Anaya was glad the nightmare had ended. It would be the end of her world if Joseph were knighted. She hoped that King Arthur wouldn't see through her like he did in her dream. She especially hoped she wouldn't be caught and sent home, or worse her uncle finding her and dragging her back to ugly dresses and a prison for a room.
Suddenly, a wave of memories flooded Anaya's mind all at once. She remembered the storm and falling off Izzy into the river, the strange flashes of color, the sea of red and the terrible headache much worse than the one she had now. She also remembered the figure on the log who had saved her.
Slowly opening her eyes, Anaya looked around the camp she was in. It was dark; she guessed it was about two hours after sunset. She gently touched her forehead, feeling something like cloth wrapped around it.
"I don't like the look of this." She thought to herself, understanding that she was in someone's camp, Being helped or had been captured, she wasn't sure. She groaned as she tried to sit up and look around, but her head seemed to be in a heavy fog as it throbbed steadily, forcing her to lay down again. "Well, good to see you awake." Said a voice that Anaya didn't recognize.
She stayed quiet not sure what to say.
"Oh," The voice said a little surprised. "I'm sorry, did I frighten you? I didn't mean to. Here, you want some cream onion soup? Its fresh."
Anaya sat up again to see who was talking, but doing so made her head throb heavily again. So she slowly sank back down onto her back. The figure walked up to her side and helped her down.
"I think you should stay laying down for now. You really cracked your head in those rapids. What were you doing out in that storm anyway? What's your name?" Said the stranger.
"My name is An-ahem, Aramis. I was traveling to Camelot to become a knight of the round table, under King Arthur." Anaya explained almost giving herself away.
"I'll accept that." Said the stranger after a moment of thinking it over. "I'm called Rufus. I'm also traveling to Camelot. Not to be a knight. No, that's not the life for me. I'm going there to be a Monk like my grandfather. After I lost my parents in a fire, I went to live with him. I enjoyed it until two weeks ago when the Chief monks would not allow me to become a true monk. So I'm going to Camelot to hopefully be accepted."
"Looks like your story is no different from mine. My Dad died of cholera and my mom sent my brother and myself to my hermit uncle at his farm. Five years ago, I was attacked by a rebel and was saved by a knight who gave me his warhorse, sword, and Bible before his death. I've been dreaming of knighthood ever since." Said Aramis, who was now warming up to Rufus.
"You're right," Rufus answered with a little laugh. "That is a lot like my story. Now how about that soup?"
Feeling a little hungry, Anaya nodded and was given a bowl of steaming hot soup. She sat up again and didn't meet that horrible throb again; just lightness like her head was floating in the air.
The soup was surprisingly very good. Her uncle made something like it but his was watery, salty and too cool to enjoy. Rufus' was much different; his was thicker, creamier and warmed Anaya's chest as it went down.
As she ate her meal, Anaya studied Rufus carefully. He was a youth, probably no older than Anaya. He had very dark blond hair and guessed his eyes were light blue or green. He wore a light brown shirt, dark brown pants with an earthy colored tunic and his cloak was almost a dark green. Anaya loved the way he would talk, he sounded like an old man in a boys body.
The two of them talked and swapped stories about their lives growing up. Anaya (still disguised as Aramis) told about her parents and her brother who was a real pain. Rufus told her some of the parables his grandfather had taught him. After the second parable Rufus yawned.
"Well, I think its time we hit the hay. It's been at least five hours since sunset and you need your rest."
Anaya did feel a bit groggy and light headed. So she set her bowel of soup aside and lay down again to rest. Izzy moved toward her and lay down. It reminded Anaya of sleeping in the stall with Izzy on warm summer nights in the blanket Gavin gave her as a birthday present.
I feel more at home here than at my uncles' farm. She thought to herself proudly. I think I'm going to make it! The more she thought about it, the more she thought about Gavin. His gentle face smiled at her. "I sure do wish he could be here. She thought. I'd like him to see Camelot and me as a knight at last."
Anaya awoke to the sound of stomping hooves and the panicked whinnies of Isabelle, as well as Rufus' voice calling out to her to calm her down. Anaya jumped from the blankets she lay on, and ran toward Rufus' voice.
She found him holding the horse's reins while she reared at him.
"Izzy, easy girl!" Anaya shouted over the horse. "It's OK, he's all right! Easy, whoa!"
Almost immediately, Izzy stopped rearing and stared at Anaya oddly as if confused because Anaya had used Aramis' voice.
"Good job, Aramis." Said Rufus out of breath. "You must have a real talent with horses."
"Nah, I've just known her for a long time." Answered Anaya. "She's the war horse the knight gave me five years ago, we've really bonded."
"Well, thats obvious." Said Rufus looking at the mare with fear. "I've packed up everything so we're ready to go. I went to get Jasper and your mare, and she blew."
"She's just careful around strangers, don't worry." Aramis answered looking at the mule. He was the cutest thing Anaya had ever seen. His ears were as long as a rabbits, and his hooves were tiny like a doe's. The mule reached over and sniffed her shirt as if saying hello.
"Looks like Jasper likes you, he's been my companion for the last seven years now. My Grandfather had his mother and gave me her colt. I thought Jasper was a good name for a mule." Rufus explained as he stroked Jaspers neck.
Anaya didn't answer because she didn't know what to say.
Soon they were on the road, singing songs and telling stories. Anaya somehow had a feeling that he wasn't telling her everything. Rufus felt the same thing about the boy riding next to him, something told him not to tell him too much and that he was holding something back. A dark secret that he would like to leave behind and move on to something better then what he had. Rufus decided not to tell Aramis why he wasn't accepted as a true monk at the monastery he grew up in. "If Aramis won't tell me his real background, then I doubt he needs to know about mine." He told himself, but he felt that he was committing a sin against his new friend.
Soon Aramis and Rufus had become close acquaintances. Anaya learned that Rufus had been raised in the monastery very close to her uncles farm. Aramis told Rufus he had never been to a church before.
"Why not?" Rufus asked, looking as his new companion.
Aramis shrugged. "My uncle thought I would be of better use working at home instead of going with him and my brother."
"Thats hardly fair." Rufus said. "Gods word is meant for everyone. How much do you know the Bible?"
"Not much," Aramis answered. "Gavin taught me a few verses, told me a few parables, but he didn't have a Bible of his own. So when I was saved by my knight, he gave me his Bible, sword and horse." Aramis patted Izzy's neck. "So, I started learning from the Bible he gave me. Otherwise, I don't know very much."
"Maybe I could teach you a little bit." Rufus offered shyly. "Since I was raised on the Bible, I know quite a bit."
Aramis looked at his monk friend. "I'd like that," He answered. "thanks."
Rufus smiled back, but he still couldn't hide the feeling that this boy was hiding something, and it made him feel uncomfortable.
They traveled in silence for a while, looking at the beautiful spring leaves covered in dew, making them glisten in the morning sun. Anaya thought of home, at Moonlight Cave. She remembered the way the birds voices would echo around her when she sat in that cave. She thought of the day she found Fog, with his eyes barely open and weak from hunger. Anaya had hidden him in her room and fed him fresh warmed milk from their cow. It was going perfectly until Joseph found him in her room and told Uncle Neil. But, thankfully, Uncle Neil allowed her to keep him, seeing he had already bonded to her.
"You okay?" Rufus asked, almost making Anaya jump.
"Ya," Aramis answered quickly. "Just thinking of home."
"Wondering if you'll see them again?" Rufus asked.
Anaya looked at Rufus and smiled. "Yeah."
Rufus smiled back. "You will," He answered. "In time, God will arrange a time and place and you'll see them."
Anaya's smile widened, Rufus grinned and winked.
Midmorning slowly became midday, and the spring air was getting hot, and muggy after the storm. Soon, Anaya and Rufus saw the real damage that the storm last night had done. A fallen log, seeming to have been struck by lightning judging by the scorch marks on the end that snapped. It was a very thick log, too thick for the Izzy or Japer to jump over. The end that once was the top of the tree spread out into the river Anaya had fallen into, that was now rushing downstream like a flood. The snapped end seemed pushed up against another tree. All in all, the fallen tree was more like a wall standing in their way.
Anaya sighed. "Now what?"
Rufus looked around, taking in the situation. Then he pointed off to his right. "There's a path there." He said, speaking over the loud babbling of the river. "Maybe thats our way to Camelot."
Anaya rode Izzy over to the trail. It was a trail that was not often used, she guessed it was a hunter's trail, but it roughly went east.
"It looks safe." Aramis said, turning to look at Rufus. "Is this the trail you want to travel?"
"I'm game if you are." Rufus answered with a shrug.
Anaya smiled at him and turned Izzy down the trail.