Four of days from the temple, having visited Nettles Crossing, and now with Oleg’s Trading Post visible in the distance; Doug and Brian rode in silence at a brisk pace.
“You know, I’m just going to be the one to say it,” Doug burst out suddenly.
“Say it,” Brian insisted.
“This was a wasted journey,” Doug said.
“Yes, it was, but we wouldn’t know that if we hadn’t gone,” Brian explained.
“Well, I can’t argue with that,” Doug agreed. “We can still detour to the Tiger Lord mound.”
“Do you really think we’ll find anything more than we found the first time?” Brian asked.
“Nope, and I don’t relish the idea of grave robbing,” Doug added. “Still, ‘nothing’ would be about the same as we learned from that days-long journey to Nettles Crossing.”
“There it is,” Brian responded. “Okay, I admit, that one’s on me. I thought it was worth a shot, thought he might actually answer a question…since we’re trying to bring him the Stag Lord’s body, exactly the thing he wants.”
“Well, he’s a ghost. What can we expect?” Doug asked rhetorically.
“I thought you didn’t believe in ghosts,” Brian said.
“I didn’t,” Doug said, “until I saw one come out of the water and talk to me. I’m skeptical, not in denial.”
Hours later, Doug was stabling the horses from their journey. Brian was off picking them both up something hot and fresh to eat. As Doug exited the stable, he bumped into Brian at the doorway. Brian was holding two mugs and two plates of stew stacked atop one another. Doug took a mug and plate.
“I talked to Oleg while I was scaring this up…about Nettles Crossing,” Brian said with some excitement. “A man named Davik Nettles used to run it until he and it were burned to ash. Rumor had it that he’d defied the Stag Lord. Oleg even said that Nettles used to visit the post from time to time and he travelled with three noisy hounds.”
“I don’t see how this helps us,” Doug replied.
“I…don’t either,” Brian said, “but at least it answers some questions.”
“So, not only did we learn nothing helpful in this trip; but also, the only truly interesting information we could have gotten by just staying put and asking Oleg,” Doug declared.
“You’re father once told me that a destination is only half as important as the journey,” Brian said.
“My father would not have said that,” Doug replied.
“You’re right,” Brian admitted. “I gave it a shot. Let’s eat.”