Wendell and the Dragon's Heart

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Chapter 21

Eventually it was Garim’s turn to stand watch, at the beginnings of dusk, and Wendell gratefully went back to his miserable spot on a mossy tree root. It was barely morning when he was awakened again, and soggily got up and began walking around to loosen up his stiff legs and arms. His empty stomach gnashed itself horribly, but a dull excitement still lingered, drowning out thoughts of food.

After a meager breakfast of soggy cheese and some rather sour berries, they began foraging ahead through the trees, no one saying anything. Wendell slashed at branches idly with the dagger to pass the time, but despite the endless urgency inside he felt a sickly boredom creeping in.

He found himself seeing how far he could look off into the distance between the trees, and every now and then he saw a distant object move, perhaps a deer or large rabbit.

The woods seemed so plain and quiet in the day, not at all as he had pictured them when he went before the king and demanded to go on the search, full of horrendous, grasping monsters and certain death, or huge packs of snarling beasts. It was more like a long picnic walk.

Once or twice he thought he saw a large, husky wolf somewhere between the shifting trees, standing alertly, its ears pricked up, looking towards them, but when he looked again he couldn’t find it in the endless maze of branches and trunks. It sent a brief chill through him, and for a moment he wondered if he hadn’t been silly to wish things weren’t so quiet. But inevitably he began to think of it as a friend almost, and when it was gone he wished it would appear again so that he could have some company besides everyone’s endless footsteps and the other’s silence.

That night they settled down to another dismal sleep, taking turns at watches.

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