Apollos sat next to Tara on the wagon, glowering at her. “You just couldn’t keep your mouth shut, could you? One way or another, you always bring your rebellion up! If your rebellion is so important, why don’t you go back to it?”
Tara frowned back at Apollos. “Malcolm said I needed to be here with you, and you know it! This country’s fate hangs in the balance, otherwise I would be there with them right now!”
Apollos sighed. “You have to make up your mind, girl! Either be a part of our team and focus on helping us to search for the beast blades, or leave us! You have cost me one of my oldest friends.”
Tara frowned. “I’m truly sorry, Apollos. It’s just that I’ve been fighting for what I believe in, fighting against Geraldo for as long as I can remember. When I see people who could make a difference – who could help us turn the tide of this war – doing nothing, it just gets me worked up.”
Apollos reached over and grabbed Tara’s hand. “I know that your life has been difficult, that the rebellion and Geraldo stole your childhood from you, but you have to know when to speak up for your cause, and when it is best to remain silent.”
Tara sat in silence, looking at the steep walls of the valley that stretched as far as they could see, and sighed. “The beast blade could be hiding anywhere in all of this! How are we supposed to find it here?”
Apollos slowed the horses to a stop. “We’ll find it by searching every inch of this valley. It will go faster if we split up. You take the left side and Lucas take the right side. I’ll move the wagon a little further down the valley and start searching further along. We’ll meet up at the wagon again for supper. The sooner we find the blade, the better. The Acerbi that found us in the city won’t be too far behind us. Them and whoever Geraldo sent with them this time”
Lucas climbed down from the wagon seat and looked up at Apollos. “What do we do if the Acerbi show up?”
Apollos looked down at Lucas. “Fight as best you can until I can get to you.” Apollos smiled reassuringly at Lucas.” You have some powerful beast blades with you, Lucas. Use them well, and you shouldn’t encounter any trouble you can’t handle.” Apollos flicked the reins and the horses started into motion pulling the wagon deeper into the valley.
Tara watched Apollos ride deeper into the valley. She turned to Lucas and smiled. “I guess we should start searching. See you at the wagon.” Tara turned and walked over to the wall of the valley and started searching for caves and crevices. Lucas turned and started searching his part of the valley. He searched the walls for caves, or cracks that something could be hidden in.
Two hours later Lucas was searching the bank of the river for an underwater cave that the sword might have been hidden in. Someone standing behind Lucas cleared his throat, and Lucas tried to turn and pull a sword out, but ended up losing his balance and falling into the river. He stood back up sputtering, finally managed to draw his sword, and held it in front of him.
A man stood on the river bank laughing. “Forgive me for startling you, young man, but it looked like you have lost something. Perhaps I can help you to find it?” He held his hand out to help Lucas out of the water.
Lucas looked at the man’s hand suspiciously for a few seconds, laughed and finally reached out and accepted it. “I got so wrapped up in my search I didn’t hear you coming up behind me. My name’s Lucas, what’s yours?”
The man smiled. “You can call me Al. What are you doing here all alone here in the Karndale valley?”
Lucas smiled back at the man. “I’m not alone, my friends Tara and Apollos are searching other parts of the valley.”
Al breathed in sharply. “This Apollos, is he an old man with a long grey beard?”
Lucas nodded. “Yes, he is. Do you know him?”
Al shook his head. “I do not know him, but I know of him. I’ve heard that it’s because of him that Lord Geraldo is now in power.”
Lucas’ eyes opened up wide. “What! I don’t believe you, Apollos is doing everything he can to stop Geraldo! He would never do anything to help him.”
Al looked around furtively. “He may be fighting against him now, but the way I heard it, Geraldo and Apollos were once very close. I think that Apollos meant to rule alongside Geraldo, and Geraldo betrayed him. Makes sense that Apollos would want to get his revenge against him. You can’t stay with him, you have to come away with me!”
Al reached out to take Lucas’ arm, but Lucas pulled it away. “No, I don’t believe it. Apollos is my friend!”
Al shook his head. “I wonder if Apollos will feel the same way when he decides to betray you.”
Conflict filled Lucas’ face. “After everything that Apollos has done for me, I can’t just leave without hearing his side of it first.”
Al sighed. “Fine, if you refuse to see reason then go ahead and throw your life away.” Al started to walk away, but turned and gave Lucas another look. “If you change your mind, if you discover that I was right, then come to the edge of the valley. I’ll be camping there for tonight and moving on in the morning.” Al started walking back toward the edge of the valley, and Lucas anxiously watched him go.
Tara was slowly making her way up to a ledge halfway up the wall of the valley, when she heard a man clear his throat. Startled, Tara lost her grip on the wall, slid down and landed on her bottom. Growling and muttering to herself she stood up, dusted off her bottom, and turned to face the man. “What are you doing, sneaking up behind me like that, Lucas?” Her eyes opened wide when she saw it wasn’t Lucas, but Al. “Who are you?”
The man smiled. “My name is Al. What may I have the pleasure of addressing you as, miss?”
Tara narrowed her eyes and stared at him suspiciously. “What brings you to the valley, Al?”
Al chuckled. “You seem suspicious. That’s good. It’s difficult to find people that you can trust these days. I often come to the valley to think and meditate, it really is quite a beautiful place. What are you doing here all by yourself?”
Tara started to ease the sword strapped across her back out of its sheath. I”m not alone, my friends Lucas and Apollos are just a short distance away, and they would be here quickly if I called out to them.”
Al’s eyes opened up wide. “Apollos? Is he an elderly man skilled with the sword?”
Tara nodded her head. “Yes, do you know him?”
Al shook his head. “No, but I’ve heard of him. I’ve heard that he is a very skilled warrior, and he was the one that trained Geraldo’s legendary tactician, Aldrick.”
“What? Apollos trained General Alrdick? I don’t believe you, I’ve traveled with Apollos, and while he may be a grumpy old fool, he’s a good man.”
Al chuckled. “Believe what you want miss, I’m only telling you what I heard. You have to admit though, Aldrick and Apollos are both sword masters from what I hear, and that is a rare skill these days.”
Tara frowned. “Where did you hear these rumors?”
Al smiled. “From Sharen City, I just passed through the city and the whole place is abuzz about how Apollos just passed through, and Aldrick was right behind him, hoping to catch up with his old mentor. If I was you, miss, I’d leave those other two behind and get away while I could. Perhaps you would like to travel with me?”
Tara shook her head. “All you are giving me is rumors, and I’ve seen Apollos fight against Geraldo’s generals. Besides, I couldn’t leave Lucas behind in any case.”
Al sighed and started walking away. He stopped and turned back to look at Tara. “I’ll be staying the night at the edge of the valley. If you change your mind, you can come find me there, you and your friend Lucas.”
Tara watched Al walk away further down the valley. “What secrets are you hiding, Apollos?”
General Aldrick walked up to his two captains who were sitting in front of a campfire. When they saw him approaching, the jumped up and stood at attention. Captain Hugh saluted. “Did they believe you, sir?”
Aldrick shook his head. “Not completely, but enough to plant seeds of doubt. They won’t trust him anymore, and that will give us an advantage over them.”
Captain Charles chuckled. “Excellent, sir. This is why they call you the tactician of the south. How long before we attack?”
Aldrick smiled and pulled a leg off of a chicken roasting over the fire. “Patience, my friends. First we let them find the beast blade for us, and then we’ll kill them and take the blade back to Geraldo.” He took a bite out of the chicken leg and juice dribbled down over his chin. He turned to where a group of Acerbi were waiting. “Go and watch the three of them and report back when they find the sword. Then we’ll bring our full fury down against them.” Twenty shadows darted across the valley to spy on Apollos, Lucas, and Tara. “I’m coming to end it soon, Apollos.”
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 to connect with me and give me some feedback: Facebook, and follow me on Twitter here: @EJBorchardt. Please like, comment, and tell your friends if you like what you’ve read.Also, if you enjoy reading my stories, and you enjoy drawing, I’m looking for pictures of my characters. If you want to send me your fan art, I promise to include it with some of my posts! I look forward to seeing that art!