The edge of the village was reassured by an expeditiously, pegged-together, wooden wall. The concept that these walls were put up to fend off invaders was almost laughable. The only thing Teiy could consider, behind the rationality of their existence, was simply to watch those who enter and depart. However, even that simple task was poorly handled. There were several occasions when Teiy managed to slip as a younger child. The days back then when he would hunt game with Wikleyt, and his father, brought fond feelings of nostalgia to his senses.
A single man stood guarding the gate itself. Two peasants very likely worked on either side of the front gate's connecting walls, to get the reels cranking for it to open and close. Checking in and out stayed a slight annoyance, but it at the very least made the villagers feel safe.
Gladius leaned off an edge of the wagon's side, “Let us out! You know who we work for. Mundi and his aids keep this town armed, now get on with it!”
“It's all precautions, mercenary. It's the likes of you, and those fellows that just left, that make this wall quite useful. Don't want anything funny, or foolish, to occur due to a blind eye.”
The guard made sure the gate closed securely, before starting right up again to open it. The scanty, wooden planks wiggled as the conduit worked its way to freedom. Once all was still, the guard waved onward while leaning on a sodden barrel of booze. Gladius once again drooped back out of view to take a conspicuous nap.
Past the walls of the town, all that surrounded was plains covered in diverse ferns. Many ferns were styled with different colors and sizes, but all of them shared the common attribute of making alternate passage off the road completely inaccessible for the old, shop cart. While the flat caught Teiy's intrigue, the knights who all stood on their horses by the town gate did also. Maybe there's another inside that's holding those poor sods from moving on. They did all appear to be in a hurry before...
Distance was made. Dense forests could be seen up ahead now. The plain's vegetation seemed to interestingly die down before the forest began. A bad characteristic of the present landscape, nonetheless, was the elevated and non-elevated slopes the surrounding hills created. While vision still proved usable, the line of sight would not allow for a far perception of the area around them.
Teiy peeped the back of the wagon for signs of life, “Hey.”
The breeze stayed ever so light on the ears.
“I hope your not resting, bodyguard.”
The sheets in the back ruffled after the fact, “Please! Are you having trouble seeing, buck?”
“That's not the issue. You are my protection. That's why Mundi hired you. I hope you didn't lend me this shield to make me do it all myself!”
“Oh quiet! I'm doing my part. With all this moonlight, we'd be able to witness any movement at a far enough distance to react. With my crossbow, that is absolute!”
“Crossbow? Well the landscape will make scanning for harm quite difficult.”
“How often have you traveled brat? I've traveled more times on these paths than you could even hope, or wish, to do yourself! Not to mention I’ve served my time fighting fight's you'd loose your egotistic sanity in within the blink of a eye!”
“What 'fight' might that be?”
“The Caroline War... three years I served, right at the end of all times... It really was something. Your aware of it, are you not?”
“Of course, The Hundred Years War... even our small village has losses...”
“Say, we should probably set up a place to rest for the night. The nearer we draw to those forests, the less safe we'd be I assure you.”
“I suppose.” Teiy pulled the reigns lightly to keep a slowed break. Once the horses calmed, and the wagon laid beside the road, Teiy hopped off. His hardened solarets slid on the soft dirt, and he fell.
Gladius looked down, brimming with laughter. “Come now, keep your balance! We'll be needing to unpack some things.”
Teiy stood with a tight sensation of embarrassment in his chest as he approached his companion. Holding his hands up, he awaited for the first load.
The flame shunned most of the cold of the night, but it, most of all, made them both feel more comfortable and secure. Something about the flame, its warmth, its motions, left off a pure aura for the occasion. They only had rags collected from the cart to use for bed rolls. One lumpy cloth-roll to cover the craggy soil, and one to ward off the growing cold. The flame molded the image of Teiy's companion, who rested at the other side. There stayed a long moment of silence as Gladius spent a great deal of time fine-tuning his arsenal. Teiy took the moment of free time to check the package from his mother. The box was wrapped in a hard leather, but even with that he could feel the hard stone of the thing inside. Unwrapping took only a moment and the small case was now visible. It wore intricate designs across its rocky stone surface, and held a latch of bronze over one end. Inside laid a trinket from afar. The purple trinket came in the form of a pendant, which came in the shape of a shield. It looked unique to any others Teiy could recall seeing in the past. Peasants and those of no noble blood tended to never bother with such things, yet...
“What's that you have there?”
Teiy placed it around his neck and looked down onto the shield that dangled below the chain. “Just a trinket from my mother...”
Gladius yawned absurdly, “Well, we mine-as-well call this night off unless you have something interesting up your sleeve?”
Teiy sat quiet and courteous, with no words to form whatever thoughts that came to mind.
“I have to get some energy for the latter of this shipping process. Hopefully this will be the last time I have to go this path again...”
His voice faded unexpectedly, and Gladius appeared fast asleep. At that moment, Teiy uncovered that Gladius did indeed have a skill worth mentioning. One he was able to show early on this trip. Teiy slid his fingers against the pendant's smooth surface and giggled, until falling under himself.
A disheveled voice shrieked out of the dream's silence, “Hey!”
“Jehan! Keep an eye on this one. Look now! We need that wag-”
“I'll fire if you dare to take one step closer you swine mou-”
“We don't have time for this! Get on the wagon if you don't want anything to happen to you!”
Teiy linked the conversation together from his perception, then opened his eyes for a peek. All that caught his attention then was the arrowhead, and where it was aiming. His grip tightened on the moist soil, and sunk within it. The arrow kept its position, and was aimed in a professional manner.
“Traveler, you have no idea how important this situation remains! I don't want to hurt either of you, but if it must be done it will. Now, get on the damned cart!”
Teiy turned, shaking from the commotion. Fog distorted most faculty a dozen-or-so feet out. An unknown amount of well-equipped knights could be seen standing in several areas of the fog, two focusing attention on the viewer. Teiy raised his palms up and stood just in-front of the ever so cautious arrow tip.
“Good. Jehan! Get on the cart. Benoit! Get off that horse and help me with this chest!”
Teiy tried to build the courage to speak, but his will died down in bursts at each sway of the aimed arrow.
The holder of the bow now spoke, “What of this one?”
Gladius could be heard somewhere in the fog, “Let him go! He means no harm to the lot of ya!”
“No... we cant. He either goes along, or -”
“Teiy! Where are you?”
The bow holder's voice echoed forward, “Go on.”
Teiy struggled to move, “Wh- who -”
A knight, to the left, held out his hand and Teiy reached it in infernal fear. While led along, the wisps and shapes of the brume were all that could be seen ahead of the plain-white blind. A wagon wheel took form and the two knights could be seen carrying a chest towards the cart's cargo area. The faceless man released his grip and lifted Teiy atop the drivers seat. Gladius sat on the adjoining seat, appearing wounded at a first glance. However, he was simply hunched over in negativity and apparent agitation. Even one such as himself could probably feel such a sensation as that.
The carriage churned as the templars slid the container under the tarp. One came at the side of Gladius, and was in clear view now. He wore elegant mail topped with a surcoat of red on his chest, forming white checkered patterns at its center.
Gladius raised himself in appearance and sat motionless, “You - that seal... Your a royal knight, of French origin, are you not?”
“Whether I am or not sets no dent in the present situation.”
Gladius remained silent and listened on.
“We are not bandits. I'm sorry for this inconvenience, but we have no other option at present. I can't tell you travelers the fine points, but we are dealing with an extremely crucial shipment of our own. Whatever it is in that cart of yours has as much value as a bundle of hay in comparison to this very haul's importance. Now, you will never uncover what has happened today to anyone, and you will be being accompanied by two of our most skilled champions... and don't try anything will you. You seem cocky, that could get you killed.”
“It's on and in place captain!”
“Good. Jehan, Audric, get in the back under the tarp. You, 'Gladius' was it? Don't try anything do you hear me. We are not enemies here, we simply have to work together. This ordeal does effect us all. Now ride, shoo!” The captain sheathed his blade of gold and molded away within the heedless mist.
A voice from the rear, “Ride! We're being pursued if you weren't informed.”
Teiy lashed out his command at the steeds, and they marched along with it. The cloud blocked most vision from the fore front.
The French knight under the title of Jehan leaned close behind, “Where were you headed?”
“Hm... head there, but make sure not to enter. A wagon check would make all of our efforts go to waste.”
The other knight under the title of Audric crawled under the tarp. Gladius sighed, “I don't understand this 'effort' you rant on about. We've nothing to do with this problem your facing. I don't care what your dunce of a captain said otherwi-”
“We can't explain the details. It does effect you bodyguard. You two were to send weapon and armor loads to Builth were you not?”
Teiy turned to Gladius and they nodded.
“Then nothing will change other than having a little company, and greater safeguard, along the way.”
Gladius visibly raised his temper and moved his arms to the side.
Jehan smiled and rubbed Teiy's head, “We mean no harm. You can calm yourself now. I will even make sure that from here to our destination, you will have my devoted support. I swear to it now!”
“Jehan! You should probably get down here. We don't know for certain if the others will get all of them off our track.”
Branches began to brush past the cart's wooden structure and an earthly smell became, more and more, preeminent. The fog didn't coat the inside of the forest as it did the exterior grounds. While it still remained, the trail ahead was surely visible. The movements and scurrying of creatures in the wood were clearly visible. A paced and powerful breeze could be felt as-well, bringing many detached leaves and wood flakes into the surrounding air. The trees brought a calming sentiment of peace, after the sudden commotion earlier. They would pass by for some time, as the next checkpoint, out of the natural labyrinth, would not be seen for quite a while. A good time to rest the senses.
But the container in the cargo, it must hold something of unmeasurable value. Could it be a prince's head? The king's crown returning after a fresh wash in a lake? The endless possibilities stumped Teiy's, broad mind.
The cart skipped a log and the container could be heard whisking under the sounds of the clanging metal.
Gladius sighed, “We should be exiting this backwoods pass shortly.”
Teiy nodded in deep thought.
The sounds of rushing water made its stay in Teiy's auditory now. A river could be seen close by to the right, through some layers of hardwood and brush. It looked gloomy off at the fog's edge.
Jehan popped out and rose for a stretch, “Would've been nice to take a quick dip.”
“What's in that chest.” Teiy asked in monotone.
Light protruded through the pines up above, and the morning fog slowly rose back to the sky. The watery dew it left on everything brought a glossy sheen to the timberland around them. Gladius tapped his foot in different patterns against the jockey box of the wagon, but boredom didn't ensue for Teiy. As the sun traveled the sky, Teiy's mind traveled where this situation might bring them. Would they reach Builth, only to be re-directed to the French kingdom? Would the knights kill them in their sleep once their use as bait was finished? Would they ever be able to find out what's inside that chest?
A full-moon infected the darkness.
“Halt driver! We'll stop here.”
Teiy did as told. The horses stopped yet again and stood on the path's brim.
Jehan raised his hand, “We will all rest now. By the end of tomorrow, we should almost have reached Builth.”
“What then?” Gladius remarked.
“We'll see. But for now we'll eat, then sleep. Audric! Get to cooking! You two, get the bedding supplies out from the cart.”
Teiy and Gladius yanked off the coarse, material covering and the mysterious chest stood before them. It was colored, oddly, a bright blue and seemed to be made of diamond. The chest itself must be incredible in price. What's held inside... must be even more valuable.
“Come on Teiy, lets get the rags. I bet they won't be thrilled by their quality, in the least.” Gladius smirked.
They lifted up the stain-coated rags and wrapped them into a ball. A fire was in the process of being made by Audric, as Jehan began to remove some of his armour.
Jehan eyed the trashy sheets, “What might those be?”
Gladius tossed him one, “You guessed it.”
Audric whacked a metal spoon against his iron pot, “That's the best you've got? Unreal! Why'd I leave my things on that damned horse! Well I’m going to be sleeping on that wagon, with this thing. You as-well Jehan?”
“I guess I will. What about the fire?”
Teiy arranged his sheet on the soil, and wrapped it around himself. The position outside proved cold by the swift, continuing breeze. He got back up and made his way to the cart.
Audric twitched, “And where are yougoing now? If you plan on sleeping in that wagon, well I’ve got bad news for ya. If you can't handle the cold, sleep under the wagon then... Fire! Finally! Jehan, keep this goin' while I get -”
Teiy covered his ears and shut his eyes. Under the cart was cold, but the heat of the flame could still be felt. The two thin rags he used, before, weren't even enough at that time. The shield pendant dangled before him. He stared into its unearthly glow, and waned to slumber.