Silent Travels and a NotSoGhostly Town
Chapter Twenty-Five: Silent Travels and a Not-So-Ghostly Town
Instantly, Stephen's head shot up as he heard footsteps and a quiet voice coming down the stairway. He looked over to see what was going on before looking cautiously at Emily, who looked at him with a very uninterested expression on her face.
"Don't-" he started to warn, but she cut him off by raising her hand up.
"I'm not going anywhere," she assured him as she looked away, allowing him to saunter over to the woman coming down the stairs, appearing to be one of the only other guests in the inn.
While he was distracted, Emily quickly slouched down in the chair, her back to them and snatched the letter out of the front of her dress. She looked down at it and rubbed her finger over the wrinkled paper as she thought to herself.
What game was he trying to play on her? Before, he had been so cold and unopened toward her, but now here he was…trying to be charming. There was most definitely a dark side to him and she assumed that the second side was only an act, but still..he had to be covering up something if he's trying out two different persona. She looked over her shoulder and watched as Stephen helped the woman with a large smile on his face. How odd. Before he got his little letter back, he was going to answer to her. Stealthily, she slid the letter under her thigh and watched him intently as he came back after assisting the woman. He was some little two-face...that was for certain.
" Sorry for that little interruption," he said semi-pleasantly, but still with dark undertones to his voice," Now, where were we-?"
"Listen, I don't know why you're doing this whole nice guy act now...okay? I know that you've been in this no-talking, depression thing ever since Jacob left. Ever since Rosalie and I got here, you've been a lot more chipper; explain yourself and I'll give you your letter," Emily replied with a little more snap than she originally intended.
He looked at her blankly before releasing a sigh and putting his head in his hands," You're not making this easy."
"And you're not any closer to getting your letter," she snapped, examining him closely.
Immediately, he shot up, pulling a knife from his pocket and pointing it directly at her neck," I wanted to give you a chance to see a better side of me, but you obviously don't appreciate it. Now, you can keep giving me this crap and risk the coincidence or you can take the letter out from under your leg and give it back to me. Unharmed."
She stared directly at the knife and swallowed, realizing she had pushed his limits too far. One thought that passed through her mind was how he knew where the letter was…but she was too scared to test him again. Slowly, she moved her hand down under her thigh, never taking her eyes off the blade.
"Good girl," he complimented darkly, putting his hand out," Now hand it over."
Her eyes glanced down at the letter one last time before meeting his mysterious eyes and handing the crumpled paper to him with a shaky hand.
"Should teach you not to go snooping around people's things," he growled at her, snatching it roughly from her hand and tucking it into his pocket, along with the knife," Now, I'll see you bright and early for our little trek."
She shook her head in disgust at him," This discussion isn't over. That letter-"
"Isn't going to be brought up again," he snapped," Especially not to the queenie."
As badly as Emily wanted to argue with him, she simply nodded her head to him and excused herself from his presence. Before she could leave, he called after her," Nice meeting you!"
She let out a groan of disgust and left him alone, whittling away once more at his knife with a smirk on his face.
"Emily?" I groaned early that next morning as I felt a blast of sun hit me square in the face from the window as the small servant girl pulled away the drapes.
"Good morning!" she said cheerfully, in a much different manner than when she had gone to bed that night," I hope you're ready for some more traveling today!"
I tried pushing my head underneath the straw pillow, but found that it strained my already-craned neck even more. Not wanting to fight the inevitable, I pulled the itchy covers off of my body and released a big yawn.
"It's like my days at the castle all over again," I told her, stifling another yawn," You forcing me up at early hours…"
She chuckled and walked to the door to grab our cloaks," It's for some more important business this time. C'mon, I'm sure our happy guide is awaiting our arrival downstairs."
I looked at her with a raise of my brow, got up from the uncomfortable bed, and grabbed my cloak from her," You still don't sound so sure of him."
She shrugged her shoulders," As long as you trust him, I'll follow your decision."
"Emily-" I tried, but she cut me off with a raise of her hand.
"You're right about him. We're lucky to have him," she said rushed, trying to assure me of her belief in the shady boy," We're running late as it is."
I knew she was hiding something from me, but I couldn't place my hand on just what. It seemed as though she was being rather quick to judge this seemingly trouble boy and I really wanted to know why. However, she was right. Time was running short and if we wanted to reach the town by nightfall; we would need to get a move on. I looked at her questioningly once more before putting my arms through my cloak and exiting the creaky room.
"Just think," Emily said to me, her tone more excited," By tonight, you could be with Caspian!"
That was a nice thought. If Stephen really did know where he was going, then I could have easily been with my husband by this evening…or at least know for sure where he was and why he had been gone for so long. We never really had the time to enjoy being newly wed, perhaps the celebration would be in the near future. That was…after we got our kingdom back.
Emily and I quickly made our way through the hallway and then down the equally creaky stairs. Sitting at his desk, whittling away, as always was Stephen. He wore a black cloak and had a knapsack sitting on the desk as he looked up at us.
"'Bout time," he said blankly as Emily dropped the key on his desk.
He tucked away his whittling and grabbed his sack, throwing it over his back," Are you ready?"
"Of course," I said with a smile, trying to lighten his mood, but he merely looked at me blankly and continued toward the door.
Emily and I looked at each other, curious just as to what we had gotten into.
I thought that perhaps this Stephen would open up to us as we started on our trek, but I was wrong. He stayed silent the entire way, not even paying attention to Emily or I. Periodically, he would look back to us to make sure we were following, but that was the only indicator anyone would have had to see that we were together as a group.
Hours passed as we traveled over steep ridges and through wide, white capped streams. Birds chirped along the dirt path that we followed, if we were lucky that was. Sometimes, the path was not near as clear as it should have been with tall, thick weeds cursing our path. Obviously, not many people had been out that way as of late. A blue sky followed us as we traveled and stayed with us for the length of the trip, with few clouds floating along here and there. And every once and awhile, we would pass a fellow traveler and only stop for moments to say "hello" and then move along quick not to reveal my identity.
The trip was allowing me to see portions of the country I had never seen before.
We stopped briefly at lunch to eat some of the bread that Cornelius had given us a couple days ago and Stephen was able to find some berries and eat some of his own bread he had packed. Even after a half day of traveling, he never spoke a single word to us. Finally, I decided to break the silence.
"So," I started, as we struggled to get through a muddy bog," Who's taking care of the inn while you're away?"
There was a long period of silence as we sloshed through the deep, almost up to my thighs, mud. He maneuvered his way through the mud and even stopped at the edge to lend me a hand out of it," Careful, it gets deeper there. Come this way," he instructed me and I followed before he pulled me out.
He did the same for Emily, briefly making eye contact with her as she briskly broke it and followed her own way out. I found it odd that she did this, but paid little attention to it.
I thought that my question would be ignored, but he later spoke," One of the lovely men you saw drinking last night offered to run it for awhile. I don't plan on being gone for long, so he can't have much time to destroy the place."
I nodded my head, trying to continue the conversation," I see, is the inn special to you?"
He stopped instantly, as if I had shot him, and slowly looked over his shoulder," Yes. More than you know."
I looked at Emily, who grabbed me by the wrist and whispered in my ear," Don't. Ask. Anymore."
Though I could have figured that out on my own, I nodded and watched the dark fellow mysteriously as he continued forward.
"He has to talk sometime," she whispered as he pressed on," But obviously not now."
He stopped at the top of the ridge ahead and looked back at us, telling us to hurry up without words.
The rest of the day was relatively easy and as we pressed on, my mind continued to wonder just when we would arrive at the mountains. The sun kept on going farther and farther down which sent my spirits crashing along with it. My faith in our guide was starting to grow weak.
"How much longer do you think it will be?" Emily asked tentatively through the darkness that was forming all around us.
Stephen kept on walking forward, but answered nonetheless," We're coming up on the 'ghost town' here shortly. The one that got everyone so worked up. The mountains are just a hop, skip, and a jump away from this town. We can stay here for the night. I seemed to have miscalculated...I don't come out here much, obviously."
As we climbed the hill, I could see a small town over the top. Unlike the images I had drawn in my head of this town that had been haunted by demons, this town was bustling with people and had plenty of torches burning bright.
"This is the ghost town?" I asked him incredulously, as we waited for Emily atop of the hill," It doesn't-"
"Yeah, they've bounced back pretty quick," Stephen interrupted, looking down at the town," I can't say I have any clue what's going on. To be honest, I thought we would be lucky just to get in one of the abandoned buildings for the night…but it looks like they've got their own inn and everything."
Emily, who was out of breath as she joined us, joined in with broken syllables," O-Oh, what…a…nice…town. Is..this…where we're staying?"
Stephen immediately looked at her and I think a small smile even grew on his face," Yes, it is."
She put a hand on her side as she tried to catch her breath from the strenuous hill," Good…"
We started walking downhill and I couldn't believe my eyes. Never had I thought that this town would be this busy. NEVER. Something was definitely up. I was glad that Stephen had lead us here, but I still didn't completely trust his word. Cornelius had wanted Emily and I to find out what this town was all about…and I had a feeling we were going to get a lot more.
Author's Note: Alright, so there it is! Not the most exciting chapter, but it's all leading up to something. ;)
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Oh and this is a warning in advance, I'm leaving for a mission trip tomorrow and will be gone until July 8th. I won't have my computer with me or anything so there is going to be another mini "hiatus" on the story. I apologize for this and I really really really am sorry. I want to finish this soo badly because I know ya'll are dying to know how it ends, but this is something that's been scheduled for awhile.
Love you all and thanks for your dedication3