Chapter 8 – Ambush

Roshaun arose early the next morning. His body felt as hard as ice, frozen by the cooler air that pervaded their campsite. As he stood, he glanced around the area; Chrono and Sharon had bundled up together in their bedroll, Jalia was still sound asleep in hers as well, but Garoth’s was empty. Roshaun guessed that the old man had gone off to relieve himself and Roshaun realized he needed to do likewise. He walked away from the camp a few yards before he picked a large tree and attended to his business. Everyone was still asleep when he returned and Garoth was still nowhere to be seen. What had happened to that old man?

The fire that they had used during the night was nothing but a pile of smoldering ash, but Roshaun could see the smallest hints of a fire still nestled up safely within the confines of the powder. He added a few logs onto the pile and blew gently hoping the tender flames would feed on the new fuel. Once satisfied that the fire would pick back up, Roshaun down and began to recall the morning exercises that Chrono had encouraged him to practice during his training. He closed his eyes and took a slow deep breath and exhaled. He raised his right hand and conjured a small orb of water; it was hard for him to believe that it had been so difficult to manage even this only a few months ago when now it was so easy. The orb floated lazily above his hand and shifted its shape at his will; at present, the water took form of a small cat running after an unseen mouse.

“Sheh, sheh, sheh! That’s quite an interesting talent you have there!”

The orb in Roshaun’s hand popped as he jolted from the sudden presence of Garoth who now stood only a few inches away.

“Geez, old timer! That’s the second time you startled me in less than twenty-four hours!” Roshaun turned to face Garoth and put a few feet of space between them, “Do you ever make any sounds?”

“Sheh, sheh, sheh!” Garoth chuckled, “it’s an old habit from my younger days.”

“Oh yeah?” Roshaun asked, “what were you, an assassin or something?”

“Who knows?” Garoth’s smile did not reach his eyes, “are you the only one up at the moment?”

“It is still pretty early,” Roshaun replied, “The sun is just now starting to break the treetops.”

“Good,” Garoth replied, “good.”

Roshaun felt ice run down his spine and suppressed a shiver. There was something about Garoth that was different than the night before. A sense of foreboding filled Roshaun with dread; he stood up and began to walk away from Garoth pretending to stretch his legs. He did not make it very far before stopping short. Hidden amongst the trees, Roshaun could see figures waiting to pounce. No, it was not sight that allowed him to perceive this enemy, but rather a sense he could not name. The enemy’s intent to kill was near palpable as he looked in their direction. Garoth sighed.

“For as oblivious as you tend to be boy, you sure are perceptive.” All the humor in Garoth’s face had disappeared.

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