So they set off down the trail. To where only Rin knew at this point. The sun had started to darken the sky on its way to the horizon just a bit ago, and Tyler knew they only had about an hour or so of good daylight to hike remaining. Good thing it is warm out because I don't think he has a tent in that pack of his, he thought as he looked at the bag hanging snugly to Rin's back.
"How far did you say is it to Nestropia," Tyler asked as he followed Rin about ten feet back. He couldn't believe that he was doing this. This whole thing had to be a dream, right? You don't set off for points unknown without a plan or at the very least a backpack. And from playing the game Tyler knew that there were no cars that they could borrow, and forget about hailing a taxi.
"If all goes well, we should be in Nestropia by the early evening of the day after tomorrow," Rin said. He looked up at the sky, shielding his eyes with his right hand from the lowering sun, but not stopping. "I'm giving us some extra time since I know this is your first real hike."
“The day after tomorrow,” Tyler said sounding like he had just walked the whole way already. “We have to walk that whole way?”
"Not if we have a bit of luck on our side. Maybe we find some Jincocks that we can ride part of the way," Rin replied with a smile on his face looking over his shoulder at Tyler. "Have you never ridden an animal before?"
"Only when I was about five at my uncle's farm," Tyler answered brushing some tree twigs away from his face with his hands. "My uncle had two horses. He'd let me ride them now and then. But that was only in his pasture, which wasn't huge. Nothing like traveling city to city or anything."
"Well, don't you worry then. Jincocks are pretty naturally tame, but they are not the kind of animal you would keep on a farm for travel purposes. Horses for that," Rin said as he came to a stop and dropped his pack to the ground. The top of the pack had about a dozen brass rings going all the way around, and through the rings was a rope of about a half inch thickness that Rin used to close the pack. He dug around for a minute and pulled out a leather canteen and held it out for Tyler. "Go ahead a take a few drinks. If we need to refill it, we are not that far from the creek."
“Thanks,” replied Tyler as he took the canteen, opened it up and poured some water down his throat.”
“Your welcome. Ask when every you need a drink. We will have to work with just mine until we get to the city and visit Billick.
He handed the canteen back to Rin who put it back into the pack and cinched it closed. Rin hoisted it up onto his back, ran the straps tight again, and said, "Off we go."
Tyler started walking behind Rin again and after a few minutes asked, “How old are you, Rin?”
He was expecting to hear something between 14 and 16 years old. The game book put him at 16. But this Rin was no game, so why not ask. It was how Rin replied that caught him a little off guard.
Rin stopped and turned around. He was standing with his feet about shoulder width apart, and he had his hands resting on his hips, giving him a weird Peter Pan look to him. "I was born during the first year of building of the Great Mist Castle," he answered in what could only be described as proudly. Then just as quickly turned around and started walking again. "When were you born," Rin asked in return but not looking back.
“Two Thousand,” Tyler replied kicking away a rock on the path.
“Well, that was a pretty bland way to answer. Don't you think?”
“What do you mean by that?”
Rin stopped and turned around to say, "It doesn't tell anything about you. It doesn't give me anything to think about, or remember. There is nothing impressive about just a number. You should reply with an answer that is going to astound people, make them remember some event." Rin turned around and started walking, but started talking again before Tyler could say anything. "I picked the building of the Mist Castle because it is a place of mystery and magic. A place that nobody should build a castle in, yet there it is. It's a foreboding residence that invites nobody. When I say it in reply to when I was born, people start to think about it. The questions about the owner, and the castle itself become the topic of conversation. Rather than the usual "you're just a boy then", and "you can't do that, you're too young". See what I mean," Rin said with a smile again over his shoulder.
"So let us try it again, shall we? And when were you born?"
Tyler didn't say anything in reply to Rin's question for quite a while. He had to try to come up with something as impressive as the Mist Castle, even though he had no idea what the Mist Castle even was. But Rin was right, the way that he described his age did make you think more of this mysterious place than himself. But there was nothing that he could think of that was big enough that anyone outside of his hometown would know. Tyler just trudged along behind Rin, knowing that Rin was patiently waiting for him to come up with an answer. Then like a light bulb going off in his head he replied, "I was born the year before the fall of the Twin Towers."
"That sounds like a good answer. Were these towers famous," Rin asked as they kept a steady pace on the path.
“Yea they were. They were office buildings over a thousand feet high each. Three thousand people died when they fell.”
"Then each time when you reply when you were born the year before the great towers fell you would make them remember the people that died. And that is a good thing. And speaking of good things, this looks like a good place to make camp for the night." Rin was pointing to an area just off the path where the path itself had been starting to widen out. A little wider and Rin and Tyler would be able to walk side by side.
“Do you have a tent or anything to sleep on in your pack,” Tyler asked.
"No tent. That is something too big to carry on this type of trip. I do usually take a bedroll, but this was an unexpected trip. Had I known I was coming I would have brought extra provisions." Rin started clearing away rocks and sticks from a patch of ground that he intended to sleep on. He was done in his area in just a few minutes and came over to help Tyler clear a space for himself.
"You never did answer my question though," Tyler smirked at Rin as the boys made the space for Tyler.
“As the sun goes, I'm 16 years, and as the seasons go, two.”
“So you are 16 and a half then. I'm 15 and a half. So I could say I was born in the second year of building of the Great Mist Castle,” Tyler said sitting on the ground with his legs crossed.
"Ha," Rin said. "You sure could. People tell me that it was a somewhat strange time when it was put to construction. The first new castle to be built in over 500 years."
By now the sun was set though there was still enough light just to see the features of each others face, but that wouldn't last much longer. Rin opened up his bag and pulled out a candle about as thick as his fist, and lit it with his flint and steel.
“There we go. That should be visible to the animals to keep them at bay for the night.” Rin laid back put his hands behind his head and crossed his ankles. “Are you going to be alright tonight,” he asked when he saw that Tyler was still sitting up.
"We're not going to get eaten by weird, crazy animals like in the game around here tonight, are we," he asked with a bit of concern on his face.
“Here? No. Biggest thing around here is the Jincocks. No worries about them eating us. Though a tree lizard may come down and check us out. They will just run off when you move though.
"I don't have any extra clothes though. And with how warm it was today, man, two days we are going to be ripe puppies," Tyler said with a laugh.
"Don't worry about that. We can cut your legs off your bottoms to make short, like mine. You won't need a shirt. Most people do not wear one. Mainly just the wealthy, or shop owners do. Your shoes look like they will last two days, but I'd probably bury the stockings," Rin said laughing. "We do not want some poor creature to eat them and die." It was a bad joke, but Tyler laughed with him. "As for under garments, we can wash them in the creek in the morning, and tomorrow night we should be near enough to the East River and we can wash there again.”
“What are we going to eat though. Two days is a long time with no food.”
"Either we will find a couple of Jincocks to speed up the journey or when we get to the plains, we'll have to take down a Rally Cat. Good meat on those things for sure," Rin answered going back to his clearing and laying back down. "And be able to sell most of the meat in the city too."
Tyler laid down and stared up at the stars. He was camping out for the first time since he was about nine. Of course, that time was with a friend of his, in a tent, in their back yard. It wasn't out in the open, with a boy he had just met, who said he would kill a Rally Cat for lunch, and hoping to find a Jincock to ride. He was very nervous about this all of a sudden. He looked over at Rin, and by the candle light could tell that he was chewing on something, but couldn't tell what. He at least seemed pretty content with the situation.
Tyler didn't think that he was going to be able to sleep at all that first night. Couldn't say that a lot had happened, but it was enough. Soon though he heard the deep sleeping breaths of Rin. He closed his eyes as well and faded to sleep.