The MissionBovrell the Bold contemplated the steep, mountainous trail before him. His horse snorted and shied, turning aside in a clear statement of distaste. Bovrell spurred him on, but the animal declined to continue.
"Come on, Horsefeathers," Bovrell growled. "We have to do this."
With a shake of it's head, the horse indicated that, while Bovrell might need to follow that trial, Horsefeathers felt no such obligation. In the end, Bovrell climbed out of the saddle with a sigh. Cursing the animal, he took up the reins and towed it toward the narrow trail.
Two steps on, the ground gave way and he fell, only saved from certain death by the reins wrapped around his hand. With another snort, clearly of disgust this time, Horsefeathers backed slowly away from the edge, pulling the Hero from the spike-studded pit that had so nearly ended his life.
Back on solid ground, Bovrell studied the way more closely. Then, sighing, he tethered he horse, patted it on the nose in a gesture of thanks, and returned to the path. He sidled carefully past the pit, hugging the inner cliff-face. When he reached solid trail again, Horsefeathers snorted. Bovrell stopped and looked back. The horse tossed his head to the left, and Bovrell crossed carefully to the outer edge of the trail. A large slab of rock crashed down where he's been.
"That's two," Bovrell muttered. He looked back at Horsefeathers again, but he had had turned away and begun grazing. Bovrell turned to study the trail ahead. No hints there. He moved forward slowly, all senses alert for the next trap.
Three steps later his foot rolled on a stone, and he staggered, coming to a rest tilted against the cliff face. A shower of rocks tumbled past from an overhang, missing him by inches. He mopped his brow and stood up.
"What did the old man say?" Bovrell tried to remember. "Six paces past the rockfall and dodge left? or was it five and then right this time?" He pulled a coin from his pocket, flipped it, and stepped ahead, counting. ". . . four, five, six." He stepped right, then panicked. "Left! It was supposed to be left! I think." He stood still, wondering what he'd stepped into, and a tentacle reached over the side of the path, groping but finding nothing to grab. "Guess it was right after all.." Bovrell shrugged. Only a few more paces, and no other instructions. He took two confident strides forward, then noticed his bootlace had come untied. He knelt to tie it, glancing up with mild interest as a flight of arrows passed inches above his head.
"One more trap after all. Sneaky son of a rock monster!" He stood, laid his hand on the hilt of his sword, and strode the last few paces to his goal. In one easy motion he collected the contents of the sacred receptacle, and turned, realizing that he must now retrace his steps. Counting carefully, he ducked, dodged, and tilted, sidled back past the pit, and remounted Horsefeathers.
A short canter brought Bovrell to the isolated castle from which he had been sent out on his quest. The old man waited in the courtyard.
"I have succeeded, my Lord," he said, handing over the bundle. "Five gold crowns."
The old man rifled through the materials. "Junk! I'm not paying you five gold crowns for a fistful of worthless paper!"
Bovrell considered his options. The Hero's Guide forbade that he should run the man through, age being nearly as sacred as femininity. Sighing deeply, he turned his horse to the wider path leading down the back of the mountain. At the castle gate he turned and delivered the only blow he was allowed.
"After this, you can get your own mail, Dad!"
Notice: This blog is posting itself in my absence. If you comment, I WILL respond. . . but not for a few weeks. This does not mean I no longer love you. It just means I've gone hiking.