This is part of the A to Z Challenge. A story told in 26 parts. Check Sunday’s post (4/14) for a recap of parts A-L.
“Come,” Dianthe said to the man she thought was Valerius. “Let me take a look at your face and apply fresh bandages.”
“No need to trouble yourself, Prin— Lady Dianthe.”
“It’s no trouble, and I want to see if the salve is doing any good.”
“It is fine,” Xavier said and turned back towards the fire. He felt overwhelmed by guilt; still lying to her about who he was when she’d confessed everything to him.
Dianthe felt his withdrawal. Perhaps he no longer cared since she wasn’t the princess. She left the clean bandages and jug of ointment quietly by his side and laid down next to Cardelia.
Xavier knew he would not sleep and settled in to keep watch instead. Valerius lay on his side, his arm his pillow as he snored. The young lad, Icarus lay on the opposite side of the fire, he fell asleep almost as soon as he lay down.
There was something about the lad that bothered him, he hadn’t figured it out yet, but it was there, constantly in the back of his mind, like a buzzing fly that would not be swatted away. There was one fact that was clear, the boy was a scholar.
Earlier, as they ate the rabbits Valerius had snared and Dianthe had skillfully roasted, Icarus revealed his interpretation of the quest.
“The first line: Ye seek the nose of fifty two. It refers to the fifty two peaks of Mount Olympus. The highest of the peaks is named Mytika which translates to ‘nose’,” he said. “So you’re going the wrong way. We need to go south and east.”
“The next line confirms it. The twelve of round are paired and true, refers to the Dii Consentes, the twelve true gods who reside on Mt. Olympus. The six gods and goddesses are often paired in male/female couples.”
“What do you think?” Valerius asked his brother.
Xavier stroked his chin, a habit when he was concentrating. “What the lad says makes sense. And since we’ve started a full moon’s cycle behind everyone else, we’ll have no chance at anything located in the north. It is best to head in a direction no one else has gone.
“We’ll have an avantage when we cross the water,” Valerius nodded. Their village abutted the ocean and they were first and foremost fishermen, not warriors.
“C-cross the water?” Cardelia stuttered. If there was one thing she hated, it was boats. They made her queasy.
“It’s the quickest way.”