By the time they had made their way back to Simon, their traveling companion had decided to test the limits of the saddlebag and had climbed inside, leaving only his head sticking out. It was a very peculiar sight. Seymour, however, did not want to give Simon the satisfaction of seeing his discomfort, so he merely ruffled Simon’s disheveled blond hair, and, as if nothing was amiss, asked if the human would be so kind as to fetch his boots from inside the bag. Simon’s head vanished, and shortly thereafter, the boots popped out of the opening, one after another. Seymour caught them and was in the process of securing their buckles when Simon’s head reemerged from the saddlebag.
“I think I’ll stay in here,” the human informed them. “Much more comfortable than horseback.”
“Good,” Seymour replied. “There wouldn’t have been a horse to put you on even if you wanted one.”
“Oh, right,” said Simon. “I had forgotten.”
Another dragonfly zipped past them, passing within inches of Seymour’s face.
Seymour ignored Simon’s contribution. “Why are all these bloody dragonflies here? It’s nearly winter!”
“This is the Carvil Valley,” Seoc reminded him. “The laws o’ nature dinna apply.”
“Helicopter,” Simon agreed, nodding sagely.
“Shut up about the fucking heckiloptas, will you?” Seymour snapped. “Now let’s go. We haven’t any time to waste!”
He mounted the horse, helped Seoc to climb up in front of him, and then they were off, galloping downstream along the Carvil River so as to rejoin the road before entering the dark, sinister forest. It would also be convenient to reach the aforementioned road before the farm-equipment-wielding bounty hunters did. He had seen a portion of them break off from the main group as soon as he had made it across the river, and he was willing to bet that they had left to take the ferry across the Carvil and head them off, possibly with reinforcements.
Upon reaching the road, Seymour found that his supposition was correct. Fortunately, the ragged group was still on the ferry. He could hear their frustrated howls as he turned Wyrinther onto the road. Their voices soon faded, though, to be replaced by the lonely clatter of the mage-horse’s hooves beating upon the cobblestone road, the wind, and the creaking and swishing of the ancient, twisted trees on either side of them.
“I ha’e always hated this stretch o’ road,” Seoc commented after a while. “Especially at night. It’s like ridin’ through a graveyard.”
Seymour had to agree. He had the strong sensation that he was being watched, and he could swear he could see, from time to time, shadowy movements in the forest.
“Well, of course it feels like a graveyard,” Simon piped up, sticking his head out of the saddlebag once more. “This is where the Dead Ones come from. If you look closely, you can see their bones protruding from the ground.”
Seymour remembered the sinister presence that had pursued them in the Waelyngar Forest, and he urged Wyrinther to a faster clip. He didn’t know where Simon had gotten this bit of information, or whether it was remotely true, but he wasn’t going to take any chances.