They ran blindly through the thick forest, with no idea where they were headed.
Eventually, they reached a clearing and stood in the middle of it, listening for another sound.
There was nothing but birdsong.
"I'm beginning to think this wasn't such a good idea." Cayle commented. Alroy nodded in response.
"Maybe we should turn back." Alroy suggested.
Cayle was about to reply when another scream ripped through the forest like a blade on grass.
They bolted after the screamer, once more getting lost in the brush with no idea where they were heading.
* * *
Deanna stifled a yawn as she and Krennan walked along the road. She'd been letting him lead since he seemed to know where he was going, and she didn't.
Occasionally, they were passed by a wagon filled with food.
Probably being taken to some storage place, Deanna thought as the first one passed them, not giving them a second, barely a first, look.
She gently pulled Krennan to a stop. "Krennan, I know you're eager to get there, but I'm falling asleep up here." She explained. "So, I vote we stop so that we can both catch up on some sleep."
He snorted in protest.
"Look, I'm not thrilled by having to stop either, but it's human nature to have to sleep." She said. He gave her a look and locked his legs. "And horses, too, of course, but I thought that was implied."
He allowed Deanna to direct him into the trees.
They found a small clearing, though it didn't necessarily deserve to be called a clearing, as there was barely enough room for Krennan to fit.
She loosened his saddle, but left her packs.
"Well, this is going to be a tight squeeze." She commented as Krennan did his best to lie down in the tight space.
She sat down and leaned up against him. "We'll just grab a couple hours' of sleep, and then we'll start moving again."
She closed her eyes and was soon asleep.
* * *
"Where did it come from?" Alroy demanded as he paced.
"Calm down," Cayle said. Alroy turned on him.
"Calm down?" He repeated. "Calm down?! How can you say that when someone's life is at stake?!"
"First of all, we don't know if this persons life is at stake." Cayle pointed out. "It's just speculation. And second of all, getting yourself all worked up isn't going to help anybody."
Alroy was silent.
"I want to help whoever it was just as bad, but there's nothing we can do since we keep losing the sound." Cayle said.
Alroy began to respond when there was another scream. And they both took off running.
"I'm sensing a pattern, aren't you?" Cayle said as he and Alroy chased after the sound. "Everytime we are about to go back to our normal business, there's another scream."
"Hadn't noticed." Alroy said simply as he changed direction, following his instinct.
The forest ended suddenly, leaving Alroy and Cayle in the middle of a massive clearing. There were wagons and people all around, all stopped when the two men suddenly came barging out of the woods like wild men.
"Uh, hi." Cayle said with an awkward wave. "We were just in the neighborhood and decided to stop by."
"Cayle," Alroy whispered.
"Who are you?" One of the people asked, an elderly woman with a basket underneath one arm, and cord in her white, wispy hair.
"I'm Alroy, and this is Cayle." Alroy said, indicating himself and Cayle.
"Why are you here?" She asked.
"Uh, well, you see, we didn't mean to be here, mam." Alroy said. "It was an accident, we apologize for bursting in on your camp."
The woman nodded, acknowledging the apology. "How did you come to be here?" Another asked, a man this time who looked like he'd seen his fair share of battles.
"We were following a scream." Cayle explained.
"We heard no such sound." The woman said. "Are you sure it was a scream you heard? Perhaps it was overbearing joy."
"Uh, mam, we are not sure." Alroy said, staying respectful. "But, I see we have interrupted you in your chore, so we must be going now. I apologize once more to the elder of the village and her people."
Cayle glanced quickly at Alroy. He hadn't known the woman was an elder.
Alroy bowed and glared at Cayle, who did the same. They then turned to go back into the forest.
"Wait!" The woman said, her voice sharp.
They turned back, Alroy with confidence, Cayle with a sinking feeling.
"You have shown me much respect, please, let us house you for the night." She offered.
Alroy smiled. "You are too kind, wise one." He said. "But I'm afraid we must not."
"Why do you decline?" She asked.
"We must meet with our friends soon, but we got sidetracked." Alroy said, bowing his head to show he meant no dis-respect by declining her offer of shelter.
She nodded. "I understand."
Alroy bowed and turned once more to leave.
"Which direction did you hear this scream?" The man asked.
Alroy turned back for the second time. "I believe it was north-west, but the directions keep changing. The wind is changing."
The man nodded. "Where are your friends housed?" He asked.
"The next town." Alroy explained.
Cayle was watching how he handled this situation, almost as if he had done it before.
"We shall investigate these screams you have heard." the man declared. "You and your companion go to your friends, I shall meet up with you at the town with my findings."
Alroy bowed. "Thank you, tribe-master."
He turned and left after one more bow to the elder.
Cayle stood there for a moment before bowing to them himself and following after Alroy, with new suspicions replacing old ones and too many questions to ask.
This was getting weird.