Click here to see the previous entry for the story line of Peter, Char, and Donquio.Â There are clarity changes I would do to it now, but alas, so it is.
When the twilight had deepened into dark night and the first sister moon peered over the trees, Peter was confident that the Kuzdu had chosen not to follow them at night. He silently thanked his God for that, then looked to his next course.
The forest path brought Peter and the two other clerics to a small stream. Only the locals who hunted often would know that if, rather than crossing it, you followed it upstream a short distance you would come to another sparse path into a wilder part. Peter considered the option. The footing was sure enough for the horse, but would be difficult with the cart. It would slow them down quite a bit, and he wasnâ€™t sure how well it would throw the Kuzdu off. Kuzdu were not well known for their tracking ability, but they did use dogs. For a short distance after the stream crossing, the main path was well worn and recent passage would be difficult to determine, but it soon forked off into several smaller trails, that were difficult to navigate unless one was familiar with the forest.
Chars gestured across, â€œIf I cross here and travel up for a while then back track and return to you, we may distract them.â€
â€œIf they donâ€™t use their eyes,â€ said Donquio.
â€œThey are overconfident right now,â€ said Chars.
â€œBut theyâ€™ll soon become frustrated and angry,â€ Peter replied, â€œand that will serve us as well. They have few men to spare in a search for us while they subdue the town,â€ Peterâ€™s stomach twisted again at the words. Family and friends, all of them now lost to the barbarian conquerors. He choked and paused, then finally continued in croaking words, â€œMorning will bring a strong search party. We must make our path complicated to the point of impossibility. At the very least, this will split them up.â€
â€œGo down the main path until the second sister appears among the tops of the trees, then take one of the offshoots until she rises just above them, and then return to us back the way you came. The cart will slow us down a great deal on the stream. We will meet you on the bank.â€
Chars put his hand on Peterâ€™s shoulder, his eyes solemn with the sorrow they all felt. He clapped once on the shoulder, nodded and then turned back to cross the stream.
Peter and Donquio watched a few short moments. Their task now was to get the cart over the rocky bottom of the stream. As experience had shown, the horse was easily able to navigate over the smaller but well packed stones, but the cartâ€™s wheels often rutted into the rocks. Through the whole ordeal, Donquio remained silent and sullen. Grief had a hold on them, a burden that dragged at them more than the cart, which they often had to heave out of the streamâ€™s bed. But the fear was stronger, prodding them almost as if the whip was Peter often looked back, cringing at the clammer of the passage that would be easy to hear over the gurgle of the stream. They would hardly be able to hear any pursuers that could be tracking them.
The first sister was well above the trees and the second sister nearly above them herself when Peter and Donquio finally got to the trail leading off the stream. They pulled the cart out of the water and unhitched the horse for a short rest until Chars joined them. Dismay still dogged them, and now they both watched anxiously down the waterâ€™s passage through the trees for their companion.
â€œHeâ€™ll been here soon,â€ said a womanâ€™s voice behind them.