Once Upon a Time – Chap. 13.1

Deigen rode his horse up next to V and leaned in close to take him into confidence. “I’m beginning to think the boy is lost.”

Why would you think that?” V asked in a return whisper. “Because we been traveling a meandering path that makes no sense?”

Deigen slapped a mosquito from his arm. “More the fact we’re treading through the outskirts of a swamp at the moment but that reason suffices.”

Yes well, I think it’s about time we got a better of idea of where we’re headed.” V cleared his throat and called out to the group’s fearless, pint-sized leader. “Excuse me, Arthur, but we seem to be going on a bit of an odd course. I’m sure the Keepers are still quite a ways off but you do know for certain where they went, do you not?”

Arthur stopped as if V had run ahead to block his path instead of shouting behind him. “They went this way.” His voice sounded like he’d just been woken up and he was neither fully awake nor happy about it.

Wonderful, so we are going the right direction, good to know,” said Deigen. “But where exactly are they?”

The boy turned to face him. “The Keepers are everywhere. The Keepers-”

Will rule everyone, everything, blah, blah, blah, yes, yes we know!” bellowed Bastiick. He glanced around as everyone stared at him for the loud outburst. “Oh, like you guys aren’t tired of hearing that over and over by now.”

Arthur I haven’t a clue where they took everyone, how do you know where to go?” Megan crossed her arms. “Is this is going to be like the time we played Follow the Leader and you tried to take us through a brier patch?”

I know where they went, promise,” said Arthur, this time taking on a whining tone more annoying than his dazed drone. “I can’t explain how I know but I do.”

Depending on the spell these Keepers used, what he’s saying could very well be true,” offered Sylvia. She waved a hand in front of her face to battle her own cloud of mosquitoes. “He’s probably being led to them but doesn’t actually know where the destination is.”

Well isn’t that nice and convenient,” grumbled Seth, squishing the ground as he walked over to join the semicircle. “So not only do we not know where we’re going, but it’s completely unreasonable to expect the person we’re following to be any less blind.” He leaned against a sapling that more resembled a giant stalk of celery than a tree. “I sure the rest of you will understand if I decide to keep my distance a bit more than usual. Not that it’s hard to do so since no one’s thought to offer their horse to the zombie who has a hard time keeping up yet.”

Seth, you never said anything before about wanting to ride anyone’s horse,” shot back V. “All you have to do is ask.”

Okay then, can I ride your horse through this muck we’re in for a little while?”

V glanced down at his stead as though giving a silent apology to the animal for even suggesting such a switch off. “Er, maybe later. This is difficult terrain and I’m a more experienced rider.”

Mmm-hmm, I see.” Seth gave a nod of agreement while muttering to himself, “That’s fine, everyone just keep the stinky zombie cursed to only eat stinky fish in the stinky back.”

Wow, look at the size of that dragonfly!” Sylvia shot a finger toward the massive insect resting on a cattail doubling over from its weight. “It’s almost as big as Obmuj. There must be some kind of magic present in the swamp!”

Great.” Seth rolled his eyes. “That’s exactly what I wanted to hear.”

Oh, it’s so pretty!” exclaimed Megan, stepping over for a closer look. “And it’s staying still, usually the things dash off just as soon as you-” she stumbled backward onto the soggy ground after a ‘ping’ sound emanated from the insect. The lower right side of her neck looked like someone poked it with a darning needle.

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