12-Minute Tales – Marcus the Magnificent, Part IV

Part I
Part II
Part III

The sun filled the canopies above as the band of adventurers marched deeper into the forest, weapons at their sides. They had been walking for two days now in search of mines that had been abandoned many, many years ago. They were led by Sir Edger, a former solder and veteran adventurer who specialized in swordfighting and dazzling acrobatics. He was also a mentor to the rest of the group who trailed behind him. They were still young and inexperienced, but, in them, he saw great potential.

“Stop,” he said, and the children did so. “It seems that we have come across a fork in the road.” Sir Edger thought for a moment and turned to one of the children in the very back. “Marcus, come over here please.”

Marcus sighed and approached the orange-mustachioed mentor. “It appears that our path diverges into two different possibilities. I need you to use your tracking skills to determine which path would be safest for us.”

Marcus tensed-up. Marcus, in the past few months, had been pushed into a certain specialization, that of tracking and navigation. But, that’s mainly because he didn’t show much interest in fighting, spells, or adventuring in general. And since he seemed to take comfort more in nature and isolation than in others, the academy figured that this would be the best for Marcus.

Marcus gulped. “Is this something that you can do for us,” Sir Edger asked, staring down at the child. Marcus nodded and walked over to the rightside. Bending over he saw dirt, rocks, and some twigs. Unfortunately for them, Marcus wasn’t very good at tracking. In fact, he didn’t really know what he was supposed to be looking for. He rarely, if ever, paid attention in class, his mind wandering back home, his mother and father seated at the table, indulging in some potato stew after a long day of plowing and tilling.

Marcus scratched his head and then inspected the left diverging path. There, he saw some paw-prints. No idea what animal they belonged to, but he knew, from his expertise, that they were from something altogether different from human.

“Marcus, what say you? Which way should we partake?”

Partake. What a hideous, stupid word. Just because Sir Edger knows how to use a sword and fought goblins at one point didn’t mean he was better than real folk. Sir Edger wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for people like his father who grew the food that his family themselves couldn’t afford. Marcus stood-up. “Aye, sir. Um, this path seems to be safest.” The left…

“Very well. Let us continue. Derus, would you sing us a song? To keep our spirits up,” Sir Edger said to Derus who eagerly plucked the strings of his lute and sung a song of hope and wonder. But as they walked down the road, a wave of regret submerged Marcus. What did he just do? Why did he tell them this road? Were they going to be eaten? Should I–well, it’s too late to say anything now. But, maybe it won’t be so bad. Probably just some wolves…

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