The sun was going down when Lucas made to the wagon, and found Tara already waiting. She was looking further down the valley to where Apollos would still be searching. “Did you find anything, Tara?”
Tara jumped up and fell off of the seat of the wagon onto the bed of the wagon. She rubbed her bottom and glared at Lucas. “Why do people keep doing that to me today? I didn’t find the beast blade, but I did meet someone today. How much do you trust Apollos, Lucas?”
Lucas hesitated. “I trust him completely, and why shouldn’t I? He saved when we first met, and he’s been fighting to keep me safe since them. Why do you ask?”
Tara looked over her shoulder again to see if Apollos was getting close, and she whispered to Lucas, “I met someone today while searching the valley. He told me that Apollos was the one that trained General Aldric. If that’s true, can we really trust him?”
Lucas started. “That’s strange, I met someone in the valley today, named Al, that told me that it’s because of Apollos that Geraldo was able to take over the country, but it just can’t be true! I can’t believe that someone like Apollos would have anything to do with Geraldo.”
Tara nodded. “I have a hard time believing it too, but how much do we know about Apollos’ past? I don’t think I’ve heard him say much beyond I know this old friend or that old friend.”
Lucas bit his lip. “Apollos has taken care of both of us ever since he’s met us. I don’t think it’s right to condemn him on the words of a stranger.”
“So we’ll ask him about it when he gets back to the wagon, but if he does work for Geraldo, do you think we’ll be able to get away from him?”
“We have enough beast blades between us to be able to stop him from catching us, but it won’t come to that. I’m going to get a fire started , why don’t you get some food ready for supper?”
Lucas pulled some wood off of the back of the wagon, and Tara started going through the sacks of supplies. She smiled, checked on how much progress Lucas was making with the fire, and checked further down the valley to see if Apollos was drawing near, and saw that he was approaching, but was still distant. She opened up Apollos’ traveling bag and started to rummage through it. She found several changes of clothes, a sharpening stone for his swords, and she found a folded piece of paper. She unfolded it and saw that it was a drawing of Apollos with a woman and a young man, his family she supposed.
Apollos looked as old in the drawing as he did now, the only real difference was that Apollos looked happy. Tara studied the faces of the woman and young man, and her breath caught in her throat, and she dropped the picture. The young man in the photo looked just like Geraldo. Tara quickly picked the picture back up, folded it, and stuffed it back into Apollos’ bag. Tara jumped off of the wagon and walked over to sit by the tiny fire that Lucas was tending.
Lucas looked up at Tara confused. “I thought you were getting supper ready?”
Tara looked at Lucas, and then quickly looked to see how far away Apollos was. She bit her lip and shook her head. “I found something, but I’ll tell you about it later, but I don’t think we can trust Apollos anymore.”
Lucas looked at Tara with concern. “What did you find?”
“I don’t want Apollos to know about what I found, so I’ll tell you about it when we split up to search tomorrow, and after that, we need to get away.”
Lucas gave Tara a determined look. “I want to hear Apollos’ side of it before we do anything.”
Tara’s face scrunched up in frustration. “Fine. We can talk to Apollos before we do anything, but I think we’re just putting ourselves in danger.”
Lucas smiled at Tara. “You are a part of the rebellion in Falance, I thought that putting yourself in danger was an everyday affair for you.”
Tara opened up her mouth to berate Lucas, but Apollos stepped into the light cast by the fire. Tara stopped what she was going to say and instead said, “Did you find anything in your search, Apollos?”
Apollos shook his head. “Other than some beautiful rock formations, no. I’m guessing since neither of you called out for me that today was an uneventful day for you as well?”
Sweat started to form on Tara’s brow and she gave a nervous laugh. “Other than sliding down the walls of the valley a few times, there was nothing to report for me.”
Lucas nodded his head. “I fell in the river, but I didn’t find anything today.”
Apollos sighed. “Well, if we’re going to find it we’ll find it tomorrow. There isn’t a lot of the valley left to explore. All that searching made me hungry today, I’m kind of surprised that the two of you don’t have something prepared for supper already.”
Tara laughed nervously and jumped up to her feet. “Sorry, I was going to get supper ready, but I started talking with Lucas about today. I’ll go and get something ready now.”
Apollos chuckled and waved her down. “That’s quite alright, Tara. Go ahead and sit down and I’ll take care of it.”
Apollos walked over to the wagon and Tara whispered to Lucas, “What are we going to do?”
Lucas whispered back. “Let’s just ask him about his past, and we can make our decisions based off of how he responds.”
Tara sighed. “You’re going to get both of us killed, Lucas.”
Lucas smiled at Tara. “Have a little faith, Tara. I believe that Lucas is a good person.”
Apollos walked back into the firelight with a supply sack tucked under his arms. “What are you two whispering about?”
Tara’s eyes opened wide in shock and she started stuttering, “Um, we were, uh, we were talking about…”
Lucas laughed. “Tara, you don’t have to be so nervous about asking. We were hoping that you would tell us more about your past. Maybe about what you were doing before Geraldo came to power?”
Apollos shook his head. “A man’s past is his own affair, and I would appreciate it if you didn’t pry into it.”
Tara narrowed her eyes. “Why, what are you trying to hide?”
Apollos sighed. “It’s not so much what I’m trying to hide, as it is trying to not bring up painful memories. I lost my son and a dear friend when Geraldo came into power.”
Concern filled Lucas’ face. “I’m sorry, Apollos. If you don’t want to talk about it I understand.”
Apollos managed a weak smile. “I appreciate it, Lucas. We should get some food in our bellies and then get some sleep, I want to start early tomorrow.” Apollos passed out bread, dried meat and chunks of cheese, which the three ate in silence.
Apollos slept lightly with one eye open, and Lucas slept fitfully, and his dreams were filled with Apollos turning on him and Tara. Tara couldn’t fall asleep, but instead watched Apollos throughout the night convinced that Apollos was going to attack them in their sleep.
In the morning they split up to search the rest of the valley, with Apollos searching one side and Lucas searching the other. Tara was to search the banks of the river and bring the wagon with her. They searched the valley carefully, but as the sun climbed higher overhead, their search was fruitless. The end of the valley was a tall cliff with a cascading waterfall that formed the river that flowed through the valley.
The three came together once more, and Lucas punched the wall of the valley in frustration. “Why didn’t we find it? Malcolm said we’d find it here, so where is it?”
Apollos sighed. “I don’t know. I can’t think of any place that it could be hiding.”
Tara laughed. “You are one to talk about hiding things.”
Apollos gave Tara a confused look. “What are you talking about?”
Tara pointed at Apollos. “I found a picture hiding in your things last night of you with Geraldo! I think that’s the real reason you don’t want to talk about your past!”
Apollos’ face turned dark. “You decided to look through my things without my permission? You destroy my relationships with my friends, you invade my privacy, and you constantly try to deter me from my quest. Give me one good reason to allow you to continue to travel with us.”
Tara growled, “You don’t have to worry about me traveling with you anymore, because Lucas and I are leaving!”
Lucas pushed Tara back. “I said that I wasn’t going to do that until I heard Apollos side of the story. Stop trying to make my decisions for me!”
Tara looked at Lucas in surprise, but her face quickly turned back to anger. “I’m just trying to look out for you!” Tara shoved Lucas back. Lucas took a step back and tripped over a rock. His arms windmilled as he tried to regain his balance, but he fell back through the waterfall. He landed roughly on his back and grunted.
Apollos burst through the waterfall after Lucas. “Lucas, are you all…” Apollos’ eyes opened wide when he saw Lucas. He started laughing. “We’ve done it! Look, Lucas, it’s the legendary beast blade of water!” Apollos pointed at a sword driven into the stone floor of the cave right next to Lucas’ neck. The sword had a blue gem set into the hilt, and the crossguard was decorated with golden scales.
Lucas stood up and started laughing along with Apollos. He reached down and pulled the sword out of the ground. The two of them walked back through the waterfall to where Tara was waiting. Lucas held the sword up. “Look, Tara, we found it!”
Tara looked at the beast blade with wonder in her eyes. “It’s so beautiful! Which beast blade is that?”
Aldricks voice called out from a ledge above the waterfall. “That is the legendary beast blade, Ryupoto, the water dragon. Hello, Apollos, it is good to see you again. I’ve been putting the skills you taught me to good use for your son. Now, tell the boy to hand the beast blades over.”
Apollos growled. “Aldrick, I’ve been hoping to run into you! How dare you use my teachings to bring suffering to people! Tara, Lucas, prepare for a fight!”
Aldrick pulled his head back and laughed. “Oh, that would be unwise, you see, I’ve gone ahead and passed your teachings onto two pupils of my own.” Captain Hugh and Captain Charles stepped out with grins on their face.
Tara pointed up at Aldrick. “You were the one that told me those things about Apollos! I can’t believe I trusted you!”
Aldrick smiled. “Why shouldn’t you trust me? Everything I told you was the truth.”
Thank you for checking out my story, if you liked this and want to see more like it, come back on Monday when I will publish part one of chapter thirteen of Ahir, Guardian of Malor, and check out the other stories I’m working on writing, here: Tales of the Imagination, check out my facebook page 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!