The Caverns of Kildun Aalda--Chapter Eight--Kildun Aalda
Chapter Eight—Kildun Aalda
"Can't that lad keep up? We are never going to make it at this rate! We will all be dead of old age!"
The group stopped walking and looked behind them. A lone figure was struggling to catch up. They had only traveled three miles and had to stop and wait for him each mile.
"When he catches up, we can rest," Britt looked up at the sun. "It is time we eat lunch."
George laughed, "It is a good thing I wear leather armor. It is very light; I feel that I have nothing on. Hey! Did we forget to do something?" he asked Eileena.
"This is right! I forgot! When he catches up, we will fix it."
Eventually, Bard reached the group. "I am sorry," he panted, trying to catch his breath. He took off his helmet and poured some water over his head. "I forgot that plate armor is so heavy to travel in. How are Britt, Johanna and you able to travel so quickly?"
"It is my fault," said the Eileena. "I was so excited about traveling that I forgot to prepare you."
"Prepare me for what?"
"This," said Eileena, pulling a spray bottle out of her backpack. "Now stand still while I spray your armor. This is a lightening formula. Soon your armor will weigh less and it will be easier for you to travel."
Within minutes, Bard felt the pounds melt away. He checked himself to see if he was in fact still wearing the armor. "This is excellent! It will make it much easier to fight monsters."
"Unfortunately," said Eileena, "it wears off during a conflict. It is only intended for traveling. This was made by an honest magic-user; he feels that it would give an unfair advantage to those using it during a conflict. He does not like cheating; even when it could save somebody's life."
Bard glanced up at the stars as he and the others sat around the campfire. The stars were out in full glory.
"You know, Bard said, "with the exception of the last time I went to the Catacombs, I have never camped outdoors. This night is so beautiful, I wouldn't mind if it never ended."
"You better get some sleep," George said, yawning. "We are leaving at dawn; for some odd reason, we have to make up for lost time." He jumped up and got out of the way as Bard half-heartedly threw a punch at him.
Even though George was annoying, he had to admit that he was starting to like the lad. Though George was five years younger than him, he seemed to express a wisdom that far surpassed his years; except when he was playing silly pranks. However, his foolishness always seemed to keep the morale of the group high, even when Britt looked like he was going to rip the thief's head off.
"Do not worry," the dwarf said. "I think George's antics are very funny. Yet, I want him to think I am angry with him; that way he will not be encouraged to do any more pranks." The dwarf chuckled, "However, I believe George is on to me."
"Oh, Bard," said George. "Eileena gave me this to give to you. It is a protection blanket."
Bard looked at the blanket. It was nothing special, just a wool blanket that could keep him warm during the night.
"What does it do?" Bard asked jokingly. "Protect me while I am sleeping?"
"Yes! Too bad we cannot cover ourselves while we are fighting monsters. However, that would be cheating!"
"It was probably from the same magic-user that made the lightening formula," Bard thought to himself.
George walked away, ready to go to sleep. Balon and Eileena went to join him. Britt and Johanna were sitting by the fire, gazing at the stars. Bard joined them.
The dwarf thoughtfully smoked his pipe. "We did make up some time this afternoon. According to the map, we went three miles this morning and five after we fixed your armor, Bard. I think we did well."
"That formula worked great," Bard admitted.
"I did notice that some of us are carrying more than others," Johanna said. "I think if we divide the supplies more equally, we may be able to travel further."
"That is a good idea," Britt said. "Before we leave, we will make sure each of us has an equal amount to carry."
"I can take some extra weight on me," Bard said, in case the load is too heavy for somebody.” He noticed Johanna's stormy look in her eyes. "I am thinking about George. Even though he is eighteen, he is very thin."
She blushed, "You are right Bard. Balon is not a physically strong person either. I can help him out."
"We will divide the weight equally," said Britt, "and see how each person does. I can help Eileena." He was miffed when Bard offered to help George. He shrugged his shoulders; at least Bard was finally warming up to the thief.
Britt continued to gaze up at the stars and smoke his pipe.
"Whatever happened to Stephan and Joban?" Johanna asked.
"Killed in the Barbarian lands," answered Britt.
"I had no idea," said Johanna. "They seemed so invincible."
"When did this happen?"
"About ten years ago. Do you remember the Barbarian invasion about sixteen years ago? My father fought in it.
"I remember that war," Bard said. "My father fought in it too. I was only five years old." He was silent for a few minutes. "My father was killed in that war."
"I am so sorry," Johanna said, touching Bard on his shoulder tenderly with her hand.
"Thank you." He turned to Britt, "I heard many brave people were killed in that war. Yet, the barbarians were still defeated in the end."
"True. Many people were surprised to see Stephan and Joban fighting."
"How is that?" asked Johanna. "You see, when they build their home, they became recluses. Everything they did, even planning, they did in their home. They would leave for occasional adventures. They wanted to build their reputations. However, not much of their deeds and adventures were known after they started living in their home. As I stated previously, they both kept their distance from other people."
"They must have been very brave," Johanna said.
"Brave, yes. However, they built their reputations for the wrong purposes. They were foolish and greedy. True, they fought in many battles. Yet, their purpose was not to fight for the lands, but for themselves. They would pillage innocent people's houses. They would take everything they owned. They even left people homeless; they would burn down the houses after they ransacked them."
"And people called them brave?" Bard commented.
"This basically is new information. The elders had learned this just a few days before we were assigned the mission. All we had was a crude map and a journal detailing their forages.
"There were two barbarian battles. The first you know about. The barbarians were planning to invade the land in the west. Their plan was to engulf the land and to slay everyone in the path.
"While the barbarians were crossing a valley, the people fought them in a narrow pass between two hills. However, they could not drive the barbarians back.
"Everything looked dark for the people. The barbarians slew the brave souls left and right. However, when things appeared the darkest and the people lost hope, Stephan and Joban unexpectedly showed up. The people welcomed this reappearance of two great men not seen in years.
"With Stephan's fighting and Joban's magic skills, both men turned back the invading barbarians. The battle was won by these two men and other fighters chosen by them. It is believed that these men with the warrior and the magic user were the same that helped build the Caverns of Kildun Aalda.
"Greatly rewarded with treasures, they returned to their home.
"I wonder," said Johanna, "why Stephan and Joban did not show up earlier in the battle? It would seem that fewer lives would have been lost if they had done so."
"Probably to make the people see that they could not fight the barbarians without them."
"Wow," said Bard. "This is different from the stories I remember. Is this true?"
"I cannot respect them the way I used to. You mentioned that Stephan and Joban were killed."
"Yes, in the second battle. The battle occurred in the barbarian lands. They decided to invade their land. They used the slaves and laborers that were used in building their home. Why they decided to invade the barbarian land, I have no idea."
"What about revenge for their invasion?" Johanna asked.
"It could be, but I doubt it. They were recluses for too long that they did not care for people. Most likely it was just greed or they were just over-confident.
"Stephan, Joban and their men met their demise in the barbarian land. One person managed to escape with the map and journal. When the elders found him, he was a raving lunatic. His experience was so traumatic, it would have been better if he had been killed along with his comrades."