"Morley," Van said, propping himself up on his elbows and staring despondently at the old man. "I'm tired, and I don't think I can get up, much less carry on like this. I think you should--"
"But I think--"
Morley glared at Van. "When I say be quiet, I mean be quiet!" Morley was silent himself for a while, and then a ghost of a smile inched across his face. "Do you hear that?"
By now Van was downright cross, but he paused his griping to listen. All he could hear was the whistle of the wind, and far behind him the muffled sounds of a bustling city.
"I don't hear anything," he said. But just then, there was a rumbling over the asphalt horizon. A storm? No...there wasn't a cloud in the sky. This must be...
"Hidey Ho, Morley!" shouted a horse rider and him and his posse reined their horses to a halt in front of the two adventurers. The horse rider was clad head to toe in emerald-plated armor so that the only part of him that was visible was a sliver of gray eyes and rosy cheeks.
"Hidey Ho to you too, Horace!" Morley replied. He grinned. "You're just on time."
"I'm always on time," Horace said with an indignant sniff. His attitude suddenly changed when he cast eyes on Van, lying on the road, holding his aching shin. "And who is this?"
A long silence instilled upon the group. A horse snorted.
"Well," Horace said hurriedly, "There's no point in being late. Morley, we brought a horse for you. If we'd known you had company, we'd have brought another...but no bother. Van can ride with me."
"Wait a minute," Van said, scrambling to his feet. "Where are we going?"
"Princess Magnolia's castle, of course."
"Come along, Van, time is of the essence," Morley said. He mounted his pony and gestured for Van to mount Horace's mighty white steed.
Van knew it was time to make his decision.