Chapter Six: Breadcrumbs

The morning came round slowly as Jonrah lay awake in bed. He had returned home shortly after his visit to the Guard, but had spent some time wandering the streets trying to formulate a plan. None came to mind.

With the Eastern Emblem at the foreground of his mind, he was not concentrating when he got out of bed as the sun came up. He sat at the table downstairs, waiting for his family to join him.

As Karlin descended the staircase with Jodar behind her, Jonrah put on a brave face and behaved as he normally would; trying to put this behind him was the only way that he would return to normal.

But it was harder than it seemed. Just as he felt he was getting back into the norm and his head was clearing of the mysteries that surrounded his discovery, the emblem would flash in his mind and he would suddenly become very distracted and distant as he thought over everything he had found out over the last twelve hours or so.

He still had no plan of action - his warning had been unsuccessful, and there was certainly no way that he could hold off the coming storm on his own.

Despite his earlier decision to give up hope of warning the Guard, Jonrah couldn't help but think that if he were only to find more evidence of a threat, maybe then he would be taken seriously.

No immediate thoughts came to him, until he looked around him for the first time today. Properly, taking in his surroundings, abandoning the confines of his mind. He gazed towards his son, who was sitting on the floor playing with a small rock. He was the ticket.

Karlin was away for now - she had gone to fetch groceries, and now it was just the two of them. Jonrah had been uneasy talking to his son about the symbol he found, but that was only because he didn't want Karlin to worry about him. Now, she was not here, and he could interogate the boy.

'Son, can I ask you a question?' Jonrah opened with a simple sentence that shouldn't alarm Jodar too much. There was no reply, so he continued. 'Where were you playing yesterday?'

Jodar let go of the rock, obviously eager to relive yesterday's exciting adventure. Without a word, he got up, took his father's hand and dragged him out the door and into the city.

Weaving through alleys and roads, Jodar suddenly became talkative.

'Do you want to play too? Can we be on the same team? Are you a bad demon man?'

Jonrah remained silent, barely given enough time to answer the questions.

Jodar led his father into the forest, deeper and deeper, so that he himself lost his way. Jodar obviously had navigated this area before, and was probably more familiar with the forest than his father, this being his playground.

Jodar came to an abrupt halt, stood before a red tree, most of its branches hacked at and smashed off. This was obviously the tree which his son pretended to kill, thinking it was a demon.

They shared the silence for a moment, then Jodar pointed towards the tree, still silent.

Jonrah let go of his son's hand and stepped closer to investigate the tree. He saw the small hole which had held the symbol, and he put his had to the hole, feeling it's cold bark against the palm of his hand. Momentarily hypnotised, he quickly snapped out of it and looked around the area once more.

There seemed to be fewer red-barked trees in this area, and as the forest grew deeper, the amount of them seemed to decrease. Maybe they were a tree exclusive to the western kingdoms.

Walking a bit further into the forest and completely forgetting about his son, Jonrah examined another red-barked tree. This one too had a small hole in it's trunk, and upon a closer look, Jonrah was shocked to see that this too held a piece of leather.

He frowned as he looked at it, still lying there in the tree, hidden from sight and invisible to those who knew where to look.

Fishing it out, Jonrah examined it once more, recognising the Eastern Emblem that was inked onto it. His eyes widened, and he stood rooted to the spot for several minutes.

Silence filled the forest, and Jonrah instantly accepted that these markings were no mere coincidence.

The East meant to attack the West, the markings clearly proved that.

All that was unknown was when.

The End

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