Chapter 8

Smug about finding out the mysterious stranger's name I walk back to the faint light of a fire that I see in the distance. When I reach the camp, I see George, who apparently is named Avalon, and no one else. Resigning to the fact that this might be just the way things are I shrug.

"What do you think Avalon, time for bed?"

The horse neighs in response and I begin again to wonder what was up with the horse. I go back into the carriage and grab the sword that I left in it from when we first got here. I look at it and speak a silent wish that Selena and Craig are okay. I bring the sword to the campsite and place it next to the fire, just in case.

"Avalon, watch the sword, make sure it doesn't go anywhere."

Avalon looks at me with a look of disdain. I shrug it off and go into the forest to collect tree boughs to make a makeshift bed. Back home Zane and I used to go camping out at night. We'd make beds out of tree boughs and tell stories all night until we passed out from exhaustion. I sigh, wishing for the old days to come back, when I was just a boy.

Coming back to the campsite with an armful of boughs, I drop them all on the ground and arrange them neatly. Luckily, this forest is filled with leafed trees instead of needled ones. I lie onto my bed and look up at the stars when I hear the familiar crunching of feet on twigs.

"I see you completed your test."

I nod, "Yup, Amanda, I was able to get it good after you told me the secret."

"I made you weaker, and you are weak for requiring the hint."

I sit up, defensive, "No, you helped me. Helping me makes me stronger not weak."

"If a butterfly is coming out of its cocoon and you help it get out it will die."

"I'm not a butterfly."

"The same principle applies."

"Then," I say smugly, "Why did you help me?"

She is silent and doesn't answer.

"Well?" I ask, "Why did you help me?"

"I feel we've talked about this enough tonight you need your sleep."

I feel force invade my mind, a pressure in my skull as if something were crawling around inside it. Then I pass out.

~~~~~~~~~~

In the morning when I awake, I see Amanda standing with her back to a tree staring at me. Groggy, I stand up and rub my eyes.

"Hey Amanda."

"We must go somewhere, our position has been compromised."

I sigh, "This is the second time in a row I've been woken up to some dangerous event." As I say this my stomach growls, causing me to blush. "I think I'm a bit hungry. I haven't eaten in a whole day you know."

Amanda's face goes from expressionless to a glare. "Okay, we'll get food."

She starts going through the woods as Avalon and I follow. Together we traverse the forest until we come across a settlement of some people. There appears to be a group of dark skinned natives enjoying a group banquet at a communal table.

Amanda walks into the village and they immediately greet her with fear and suspicion, and I get a bad feeling. Amanda disintegrates before their very eyes and her cloak falls upon the ground, empty. Then out of the cloak swarm thousands of centipedes, ants, spiders and various other insects. The natives scream in fear, running in the opposite direction.

All the insects then retreat into the cloak as Amanda reappears, turning back to us with her same expressionless face.

"Here is food for you."

I nod, terrified and disgusted that it was an insect monster that kissed me just last night. I give her a wide berth as I walk to the food of the feast and I gorge myself. When I am full, I stand up and look at Amanda.

"Alright, I'm good, we can head out."

She looks at me with an expressionless face and turns without saying a word. She continues walking and Avalon and I follow, being obedient to her leadership and command.

The End

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