The moderate temperature was a warm welcome upon awaking beneath the hesitant, old buckboard. It was hard to accept that there was a journey to venture upon, as Teiy felt so comfortable where he laid. The single sheet proved commensurable from past doubts. However, it was sadly time to continue onwards. Waking up, on his own measure, meant that the others must be just about ready to depart. This idea was considered due to the expectation of being woken up early in the morning, with only bare hours of sleep. It would be a sensible feat towards the continuation of their circumvention, of supposed importance. Teiy worked the will to open his eyes and end his relaxation.
Across his aspect, the fire was unoccupied. Teiy rolled out from underneath the wagon and built himself up to his feet. He scanned the horizon to the west, past the fire. Not a soul was seen. A torn sleeping-rag rested beside the burnt-out fire-pit.
“Jehan, is this Gladius' bedding?”
There was no answer from behind. The French warriors slept in the cart that rearmost night, it would be a strange oddity for them to be asleep so late in the day. The sun still only could be seen a forth of its venture across the blue yonder.
“Did Gladius go for something, Jehan?”
Teiy turned to the cart, no one was in view.
Teiy smelt his garments, no it wasn't them. What was this smell? Teiy quickly took the torn rags into his clasp and examined the trims. A fox? A wolf by chance? The cuts were certainly made with force. It was no simple, mistakable tear. Despite this finding, he couldn't point out if these rags were, in-fact, in adequate condition before-hand either.
“This is pointless. Gladius! Where are you!”
The echoing of his voice replied promptly.
Wincing at the cart, Teiy knew something was amiss. Only one horse remained in its position. All the same: the smell, the tears, and the absence of life all proved strange. No blood could be seen on the rags. The knights... couldn't have killed Gladius in his sleep. If they did, a body would still be in place, and the wagon would be long gone. Teiy, himself, might even be dead in such a scenario.
Being kidnapped. That idea also didn't seem to fit. The fact that the cart would stay with all of its supplies... did the cart have all of its supplies? Teiy realized he had been unconsciously avoiding the wagon since he stumbled upon this vacancy of activity.
He made slow steps toward the quiet cart. “Jehan.” Another. “Audric?” Five-or-so feet off. “Please. Say something.”
The wall of hickory blocked any sight of what might not be above. He placed both hands upon the wagon-bed's side. Briskly, he rose himself to view... Rosary red, he remained in a limbo. A hand? Feet? Blood.
Teiy opened his eyes to the, once again, blue sky above him. He sat up, off of the moist soil, and began to cry.
They were surely dead. Where Gladius slept, no blood was found.
The tears corrupted his display. He couldn't focus. What was there to focus on?
What is happening? Why am I alive? Why did they have to die...
Teiy arouse from his knees. The woodland edge stayed behind their trail. A figure could scantily be seen against a darkened tree. When noticing it, it hid from further sight. Teiy grasped his blade's hilt, and advanced to the waving timber. Their crooked and twisted formations seemed slightly unfamiliar to the feeling they let off prior.
“Gladius! Is that you?”
Relieving his shield from his back, Teiy was ready for the worst.
The figure leaned from beside the woven, dead pine. Pale. It stared back. It had the visible features of a man from a distance... but did it? No feature of a man's could be seen on its face. Just pale white. Its range made its size obscure, but it was gone. Teiy contracted his brows, and diminished to the cart.
Jehan and Audric deserved a proper burial, sadly he had no such equipment at hand. Teiy yanked the cart's covering and wrapped it around all the meaty bits that were there. Some armor remained, along with a blade in its sheath. Teiy positioned the wrapped remnants off the road, and stabbed the blade through them to hold the wrappings in place.
“I'm sorry Audric... Jehan. I don't understand why you had to die. Was it your pursuers? Only if you could tell me. I will believe that something you did, some choice you made, is what has kept me alive until now. And I will believe that some action you shaped, has created the possibility that Gladius lives as well. So, I will say my farewell to you both. I hope you are both in a better place... I really hope so. Goodbye... we might've been able to become friends at some point after your mission went thru. Your mission -”
Teiy remembered the diamond chest after all of this commotion. He hopped in a circle and bustled to the cargo bed, and the sleek container looked back at him as it obediently sat in its place. Teiy could almost see his reflection of relief through the flat surface of the smooth thing.
He shook his head and looked once more to his companion's grave. For a moment he paused.
The reigns called him, and he lashed the single horse forth.
If Gladius did survive that event, he would have certainly taken the horse. The fact one remains means that the attackers mustn't have been after immobilizing the cart. The only conclusion, then, is that Gladius used it to escape. The only ideal place to escape to would be Builth, right? Maybe he lead the attackers away from the campsite. Anything could have happened, but Builth was as credible of a destination as there would be.
Teiy brushed the grease from atop his temples. “Gladius... please.”
The trail rode amidst flats. The duration of the light-green, grass blades drew all the way out to the foggy mountains in their expanse. A smaller wagon could be seen heading the opposite direction far off in the distance. In a short time, they would come to pass. Maybe they would know of something?
Teiy waved a sheet in the air as he continued his approach. The dust trail of the divergent cart grew grander in scale, till their confrontation was mere moments off. Both wagons began to halt in momentum until they both receded to a walking pace.
A lovable looking, old man waved atop the differing wagon's jockey box. “Hello there! Is something a-matter?”
Teiy threw the rag back in the cargo bed. “Yea. I've recently lost someone. Have you seen a man, the look of a mercenary, riding my way any time past?”
“Why... no I haven't. Did something happen?”
“Just... watch the trail back there. Some strangers attacked us in our sleep and... killed two of our passengers. I wasn't found, yet I have a feeling that one of my friends is still safe somewhere down the road.”
“I'm so sorry. I haven't seen anyone on the trail all this morning. For something like this to happen to someone so young.”
Teiy glanced away, detached. “Thank you so much for stopping to my aid.”
“It was nothing, nothing at all. I'm very sorry. You probably won't make it to the next town before moonlight, but there is an inn just up ahead past that clearing there. Very nice man holds the place, he's very kind. I want you to stay safe now!”
“Yes, thank you so much! You keep an eye out all-the-more!”
“Yes! And another thing!”
“Make sure you don't skip the inn! You mustn't stay o-”
Teiy was certain the old man was still speaking, yet the space between them broke the barrier of conception.
Pondering a certain detail of the old man's wagon, Teiy began to wonder. Torch scones surrounded the rims of the elderly man's carriage. The first deduction in mind was that it improved the man's night eye-sight, yet the sheer number of them was the catch. None of them were in use at the time of the meeting, which was practical due to the time, but what must be its prime use for these parts. Maybe he is from a far-off place covered in snow. The warmth of the blazing torches would surely aid in some manner. He would probably live in a quiet, wooden cabin in the middle of some frosty woodland. A canine might await his return there, a fine feast placed out during his absence. That hound would live free of worry, being catered in every way that mattered to him. All that would be on his mind, is when his friend would return. When would he be able to play with him again, to see the world with him.
Returning to reality brought a choke of sadness, and fear. The wagon felt lonely with no-one accompanying him. Even when Gladius slept without a sign showing his existence, Teiy could rest easy knowing that another being was still there by his side. In the face of such hardships, Teiy seemed to abound a rapid dependance on Gladius. In the two, short days they've traveled, two horrific incidents occurred. Having someone who you can trust is the greatest slayer of desolation. So Teiy would ride to Builth in search of him.
Pinkish wisps coated the canopy sea overhead. The billows wore vibrant pigments in this present juncture of time. Night would attain command, pressingly soon. Rolling hillsides filled gaps in the flatland. The wagon bowed as the beaten track turned around a high-slope. Glowing illuminations could be seen on the convergent bluffs ahead. The inn must be close.
And it was. About the towering drift, a wooden structure took heed. A small, stone wall surrounded its existence, and two small, log cabins were set across from its plotted location on the road's boundary. Another wagon was posted outside of the wall, horseless. That might not be anything out of the ordinary though, on the contrary, it would make sense to bring the horse within the walls to lend them amassed security. Teiy did the same as his fellow traveler. He held his cart still nearby the distinct wagon he now accompanied. Before getting down, Teiy wrapped a sheet over some of the cargo in the back. The chest in particular received a sheet all to itself. The mission of the templars was still fresh on his mind.
He fell below, and the inn was now out of view from this defensive wall. Ironically, the wall in place at this small establishment seemed remarkably more efficient than the barricade of his own hamlet. An ample, iron gate stood at the center of the barrier connecting to the trail. A trumpet was mantled, and embedded, within one of the door's many bars. Teiy held the tip and placed his lips against the rough mouthpiece. He took in a deep breath and blew with intensity. The boisterous vooming mirrored in his head, as the gateway vibrated at the touch.
Light from the opening log-cabin door covered the separating gap of grass and flowers. An able-bodied man approached, “Welcome!”
The bearded man stood at the other side, “Looking for a place for the night?”
“Alright. Well then let's get this thing opened for ya...”
“Oh, and do you have any large blankets, by chance, that I could purchase? I need a covering for the equipment in my wagon.”
“Yeah! I'll have something for ya. Okay!”
The man slid the gate open, and peeked over at the cart. “Would you like to put your horse in the lit stables?”
“Yea, that'd be great.”
Alright, so the horses are being kept inside...
The burly man paced over to the steed and managed the ropes. It was amazing to see how quickly he became amiable with the animal.
The door of the inn creaked slightly, but no one was in sight at a swift turn.
The man returned, the horse at hand. “Oh, you can just head inside. I'll get this horse of yours there with no trouble I can assure you.”
“Thank you very much.”
The man seemed distressed, and exhausted, underneath his uplifting outer coating. The exceedingly-sturdy, obstruction-surrounding sided with that fact.
Teiy took hold of the door knob, and a deep breath. Would Gladius be inside? It wasn't likely, but the hope of such a thing still settled in his conscience. With a light tug, Teiy opened the hardwood entry.