Lucas paced back and forth in front of the wagon, which was parked at the fork in the eastern road. Tara lounged on the seat. “Lucas, you need to calm down! You worrying about Apollos isn’t going to help him get here any sooner.”
“I should have gone with him. Maybe I could have been of some help. He must have run into some trouble, otherwise he’d be here by now!”
Tara sat up and looked at Lucas. “You were unarmed, what could you have possibly done to help? You’re no fighter, all you would have done is given Apollos one more person to look after.”
“She’s right, Lucas, and heaven knows I had enough people to look after in those catacombs.” Lucas and Tara’s head turned to see Apollos emerge from a grove of trees next to the northern path.
Lucas ran up to Apollos. “Apollos! You made it out alright!”
Apollos smiled. “I did, and Malcolm too. I’m glad to see the two of you made it out of the city without any problems.”
Lucas frowned. “Where is Malcolm?”
“Once we got out of the catacombs he went his separate way. I believe he was planning on heading back west, to Falance. Something about trying to sell his goods to some rebels there.”
Tara smiled. “So the rebellion is going to get some aid as well. Maybe it will be enough to make a difference in their fight.”
“Perhaps it will. Come on, Lucas. Let’s be on our way. I want to be as far from this city as possible when darkness falls.” Apollos moved to climb up onto the wagon, and Lucas frowned at a sword hanging at Apollos’ side.
Lucas climbed up onto the wagon and sat down next to Tara. “Apollos, where did you get that sword?”
Apollos looked down at the blade hanging at his side. “This? This was a gift from Malcolm for saving his life from the Acerbi pursuing us through the tunnels. This is Terrambarrus, a ground elephant. Malcolm said that if there had been more room in the catacombs he would have summoned this one out, and shown the Acerbi a thing or two. I’m sure we’ll get an opportunity to see if he was exaggerating.” Apollos flicked the reins and the horses started moving down the southern fork of the eastern road.
Lucas sat back and began to relax against the back of the seat of the wagon, but Tara prodded him in the ribs. “You should get the beast blades out Lucas. Now that we’re out of the city I’d rather not be caught unarmed in an ambush.”
Lucas rubbed his ribs and frowned at Tara. “Why don’t you get them out then? You are just as capable of doing it as I am.”
Tara giggled. “Because you’re the youngest, of course! Besides, I didn’t think you’d want anyone handling Pyrequine other than you, it being a legendary beast blade an all.”
Lucas sighed and climbed into the back of the cart and unwrapped several cloth bundles containing their swords. He grabbed the blades and awkwardly climbed back over the seat. He started sorting the the beast blades and handing them to their owner. Once he had his swords buckled in place, he was left staring at his new power blade resting in his hands.
Tara took it from him and clipped it to the part of his sword belt that went over his chest. “Sorry, you looked like you weren’t sure what to do with that and this is where Grandpa always kept his power blades.”
Lucas smiled at Tara. “Thanks, Tara.” Lucas turned his attention to Apollos.”So we’re heading to the Karndale Valley now?”
Apollos looked up at the descending sun and sighed. “Yes, we are heading toward the the Karndale Valley, but we have a stop to make before we go into there. A friend of mine lives near the entrance to the valley, and I’m hoping he might have some information that would be useful in our search. Unfortunately, we’re not going to be able to make it much further tonight. At least it doesn’t look like its going to rain tonight.”
Tara looked at Apollos. “The last friend of yours we went to see got run out of the city in fear of Geraldo’s troops catching him. Aren’t you worried you’ll do the same to your other friend as well?”
Apollos chuckled. “No, there isn’t much of a chance of that. If Geraldo’s forces come looking to make trouble with Jerome, they’ll find more than they can handle.”
Lucas gave Apollos an intrigued look. “What do you mean by that, Apollos?”
“I mean it doesn’t matter what forces Geraldo brings against Jerome. He was a powerful hunter in his day, and he has assembled some of the most powerful beast blades I’ve ever seen.”
Tara’s eyes lit up. “If he’s as powerful as you say, he’s exactly what the rebellion needs!”
Apollos snorted. “You won’t have much luck recruiting him to your cause. He doesn’t get himself involved in the troubles of others. Not since his wife died I doubt he would give me the time of day anymore if I hadn’t gone on so many of his hunts with him. No, I very much doubt he would take kindly to you if you even bring the rebellion up.”
Lucas fiddled with the hilt of his power blade. “What happened to his wife?”
Apollos replied solemnly, “She died from a terrible illness.”
Tara scrunched up her nose. “It’s terrible that his wife died, but that’s no reason to shut the rest of the world out.”
Apollos sighed. “You don’t understand, Jerome didn’t grow so callused and angry just because his wife died, he did it because someone he had helped before could have saved her, but chose not to. You see, Jerome was a kind hearted and jolly man, and he made a point to help anyone he found in need on his travels, no matter the peril it put him in. One day, a local noble’s son went missing. Jerome was among those who agreed to go out searching for the boy, and he found him surrounded by wolves. Jerome fought his way through the pack, and was able to save the boy, but not before the boy was sorely injured. Jerome took the boy back to his father’s mansion, and Jerome was amazed when the boy’s father took a beast blade off of the wall that was able to heal the boys injuries. The noble thanked Jerome and vowed that he would always be in Jeromes debt for saving his son.
“Jerome went on many more adventures after that, and on one of them, in a distant land, he caught the attention of a beautiful maiden, said to have been the most beautiful in all the land, and he won her heart. The two of them came and built a house together in the Karndale Valley, and together they were very happy. But it seems that happiness has a way of attracting tragedy, for his wife, Maria, grew very ill. Jerome tried every remedy he could think of, brought in every doctor that he could find, and when I heard the news Maradyth and I came out to aid in any way that we could, but nothing helped.
“Jerome remembered the nobleman whose son he had saved, and the mystical beast blade that had healed his son’s wounds. Jerome set out for the nobleman’s mansion at once and pleaded with the man to allow him to borrow the beast blade to save Maria’s life. The nobleman refused to let the beast blade off of his property, but if Jerome returned with his wife, he would use the beast blade to heal his wife. Jerome hurried back to his home to get his wife.”
Lucas excitedly asked, “Was the beast blade able to save Maria’s life?”
Apollos shook his head and continued sadly, “No, it wasn’t. It never got a chance to try. Maria died on the way to the noble’s property. Jerome fell into a grief driven rage that someone who he had helped refused to help him in turn, and he lost his wife as a result of it. Jerome returned to the nobleman’s estate, and tore his mansion down to the ground around him, slayed the nobleman, and took his treasured beast blade. He returned to home in the Karndale Valley, but he was a different man, untrusting and angry. I still stop in to see him once in a while, but he barely tolerates my company anymore.”
Tara wiped a tear from her eye, and Lucas sniffled. Tara shot Apollos a suspicious look. “Wait, if Jerome really attacked one of the nobility, the kingdom would have captured him and killed him.”
“And they did try. Have you ever heard of the ten day war?”
Tara nodded her head. “Yes, it was one of the bloodiest battles we’ve ever had with our neighbors, the Taliarins. They invaded our country in force, but after ten bloody days of nonstop combat, we were able to drive them back and secure our border.”
Apollos shook his head. “That’s the story they tell to cover up the fact that one man was able to withstand a full out assault by the royal army. After that they decided to leave Jerome alone.”
Lucas’ eyes opened up wide. “Wow, he did that all by himself?”
Tara shook her head. “I don’t believe it. I bet Apollos is making it all up.”
Apollos chuckled, “I’ll let you be the judge of that once you meet him, Tara.”
Thank you for checking out my story, if you liked this and want to see more of it, come back on Friday when I will publish part Three, and check out the other stories I’m working on writing, here: Tales of the Imagination, check out my facebook page for updates on the stories here: Facebook, and follow me on Twitter for here: @EJBorchardt. Please like, comment, and tell your friends if you like what you’ve read.