Eoban plodded behind Luge. Two of Luge’s men flanked him on either side, while Obed and Barak trailed behind. Dark pine trees shaded their path, though bright sunlight filtered through in splotches and slashes. Shadows and light chased each other among the overarching branches. Suddenly, the line of trees stopped abruptly as if a decree had forbidden them beyond an invisible point.
The men crossed the line in silence, leaving the cool green ceiling and the soft mats of brown needles behind.
Obed hissed a deep breath between his lips. “Here comes the hard part.”
Luge tromped ahead over gravelly soil, his gaze cast down, his brows wrinkled.
Barak, too, strode forward but looking ahead, not down. A scowl rose across his forehead, warning of unnamed trouble.
As they wedged themselves between great shoulders of the mountains, Eoban noticed every detail of his surroundings. The sun grew bright and hot, and he wiped away the sweat beading on his face. All bird song faded into the background, leaving an oppressive silence, except for the scuffling of their feet over loose sand. Vultures circled overhead, sending a shiver over his arms. He swallowed. We should go back. But he knew he wouldn’t. He couldn’t.
Eoban turned. “You all right?”
“Thinking of home.”
Frowning, Eoban waved a dismissive hand. “Not a good idea.”
Obed jogged forward, a flush rising over his face. “Not a good idea?” He jabbed Eoban’s shoulder. “You’d advise a married man not to think about his wife and children?”
Eoban picked up the pace, nearly running into Luge. He shrugged Obed away. “No use tormenting himself. He’ll get home when he gets home.” Eoban stopped short. “Besides, I thought you wanted to see fresh lands…experience new things.”
A sparkle glinted in Obed’s eyes. “I do. But that doesn’t mean I’m rude to others.”
Eoban glanced and held Barak’s gaze. “You’re really all right?”
Barak shrugged. “I was tormenting myself.” He wiped his brow and glanced ahead. “How much further?”
Luge, flanked by his men, stopped in the distance. He pointed ahead.
Eoban, Obed, and Barak hustled closer.
They stood, enchanted, and peered over a valley shimmering white and gold in the brilliant summer light. A vast blue expanse stretched over rippling waves of sand.
Set on a distant hill, a walled stone city rose into the sky like a child’s toy ready to be plucked from the earth.
Luge set his jaw, his gaze never straying from the city. “Let’s eat before we seal our fate.”
Eoban patted his contented stomach as he padded over the sand to the main gate.
Crowds bustled through the narrow entrance with guards asking questions and checking wares. Thick, rectangular open windows in the upper stories built directly into the wall allowed Eoban to perceive new depth to the city. Flashes of colored clothing swept beyond the gate. Glimpses of tables piled high with trade goods set his heart pounding.
Like an exuberant child, Eoban led the way, with Luge and his men falling behind Obed and Barak.
Armed soldiers dressed in long tunics and carrying spears strutted down narrow alleyways crisscrossing the main artery through town.
A cacophony of voices—men calling their wares, women hustling noisy children, goats bleating, birds squawking—tingled Eoban’s ears.
Luge’s labored breathing warned of his anxious state of mind, so Eoban stopped and…
A. K. Frailey is the author of 17 books, a teacher for 35 years, and a homeschooling mother of 8.
Make the most of life’s journey.
For books by A. K. Frailey check out her Amazon Author Page
“The history is fascinating, the characters are uniquely intriguing, the plot is very rich, and the events are fascinating.” ~OnlineBookClub
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