Glad you could join us for the next deceptive episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…
Barry followed the bat to the edge of the forest. He had heard of the Arids beyond, but he’d never seen them, so he could only guess that’s what lay before him. Treeless and rocky, it looked inhospitable even in the dark, yet that’s where she landed.
Here, starlight sliced through crystal cold air, sharpening edges and deepening shadows. The tiniest sound — a wispy breeze stirring the sandy soil, the bat’s feet scrabbling for a hold on a rock face — grew and echoed across the barren expanse.
He expected her to punish the Stinger who had threatened the Prince’s life. He expected to hear crunching. He expected to watch, repulsed and unable to look away until the deadly creature was devoured.
He did not expect her set her prey down and allow him to skitter off to join another Stinger and disappear into a pile of rocks.
Shaken but unharmed, Elliot returned to the others.
“Let’s press on,” he said, “Lady Lucy can join us up ahead.”
“You don’t want to wait for Knight Barry?” Clifton asked.
“Where is he?” the Prince asked.
“We don’t know. No one saw him leave.”
“Spread out,” Prince Elliot directed the Knights, “see if you can find him. The Stinger said he was alone, but there might have been others circling behind us. Clifton will remain with me.”
Tension filled the silence while they waited.
Before the first Knight had reported back, Lady Lucy returned.
“Thank you, my Lady,” the Prince bowed to her, “I owe you my life.”
“Your wife!” the bat cackled. “Don’t be silly. I’m old enough to be your grandmother. I’m just happy to serve.”
Elliot looked up and spoke to her hearing side as Clifton chuckled on her right. “If you hadn’t been there, I’m sure I wouldn’t be here now.”
“You know,” she said, “those things glow in the dark to some of us. As soon as I saw him, I went to keep an eye on him. But you don’t have to worry about that one any more — I took care of him.”
“Did you see any others in the area? Knight Barry is missing.”
“No, I didn’t,” Lady Lucy answered. “But he seemed like a bright young fella; I’m sure he’ll turn up.”
One by one the Knights came back with the same report: Knight Barry was nowhere to be found. Prince Elliot gave the order to move on and leave a trail Barry could follow if he returned.
Hanging back with the rear guard as dawn touched the sky with pink, Clifton was the first to hear someone moving up fast behind them.
To be continued. . .