Eventually the forest creature led them to the same river he crossed before. The boat was still there. They both got in, and Wendell paddled across, struggling against the current’s flow.
They clambered back up the way the wolf had led him and Garim down before, and set off into the woods, back towards the castle.
Soon night had almost fallen again, and they had to stop before all light was gone. Karen sat against a tree, cradling the little forest creature and stroking its fur. Wendell leaned wearily against an opposite tree.
Now she looked around, and then looked at him in her usual manner.
“I still wonder where we are,” she said honestly.
“Don’t worry,” Wendell said tiredly, “the castle is probably only a day away.”
Wendell slowly realized that it had been weeks since he had seen another person, and he had grown so used to being alone with his own thoughts, it seemed strange to have someone else around, especially someone like Karen.
But he was still glad someone was there, rather than no one, just like when she first showed up in the fortress. Even if she didn’t seem that excited that he was there as well.
The next morning, Wendell woke up, but Kimberly wasn’t there. He looked around, startled, but no one was visible. Quickly he got up, and tried to keep a dismal panic away. What if…?
There was something rustling in the bushes. Karen came through, looking distraught.
“Oh, I can’t find it!!” she said miserably.
“What?” Wendell asked quickly.
“That little animal! It must have left while I was asleep!!” she said, distraught.
Wendell gave her a look of disbelief.
“How could you do this to me? You can’t just leave before I wake up!”
Karen looked up, indignant.
“Why not? You have a sword!!”
“Don’t you understand? I thought you were gone!!”
“I wouldn’t leave you to wander through this forest by yourself!! What kind of girl do you think I am?” she said, outraged.
“I thought they captured you again!!” Wendell said, equally as loud.
Karen looked at him, understanding dawning on her face.
“Oh. Why didn’t you say that?” she said, in an infuriatingly practical voice. But Wendell didn’t feel like saying anything more.
Now they found some wild berries, rather sour, and ate as many as they could without getting a stomach ache. Wendell thought of telling her about the wolf and the rabbit, but then he remembered everything else he hadn’t told yet, and wasn’t sure exactly how to bring it up, and wasn’t sure she would like to hear about it anyways.
Soon they set out walking, and Wendell tried telling some of Garim’s stories about the candlemaker and the well and the other things, but somehow they didn’t sound as nice when he told them, and soon he gave up.
“That’s a nice story,” Karen always said, looking off at the woods. The woods were much different now that there was no real hurry to get anywhere, and they seemed like such a calm and ordinary place now, full of mossy tree stumps and critters.