Journey to Goldshire Pt 3

The afternoon light was beginning to fade, the shadows between the trees slowly venturing out into the wooded clearing with dark, elongated fingers. Ashamal, shading his eyes against the remnants of the sun, checked the time on a battered pocketwatch. With a grimace, he gave a piercing whistle; before he had slung his bow over his shoulder, an adult saber had loped out from the growing shadows, his muzzle stained brownish red.

Leafsong, who was scampering around the clearing like a demented, long-legged spider, looked up in astonishment.

“Ashaid’s ‘ere? Where’s the mammoth?”

He glanced over at her. She was standing in shirt and socks, clutching the purple hat pathetically.

“Ashaid is always here, you’re just oblivious. We need his speed now; the mammoth knows the way back to the city. Why aren’t you dressed?”

She shrugged helplessly, her hand spread wide.

“I can’t find my trousers. They’ve vanished.”

He snorted, reaching around Ashaid’s haunches to strap on his bow. The saber growled in recognition of his master, his golden eye flickering.

“They must be there somewhere.”

“They ain’t, I’m tellin’ you. I fink that deer must’ve stolen ’em” she said petulantly, her gaze sweeping the clearing once again. He sighed, reaching back to restrain his greying hair with the leather band.

“Well, we are going to Goldshire. You’ll fit right in.”

She shot him a dirty look as he cackled, mounting the saber with a grunt. Ignoring the twinge in his knee, he clicked his tongue to Ashaid.

“Come on, Leafsong. We have to go”

She moaned, but ran towards him, clutching the hat on top of her head. As he slowed, he reached down an arm and pulled her up behind him, the muscles in his bow-arm flexing. She slid her arms around his waist, grumbling to herself darkly. He raised his face, angling his body in the direction of their destination, closing his eyes for a moment to align himself with the unfamiliar wood, exhaling. A minute later and he was prepared, slightly elevated in the saddle, staring down his hooked nose at the path opening before him in the trees ahead. Wordless communication from Ashaid confirmed that the saber was aware of the route before them. He glanced behind him at Leafsong, who was hanging loosely onto his waist and craning her neck around in one last, futile search. A half-smile deepened the lines that framed his eyes as he watched her, then inwardly cursed for allowing himself once more to be distracted from the business at hand by his silly young mate.

“Hold on, I don’t have time to retrieve you if you fall,” he said, brusquely, and she shot him a surprised, slightly reprimanding look. He gave a sharp order to Ashaid (though not before checking that she had tightened her grip on his waist), and the saber leapt forward eagerly. Ashamal sat forward on the saddle, crouched over the beast’s neck, his concentration fully on the landscape unfolding before them; alert for any potential dangers.

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