Earlier in the morning Argent had thrown away the last knot. Unless the redhead had played a trick on him, fifteen days of travel were complete and today they would arrive.
Argent tried to focus on the clouds of breath materializing in front of his windburnt face, but it didn’t help. Today was the day and that fact dominated his mind. Argent stopped, closed his eyes and tried to imagine Simon at his age over thirty years ago. He tried to imagine his father lost and alone in these mountains, as he had been when he had first found the Warren and completed his quest. However, Argent just couldn’t picture the bulky man without his thick beard, and the hairy faced boy in his mind seemed completely at home alone in the wilderness.
Argent’s jerkin was damp with the sweat trapped under his fur poncho. He was getting chilled by the time he opened his eyes again. Simon hadn’t slowed but was still in sight. Argent rubbed the goose-flesh on his arms and hurried to catch up. Eventually, Argent managed to distract himself by focusing on one foot plodding after the other. It had a sort of hypnotic monotony allowing him to ignore his throbbing legs. While in this trance, he walked into Simon’s back, slipped, and fell to his knee. He quickly got up and looked at the unmoving man.
“There it is.”
Argent allowed his eyes to follow Simon’s gaze. The morning sun illuminated one tall, blue spruce growing in front of a crevice leading down into the mountain side. Fairly unassuming on the surface, Argent knew it held much greater significance. This was the place that would test his mettle and show who he really was. Argent glanced in Simon’s direction. He would have given anything for a comforting pat on the back, but he knew he would get nothing more than the training he had already received. This was something he had to do on his own. It was time to earn Ferus’ Lordship.
Argent dropped the fur bundle he had been carrying and adjusted the straps to Barwolfripper’s sheath. When he finished, his hand gripped reflexively at the pouch on his hip. His fingers wrapped around the tin flute within. The comfort from his only memento of his mother gave him enough strength to push past Simon, duck under a tree bough and climb into the crevice behind.