Runi stared out across the landscape and he felt confused about where to go. He kept seeing images of Jeriah hidden away in a forest, but there was no forest on the mountain trail. He knew they were heading in the right direction, but they had stopped to sleep and eat. Since they had stopped, Runi was trying to piece together the movement patterns of the Wanderers.
The Wanderers went down the mountain to presumably find the Monarchs, and then ran back up to the mountains after Joy and Mirae had attacked them, and now they were somewhere at the base of the mountain again hidden within a forest. They obviously didn’t want to hide in the mountains anymore, but where were they headed? Where were Jeriah and his friends going?
“He’s trying to find Jakob, of course,” Runi muttered to himself as he drew random lines in his notebook. This was often how he collected his thoughts when he couldn’t make sense of his visions. He wrote Jakob’s name in the notebook and circled it, and then it dawned on him where the Wanderers were going.
“The last place they remember the Monarchs living was their castle, of course!” Runi exclaimed to himself. “They’re going South. That’s why they keep trying to leave this mountain behind.”
Suddenly he had a destination.
“Everyone!” Runi whipped around and grabbed the top of the tent and began shaking it to wake them up. “Get up! The sun’s risen and I know where we have to go!”
There were a few shouts and groans of irritation, but eventually they all rolled out of the tent.
“Where?” Cetas asked as he squinted at Runi with sleepy eyes. “Can’t we...wake up first?”
“No,” Runi shook his head. “I think Jeriah is going to the Monarchs’ old home. We have to hurry, we have to go there.”
“That creepy old castle?” Royse asked as he kept rubbing his eyes as he slowly stood to his feet. “I guess the Monarchs have probably made it livable by now, though.”
“Yes, that creepy old castle,” Runi said as he started breaking down the tent before Darya had even fully crawled out of it.
“Hey, watch it!” Darya exclaimed as she pulled herself out of the tent and got to her feet. “I should have gone with Elidi...I wouldn’t be getting yanked around this much if I was with her.”
“It’s my insight that is guiding our way,” Runi said as he rolled up the tent and then shoved it into the nearest backpack, and then took the poles and folded them over until they fit into the backpack as well. “I’m sorry that my insight doesn’t always make sense to you, but it makes sense to me.”
“I just wish it wouldn’t drag us one way, and then suddenly drag us another way,” Darya yawned and leaned on Cetas who also seemed rather exhausted by the way things were going for their journey. One minute they seemed hot on the trail, and the next minute Runi was turning them around. But, he trusted Runi’s insight and he had a feeling Jeriah was just being difficult to catch.
“Jeriah and his friends have been hiding for ages. They’re bound to be able to outsmart us,” Cetas said with a shrug. “We just have to do our best to keep up. Let’s go.”
Laguna patted Runi’s shoulder, coming up alongside him supportively, and they walked back down the hill. Runi was glad that he had Laguna with him, because the others still seemed to have their doubts about him sometimes. He couldn't understand why, it wasn't his fault that the Wanderers were difficult to pin down, but they had a destination now, at least.
“Hey, why don’t you text the others? They might be closer to the castle if they’re heading home,” Royse suggested. “They might be able to catch the Wanderers before they reach the Monarchs. It’ll...be trouble if they reach the Monarchs, right?”
“It might be, I don’t know,” Runi admitted. “I think it’ll be bad, personally. I know they’ve come to trust us, but our contract to Prudentius might be seen as threatening.”
“Especially if Jakob is there,” Royse said softly. “He won’t be happy with us.”
“Precisely,” Laguna agreed. “We just have to reach them first, but we don’t have the best advantage. Royse is right, we should text them.”
Runi looked at Cetas. “I know you’re going to text Elidi, but tell her she should stay home. The others can go. In fact, you should really just text Tallis or Minda.”
“They’ll tell Elidi what’s going on, though,” Darya pointed out. “Stop being so controlling, Runi. She’ll be okay.”
Runi just sighed and ran his fingers through his hair as he walked on ahead. Laguna came over to him and said something quiet, but Cetas just pulled out his phone.
“Don’t worry,” Cetas said as he pulled out his phone and quickly sent a text to Elidi to gather the others and send them towards the castle to watch out for Jeriah and his friends. They had to stop them before they reached the castle, because it really was a fortress and would be easy for them to hold up in there and not come out without a fight. And Cetas was starting to believe there was going to be a fight. Jeriah was making it clear that he didn’t want to be caught, and he was nervous about what this was going to mean for them when they finally found him.
“I’ll take care of it. We just reached home and found out Jakob has been here and threatened Levant.”
Cetas' eyes widened as he read the message twice. "Jakob went to our home and threatened Levant. Elidi just told me that."
Royse stopped in his tracks and looked at Cetas immediately. All the others looked over, too, and all of them looked horrified that Levant, the kindest of all of them, had been harassed in some way.
"Is he okay?" Royse asked with worry in his eyes.
"Elidi says he's with them now. They're not going to leave him alone again," Cetas said with a small nod. "I'm sure you'll get to se him soon."
Royse nodded and glanced aside.
Runi nodded and hummed. "Well, it's good that we contacted them. Let's hurry. We really have no time to waste," he said firmly.
Cetas agreed to this. They needed to move if Jakob was already making threats of violence towards them. They had to stop the Wanderers before they got inside that castle.
“Be careful, Elidi.”
“I will be.”