The Happenings I
Series The Happenings by Azaelia Silmarwen
Chapter 3
Writer Azaelia Silmarwen
Chapter Chronology
Previous Ten Years Later
Next The Pilgrim
Ten Years Later Chapter Chronology The Pilgrim

Chapter Three: Journey to the PilgrimEdit

The next morning I woke at dawn to the Town Crier yelling, ‘Wakey wakey! Its day breaky!’, and went down stairs to get some breakfast. After breakfast, I headed out and went in search for a job. I eventually found one at the local blacksmith and spent the entire day working there, while Storm just laid about…lucky thing.

I spent the next day spending my well-earned money on items that would help me on my journey. The first thing I went and did was upgrade my weapons… just had to get rid of the crossbow and the rusty longsword. I ended up getting a steel longsword and an iron flintlock rifle, from the blacksmith. As I was leaving the blacksmith, I practically ran away from a man that came up to me and said;

‘I had some seafood earlier…you know what that means? Let’s find a bed!’

Sadly, that wasn’t the end of those comments. I had lovesick men following me around all day, though I couldn't understand why. I went to Bit of Skirt for a new outfit (hot pants, thigh high boots and a corset) and they followed me. I went to Bowerstone Fruit and Veg Stall: they followed me. Potions in Motion, Bowerstone’s Big Pile of Stuff and Fiction Burns: they followed me. Thankfully, I eventually lost them when I arrived back at my room at the tavern.

Sitting down on my bed, I pulled out the books I bought at Fiction Burns and I began to read them. I ended up reading The Tattered Spire, Lord Lucien: A Biography, and Lucien the Lunatic, finding out as much as I could on the Tattered Spire and Lucien. After pouring through the books for what felt like hours, I grabbed my bag and pulled out the five Fate Cards. Theresa had taught me how to read fate cards years ago. I even had my own fate cards, which I kept with me at all times.

Anyway, I ended up putting The Mage and The Thief back into my bag, seeing as they didn’t concern me, at the present time, so instead I focused on The Choice, The Relic and The Pilgrim. I chose to examine The Pilgrim first, seeing as they were my main objective. Just by looking at the front of the card I found out the following:

The Pilgrim is the soul in search of spiritual truth and freedom. The white of the robes represents purity, while the red lining is sometimes seen as an expression of controlled anger. The open arms are a sign of both an open mind and a giving nature, though it is also interpreted at times as a desire for some unreachable goal. The branches that sprout in the background represent growth. Though a positive card overall, the Pilgrim stands on water, which indicates uncertainty and a need for salvation.

‘Hmm, I can see where the link between the Temple of Light and The Pilgrim.’ I muttered to Storm. I managed to convince the barman into letting Storm stay in my room.

I flicked the card over and saw the Theresa had written on the back, which read:

The Pilgrim. This Hero has Great Spirit and awesome strength...but it is not yet unleashed. The Pilgrim's path is to the North

I didn’t know what “The Pilgrim's path is to the North” meant, but I knew what “This Hero has Great Spirit and awesome strength...but it is not yet unleashed”, and I didn’t like the sound of it. It seemed as though I would have to convince whoever it was to join our cause and embrace their gift.

On the third day I decided to leave, seeing as I had everything I need. Going down the stairs, I went and paid for my accommodation. Once that was done, I headed for Old Town, the only way to get to Oakfield. I braced myself for what I might see, as I stopped at the gates leading to Old Town. Theresa said that it had changed, good or bad I did not know.

When I arrived in Old Town, the first thing I noticed was that it had indeed changed for the best. Gone was the dark, depressing town and it was replaced with a bright, happy town with gardens of different flowers, white little picket fences and stalls with not a beggar in sight.

Just as I was about to head further into town, a sheriff stopped me. At first I thought I was in trouble, even though I had done nothing wrong, until he said;

‘Well, hello again! It’s you! Wow, you’ve changed since you were last running around this place. But I recognise what’s in those eyes: goodness, decency, respect for the law!’

‘It’s good to see you too, Derrick.’ I said, smiling when I recognised who it was. ‘But it seems I’m not the only one to have changed.’

‘You’re right about that. After you gave me those arrest warrants, I broke up Nicky the Nickname’s whole crew, and Lord Lucien made me sheriff! Of course, then he disappeared…’ he shrugged. ‘But crime is way down, and urban renewal has transformed this neighbourhood into the most desirable district in Bowerstone.’

‘I can see that.' I said, looking around again. It was hard to believe that this was the town I use to live in.

‘Fantastic, isn’t it? Anyway, as a good friend of the Sheriff, you’ll find the shopkeepers will give you a discount on all goods and services. Of course, the same discount extends to that sister of yours, should she be in town.’

I put on a fake smile. I felt as though a cold hand had clutched my heart. I always happened when Rose was mentioned.

‘Well, I won’t take anymore of your time,’ said Derrick, before he added, ‘now, stay out of trouble, won’t you?’

‘Me? Get into trouble?’ I said mockingly, grinning up at him.

‘You know what I mean!’ he said, before walking away, chuckling.

I watched him walk out of sight before I continued down the street. I’d only taken several steps when Storm ran off down a side street barking. I tore after him, calling his name.

‘Storm, come back! Come on, Storm!’ I yelled, making people stare.

I soon realised where he was taking me…the one place I wasn’t ready to go to yet…our shelter.

When we arrived there, I couldn’t believe that this was where Rose and I use to live. Our shelter was gone and replaced with beehives and flowers. Storm barked gently to get my attention before he started to dig. Curious as to what he had found, I took out my spade and began to dig. The item that I unburied was a dirty, old diary. Picking it up and dusting as much as the dirt off as I could, I noticed that there was a boarder of roses around the diary, “diary” written in fancy letters in the middle of the cover. I recognised it at once. How could I not? Mother and Father had given it to Rose for her birthday before they died. Everyday, Rose use to write in it.

I turned to the last entry that she wrote, which was written over the rough drawing of a castle, and began to read.

I managed to find a nice piece of charcoal this morning, so I can finally start writing again. I still haven't finished putting down the story about the warrior girl who fights the snow monsters. Sparrow always likes listening to that one - sends her right to sleep! It's not so easy for me.

Winter is getting colder and soon our shelter won't be anywhere near enough. We'll freeze to death if we don't find something better. And the family of travellers who let us stay in their caravan last winter haven't come back this year. It was nice having someone to look after us for a change.

If only we could find some secret passage into the castle...We're small enough that no one would even notice us. We'd be like ghosts, or like mice, hiding in the wall. We'd tiptoe out when everyone goes to bed and raid the larder. I bet they have so much food in there, they'd never even notice.

Bah, daydreaming isn't going to get us anywhere. You have to think of something, Rose. You're the big sister, remember?

By the end, I had tears flowing freely down my face and I didn’t even try to stop them. I never thought about how Rose felt. I never knew that she felt a strong responsibility for me even though I knew that she was protective of me.

I don’t know how long I sat there for, with Storm trying to comfort me, but in the end I forced myself up and went to look at the stalls, buying all the necessary equipment, getting fifty percent off everything just like Derrick had said.

After I got everything I needed, including more dog treats for Storm, I headed towards Rockridge, the region that I would need to past through in order to get to Oakfield. However, just as I was waking down a flight of stairs, towards the gate leading out of Bowerstone, I heard someone insulting me, but there was only problem…there was nobody in sight.

‘Tell me this: is it true that you don’t know which way to hold a crossbow?’ continued the voice, with some more insults.

Okay, now I was getting annoyed. It took me another minute to locate the source, and it turned out to be a gargoyle.

‘I heard that there was a prophecy about you…yeah, something about being…the worst marksmen of all time! Yeah, that was it! Ha ha ha!’ insulted the gargoyle.

Growing tired of its taunts; I unbuckled my rifle and shot it before it could utter another syllable. It shattered and its remains fell to the ground, along with something else. I went over to its remains and pulled out a piece of paper, which turned out to be a map with writing above it:

Ach, think you're a right smart arse, don't you? Well, you'll never find the Lost Gargoyle Treasure. Not in a million years. It's too well hidden in the river dungeon of the City of Stones. So there!

‘Well, it can’t be that well hidden, seeing as you gave me a map showing that the treasure is in Bowerstone Market under the Bowerstone Bridge.’ I muttered, in half a mind to go back to Bowerstone and find the treasure, but I decided against it, but I made a mental note to keep an eye, and an ear, out for gargoyles throughout my journeys.

* * *

The road to Rockridge was uneventful, but when I arrived in Rockridge and headed down the road, a man came running past me yelling about bandits. Automatically I drew my sword and continued down the path when a voice met my ears, which was neither bandit nor gargoyle.

‘He-ey, thankyou Bandits!’ said the voice.

Up ahead was a carriage on its side with a couple of bodies hanging out of it. Beside the carriage was a tramp looking through the remains. When he caught sight of me, he paled dramatically.

‘Oh, eh – hello – eh, this isn’t what it looks like,’ he stammered.

‘Relax, friend. I’m not a guard or anything like that.’ I said, continuing down the path and up a slight hill.

Walking along, Storm and I came to a purple flag with a skull-like symbol on it and what looked like a bull’s skull on top of the flag post.

‘I’m guess we are about to enter bandit territory,’ I muttered to Storm.

I was about to walk past it when Theresa stopped me.

‘Wait! Bandits!’

Frowning, I looked up and realised that she was right. On the cliff up ahead were bandits with their guns at the ready. Thankfully they hadn’t seen me.

‘Charge them and you’ll be out numbered,’ Theresa continued. ‘Why not dispatch them from here with your gun?’

I loved it when Theresa told me what to do as a suggestion…not, but I did as she said nevertheless.

With the bandit threat gone, I continued along the mountain path, fighting a group of six bandits before I came to the end and noticed a small camp with three bandits casually lying around a small campfire.

‘Remember your gun. This could be over before they know it.’ Came Theresa’s voice.

Rolling my eyes, I quickly dispatched them and made my way down the path into the camp. After a quick glace around and seeing nothing of value, I headed towards the Rockridge Bridge, when I noticed something in the cliff face. It was a giant bearded man's face of white marble. I walked over to have a closer look at the face when it suddenly yawned and moved, coming out of the rock. Startled, I jumped back. The face just looked at me with a bored expression on his face. It was then that I realised what he was. Theresa had told me all about the legendary Demon Doors.

‘This world is so boring! I’ve been sitting here thousands of years and I’ve seen it all!’ he drawled suddenly. ‘Hey you! What’s that furry thing bounding up and down?’ he added, catching sight of Storm.

‘Um, my dog.’ I replied.

‘Can it do any tricks?’

‘Yes.’ I had taught Storm many tricks during my time at the Gypsy Camp.

‘Make it do something fun.’ The Demon Door ordered. ‘Anything to break this bitter monotony.’

‘Okay…good boy, Storm!’ I praised. Storm jumped and barked.

‘Oh, how delightfully droll.’ The Demon Door yawned. ‘What else can he do?’

In answer to his question, I gave an enormous burp and Storm went and hid his snout.

‘Ha ha. Nothing like the simplistic pleasure of a dumb animal demeaning himself for my amusement!’ I glared at it. ‘More!’

Still glaring at it, for insulting Storm, I insulted the Demon Door and Storm went and relieved himself on the Demon Door.

‘Well, I can certainly say, I’ve never seen that before. Another one!’ said the Demon Door, clearly not bothered by the fact that something had just peed on him.

‘Very well,’ I said, doing a little jig and in response, Storm started to bunny-hop.

‘That was almost worth waiting a few millennia for!’ The Demon Door said almost happily. ‘If he can do another, I’ll let you passed through.’

Straight away, I pretended to choke and fell gracefully to the ground, pretending to be dead and Storm mimicked me.

‘Oh yes, very amusing, I have definitely seen it all now.’ said the Demon Door. ‘I think I’ll take a nap now. A couple of hundred years should do it. The world should be a more interesting place by then, I hope.’

With that said the Demon Door split in half and revealed the portal to…wherever.

Not even hesitating to think about what I was going to do, I walked through the portal and arrived at a place that the Demons and Spirits of the world called Memory Lane.

I walked along the path eventually arrived at an unlocked chest. Not paying attention to anything around me, I flung open the chest and found a Potion of Life potion. I closed the chests lid and drank the potion. It was only then did I realise what I was facing. I was facing the podium that Rose and I posed in front of for Barnum. I quickly ripped my eyes away from it and left Memory Lane. Who said all memories were good?

Upon leaving the Rockridge Demon Door, I walked down the path and was about to cross the bridge when I noticed that the middle was broken and three bandits stood on the other side.

‘Ah look, another traveller. Want to get to Oakfield? You’ll have to swim, lovely.’ Called one of the bandits.

‘Ha ha ha, yeah jump!’ said another.

‘Jump! Jump! Jump!’ chanted the first two bandits, before a third yelled, ‘Dive!’

‘What?’ said the first two bandits.

‘Sorry,’ the third said quickly.

‘You always have to be different!’ said the second bandit angrily, before they started to argue.

I couldn’t believe that bandits could be so stupid. Theresa must have agreed with me for she said, ‘For once the bandits are correct. The only way forward is down.’

‘Hey, what’s the matter? Are you afraid of heights?’ yelled the seconded bandit, when he looked up from the argument, seeing that I was standing in the same stop. ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’ he added as I walked towards the middle.

‘She could die!’ exclaimed the third bandit. At least someone cared.

‘Shut it!’ barked the second.

Rolling my eyes, I picked up Storm and jumped into the water below. When Storm and my head’s appeared back above the watery surface, I could hear the shocked voices of the bandits.

‘I can’t believe it…she jumped!’ Came the voice of the third.

‘Is she dead?’ asked the first.

‘Is she’s dead? Of course she is! She bloody jumped! Nobody could survive that!’ snapped the second.

Smirking, Storm and I swarm to land, where we heard someone yelling, ‘Joey? Are you there?’

I came to shore with Storm and saw a Hermit yelling into a cave.

‘Is something wrong, sir?’ I asked, scaring him, as I ringed water out of my light brown locks.

‘My son Joey’s in there! He needs help!’ The Hermit said, running over to me.

‘So, go in and help him.’ I said as though it was the most obvious thing in the world.

‘But, um…I’m a little scared to go in alone,’ he mumbled. ‘Maybe we could go in together? Please?’

I looked at him for a moment, thinking how he didn’t deserve to be a parent (what kind of parent doesn’t help their child cause they’re afraid?), before I unbuckled my rifle and shot it at a cliff without taking my eyes off the Hermit. As a result of my actions I scared the Hermit again. But I didn’t care. The gargoyle I just shot was annoying me.

‘Sure. I’ll help.’ I said going to the cave entrance, waiting for him to enter.

‘Ah, after you,’ he said with a little bow, when he realised that I was waiting for him to enter.

‘Aww, what a gentleman you are,’ I said sarcastically, before walking confidently into the cave. Once inside, I took a quick glace around before comforting Storm, who was scared.

‘Ah, it’s lucky you happened by…I didn’t dare go in by myself,’ said the Hermit as we walked through the cave. ‘You see, er…well, probably should have mentioned this but, eh…’

‘Well, spit it out!’ I snapped impatiently.

‘There might be one or two Hobbes in here,’ he said quickly.

I stopped abruptly, before turning to face him. Fire burning in my eyes, fuelled by anger.

‘And you tell me this now!’ I said furiously. ‘Why didn’t you tell me before? What would have happened if we met a Hobbe as soon as we entered the cave and I was unprepared? No, don’t answer that!’ I added, as he was about to open his mouth to answer before I continued into the cave.

We walked in silence for about a minute before the Hermit started speaking again. I groaned.

‘I’d always heard the stories, you know, that Hobbes carry off children and…and turn them into more Hobbes. But they’re just stories, right?’

‘For the sake of your son, I hope they are,’ I said, more coldly than I intended as we entered a room full of bones, blood stained dirt and a monk’s body.

I drew my sword and walked over to the monk to see if, by some untold miracle, that he was still alive, but he wasn’t. Next minute, I whipped around at a sound only to realise that it was the Hermit vomiting.

‘Ah, I’m sorry. I…I’ve never seen anything like his before.’ he said, whipping his mouth.

‘And you think that I have?’ I snapped, before adding, ‘And that was another rhetorical question,’ as he opened his mouth to answer once more, but another noise answer my last statement.

In my opinion was that it was some sort of creature. Anyway, I started to move quietly down the tunnel, heading deeper into the Hobbe Cave, heading towards the sound.

‘What was that?’ panicked the Hermit, walking to-close-for-comfort behind me. ‘We should check it out.’

I gave him a very hard look before telling him to shut up. Once I was sure he was going to be quiet, I continued towards the noise and came to some sort for mining area or something and saw three Hobbes bending over something. Moving quietly, having ditched the Hermit back in the tunnel, I got ready for my sneak attack. I was only a meter away when…

‘Argh! Fight them off! Fight them off!’ screamed the Hermit, alerting the Hobbes of our presence as he ran around the corner.

Cursing quietly, I rapidly defeated the Hobbes before turning to scold the Hermit.

‘Oh, there disgusting!’ The Hermit said before I could speak, as he was looking down at the corpse the Hobbes had been eating. ‘But they couldn’t be…I mean, they couldn’t have actually of been children, could they?’

‘I don’t know, but if you ever pull that little stunt again…you will wish that it was you the Hobbes were eating!’ I said before marching up a wooden walkway. Behind me I could hear the Hermit’s pathetic voice.

‘Erm, do you think this is safe? These walkways seem a little…rickety.’

Ignoring him, I continued along, only briefly stopping to shoot a gargoyle. After a few minutes of walking, we heard a scream. The scream of a young child.

‘That’s Joey! I can hear him! I’m coming son!’ he yelled, running off before I could stop him.

‘Bloody idiot! His going to get himself killed – argh!’ A group of Hobbes jumped out of the barrels at Storm and I. ‘I-hate-Hobbes!’ I said through clenched teeth as I slaughtered them. Storm barked in agreement as we ran after the Hermit. We found him trying to open a locked door. When we approached he turned to us.

‘See if you can find another way in while I try and get this door open!’ he ordered.

Normally I would argue with him about ordering me around, but seeing as a child safety was at risk, I didn’t want to waste anymore-precious time. I headed back down the tunnel, all most walking past a tunnel leading off the main one, had it not been for Storm. Storm and I hurried along the tunnel, but we were too late. The boy had been turned into a Hobbe and attacked his own father. I killed the little Hobbe (he was no longer a child) as painlessly as I could, before I turned back to the bleeding Hermit.

‘I was too late!’ he gasped, letting the blood flow freely from the wound just above his heart. ‘He was…they turned my son into…and I always told him that those stories were made up. They were true. Oh…’ he gasped, breathing his last breath.

I looked down at the body in front off me. I knew that I should have felt sorry for him but…I just couldn’t. If he had gone in earlier, Joey might have survived. The same if he had stopped his son going near this cave or whatever happened in the first place.

Theresa’s urgent voice met my ears. ‘You should get out of there. Head for the surface quickly!’

I didn’t need to be told twice. I fought my way out of the cave killing small Hobbes, big Hobbes and even a few suicidal Hobbes. In the end, I came to a ladder. Putting Storm on my shoulders, like some sort of shall, I climbed the ladder, which lead to the shelter of a rundown carriage house…on the other side of the bridge!

Happy to be out of the Hobbe Cave, I walked out of the shelter and the voices of the bandits met my ears.

‘I’m bored!’ whined the third bandit. ‘Can we go back now?’

I quietly walked up behind them.

‘No, it’s our job to guard the bridge,’ answered the first.

‘But it’s broken! On one can cross it!’ The third argued.

‘I didn’t say it was a hard job!’ said the first, clearly getting annoyed.

‘What I’d give for some excitement,’ sighed the second, breaking off the argument between his companions.

‘Yeah, like a nice clean fight! Sneaking up on someone from behind and throttling them!’ The first bandit said wishfully.

‘Hmm. I’d settle for less.’ muttered the second.

Upon hearing this, I decided to have some fun. Still standing quietly and unnoticed behind the bandits, I concentrated on my will and threw and invisible force at the second bandit, which pushed him off the edge of the bridge. The other two bandits jumped and whipped around. I swear the third bandit wet himself.

‘Sorry, I just couldn’t resist,’ I laughed, as they gaped at me. ‘What’s wrong? Did you think I was dead?’ When they didn’t answer, I drew my sword. ‘Anyway, I thought you said that you wanted “a nice clean fight”?’

Coming to their senses, the bandits drew their swords and charged at me. It was almost wasn’t worth my time. I dispatched the both of them with two swings of my sword, before heading up the hill leading to Oakfield, muttering about how incompetent bandits were…not that it’s a bad thing.

* * *

Upon my arrival in Oakfield the next morning, I was greeted by Oakfield’s sheriff.

‘Didn’t expect to see a new face today. Two new faces, even.’ he said. ‘Made it through without much trouble then, did you?’

‘Just a few bandits and Hobbes, but that was it. Nothing I couldn’t handle.’ I said.

‘Well listen, this town is a peaceful place, so stay out of trouble or you’ll have me to deal with!’ The sheriff warned.

‘Yes, sir.’ I said.

‘That said, welcome to Oakfield,’ he said, before walking off.

‘What a lovely welcoming.’ I said sarcastically to Storm, who barked in agreement. ‘Hmm, I wonder where the Temple of Light is.’ I said, looking around for a sign.

Thankfully I was able to find the local tavern, The Sandgoose, and found a monk who was able to give me directions. After thanking him, I headed out along the path he told me to take and it was then that Theresa began to talk to me.

‘Oakfield is among the lusty regions of Albion. It owes its fertility to the Golden Oak, which lives for only a few decades before producing a single golden acorn. The monks of the Temple of Light replace this acorn and as the tree re-grows, so does the farms around. The Abbott is quiet nervous about this ritual, see what you can find out.’

I wasn’t able to say anything back to her for I was walking over the waterfall towards the Temple while the monks gave me curious looks. I was a meter away from the Temple when I heard people arguing from within.

‘Father, the sacred texts say that only two monks can enter the cave, no one else.’ said one of the monks.

‘I’ll not send my only child into unknown danger without protection. I will find an escort and that’s the end of it!’ said the Abbott as I walked in.

‘But…heh, hem,’ said one of the monks as he noticed my presence.

‘Ah, hello there, my child.’ said the Abbott. ‘I wonder…Brothers, leave us.’ he said to the monks before turning back to me. ‘Let me take a look at you for a moment…erm…armed…quite imposing…but I can’t just send anyone in there. Heh…quite impressive, but…no, I think not. You looked imposing alright, but I can’t trust our community's survival to a complete stranger.’

‘How would I be able to prove myself, Father?’ I asked politely.

‘Perhaps if you built up a reputation I’d be more inclined to trust you.’ The Abbott replied.

‘Any ideas on how I could do that?’ I asked, hoping it would be something quick and simple.

‘Yes. Rockridge has been having a horrible time with bandits lately. Why don’t you go to the tavern and see if you can do anything about them? That would be a good start.’

‘Yes, Father.’ I said, before I turned and left. So much for being quick and simple, but I wasn’t surprised. Nothing in my life is simple.

‘The blessing must go forth if you’re to find the Pilgrim. You must gain the Abbott’s favour.’ said Theresa.

I didn’t even bother to tell her that I knew this already, instead I just continued to walk down the path that lead to the tavern, throwing a rubber ball ahead of me every now and then for Storm to fetch.

Once at the tavern, I pocketed the ball and walked inside, looking around for anyone that needed help. It wasn’t long before I found someone who looked very familiar.

‘Do you need help with something?’ I asked, walking over to the table he was sitting at.

He looked up at me to answer, but the moment he saw who I was his face broke out into a smile.

‘Well, wrap me in pigskin and call me a sausage! Look who it is! It’s me! Barnum! From Bowerstone, remember? You helped me with my picture taking business!’ he cried out happily.

‘I remember you, Barnum,’ I smiled. ‘So, how’s the picture taking business?’

‘It never took off, still gamplussed about that one,’ he shrugged. ‘Anyway, that was a long time ago. Lots of exciting adventures since them. Look at you now, all grown up! A proper adventurer too! I bet that sister of yours is really proud!’

The cold hand was back, but I ignored it and asked Barnum about what was happening in his life.

‘Me? I’m in a bit of a custard, right now…and it was all going so well.’ he answered. ‘I made the deal of the century just the other day. This wonderfully strange fellow sold to me the bridge in Rockridge. Cost me every last piece of gold I had, but a thing like that pay’s for itself, what with all the trade tolls and everything! Only now the bally things fallen to pieces, and no one can get close enough to reconstructify it. Bandits, you see. Bunch of sprockless rotters! Probably saw them on your way here. Keep popping up all over the place, they do. You couldn’t give them a proper seeing to, could you?’ He added desperately. ‘For old time sake? Oh, I’d be positively ambidextrous if you would. You can even have my old Thesaurus. I know it by heart anyway.’

‘Of course I will help, Barnum, my old friend,’ I replied.

‘Wondrous! I knew that I could count on you, old friend! Please be careful though!’ he said. ‘These villains are a dangerous lot! The guards haven’t had much luck, but with you on board I know that it will turn out spiffingly. The gold will be rolling in, in no time!’

Smiling to myself, regarding Barnum’s enthusiasm, I headed back to Rockridge to deal with the bandits.

Once in Rockridge, I followed two bandits back to their hideout, which turned out to be the old Rockridge inn. Unfortunately, the bandits were ready for me. The moment Storm and I entered the inn, the doors behind us swung shut and the bandit leader told the other bandits to get me.

I quickly located the leader and went for him, but I found my path blocked by his gang. Unfortunately, this meant he was able to escape while I was busy with the other bandits. Cursing, I ran onto the balcony of the inn and saw him in the distance standing on the railway. I'd give him one thing, he could move fast.

‘You think your gonna catch me? Why do you think they call me Dash, stupid?’ he yelled. ‘I could out run the guards before I was out of nappies! What chance have you got? The last idiot that tried to chase me went blue in the face and keeled over and I was already miles away. I could shoot your smug nugle all day long. Sorry scum, got to dash.’ He added, before running off, with me running straight after him.

Chasing after him, I had to deal with a number of his cronies, before I ran off the rail-lines and into a group of more bandits…literally. I ran into them with that much force that I fell over backwards. The bandits smiled nastily down at me, while Storm readied himself to attack anyone that went at me.

‘You still there?’ said Dash.

I looked up and saw him standing several meters away.

‘You’re wasting your time, you drowsy slug!’ he continued. ‘Rockridge is mine, you hear! I’ll use your blood to paint the sign with my name on it!’

‘Good plan; there’s just one problem. How are you going to do it when you are dead?’ I said, before focusing on my Will and electrocuting the bandits that surrounded me. By the time I had picked myself off the ground, Dash was gone…again.

The Abbott better choose me after this! I thought angrily.

I chased after him, only stopping to fight even more bandits - I swear, they’re as bad as those bloody giant beetles! - and eventually, I had him trapped, inside the bandits’ fortress on top of some Old Kingdom ruins. Storm was underneath him barking and growling.

Taking out my rifle, I lined him up and pulled the trigger, then watched as his body fell to the ground with a thud. I walked over to him and took his goggles as proof of what I had done. Standing back up, I noticed a chest. After breaking open its lock, I found one hundred gold - which I obviously stashed in my own money bag - and bandit clothing.

Seeing that it was getting late, I hurried back to the Sandgoose and found Barnum in the same place as I left him. He looked at me expectedly, for my facial features would reveal neither succuss nor failure. However, in the end, I smiled and showed him Dash’s goggles.

‘Ah, the Hero returns triumphant! A stupendous success! Jolly well done!’ he said joyfully. ‘Of course, it turned out that those deeds weren’t entirely genuine, so the whole thing isn’t going to turn out quiet as plannified. Still, at least it’s not me that has to fix the bridge now. Okay, so I might be broke, but I’ll bounce back, always do. Anyway, here’s my trusty thesaurus, as promised. You never know when you’ll be caught in a lexicological quandary.’ he finished cheerfully, handing me the thesaurus, before saying goodbye and leaving.

I just stood there hoping he would be alright and wondering what a lexicological quandary was. When I snapped out of it, I was about to put the thesaurus and Dash’s goggles in my bag when I noticed something sticking out of the thesaurus. I pulled it out and felt as though I was going to cry. It was the picture of Rose and I posing for the picture box. Flipping the picture over, I saw that Barnum had written on the back.

I thought that you might want this, free of charge.

Thanks for your help!


‘No, thank you Barnum.’ I muttered, looking down at Rose’s face. Sighing, I put the photo carefully in my bag and went to the barman to see it I could get a room seeing as it was nighttime. I would see the Abbott in the morning.

* * *

The next morning, I awoke at dawn and headed back to the Temple of Light. The Abbott was waiting for me when I arrived.

‘It’s you!’ he said when I came to a halt in front of him. ‘I prayed for your return! I heard about what you did in Rockridge. I think you could be of great use to us. Come, walk with me a while.’ I followed him out of the Temple and down the path. ‘Now, nourishing the Golden Acorn is done with holy water from the Wellspring of Light, but the Spring is located in a nearby cave, which is said to be quite dangerous. Our sacred texts say only two monks must enter the cave. The strongest and a second of the Abbott’s choosing. Obviously this concerns me, especially since our strongest monk is my own child! So instead of a second monk, I have decided to send a protector of the first…and that’s you – if you are interested.’

‘Sure, I’ll do it. Just tell me where to go.’ I replied, noticing that the Abbott seemed to relax when I agreed to do it.

‘The cave is just at the end of this road,’ he said, stopping at the edge of the waterfall. ‘You probably passed it on your way here. Our strongest monk shall be waiting be waiting for you. Now, I must gather the others and prepare for the blessing.’

Nodding to him, I hurried down the path.

‘Our first Hero awaits us, even if they do not yet realise it.’ said Theresa.

As I approached the Wellspring Caves, I could hear someone singing:

‘Down by the reeds

A twisted path leads

To Banshees who breathe out

A cold winter breeze.

Nobody knows,

Nobody sees,

The Sirens of Oakvale.

Down by the reeds.

Swim the Sirens of Oakvale

Out to the seas

Down by the reeds

Float the souls left unbroken by balverines

Down by the reeds

Right-blooming weeds embrace those who go dancing,

In sad moon dreams.

Down by the reeds…’

I rounded the corner and saw a big, strong girl with reddish-brown dreadlocks wearing a monks robe, sitting on top of a pillar, and I knew, that I had found the Pilgrim.

Next chapter link:

A/N: I apologise if I have spelt any words Barnum said wrong. If you know the correct spelling, please let me know and I will fix them up. I also apologise if I got the lyrics of the song in the wrong order.

Written: 12 June 2011