The path rode down a cliff-side junction that would eventually lead them to the area's floor. The lot of them sensed the unanimous agony. Thinking back, Teiy began understanding how his decision led to the indirect deaths of many. There were still many things he couldn't understand, many events that seemed out of place, but something seemed to seclude himself out of the populous. Numerous people died below those collapsing bars, but how could his own life be spared by such a random event? There was nothing Teiy could do to repair the damage inflicted. Whether he was the cause or not, his mind seemed dedicated on undoing the great wrong done. It would be a futile effort, as Teiy knew he could never return those of the dead to life. They were gone. Their hopes and dreams, closed by an iron curtain...
The King... What does he want from me? Why were all of those people treated as trivial nothingness?
Tal'Von Baron broke Teiy's consideration, “Where do you plan on heading?”
Teiy didn't move his sight from the descending cliff-route, “I don't know... I haven't a single idea where we are.”
The soldier, Venson, stumbled back, “You've got to be kidding! So you are a foreigner!”
Baron countered, “That has no importance, unless you wish to be as discriminatory as most of your peers!”
“You're odd head captain. How you got your position is beyond me!”
Teiy tilted towards them, “Will there be another road leading up, out of this earth-bowl?”
Tal'Von nodded, “Of course.”
The wagon started to gain speed as the slope steepened. Teiy yanked the reigns back, slowing the horses to a stiff, walking pace. He checked behind them all, but no pursuers were present. The sand worm must have been causing a great deal of havoc to Royce. Lyez was still inside there, but what could be done? There was no possible way for Teiy to enter through the front entrance. Maybe with some sly words, Teiy could borrow some armour to sneak his way in... No, that would be impossible. Venson would never trust Teiy's motives. He would only expect the worst.
Teiy looked to the head captain, “Tal'Von, I need you to tell me this. Is there another way inside Royce that's less secure than the entrance?”
Venson flinched, “Why does that interest you innocent, merchant boy?”
Teiy looked determined, “Someone I know is still in Royce! I have no idea what he's going through right now. I don't even know if he's still alive.”
The head captain took interest, “Yes, there was orders being given out to apprehend another.”
Teiy placed his hands firmly beside Tal'Von, “Are you serious!”
“Yes. As the head captain, I know much of what was going on through Royce. However, all they briefed us before-hand was that you caused 'dire treason' amongst the King, and his assistants. Nothing more than that.”
Teiy zoned out, “Were they going to kill me... or the other guy?”
Tal'Von sighed, “Just keep your eye on the road, and I’d be happy to explain -”
Venson butted in, “Don't explain anything! We don't know for sure if he's said one thing of the truth.”
The head captain peered at Venson, “I believe him. I choose to believe him.”
Venson looked helpless and irritated, “But... but that's just foolish!”
The head captain continued, “Teiy has said every part of his story in a way I can trust. However, that doesn't mean I’m putting down my defenses. I know I would win in a battle against him, every time. Without an armament imbued with rein stone, he would never stand a chance against me... against us. So there’s nothing to fear, soldier. Nothing at all.”
Venson exhaled, and rested on his back. “Fine.”
Tal'Von returned to Teiy, “You wish to enter Royce again so soon?”
Teiy responded without looking back, “Yeah. I won't let my friend die.”
Tal'Von gazed at the silent girl and her brother, “Well, Teiy, you were not assigned to be killed. If there was no hope in your capture, that would be the only time to use force against you. Your friend was to be treated equally.”
Teiy relaxed, “That's great news.”
Venson added, “Are you so confident this 'friend' wouldn't try and fight back?”
“I don't think so. He's a guard of Royce, just like the two of you. He has a strong loyalty to the city. He also wasn't armed when we split up.”
Tal'Von Baron coughed chiefly, “There is another way into the city, one only known be the elite ranked.”
The steep path lost its high angle. The brush, below the side of the cliff-edge, settled much closer. The horses increased pace at this slow return to flatland. The vast, and vibrant, verdant floor would be faced shortly.
The sun reached its limit. Night would fall in the coming hours. The wagon hobbled through a ditch, marking the end of the cliff-side road. They met the floor. The active, blue clusters of plant-life... The green grass below them... The mark of autumn held on those familiar trees... but all was not familiar in this land. This world seemed to shape itself to its liking, making no fitting room for the aspirations of man. No place left-out an extraordinary oddity. The oddity at this location was the blue and yellow, topping an ample green. Overhead, all was coated with orange. The livid eaters would soon leave their hiding spots. It was hard to believe that Teiy's entire journey with Lyez was but a day in time. It wouldn't end there though...
I'll free you Lyez.
Teiy halted the wagon below the great descent, “This passageway would be behind us?”
The head captain nodded, pointing off beyond the bottom of the high trail they'd trekked. “It's where the edge of the cliff meets the jutting rock of the downwards trail. I'll open it once we reach the spot.”
Venson cringed, “Head captain! I don't want this guy seeing the entrance for himself! No way I’ll allow it! I didn't even know of such an entrance myself. That information is too crucial.”
Tal'Von swayed his hand vertically, “Rest easy now. I don't plan on leaving Teiy's side. I'll be watching every move he makes, until I’m certain he isn't guilty of anything. But Teiy -”
Tal'Von cleared his throat, “I think Venson would be more equipped for riding to this passage. Also -”
Teiy rose to his feet, “I understand. You want to conceal the way there from me?”
Teiy walked out of the jockey box, at the front, and fell back on the large tarp. “I trust you both won't just turn me in, will you?” Teiy noticed Catasca draw her sight over for a moment, only to return to silence.
Venson lifted to the drivers seat.
Tal'Von crossed his arms, “You don't trust us after almost being obliterated by that archer fire? We could've snatched you at the very start. That wouldn't have tarnished our names as this would.”
Venson shook, “You think we're part of the hunt now?”
The captain focused on the quiet Catasca, and Ethel. “You've both suffered much. You probably don't want to be any part of this. You can both leave now if you wish -”
“No!” Catasca stared, driven. “If I leave here, I’ll never find out why all of this happened. I'm going.”
The head captain smiled considerately, “Very well. The only reason I asked was because, we need to protect the solitude of this passage. You both can't just -”
Catasca reached out her hand, “Give us the blindfolds.”
The head captain looked surprised, “It's good to be so understanding. Thank you.”
Tal'Von tore two, small sections from the already, distinct tear in the tarp. “Here, just fasten these over your eyes. Night will fall soon anyways. Mine-as-well catch some sleep.”
Catasca pushed back her younger brother, and placed one wrap over his eyes.
Tal'Von Baron gestured forwards, “Let's get going! Turn around and follow the edge of the bluff.”
Venson extended his arms to the right, the horse's heads edged correspondingly. Their hard footing met the soft soil. The rickety jerks of the wagon foreshadowed the instability of the detour ahead. The head captain lent Teiy a wrapping, and Teiy held it above. On his back, Teiy could see the darkening sky, but through the blind, all was shadow.
Tal'Von sat up again, reaching in the hole of the cargo, “Alright, we should set up the torches.”
Teiy swallowed, “Livid eaters...” The old man's cart was covered in torch-scones...
The head captain paused, “Where...”
This wagon wasn't built with such things in mind... The ride to Builth was to take three days. We can't travel in this wagon with light, all at one time. We would need to stop, and set up a camp... but how much supplies remained?
“There's no place to hold the torches!”
Not enough for the whole night. There's no way enough torches remained for that. All the ground was covered with ferns...
Tal'Von grabbed Teiy by his shoulders, “Where's the slots for the torches? Wheres all your torch stems to begin with? There's only three here!”
Teiy opened his eyes, the darkness blotting out the reality... but not his mind. He was free, away from any problem that persisted... but he removed this blind, and received the head captain's perception of dim desperation.