Three Days, Three Nights
It had been three days and three nights since the brothers had began their journey. Since the reckoning, they were without food and water.
The brothers’ steps grew haggard and their mouths were dry. They no longer conversed freely, but walked in silence, losing faith that they would ever come upon any sign of sustenance.
It was nearly mid-day when Jaul felt his legs go weak and fell to his knees out of exhaustion. “I can’t go on much longer,” he said quietly, his once golden colored face starting to become pale. He wiped his damp forehead with his bare arm.
Jojo squatted next to him, the least affected by their situation. “Perhaps we should rest here for a moment?”
Aaren and Weisheng nodded silently, their expressions blank.
Jaul set down the Opus next to him and leaned against a tree, closing his eyes.
For the first time he considered how his mother must be feeling at the present time. He was all that she had.
His guilt was overwhelming, but he had to press on. This was the only way for a better life, a better future for them. He tried not to think of Lina, the image of her and Brahman still burned in his brain.
He wished he could just forget it.
The lowly servant closed his mind and distracted himself. He noted the ways his brothers were dressed, Jojo the most modest. He simply wore tan colored trousers that bunched just below the knee. They were much like his own, but Jaul’s were whiter and less course-looking.
He tugged at his gold colored vest, the sweat starting to make it stick to his body.
This troubled him.
His body was used to warm climates and hot temperatures. It shouldn’t be reacting like this.
Tilting his head up towards the trees, Jaul wondered how much longer they could last like this. The Opus was supposed to be leading them to the heart of Hilarum, but he wondered why there seemed to be no resources along the way.
Jojo scooted over closer to him.
“Are you feeling alright brother?”
Jaul nodded, his condition becoming more aware to him again. “Just weak.”
Jojo shook his head, his large dark eyes heavy with concern. “I think the other two are starting to lose patience.”
Jaul looked to Aaren and Weisheng, both leaning against trees, staring forward. They were almost motionless.
He wondered what Ahmed would say about this.
“How long are we going to rest here?” Weisheng asked, looking to Aaren.
Aaren shrugged mildly.
The prince scoffed, throwing a rock down. “If he’s too weak to keep moving then we should leave him. We’ve got to be close to a small tributary or something.”
“I hope so,” Aaren said, his tone neutral.
He had cut off a thicker branch somewhere along the path and was carving out the end with his boot knife. The trees of the ancient forest were strong and not easily cut down, making it a useful tool.
Suddenly Weisheng stood up. “Well? What are we doing? Are we just gonna wait around here to die?”
Jojo stood as well. “A few more moments of rest could do us--”
“Look if he’s not well, then we’re gonna have to leave him. I’m not waiting around here to die, I didn’t ask for any of this.”
Jojo protested. “The Oracle said--”
Weisheng laughed, interrupting him again. “Oh, the Oracle said. Right. Well, will the Oracle just zap himself back here and deliver us to some food?”
“If we just keep going, I know--”
“No,” he said, growing angrier. “I don’t believe any of what you’re saying right now. We should keep moving if we want to have a chance.”
Aaren stood up to try and calm Weisheng down, while Jaul continued to sit there.
He wondered what Ahmed would tell him right now. His other brothers’ voices began to grow fuzzy as the wheels in his head began to turn. He looked down at the Opus, its perfect circular shape.
Like a bolt of lightning, an idea struck him.
“Wait!” he said, standing up.
Weisheng continued to yell, Aaren standing in front of him now.
“I said wait!” Jaul tried again, and the other brothers turned their attention to him.
“I think I know what to do.”
They all stood in silence waiting for him to speak.
“What if the Opus guides us to where we’re trying to go? Not where we’re supposed to go?”
Weisheng and Aaren looked at one another while Jojo walked closer to him. “How would that work, then?”
Jaul shook his head. “I don’t know. But so far it’s has only pointed this way,” he said, motioning forward. “It might be worth a try.”
Jojo, Aaren and Jaul looked to Weisheng, waiting for a response.
Weisheng crossed his arms across his chest and sighed. “We might as well.”
“Okay,” he said, holding the Opus out in front of him. “Then we’re all in agreement?”
The brothers nodded and Jaul swallowed, his heart beating out of his chest.
“Guide us to food and water,” he half-whispered.
They watched the golden sphere in silence, waiting for the smaller ball to move. The moments seemed to crawl by slowly but still they continued to wait. Just when they were about to abandon all hope, the Opus moved, pointing 90 degrees to the left.
“Thank you...” Jojo sighed, looking up.
The brothers all looked up at one another, looks of pure relief on their faces; a newfound hope.
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