Staring into the fire, Liam was deep in thought.
It had been weeks since the run-in with the unknown magic-user, but he still sometimes thought about it, unable to stop himself. Rethik had never said a word about it, but Liam knew his friend well enough to know that he didn’t like it one bit. Zigzagging across the various countries here, they moved from village to village, town to town, hoping to find a lead.
At least Liam was hoping. He wasn’t so sure about Rethik, who was more likely to simply be enjoying the adventure. That was fine by Liam, just as long as his friend was still with him.
That friend was now stretched luxuriously out on the other side of the fire, Syth just behind him.
Liam gave a contented sigh.Life was good right now, expect for the niggling thoughts at the back of his mind.
The sound of a twig breaking somewhere alerted him, making the hippogriff prick her horse ears.
The two friends simultaneously jumped up, and reached for their weapons. The forest was as dark as ever, unwilling to give up what it concealed as Liam stared into the trees.
Suddenly, something broke cover.
Both Liam and Rethik leaped after it. The former did a quick spell, which sent whatever was fleeing flying. A bump sounded somewhere to Liam’s right, and he conjured up a small blue light.
Lying unconsciously on the earthy forest floor was a handsome and relatively young man, dressed in chain-mail and a sheathed sword at his side. Curly dark hair framed his face, and he had light stubble on his chin.
Liam breathed a sigh of relief. It wasn’t anyone they knew. For a moment he had thought that they had run into trouble again. “Come on.” Liam said, lifting up the man’s upper half by his arms. “Can’t leave him here.”
After a second’s hesitation Rethik helped carry the unconscious man back to their little camping site.
When the person didn’t wake up, they decided to leave the matter until morning. They eventually went to sleep, but not before Liam had done a spell that ensured that the man wouldn’t wake up before they did and surprise them by stabbing them in the back.
“Who are you?”
Liam was looking directly at the man’s face while asking the question.
The man looked indifferently back.
“Lancelot.” He replied shortly, before standing up.
“Hey, hey! Where do you think you’re going?” Rethik exclaimed, and pulled Lancelot back down. Liam narrowed his eyes at the newcomer. There was something odd about him. But what?
“Excuse me, but I have a mission to fulfill.” The curly-haired man said coldly in a monotone. Then he stalked off, while Rethik and Liam could only stare after him, utterly baffled by his strange, almost inhumane behavior.
“Hey! Come back!” the young warlock jumped up with a yell, and chased after Lancelot, who faced him with a blank expression. Shocked by this, Liam was about to be skewered with his sword if Rethik hadn’t blocked Lancelot’s strike. A second later the sword clattered out of the red headed man’s hand. By this time Liam had drawn his own sword, and began a hand-to-hand combat with Lancelot.
The guy was really good, and Liam would’ve lost his sword long ago if Rethik wasn’t fighting side by side with him, sometimes trying to get behind Lancelot, but this was impossible.
It was as if he was unbeatable.
Suddenly, Lancelot twisted Liam’s sword back while dodging Rethik’s swipe to the head.
Damn, was Liam’s only thought as his sword got stuck in a tree, but by the time he had gotten it free, the skilled swordsman had already disarmed Rethik, and was now gone.
Rethik spat bitterly on the ground.
His dark-haired friend merely stared at the spot where this “Lancelot” had stood just a moment before.
“Where the hell did that… thing…come from?” The Rider spat, pacing back and forth. Syth whinnied nervously, and pawed the ground. She was clearly aware of what had just happened… An idea struck Liam, but slipped away before he could catch it. Frustrated, he ran his fingers through his hair, and sifted through the recent events carefully, looking for clues. They stumbled across this man in the forest at night, and were able to knock him out, so he wasn’t some undead monster conjured up by some half-baked sorcerer. It wouldn’t be the first time, he thought wryly. Then the man had started acting strangely when he woke up, like he was so focused on his so-called mission that he’d do anything to complete it as fast as possible. Walking away had been fastest way at first, so that was probably the reason he’d not attacked them until later…
Liam felt that he was missing a puzzle piece, but right now he was too exhausted to be able to think straight. Wearily, he picked up his sword and followed his friend. He drooped at the thought of the journey ahead of them.
Maybe they could stop by a tavern.
From the sky, a city was soon in sight. Rethik whistled appreciatively, and Liam couldn’t have agreed more.
It was magnificent, complete with towering walls and a beautifully designed castle.
“Hey, I bet we’ll find a tavern here, just like you suggested.” Rethik commented. After briefly circling the castle, they landed in the forest just outside the walls without being spotted. They had to be extra careful in these parts. People seemed very sensitive towards seeing hippogriffs here, and they had learned that the hard way.
“Ok, Syth. Stay in this area until I Call you.”
Syth neighed, and took off.
Steady streams of people were going in and out of the city, and soon Liam and Rethik were just a part of the crowd. The streets weren’t so difficult to navigate, and soon they found a suitable inn; The Rising Sun. Inside, he tables were packed, and everyone was chattering happily away, the occasional toast being shouted from different tables. The cheerful atmosphere surprised Liam.
Surely it wasn’t usually like this. This assumption was soon proved right as the bartender appeared at the bar, grinning from ear to ear.
“Business’s been good, with all these customers streaming in to Camelot.” was his answer when Rethik asked why everyone seemed so happy.
“Oh?” Liam asked, pretending to be mildly interested. So they were in Camelot. Wonderful.
“Ye see, the king’s getting married! Tournament’s going to start today.”
Liam nodded, taking a long sip of his mead. He murmured in Rethik’s ear “Should we hang around? Watch, perhaps?”
Rethik gave Liam a pouting look. “That’s no fuuuun.” He moaned theatrically. An evil grin flitted across his face as he got an idea. “You’re gonna be right there. In the middle of the action.”
Liam gulped, and lowered his voice. “What?! We’re not knights of Camelot!”
“Who said ‘we’? You’re going to be the knight of the day, Liam! You are a knight, aren’t you?”
“Yeah, but if I get caught…”
Rethik tilted his head. “Are you going to get caught?” he said in mock surprise.
Liam rolled his eyes. “Fine, I give in.”
Rubbing his hands together gleefully, Rethik looked just like when he was six, Liam ruefully thought.
He gave a wide grin. This was going to be fun.