It was nearly mid-afternoon when Liesliana and Jonathan spotted a small hut, with smoke coming out of its roof. They had been following the trail and for more than a few times, they had not managed to find the correct paths, either the paths are too muddy to clearly recognise the trail or that there were several misleading trails that lead to different directions . However, they did manage it in the end.
The hut was made of hays, timbers and straws with a small hearth outside. There was a huge wooden chest and a few thick logs laying nearby. There were tall trees around it and dry leaves were everywhere. Behind the hut, there was a small steam flowing to the south. When Liesliana and Jonathan moved in closer to get a better view of the place in the concealment of some bushes, they saw some shields hanging at the door of the hut, swords on the grounds beside the trees and bows and arrows on top of the wooden chest.
Liesliana turned and looked at Jonathan with an expression that was of the mixure of shock, questioning and wonder. Jonathan shook his head and put a finger to his mouth to signal Liesliana to keep quiet. Just when the two of them were about to move yet closer to the hut, they were forced to stay where they were as two men in armour came out from the hut. They looked around the surroundings and then walked towards the huge wooden chest. They seemed to be arguing about something and pointing fingers to one another. Liesliana and Jonathan seized this opportunity to move closer towards the hut without them noticing. They got a glimpse of the contents in the wooden chest which was filled with rolls and rolls of parchments, extra arrows, sets of tunics and armours with the Teragon’s coat of arms and extra swords. Liesliana and Jonathan looked at each other and were thinking the same line, ‘who are these people?’
Their question was certainly answered by another man coming out of the hut, shouting angrily at the two other men,
‘What are you two doing there? Continue with the preparations quickly! Lord Alval has sent his words!’
Jonathan had to cover Liesliana’s mouth to stop her from voicing aloud. Lord Alval ?! That was the King of Taiga! If that was the person who gave these men orders, then…they must be the Taiga’s forces!
‘We were just checking the supplies, that is all,’ said one of the men calmly.
‘Get going with the preparations, will ya? Stop bothering with those supplies!’ said the third man again.
The two other men looked at each other and together they closed the chest. They then walked towards the trees where the swords were and began picking them up for sharpening while the third man looked on with angry glares.
‘What should we do now?’ whispered Liesliana.
‘We should go,’ replied Jonathan, without taking his eyes off the hut and its surroundings.
‘Go? Just like that?’ asked Liesliana in disbelief.
‘We’ll inform the king and send men to capture these people,’ said Jonathan thoughtfully.
‘What if we couldn’t trail back the paths?’ Liesliana said, with her eyebrow raised.
‘We will. I have a plan,’ said Jonathan with a huge grin that Liesliana couldn’t help but express a soft giggle.
The both of them quickly headed back, using the same trail as before. But, as according to Jonathan’s plan, they tied a small red string to every tree they came across.
‘You’re a genius!’ exclaimed Liesliana.
‘Well, your highness, one has to think out of the box when in desperate situations like this,’ laughed Jonathan.
‘Aye, that’s true,’ nodded Liesliana.
Sooner than they expected, they reached the clearing again.
‘Should we ride back to the castle then?’ asked a satisfied Jonathan.
‘Sure,’ smiled Liesliana. It had been a great day.
They were passing through the nearly deserted market place when they saw someone familiar. As they rode forward in the late evening, it became clear. There were Kathleena with Jamie and Nathaniel, with the girl, named Adeline.
‘Good evening!’ greeted Liesliana warmly. ‘Surprise to see you lot here,’
‘Hello, Sister!’ smiled Kathleena. ‘We were just riding and then we came across this poor maiden who was crying because her home was burnt down,’ Kathleena pointed at Adeline, whose eyes were puffy red and the black burnt house.
‘Oh I see. Well Adeline, have you got any places to go? Is there money with you?’ asked Liesliana kindly.
Adeline shook her head and looked down. ‘No, your highness.’
‘Oh dear,’ said Liesliana. ‘I heard you had done a favour for one of our knights before and I think that was very brave of you,’
‘Who?’ asked Jonathan, curious.
‘Sir Julian,’ said Liesliana, without looking at Jonathan.
‘Who is that?’ Jonathan raised an eyebrow.
‘Oh yeah! Sir Julian! Yes, he’s a great fellow, Jonathan,’ exclaimed Jamie.
‘Hear hear!’ chided in Nathaniel.
‘But your highness, how do you know that I did something for Sir Julian? And I couldn’t be consider brave, it was just a simple act,’ said Adeline in a small voice.
‘Well he told some of us,’ smiled Liesliana. ‘And you’re brave, Adeline,’
‘Yes, very,’ smiled Kathleena too.
‘So I’m thinking of offering you a chamber in the castle with your mother until you find yourself a suitable accommodation,’ offered Liesliana.
‘Oh no, your highness! I couldn’t accept that,’ Adeline shook her head yet again.
‘You must! I insist!’ said Liesliana. ‘Please accept it as a favour to me?’
‘It’ll be alright, Adeline,’ smiled Kathleena kindly.
‘I…Okay, I’ll accept. My mother and I will leave the moment we found suitable accommodation,’ said Adeline, giving in.
‘Hurrah!’ exclaimed and beamed Jamie and Nathaniel while Jonathan sat there, nodding and smiling.
They waited for Adeline and her mother to get ready and set out back to the castle once again, with its polished walls reflecting the setting sun in deep orange and flags bearing the Teragon’s coat of arms waving proudly with the evening breeze.