The Adventures of Rothus, page 24 [D-816]

Camp of the Oracle, next morning:

At breakfast, I ask Tyler, “Hey, can I cut off some of your hair so that--”.

“No, you cannot cut off my hair! If you touch any of my hair I’ll hurt you so bad!” he rudely interrupted. It’s like he doesn’t know that hair grows back. Duh! I open my mouth to try and explain, but it only makes him angrier.

Aeryn looks at us and says, “If you need hair, I could use a haircut.” Sweet, I am getting a disguise!

Soon after, Dalton shows up! He looks a lot healthier than when we last saw him. He looks serious, tired from a long and lonely journey. We greet him one by one and ask him what brought him so many weeks eastward. “I need to speak with Joachim,” he answers. We are all really excited to see him here! Then he cuts through the jovial talk with his sour demeanor. “Are you ready to sacrifice yourself as I did for all of you?” he says, killing the mood in one swift, punishing blow.

Dalton waits patiently for our responses. Only Evan gives a confident, “Yes, I am ready.” Dalton takes Evan a short distance away, out of sight. We all talk trying to figure out what they are doing. A while later they return. Evan has a black eye and is holding his ribs. Dalton is limping, with his own injuries. Evan has clearly held his own against Dalton in battle. I’m just glad that Evan isn’t dead! Dalton has some serious punches.

One by one, Dalton asks us what we've been trained in, except for Lily whom he ignores. I try and show off some things, but he can see through it. I guess I’m not the first to use these tricks on him. After everyone answers, he says that he will talk with us more later on. Lily protests, asking why she wasn’t asked any questions. Dalton explains that he already spoke with her teachers and has a good idea what she is capable of. They say there is something weird about Ma`ud. Then he goes off to talk to Joachim.

He comes back a while later and has six amulets! Oooooooooo. I want to reach for one, but Dalton will scold me if I try. Dalton says we are ready for our final test. He gives us each an amulet to aid us. I place mine on the same cord holding my goblin arrowhead. The amulets are weak now, but they will grow in strength. Though, weak is a relative term. Right now it gives us low-light vision, darkvision and waterbreathing! Sneaking around will get a whole lot easier. He warns that he will leave soon as he has many things to do.

Dalton must pick a leader for this test. Joachim suggested that the leader should be Evan. Of all the people, Evan is the least adventurous. I hope he doesn’t lead us into doing our chores all day. Dalton thinks that Tyler deserves a chance. Tyler is a good showman and the oldest. He is more willing to play games, but I don’t know if I would always follow him. Dalton says that Tyler will have this chance to lead. If he fails, Evan must take over.

He says the test is simple: we must find a specific stone. He holds up a stone with a simple rune on it. “This is a communication stone,” he explains. I guess there is a second one that is hidden or lost. Maybe if we find it, then we are to call back with it.

Dalton leaves with the rune stone saying he will meet us again.

We hurry to our tents to gather up equipment. When I reach mine, I find a mysterious note in my pocket. I know that pocket was empty before. It reads, “Heard about your test. Your supplies are arranged. Use this item wisely.” What item? I then notice a new weight on my hip. It is a hand crossbow! Sweet! I pull it out and pretend to fire it a few times. Pew! Pew! Pew!

I rush off toward our rally point and we find six packs with basic supplies: bedroll, rations, waterskins, flint & steel and hemp rope. There are also sets of clothing with a note reading, “Use this as armor.” It is as light as silk, but more durable. I put on the black set. It will blend in more when I hide. I even find a leather case full of tools for picking locks and disabling traps! Wow, my very own set!

One by one, the rest of the children of Tarenvale arrive. Evan is wearing some new gauntlets. Travis is holding a cool bow. Lily has a cool quarterstaff.

Some of us are not satisfied with our newly acquired gear and haggle for a while. Tyler gets frustrated with how long it's taking so he asserts his role and yells, “Let's go!”

Aeryn marches off. Travis and I follow, the group follows behind. Evan stops us and wants to make a plan, “We are without a direction. Maybe Travis can find some tracks we can follow.”

Tyler says it could be anywhere, “It could take an hour or it could take weeks to find the stone.” Luckily, we don’t have a time limit, so we can still pass the test even if takes a long time, I think.

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