Allen woke to a high-pitched screeching sound as a couple of small birds swooped down and grazed his ear. The final passing resulted in a beak poking his skin. He squinted against the early morning brightness as he deflected the birds’ return trying to discern the warning ringing in his ear. It was his misfortune that the birdsong was unfamiliar to him.
Looking over his shoulder, he saw Colina still slept. There was no time lost per se, yet he was determined to steer her towards s safe harbor, despite her stubbornness.
He searched the area before him, trying to find the cause of concern from the birds. In the distance, he thought he saw a wagon approaching. Allen covered Colina with some of the nearby leaves, hoping she was concealed enough for safety’s sake, not wanting her tempted to fight first thing.
He ruffled his hair and ran a hand over his face, startled yet relieved to find his face free of the beard. His clothes were frumpy enough to pass for what would be needed if what feared would come to pass. Reaching for his knapsack with one hand, he discarded a boot one way and undid the laces of the remaining boot with his free hand. It was a risk to keep his glasses on, but had them on askew.
Satisfied with his vagabond look, he lay on the ground, concealed as well as he could with neighboring branches. He gave a low whistle to the birds, thankful they discerned the dismissal before he covered himself with some of the neighboring branches. The only thing he could do now was wait and hope.
The bantering raiders were intoxicated, and the low-riding cart indicated that many unfortunate souls were captured. A rustling sound behind him startled him but he couldn’t do anything about it as he saw a lone scout coming up some time later.
Allen prayed that Colina was still asleep as he staggered from his hiding place.
“Out for a late stroll,” he slurred in an accent that didn’t give away his true origins as he wobbled in his lop-sided gait. “May…how do I get…?”
The stranger kept his pace, a disparaging smile on his face. “Maybe you’ll be safer walking with me.”
Allen pretended not to hear the request. “Just looking for the best way to get to…somewhere. Ya know which way to…to…” He struggled for the name of a lesser known river. “Forested Stream, methinks.”
The stranger’s smile widened. “That’s where I’m going, so we should definitely walk together.”
“Oh no, it was Forested Stream I jish left. I’m supposed to be…not be lost.” Allen staggered passed the stranger, a sloppy slap on the other man’s shoulder, and continued on his way, careful not to turn back. Yet something made him stop.
He followed the stranger’s gaze and muttered a silent curse to himself as he saw what caught the stranger’s eye – a dark, boot.
Allen remained where he was, hand in his pocket, wand at the ready. He didn’t like using spells often, especially in terms of attack, but apprehension dictated his choice. The stranger took a few steps towards Colina’s location. Allen struck out the same time the stranger did. Just slightly faster, Allen silenced and then blinded the man. Getting between the two, Allen wordlessly ordered Colina to move hastily as he prepared to strike the stranger again if necessary.