"Oh my God!" a voice rang out, then a thud, then the sound of a sword being drawn quickly from its scabbard. Wrapping himself in his dark cloak, Geshtar sank further into the darkness of the cave. He heard his horse's hoofbeats fading into the distance, then a voice: "Your horse is gone. Show yourself." Geshtar remained where he was, silent.
The figure approached the mouth of the cave, looking for the owner of the horse. Finding no one, the man picked up his load, lugged it in, and unwrapped it. Geshtar suppressed a gasp as he saw the contents of the bundle: a girl, gagged and bound. Suddenly he remembered Chaos, his travelling companion. The ferret had been curled up asleep in his saddlebag. Probably he had been jolted awake by the horse's rapid gallop, and once he realized the situation he would calm the horse and bring him back to the cave. (Geshtar prayed he would have the good sense to remain well hidden until the stranger was taken care of.)
Meanwhile, the man had prepared his camp for the night, and now he approached Geshtar and lay down within spitting distance of his hiding place. Geshtar's panic subsided when he realized the man hadn't seen him and was merely going to sleep. The mysterious stranger began snoring soon after laying down, and Geshtar, seeing his opportunity, silently drew his dagger and pressed it to the man's throat.
"Wake up!" he shouted. The man's eyes popped open and grew fearful as he realized what was happening.
"Who are you?" Geshtar demanded. The stranger, realizing he had little alternative, told his captor that he was a knight searching for his love. She had been captured by a dragon and taken to its cave. The knight confessed the reason for his captive: he needed something - someone - to give the dragon in trade for his damsel. Cautiously, Geshtar released the knife from the knight's throate. He recalled the cave of the night before, and its dragon inhabitant, and told the knight of the human bones littering the cave. With an anguished cry, the knight leapt to his feet and tore recklessly into the woods.
Geshtar, sighing, heard the unmistakeable sound of hoofsteps on the forest path. He gathered the knight's sword and supplies with his own and, with the aid of his dagger, released the girl's bonds. Before Geshtar could react, the maiden screamed and fled, looking more gloomy and horrified than the knight before her. Deciding this cave was not cut out to be a place of rest, Geshtar packed his supplies and the knight's into his saddlebags, made sure everything was secure and balanced, and, with Chaos perched excitedly on the his shoulder, returned to the path.
On to the next chapter...
the knight before her.