Brianna still sat on the ground where the man had pushed her down. She watched him with wide eyes. He turned to her and slowly walked to her. The cord ropes around his wrists were cutting into the skin, making them bleed.
“Please cut these,” he said.
“I don’t have a weapon,” she said, standing.
“Take one from him,” Richard said, gesturing to the man on the ground. Brianna rushed to him and pulled free her own dagger.
Richard held his hands out to her. She watched him for a moment before she set to work to remove them. She carefully slide the dagger under the rope and cut it free. Richard grasped his bloody wrists.
“Thank you,” he said.
He reached over and untied the sheath to the dagger at the man’s waist. he handed it to Brianna and then went to recover any other weapons he had on him. He pulled off another knife, which he slipped in his boot. He also pulled off his knife, which he replaced at his waist.
“My sword is on the man’s horse,” Brianna said.
“Good, you can ride that one now,” Richard said.
He helped her climb atop the horse, then came over to his sweating horse. He patted her back and carefully kicked her into a trot. He didn’t want to run her to much for a while.
“Are you okay?” Richard asked her. She nodded. “You sure?”
“I think so,” Brianna said. Richard knew she wasn’t much of a fighter. Maybe he and Katie could teach her a few things.
“Are you ready to go?” he asked her. She nodded. Richard started out in the direction in which they had been running. Brianna followed behind.
“How long will it take to get there?” she asked him after a few minutes of silence. She turned back to look at her.
“Probably three or four hours,” he said. He had traveled to Hellio once before for a delivery. That was when his father worked as a merchant and he had taken Richard with him.
“That fast?” she asked him. “I thought it took nearly all day to get there.”
“Normally, it would take most of the daylight to get there, but we ran for a while there,” Richard said. “It may not have seemed like a very long time, but we cut off nearly an hours worth of a walk by horse.”
“I don’t understand. We didn’t go very far,” she said. She was glancing around the scenery. The city fell behind them, along with the dead man. Now they were coming upon the forest of the satyrs.
“We traveled nearly twenty minutes, I’d say,” Richard said.
“So if we ran the horses, we would get there faster?” she asked.
“Not in this area,” Richard replied. “These are the marshes. You run the horse here, and you’ll be walking the rest of the way. The horse’s legs would snap in the soft mud. If we can the horses all the way to here, and then all the way to Hellio after the marshes, then we would get there faster. The marshes enter into the forest of the satyrs, but only for about a mile.”
“I never knew you knew so much about this road, Richard,” Brianna said.
“I learned it all from my father,” he said. He looked down at his bloody wrists for a moment. He leaned over and reached into the saddlebag and pulled out two pieces of cloth. He gingerly tied them around his wrists.
“We will be out of the marshes soon. Then we can run the rest of the way,” Richard said.
“The quicker we get there, the better,” she said.
“I agree,” Richard said. He finally got the cloth tied tight. It hurt for them to be so tight, but he knew he had to stop the bleeding and they didn’t have time to stop so he could tend to it more properly.
“How are you planning on rescuing Katie out of the prison?” Brianna asked. It seemed like she was coming along for the ride, and was just now wanting to know where the bumps where.
“I don’t know yet,” Richard answered. He looked over at Brianna. She wore a light brown shirt and shorts. Her brown hair fluttered in the wind.
“What is it?” she asked him, probably not liking the look in his eyes.
“He had said that they were after you and Katie,” Richard said.
“Yes,” Brianna said.
“But he had said that he had been after me as well,” Richard said. “I wonder what is going on.”
“I would like to know that same thing,” she said back.
The man had said that they were property of Emperor Astroth. That could only mean that Astroth had really broke the truce and started a war. But why would it be started now? There had to be something more important than certain people or riches that he was after. What was this “prophecy” that the soldier had said?
Wasn’t there a thing in history about prophecies being the start to wars? DId that mean that a prophecies had been uncovered and Astroth thought there would be someone who would try to overthrow him? Is that the real reason why he broke the truce? So that no one would do it before him?
Prophecies were rare. It was unlikely that they would uncover one in Richard’s life time. In a way, it was exciting. The last prophecy to be uncovered had been nearly one hundred years ago. Richard wondered what the prophecy was about, if there really was one.
Emperor Astroth and Lord Zarha ruled the territory of Sandora, which was the land next to Serdio. Before now, Sandora and Serdio had been a truce that had been created by the Queen of Serdio and Astroth. It had restored peace between the two lands for the last fifteen years.
Being in enemy territory was not a very good idea, Richard thought to himself. But he knew that it was worth the risk.
“Richard, what do you think they want Katie for?” Brianna asked. She was watching everything around them. Richard spotted a few cows in the distance.
“Maybe she was in the prophecy too,” Richard muttered.
“You don’t think, you know, that she might possess some kind of magic?” Brianna asked skeptically.
“What do you mean? If she had any magic, we would have known by now,” Richard said.
“Are you so sure?” Brianna asked. “What about the Book of Tradition?” she asked.
“That book is full of silly superstition that people made up and decided to make it traditional,” Richard said. “It’s nonsense.”
The Book of Tradition had things in it that Richard thought were ridiculous. The whole book talked about how everyone should respect the ‘gods’. Richard thought it was all phony junk created to make people drop their sins. Brianna believed in the Book of Tradition.
The Gods were thought of as people from the spirit world that decided the world’s fate. There were strange passages in the ancient book that Richard thought sounded like words for a prophecy, but he knew that no one really believed that they were actually prophecy.
“But you’re not even going to consider it?” she asked, irritated.
“No,” Richard said.
“But in the book, it says that people could be given the powers of a god,” Brianna defended. Richard knew that she was very spiritual about such things.
“And what kind of powers do you think those might be?” Richard asked.
“How am I suppose to know?” she asked. Richard shook his head.
“Where is the proof that that stuff is real?” he asked her.
“Where is the proof that it is not real?” she stung.
“The point is, Brianna, that the ‘gods’ were a fictional thing created to make people think that they would be punished by their wrath if they did something wrong,” Richard asked. Brianna smirked at him.
“You think it’s a load of rubbish,” she said.
“Yea, I do,” Richard said.
“Well, you’re going to feel very stupid when we find out that there really are gods in the world,” she said.
“What are you talking about?” Richard asked, turned in his saddle to look at her. There was a gleam in her eye.
“Think about it, Richard. Who do we know that has immense power to take over the lands? Who had the power to control dragons, as it is said to happen in the book? Who could possibly cause chaos in the world?” she asked him. Richard watched her for a moment before it hit him.
“Lord Zarha,” Richard whispered. Brianna nodded.
“But that’s only because he is a wizard,” Richard said.
“Only a wizard?” she asked him in a shocked voice. “Myles is a wizard. Lord Zarha has a lot of power. Where do you think he got it?”
“That’s just nonsense,” Richard said. It seemed Brianna decided to drop it because she didn’t press any farther.
She pulled her horse up next to his. They walked, side by side for a while in silence. Richard kept thinking that he hoped to make it to Katie before something really bad happened. As they came to the end of the marsh lands, a while later, they set their horses into a run.
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