"Would you enlighten me on exactly what you three are doing in the Wandering Wood of Gossgath?" Zethan inquired as he handed each of the three seated in a semicircle in the clearing a hunk of bread.
Willow raised an eyebrow at Teclemith, who glanced at Killian, who nodded. He cleared his throat. "Well, we had some business in Gorgamede - which as you know is the capital city of Gossgath - and as good citizens of the Line of Ekoreth, we thought to rid the enemy of one of his messenger birds."
Willow elbowed Teclemith. "What's the "Line of Ekoreth"?" she muttered.
"The royal line," he murmured back.
Zethan lifted his dark eyebrows. "What was your business in Gorgamede?"
Killian gave him a superior glance. "That is none of your business, I'm afraid."
"Of course," Zethan acquiesced. "We will show you to the main road, if you please," he offered coldly.
"Thank you," Killian replied, his tone as chilly as the Outlaw's.
Zethan offered Willow a hand up on her horse, then seemed to be studying all of them as they rode behind one of his accomplices towards the main road. Willow felt rather grumpy at Killian because he had offended their rescuer. Zethan had seemed nice, but what had those warrants been for? Murder? Theft? She shivered.
The main road was bustling, and Zethan waved briefly as he and his horseman turned to leave, than they disappeared back into the shady forest.
The rest of the journey was very pleasant, riding down the cobbled streets of Gorgamede in the warm sunshine. Their markets were busy, much busier than the capital's markets had been, but all the people were sad-faced. Willow wondered why.
Soon they reached the stone castle in which the Knight of the province resided. "My father was an Advisor to Sir Richard when he was Knight, so everyone around here knows me," Teclemith remarked, guiding his horse to the front of the castle.
"Just wondering, but what if those creepy guards are here?" Willow asked, nudging her mare after Teclemith.
Killian shook his head. "They were forest patrollers. They won't be here, unless they've come to make a report."
"Why Telcemith, it has been quite a while!" the groomsman who was on duty remarked. "You have certainly grown into a man. And so much like your father, Author rest his soul. So why are you here today?"
Teclemith shook the groomsman's hand. "We are here to speak with Sir Jehonathan, is he at home?"
The groomsman paled a bit. "Not at the moment, he is out riding. But here comes his son, Ganymede."
A youth was riding up. He was pale-skinned and dark of hair and eyes, which he cast suspiciously down at the visitors. "And who are you, may I ask?" he inquired, sliding off his horse.
"Teclemith, son of the late Advisor. And this is Killian and Willow." Teclemith gestured to each in turn.
Ganymede shook hands with both Killian and Teclemith in turn, then took Willow's outstretched hand, turned it, and kissed it! Poor Willow skipped all shades of pink and went straight to red in the face. Both guys coughed to hide their grins of amusement.
"Father shouldn't be home until after luncheon. Why don't you all join me? I would much prefer not having to dine alone," Ganymede invited. Willow tried to send eye-signals to Killian to say no, but he nodded his consent to the Knight's son, and who in turn led them inside the stone house.
The castle was quite large. The chilly grey of the stones contrasted with the rather somber decor gave off a rather depressed effect. Willow wondered why they wanted the castle to be so sad. All of the servants they passed in the halls had unhappy expressions. Both of the guys sensed it too, but neither gave any hint that they had. Ganymede finally led them into the dining room, made sure they were seated and comfortable, then excused himself to see to their lunch.
"I don't like it," Willow whispered, as if talking too loud would disturb something evil lurking in the shadows. "It feels weird."
Killian nodded. "I don't get it. Ganymede seems quite pleasant. It doesn't seem like he could be Shadow."
Willow made a face. "I wish he wouldn't have kissed my hand. It was really gross and awkward."
Teclemith cracked a small smile, then sobered again. "I've lived here my whole life. It has never felt like this before. Did you notice how he changed the decor?"
Killian nodded. "But I thought that was in mourning for your father and mother?"
Teclemith shook his head. "No. My parents died a year ago. Even if a Knight had died they would not leave such sad decor up for so long."
"Hardly something to judge someone on, though," Willow pointed out. "Shhh, here comes Ganymede."
"I apologize for the delay. The cook is preparing more food. It will be out within twenty minutes. So?" he asked. "What think you of our castle? I am sorry that my uncle had to leave this lovely place, but Father is doing his all to keep it up."
"The stonework is lovely," Willow offered. "I especially love the doors. The carvings on each one individually is amazing."
Ganymede beamed. "They are very old. They date back at least three hundred years."
Willow acted impressed, but the suspicious feeling she had didn't go away as she observed the son of the Knight. I wonder what he's up to? she mused, sipping at a glass of fruit punch that had been set there by a sad-faced servant.
"Will that work for you?" Ganymede inquired, breaking into her thoughts. She glanced at the guys, who were having an eye conversation. Apparently Ganymede hadn't been asking her. Good thing too, I don't even know what he said!
"That should work. We'll be needing to go about town and the surrounding area for around a week, if that doesn't inconvenience you," Killian offered.
Their host nodded. "Of course."
Willow knocked lightly on the guys' door to the room they were sharing. "Come in," Killian invited.
Willow edged in and slid the door shut. "Um, I don't know if anybody noticed this, but did you guys notice that Ganymede never asked exactly what we are going to be doing while we stay here?" The guys stared at each other.
"Well that's odd. I wonder..." Killian muttered.
"Why don't you think he asked?"
"Well," Teclemith began slowly. "I suppose he thought it polite not to ask."
Willow smirked. "Right."
Killian shook his head. "I want us all to be on our guard. Willow, sleep with your dagger under your pillow. We'll do the same. But we musn't make our hosts angry."
"But that Sir Jehonathan guy never got here. That's rather suspicious, when you think about it," Willow pointed out.
"Why don't you ask Ganymede about it? I'm sure he would be happy to tell you," Teclemith suggested.
Willow rolled her eyes. "Maybe, if I see him. Oh, and Killian? Why were you so rude to Zethan earlier today?"
Killian rolled his eyes back. "He is an Outlaw. He could be a murderer for all we know."
"I suppose you're right. Goodnight, guys. See you in the morning." Willow bade them goodnight.
"I wonder...." Willow murmured to herself as she slid into bed. The cool sheets made her shiver, and she tugged them warmly around her. Please help us to find if Jehonathan is doing wrong. And help us to find out if Zethan is on the side of right or wrong. And please keep D safe, wherever she is. I think she's on Teth right now, helping with the base over there, she prayed.
Knock knock. Willow pried an eye open. What in the name of grief is that? her mind cried. Sitting up, she grabbed her dagger, threw the covers off and slipped over to the window. "Hello? Who's there?" she demanded, holding her dagger in one hand and sliding the window open with the other.
Heheheheheheheheh, cliffhanger ending. Okay, it's actually a boring cliffhanger ending, but whatever. Anyone's who's been on my F&E storyboard lately knows who the new character is. I really like her, and can't wait to introduce her and work more with her character. I might even "ship" her with a certain character.... okay tmi.
I also am planning on making videos of myself chatting about my book. I made one a couple of days ago, about Forgotten, but D thinks I reveal waaaayyy too much about it. So I probably won't post the video. Ah well.
Be a friend, not an enemy,
Postscript // any questions or comments are welcome!