Chapter Fourty-One: The Alternate Route

Jonrah let the boy try to escape. He crawled in one direction after hearing Jonrah's threat, then turned tail and tried a different direction. After a while, he gave up, lying on the ground, facing the sky, tears rolling down the side of his face and onto the ground.

'Listen to me,' said Jonrah. He picked the boy up by his shoulders, placing him down where he had been perched before. 'I'm not going to kill you, boy. Not yet, anyway, no. I need information. I need to get to Rensh. The reason is unimportant, but I need to know what other route I can take.'

'Th-there isn't another route. The Raggen Pass is the only way through. We monitor it day and night... There is no other way through...'

'Come on now, I know that's not true. It takes at least a day to cross the Pass. Why waste such a long time? There is another way through. Another way to Rensh.' Jonrah knew it was true, that this boy was just being difficult. Staying true to The Eden was a large mistake on his part. 'But, if you're not going to tell me, then there's no use for you, is there?' He drew his sword, raising it to the sky, preparing for the flesh on steel impact.

There was no way Jonrah was going to kill this boy. He just needed to seem like the kind of man that would.

'No, no! I'll talk! I'll tell you where to go...'

Jonrah brought his sword down, sheathing it, smiling. 'That's more like it.'

'Oh, God... They'll kill me... The Eden will kill me for telling...'

'I'm afraid you run that risk either way,' said Jonrah, trying to lie.

'The South... The Frice Range of mountains. It's the easier and faster way to Rensh. But it's watched, all the time. You'll never make it through.' This wasn't so much of a threat as a simple stating of the facts.

'You'd be surprised what I can make it through,' said Jonrah, thinking back over all the obstacles of the last week.

'Let me help you. I don't want to die, not by your hand, not by The Eden... Please, take me with you. I can help...'

Something in the boy's tone of voice melted Jonrah's icey exterior. The look of fear in his eyes, the plea for mercy, they reminded him of Jodar... Lost, alone, unaware of the danger that surrounded him.

Jonrah couldn't look. He got to his feet, turning away from the boy, looking away to the South; his next destination awaited, as did the hardest part of his quest. He would no doubt need to infiltrate the camps as a member of The Eden. To do that, he would need a man on the inside. Or a boy. He had that, if he chose to use him.

Turning back, he looked into the boy's eyes, which were red from the tears of fear. He was so young. Jonrah had originally planned not to kill him, but simply to abandon him once he had given him the necessary information. But maybe he would come in handy after all.

'Fine. I won't kill you today. But if you dare double-cross me-'

'I won't,' the boy assured him.

'Fine. Just... You're not my ally, alright. You're my hostage. I need you to help me get through the mountains, but if you put a toe out of line, I'll cut it off. Are we clear?' Jonrah, for the first time, was not lying when he made this threat. He was incredibly wary of the boy, and the likelihood that he would betray him given the chance. He was almost disappointed when the boy replied.

'We're clear.'

'Good.' Jonrah brought his foot around, delivering a sharp knockout blow to the boy's head.

The End

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