Part Four: The Gathering Of Companions
THE GATHERING OF COMPANIONS
A large, gorilla-like boy, who seemed to be not much older than Berthond, was sitting on a short bench outside the village gate. He had greasy, long, dark hair, and a sticky, sweaty look to him. He wore a rusty shirt of chain mail over his cloth shirt, and tattered leather trousers. There was a large axe strapped to his back, and an even larger club propped up on the bench beside him. It had a nail in it.
Berthond strode towards him. The boy stood up when he saw him coming, and slung his massive club over his shoulder. ‘You dat hero from Torresta?’ He rumbled. ‘Erm. Yes’, replied Berthond, eyeing the club nervously. ‘I’m Berthond Gellcomar.’ ‘Reynold Blightington. You can call me Rey.’ Reynold clapped a giant hand on Berthond’s shoulder. Berthond buckled under the impact. ‘Erm. That’s a nice club, Rey’, he managed. Reynold grinned. ‘S’got a nail innit.’ Behind him, Berthond thought he could hear a faint ‘I told you so’, in a singsong voice. He chose to ignore it. ‘Well… Welcome to the team, Reynold.’
The pair rested, since they had been walking all night, then continued their journey through the forest; this time with the lumbering Reynold behind them. They emerged once more, this time at the training camp of Histlin. Berthond thought he could see a little girl sitting on top of the gates, and thought back to Selebriar’s words. She noticed the group and jumped down off the gates, with a perfect three-point landing. She stood up, and sauntered towards them. Her hair was a pale, dusty shade of brown, and was in two braids that hung in front of her shoulders. She wore a leather suit, embossed with a spiral pattern. She had two short swords strapped to her back, and two more daggers at her belt. Her large boots had steel-capped toes.
She bowed as she neared them. ‘Harresta Brittlebuch’, she declared, sticking out a hand. Berthond shook it. ‘Berthond Gellcomar, and this is Reynold Blitton.’ ‘Blightington’, corrected Reynold. ‘Whatever.’
They resumed their trip through the forest, with Harresta riding on Reynold’s shoulders and Selebriar trying not to laugh. It was starting to annoy Berthond that the Elf seemed to always be right.
They came at last to Arcondrake, where Berthond couldn’t see anyone by the gate. Selebriar tapped him gently on the shoulder, then pointed wordlessly to a shady spot beneath a large tree. After a minute of staring, Berthond eventually made out the shape of a cloaked figure, carrying a staff. When it realized it had been noticed, it detached itself from the shadows and strode towards the group. The robe was a deep purple, and the staff was of a dark wood. It was set with a red stone on the tip, which was glowing faintly. Berthond wondered how the figure could have concealed itself so well, dressed like that. Probably a camouflage spell, he decided.
As it approached, Berthond could see beneath the hood of its cloak. It was a young boy, even younger than Berthond, with short, black hair, and a bruise on his forehead. ‘Are you the heroes of the quest?’ he asked. ‘Yup. That’s us’, said Berthond, nodding vigorously. ‘I’m Berthond Gellcomar,
the ape is Reynold Blightington and the girl is Harresta Brittlebuch.’ ‘My name is Telcrow Despar’, said the boy in a slightly arrogant tone.
‘What’s with the bruise, Telcrow?’ blurted out Berthond, before he could stop himself. Telcrow’s hand flew to his forehead. ‘Oh. That was on Tuesday, when I was practicing fighting with my staff. I hit myself in the head with the red bit.’ ‘Why?’