Sunday, March 25, 2018

Page 1630

When they saw the rider fall from his horse and not get back up, the Trio ran to meet him.

Damian went straight up to the downed man as the horse ran off on its own. He prodded the guy with a stick he often carried around, then put his hand under the man’s nose. “He’s still breathing, I think.”

“Why’s he dressed like that?” said Steven.

“It’s a uniform, stupid,” said Parson. “Soldiers wear ‘em.”

“I’m not stupid! I just ain’t never seen one before!”

“Neither have I, but it’s obvious. You should pay more attention when the grownups talk. They say all sorts of things when they think we can’t hear ‘em.”

“I do pay attention! I just ain’t never--”

“Those are Melmoorian colors,” said Damian. “That means he’s one of ours.”

Parson ran around to the man’s other side. “We should drag him back to the village, then.”

“What if they just think we’re playing another prank?” said Steven.

“How could this be a prank?” said Parson. “We can’t fake a dead body.”

“He’s not dead,” reiterated Damian.

“Just shut up and help me.”

“He looks heavy,” said Steven.

“So what?” said Damian. “You a weakling?”

“No! I’m super strong!”

“Coulda fooled me with those twig arms of yours,” said Parson.

“Shut up! I’m stronger than both of you!”

Damian and Parson both laughed. “Go ahead and prove it, then,” said Damian. “Grab his feet, Torocles.”

“What? I told you, I’m Steven!”

“Idiot,” said Parson. “Torocles was the strongest man who ever lived. Ain’t your mother ever read you that story?”

“What? Yeah, of course she has! Shut up!”

And it took a while, but with group effort, they managed to drag the man all the way back to Trintol.

The adults were all aghast at the sight of the stranger. They quickly shooed the boys away from him and then carried him off to Damian’s house, the largest in the village.

The Trio tried to follow and sneak a look in, but even Damian couldn’t find anything else out. The adults were too wary of them. And when night started to fall, Parson had to go home disappointed.

“Boy,” his mother said, taking that punishing tone that he’d heard so many times before. She raised her hand, and he braced himself, but she didn’t smack him. Instead, she patted him on the head and ran her fingers through his hair. “You did a good thing today. I’m proud of you.”

What a weird feeling, that was.

He went to bed happy.

He awoke to his mother shaking him. “Parson! Get up, Parson!”

It was still the middle of the night. “Ma? What’s going--?”

She all but threw him out of his bed. “Get up! We have to go!”

He didn’t dare protest. He followed her blindly and confusedly. What were all these noises from outside? Shouting and rushed footsteps? Horses, too?

And a scream. A terrible scream. Enough to make his blood run cold. He would’ve frozen in place at the mere sound of it if his mother hadn’t been dragging him by the arm.

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