Wordcount: 509 words
Rock, Paper, Water?
Instead of a slow descent into the rocky hillside, the river took an abrupt dive. The main branch of the river did take a leisurely dip more conductive to barges, but the side branches that the group needed to follow looked like they just disappeared into the rock. Wendy eyed the jutting walls of the canyon with curiosity. The hills weren’t that big and it almost looked as if the rock that composed the canyon was somehow water soluble. Like the river had simply dissolved away the gash in the rising hillside in a single rush. Which was a highly disturbing thought, all things considered.
Moonstar however seemed to have little concern about the canyon or the geological make-up thereof. Instead he was complaining about the lack of vegetation and the overabundance of small rocks that apparently leapt into the nearest hoof by some quirk of physics. Wendy spent several minutes cleaning out the horses’ hooves before she gave up and tied burlap over all eight rock-prone hooves. The Black was less than amused with his new footgear and Moonstar complained about the lack of traction.
Wendy did not suggest they go for a swim if walking was such a pain… but only just barely.
“I think we’re here!” Riley slid off the Black’s back and darted over to the waist-high stone and wood marker that signaled the end of the river path and the start of the mountain pass. As if you could call the meager excuses for hills mountains, but apparently they were enough to impress the locals. “Check the map! Check the map!”
“I’m checking!” Wendy rolled her eyes and carefully slid out of her backpack. The group gathered around her as she rolled out the cloth map. “Yeah, I think you’re right Riley, we should be here, yeah?” She pointed to what looked like the pass marker on the map. The scribble for the flute should be only a little further down the trail, if the scale was consistent.
“Think so.” Gray eyed the map and then looked down over the lip of the ledge into the canyon. “I think we need ta be down there though.”
“Down where?” Wendy looked at the map and then over at the canyon’s edge. “There’s no path is there? How are we supposed to get down?”
“Swim, I reckon.” Gray gestured back up the river to a safer entry point, “We’ll have to float in, if it’s down. No use in jumping, not from here.”
Even floating the branch of the river they needed took a much sharper dip down than the main passage. There was a good possibility that there could be hidden rapids, or that the turbulence between the narrow canyon walls could get them stuck. Either way, swimming in didn’t sound like the best idea. Then again, trying to rappel two horses down the side of the cliff, even if one of them was a unicorn didn’t sound like the brightest idea either. Maybe they hadn’t chosen such an obvious place to hide the flute.