Neither of the men had moved in what seemed like an eternity. Their eyes were transfixed by what lay ahead; the mass of towers jutted from the earth like teeth from the mouth of a monster, and they were equally as dangerous and terrifying.
Lorda finally broke the silence.
'We should abandon the horses, sneak round on foot, and try to evade capture.' He paused. 'That is, provided, you still wish to travel along this route.'
Jonrah took a moment to decide what he wanted to do. If they travelled the long way and circled round to the Raggen Pass, they could add several weeks to their journey, but to try to avoid what seemed like hundreds of towers and thousands of men that stood between them and Jodar... Both were undesirable odds.
'You've come with me this far, and I appreciate it, old friend, but I am going to make a decision that I know will not end well. I will be abandoning my horse and crossing directly to the Raggen Pass. I give you a choice once more. Accompany me or leave. I will not judge you for your decision.'
This put Lorda in a difficult position. He knew that to follow Jonrah was folly. A futile effort that would result in almost certain death. Capture could not be eluded by both of them.
For the first time in the journey, Lorda doubted Jonrah's choice. For the first time in their friendship, he was unsure of Jonrah's stategy.
And yet he knew that if he were a true friend, he would accompany Jonrah to the ends of the Earth. As he had promised...
Whether I live or whether I die, come hell or high water...
And he had meant it.
He held out his hand. Jonrah took it.
The horses would return to Litana the same way they had come. They would not attempt to go on any further. If they did, they would alert the enemy, putting Lorda and Jonrah in mortal danger.
Both had ensured that their weapons were fit for use, for cutting through the hundreds of men waiting to fall at the feet of the two great men. Ensuring their armour was on tight, they took their first step over the hill.
At the base of the hill, a wall had been built. Only three feet high, it was certainly enough for the two men to hide behind, and, knowing they only had seconds, they swiftly and silently sprinted towards it, diving to the ground both gracefully and effectively, burying themselves behind the stones.
This structure did not seem to be very well-built, and the multiple holes in the brickword could be used as spy-holes.
All that was to be done now was wait.
The sun was setting, and Jonrah and Lorda knew that come nightfall, they would be almost invisible. The plains were pitch black by night, and any loud noises would be assumed to be wildlife - snakes and other reptiles.
The men scattered around the towers slowly diminished, reduced to only three or four guards, as far as Lorda could see through his peep-hole.
Jonrah was watching the sun set, casting an orange glow into the sky which reminded him of all the times he and Karlin had sat taken walks before Jodar was born. The evenings were always peaceful in Litana, almost as if the residents were paying their respects to the day gone by, and the beautiful colours being projected onto the sky.
Jonrah felt a tear run down his cheeck - the first since he had left Litana - but it was not a tear of sadness, but one of joyous memories flooding his heart and warming his soul in the cold evening. Karlin would be ever so proud if she knew. If she was watching him now, she'd be smiling...
'We should move now.' Lorda interrupted Jonrah's memories. 'There are only three or four guards now, and maybe one or two in the towers look-out posts. This would be the ideal time to move, before the midnight patrols come in.
'Hey, are you okay?' Lorda sounded concerned, and could sense the quiver of tears in Jonrah's voice.
Jonrah sniffed, bringing himself back to the present, and taking into account his surroundings. The wall, the towers. He could not afford to lose himself again.
'I'm fine.' He sounded it, now.
In silence, the two adventurers crossed the wall, setting foot for the first time in the East. Lorda for the first time since his childhood, and Jonrah for the first time in his life.
'Welcome to the East,' Lorda whispered, more to himself than to Jonrah.