Wordcount: 650 words
Parting of the Ways
Moonstar refused to talk to her after that, and Wendy spent the rest of the day working with the other survivors to clean-up the remnants of the fight. In the end, it turned out they only lost two people to the rockdogs, but they had nineteen in various states of injury.
The white-white wagon was converted into a medical bay, and those that couldn’t walk rode inside as the caravan continued on. They had one healer, who did his best with a combination of minor magics and medications to keep those nineteen alive until they hit the next town. The problem was that the next town, Riverside, was a good week off, and they were well over two weeks beyond Passingby. In the end, they send one of the outriders off on a messenger horse (much to Riley and the Black’s annoyance) to fetch some additional help.
After two days Ti pulled her aside and explained, in what sounded like sincere regret, that the caravan would be leaving them in Riverside. While they appreciated the help, having Moonstar around had been deemed to dangerous by the caravan’s leadership. The fact that the unicorn had spent those two days sulking and glaring at anyone who came near him had helped speed their decision.
As soon as Riley found out she started packing.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Wendy eyed her small bundle of worldy goods that was growing as Riley added her belongings to the mix. “You’re staying here.”
“No I’m not.” Riley checked the straps on the borrowed backpack, making a list of things needed repair.
“Said it was a good idea.” The girl tugged on the button latch for one of the lower pockets, muttering curses as the thread gave way where it had rotted out.
“Wait, what?” Because that made no sense, Riley was ten, maybe eleven at the outside and that was way too young to send gallivanting off into probably danger.
“I have the Black, you have Moony; we’re safer together than the rest of the caravan combined.” The girl pulled out the last of the rotten thread and carefully inspected the woven cloth for additional damage. “Besides, I know where the flute is.”
Flute? Why would a– oh, the flute. Wendy rubbed her temples, she’d forgotten about the story altogether. Should have guessed it would all come back to that, even with the rockdogs and the revelations and the– now wait a minute. She looked down at Riley, who was humming something cheerful as she worked. “Your mother’s dead, isn’t she?”
“And your father?”
“Went off to seek his fortune and never came back.” Riley rethreaded the button, sewing it snuggly against the fabric.
“I see.” And she did, because it made sense. In stories young girls with boy’s names were wont to head out adventuring. Doubly so if they were orphans with a knack for talking to the dead. She was assuming that last part, but in Velanon it was a pretty safe assumption. Parents watched out for their children, even after death; it was one of Heather’s central themes and it was an old theme, carrying the weight of countless tales before it.
“Besides, if you make me stay here I’ll just sneak off and follow you.” And there was a stubborn set to Riley’s shoulders, but she didn’t look up from her mending. The girl was right, there weren’t enough able bodied people left in the caravan to waste time keeping watch over her. If she wanted to follow, she’d follow, and it was safer to have her out in the open then trailing along behind.
Wendy sighed, “Fine, but you’re telling Maylin. I’m not brave enough to tell her I’m stealing her favorite niece just so we can go looking for some magical flute.”
“So I can come?”
“Yes, but don’t make me regret it, alright?”