The Seekers – An Unlikely Friend (Part 5)
With Florette back inside the hood of her riding jacket, Lisette continued her address, “I am Lisette, daughter of Samuel and Nora. We seek the truth behind the vanishings of our people.”
“Lisette, I am Mhutig, son of Arius and Pheibe from the land of Klousus. I was on my way home from a hunting trip with my brothers. Then, on our last night before home, I went to gather wood for the fire. But after climbing that hill,” Mhutlig pointed to the same hill used by the seekers, “I found myself here, and when I tried returning to my brothers, they were gone – the forest I knew replaced by this one.”
“You say that you are from the land of Klousus. I am not familiar with this place of which you speak. Is it located somewhere in the far reaches of Wrunwicks?” Lisette had that feeling of being upside down again.
Upon noticing the soggy condition of the group, Mhutig remembered his manners. “Please, seekers, why not join me inside this cave where it is dry? We can continue our conversation away from these rains.”
Relieved, they dismounted, secured their horses to the trees next to the cave’s clearing, and followed Mhutig inside.
The cave’s chamber was much bigger than the seekers expected. With an entrance of only three arms high and two arms wide, Mhutig had to bend his upper body to compensate. However, once inside, the cave revealed its secret.
After a quick inspection, Lisette guessed the cave’s chamber to be at least ten arms high, while reaching twenty arms long at its widest point. There was plenty of room for everyone.
From the Outside
Back inside the cave, Mhutig had gone to tend the fire, so Lisette stole a closer look at their host. He would make a formidable ally. His broad, muscular build would provide strength against any enemy – not to mention that he towered over them by a good five hands. The ease and precision of his movements suggested speed and agility.
“Never judge a cave from the outside,” Ewart observed, interrupting Lisette’s thoughts.
“Or a centaur, for that matter,” Lisette added, while Mhutig still tended to the fire. It was a small fire with the bigger branches and pieces of wood on the bottom. And placed at the furthest end of the cave, it remained far enough from the cave walls to avoid heating the rock. A rabbit lay next to fire, skinned and ready to cook. Stacked out of harm’s way, was a pile of dried wood and branches. Next to it, were the centaur’s belongings: a sword, a bow and arrow, and a worn leather satchel.
The Land of Krousus
The fire stoked, Mhutig approached the seekers. “Now, let us continue, seekers of Stonebridge. You mentioned the vanishing of your people. Tell me more about these vanishings.”
Henry explained to Mhutig about the vanishings that were occurring throughout the land of Wrunwicks. He also shared their fear that the wrunwick had returned from legend to reign terror upon the people once more.
“In the land of Krousus, there lives a band of monsters that we call cyclops – a savage breed of cave dwellers who hunt humans and animals alike. Some say our distant ancestors conjured these monsters with dark magic.” Mhutig refrained from telling the seekers the rest of what they said – words filled with venom against humans. The less those words were shared the better.
“Mhutig, where is this place which you describe to us? Is it on the other side of the waters surrounding our land?” Henry knew how fantastic his question sounded, even to him.
“On the other side of the waters? Of that, I cannot speak, seeker. But I can say that Krousus is also surrounded by waters. No one has ever traveled beyond them,” Mhutig answered honestly.
A shiver ran down the spine of each seeker. For they were all familiar with the theory of land on the other side of Thomas waters. However, the actual possibility of another land existing out there somewhere was extraordinary. Lisette recalled Calder’s words, which no longer seemed so remote.
Where Are My Manners?
After Mhutig spoke, it dawned on Henry that other than Lisette, they had not introduced themselves. “Perhaps now is a good time to present ourselves. You will have to forgive us, Mhutig, we are not normally this rude. I am Henry, son of Henry and Eugenia.”
The others followed Henry’s example and introduced themselves. Florette waited for the seekers to finish before emerging from Lisette’s hood.
“And who might you be?” Mhutig asked with a smile. The fairies of Krousus were timid creatures. He wanted to reassure this fairy that she was safe in his presence. He despised those who took advantage of their small size.
“I am Florette, daughter of Leander and Irene. Pleased to meet you.” Satisfied that he was not a threat, she flew over to shake the centaur’s finger.
“Let us enjoy a meal together. What do you say, Florette?” Mhutig asked as Florette shook his finger.
Relinquishing her hand, Florette smiled and shook her head by way of response. She was seldom shy or lost for words, but meeting a centaur was an unheard of event.
Mhutig addressed the seekers, “I have only rabbit and berries to offer. But despite my meager provisions, I hope you will join me in a meal to celebrate our new friendship.”
“We would be honored to share a meal in friendship with you, Mhutig. We also have provisions, so between us, it will be a feast sufficient enough to convince kings,” Lisette answered on the group’s behalf.
Their host’s generosity accepted, Aspen and Mhutig cooked the rabbit while the others took care of the remaining preparations. And when everything was ready, they settled down to enjoy their feast, complete with bread, wine, and sweet biscuits.
It was dark outside by now, and the rains had stopped. Inside, the fire cast a warm glow around the cave as they ate.
“We will be able to continue our journey in the morning. If we leave at first light, we should be in Strawbridge by night’s fall,” Lisette said between mouthfuls.
“Perhaps the villagers will have news for us. In any case, it would be a good idea to restock before heading to the mountain,” Ewart asserted.
The others shook their heads in agreement. Roy turned to their new friend. “Do you plan to stay here for very long, Mhutig?”
“I have waited two days for my brothers to find me, or I them, but it is becoming clear that neither will happen,” he answered.
Opening his mouth to continue, Lisette seized the opportunity to share her idea. “I propose that you join us, Mhutig. We could use someone like you on our side. And just as we hope to uncover the truth behind the vanishings of our people, perhaps you will uncover the truth behind your appearance in this land.”
“Thank you, Lisette. I see no point in remaining around here any longer, so it would be my honor to join your group. And together, we will find the answers to our questions.” He raised the cup borrowed from Roy. “To friendship,” he concluded.
“To friendship!” the seekers agreed, raising their cups…
~~~ To be continued ~~~
I’ve added a new category to my blog, entitled The Seekers. By giving this story its own category, it eliminates the growing list of links to each post. I hope you’ll check it out. 😉 Until next time, be kind to yourself. You’re worth it!✨