As the matter was then settled, or at least seemed to be the friends, for that was truly what they had become during the two year marriage, settled back and told each other about the minor village duty’s they had both been responsible for taking over as training for when they would rule in earnest. Any passerby or onlooker from the castle could see how happy they were. If there was pity about not having produced an heir, the passerby had no doubt that it would simply come with time, you cannot rush these things, and everyone knew that.
Aaron was about to head off into the forest. Bianca, his parents and a few friends were there at the stable to see him off. It was agreed between himself, his mother and wife that it would be thought to be a hunting excursion. As such it would only be Aaron and Elliot camping out in the woods, hunting for a week before coming home with their catch.
“Be safe my son, and remember the map I gave you. I’ve hidden it in your bedroll” whispered his mother.
“Oh Valerie, get off the lad your smothering him. It’s not as though he’ll be gone a year.”
Playfully he pulled his wife from his son only to grab him in a crushing embrace. He released Aaron quickly and thumped him on the back.
“Good luck to you son, I would be going with ya, but your mother is having none of that. Instead it seems as though we are off on our annual village tour a few weeks early. Women, bah, but you’ll learn that soon enough on your own.” Donnall pulled Valerie in front of him and wrapped his arms around her waist. “You know son, I think that when we return we’ll set up a hunt of our own and have a celebration for the keep, what do you think?”
“Well father, I can’t think of anything that I would want to stop a celebration for, it should be a merry time, and just the thing to welcome in this spring.”
“Good lad, well then my boy, we’re off. Knowing your mother, we have to start packing now if we plan to leave in a few days time.”
Dodging a good natured blow to the chest, Donnall easily gathered his wife into his arms and sauntered off to the castle leaving Bianca to say her own farewell.
Over the past two years, a comfortable friendship had grown very easily between the three of them. Bianca kissed them both goodbye and wished them well.
“Just remember to come back with some sort of animal kill or we might have much to explain. Game is plentiful right now, and if you could bring back a rabbit or two for winter mittens, that would be lovely.”
“Dear sweet lady, keeper of my heart. For you I would harness the moon and present it on a platter”
“Elliot, if you but bring back a way to produce an heir that would be the best gift of all” She replied.
“As for those pretty words, use them on one who will give you a reward. Namely my husband, he is over-worried right now, and it saddens me to see him so.”
“Dear heart, I shall do my absolute best to chase away his worries and bring back the easy smiles. Now kiss us and let us be on our way. We have much ground to cover.”
Laughing and smiling wide Bianca wound her arms around Elliot’s neck kissing him on the cheek. Aaron grasped her right hand in one of his own and pulled her gently from Elliot’s embrace. Picking her up about the waist and spinning round to show that not all his smiles were gone Aaron kissed her deeply, if only for appearance sake then placed her back on the ground.
“Oh fair maiden, forget me not, I’ll be gone a short, short while until my arms around you then, take with you my smile. There you are Bianca, I’m not as worried as I was and I promise not to come back empty handed.”
“Then good sir, I give to you a proper goodbye in trade for a speedy hello.” Bianca stepped back as they mounted their horses and waved goodbye as the two men rode through the castle gates and beyond, in search of a miracle.
Aaron and Elliot made good time the first day out. Stopping once to water the horses and let them graze. It wasn’t at the fastest pace they rode, and certainly it need not be. The forest was already before them and it was an easy trail they followed. According to his map, they must follow the river for the next day and that would bring them to the base of Mount Krellis. It was there among the crags, near the top of the mountain, that they would find the Hermits cave.
His mother had said that they should depart camp in the morning and make their way as far up as the day would take them. When night fell they were to make a small fire, not to be used for cooking, and place in the handful of powder she had given him. It was to guide the Hermit to their camp she said. For, he never let anyone know his caves exact location. All in all Aaron and Elliot were looking forward to the trip as a means to spend time alone and not have to be guarded in their actions or words. It would be a pleasant vacation and they meant to make the most of it.