at. When he got a good look at what The Cock had, he was caught totally off guard. The man was holding a petty coat. Of all the unlikely things this was what Maximiliano did not expect. The Cock turned toward him and said, "Princess Edith came zis vay, and I believe zat ze boy, Jard, is following her."
Maximiliano looked at the marks on the ground and saw that there were indeed four sets of tracks, three of which appeared to be those of men who were armored, and one set of tracks that were made, presumably by Edith, that were smaller than the others. Maximiliano also noticed that the tracks headed west. He pointed this out to The Cock, and instantly The Cock headed in that direction. Maximiliano, suprised by this sudden depature, quickly gathered the men toghether, and followed their leader, who was setting a brisk pace. He had only seen The Cock like this a handful of times in their years together, and knew what it meant: they were getting close.


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