Chapter Thirty-Eight: Race to Raggen

Ellnar darted through the thin layer of overgrowing twigs to leave the forest and enter the plains once more. A quick sharp pull to her reins came from Jonrah, securely perched on her saddle.

Swerving left, Ellnar now broke into a swift gallop, billowing dust around, obscuring Jonrah’s sight, but not Ellnar’s. Jonrah trusted his new companion. No ally, human or creature, would ever give their complete trust to a newcomer like Ellnar had, without the same level of trust being expected in return.

The dust cleared, and as more was kicked up, Ellnar simply dashed past it, too fast to allow it to get in the way. Raggen Pass was quickly approaching, and it took little more than Jonrah had expected to reach it. Within an hour of setting off, Jonrah watched the forest to his left slowly fade away, joining with the rocks, unable to grow. The trees continued to grow on the other side of the rocky pass, but for now, there was little to no life. Jonrah assumed that because there were no plants, there would be no living creatures. He prayed that his crossing would prove uneventful, and simple.

Appearing over the slight hill, Raggen Pass awaited Jonrah and Ellnar. Even more foreboding than Jonrah had first imagined, the dark grey and black rocks did not reflect the sunlight. Inside the maze was a permanent night – inescapable and deadly. Jonrah feared this place, but knew that to travel across was necessary.

Taking a look back at the towers, which grew scarce this close to the Pass, Jonrah was relieved to see no approaching patrols. Good. The last thing Jonrah wanted was to have to navigate this place in a hurry to avoid capture or death. He could take his time. Well, almost. His son was waiting for him, no doubt. Jonrah had to be quick, for Jodar.

The Pass began with a relatively simple valley, rocks sloping up both sides, an easy road to travel on with a horse. But Jonrah feared that as the journey continued, Ellnar would find it difficult to traverse the rocks. She would slow him down.

Putting thoughts of abandoning her behind him, Jonrah gave Ellnar a slight nudge in her sides, urging her to walk on before he changed his mind. She did not respond, however, and so after another slightly more firm dig in the sides, Ellnar let out a huff, which seemed to be amplified by the valley, louder than he had expected.

Jonrah hopped off the saddle, and walked around to face Ellnar. She was scared, as he himself was. But this was necessary. And he needed her.

‘This will all be okay, alright?’ Jonrah whispered soothingly. But Ellnar remained on edge. Jonrah stroked her nose, kissing her forehead and then repeating himself. ‘It will be okay.’ But his soothing words did nothing for her. Jonrah couldn't understand what was wrong.

Ellnar huffed again, lightly stamping her feet against the ground. She looked dead ahead, to the Pass, but Jonrah could not understand what she was afraid of. The atmosphere was intimidating, but there was no apparent threat to either of them, was there?

Jonrah looked to the path that was carved out of the Raggen Pass. It went on straight ahead for two-hundred yards, then veered off to the right, no doubt turning into a winding maze, impossible to navigate.

'What's the matter?' Jonrah asked, starting to become anxious of Ellnar's mood.

He looked again, and saw what she must have sensed some time ago. Appearing from the right, several figures revealed themselves, rounding the corner and heading towards the entrance to the valley.

Jonrah didn't need to see the red robes to identify them as The Eden. Evidently, they had camps here, watching the road, killing off any stray wanderers that had made it passed the towers.

Ellnar huffed again, and stamped her feet more firmly on the ground, swaying nervously.

There was no other way into the Raggen Pass. Jonrah was reluctant for confrontation, when he had only himself to count on.

There was no other way into the Raggen Pass. There had to be another way to Rensh.

The End

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