It’s another conversation teaser. Really hope people are enjoying these since I want to establish Darwin and his relationships. The big one is with his cousin who also acts like a big brother and protector. I loved how their relationship grew and changed as the story progressed. Though, I have a soft spot for how kind and caring Arlinger is with Darwin at the beginning.
The pony comes to an abrupt stop at the sound of Darwin crying and stomping his feet against the floorboards. Birds take flight and small rodents rush away from the edge of the road to get away from the shrill noise. Arlinger sits quietly and keeps watch to make sure the meltdown is not attracting any predators. He repeatedly glances at his cousin and gently pulls him back if his thrashing brings him close to the edge of the wagon. Taking the reins, he considers having the pony continue walking, but worries Darwin is aware enough to notice and think he is being forced to travel further away from home. Knowing he has no choice, Arlinger leans back in his seat and watches the clouds travel across the sky. As the minutes pass, he begins mindlessly plays with a set of lockpicks hidden in one of his magic belt’s enchanted pockets.
“That one looks like a sweet potato,” Darwin mutters before he wipes his face and blows his nose into a piece of paper. Settling down, he stares at his scuffed boots and takes out his blanket piece to wring in his hands. “I’m sorry I got upset. You always say I need to keep calm and I didn’t do that. I acted like a little baby. I need to act like an adult, especially away from home. Are you mad?”
“Nah, Capple and I needed a rest anyway,” Arlinger replies with a smile. Reaching over to fix his cousin’s collar with one hand, he gently snaps the reins to tell the pony to walk. “We’re both being idiots. All this sad talk of our family sending us away and we forgot one important fact. You and I have each other. We’re family and we love each other. As long as you and I stick together, we’ll be fine. You and I have been taking care of each other since the day we were born and we’ll continue doing so until the end of time. By the way, I’m wearing that enchanted belt you gave me. Though, I can only put clothes, lockpicks, sword, and shield in here. What did you bring from your relic collection?”
“I brought the best of my collection!” the other halfling excitedly declares with a final sniffle. He jumps to his feet and begins pointing at the various objects strapped to his body. “Of course, I have my wand of angry growls because that’s my first one. Here’s the fur golem pouch, which you always said was useful. This bag has all of my jester coins, but I forgot the sling you gave me to fire them. I can throw pretty well though. Got a few cough darts left and here’s my feast ring, which should be ready for use by the end of the week. I brought the boom glove and Jinx comb too, but I don’t really know what to do with them. My lucky pillow is in the back. Oh, I know you think it’s dangerous, but I brought my spring sickle.”
With a chuckle, the blonde halfling nods his head and loosely ties the reins around one of the wagon posts. “Yeah . . . I really don’t like that weapon, especially since it can’t even cut paper. It’s your choice though. Overall, we have nothing to worry about. You’re a walking magical armory and I know how to fight. Nothing we run into will give us any trouble. Maybe we can sell some of the jester coins and use the money to pay for a place to live in Soltis. It isn’t like we’re getting paid for this job. Can I see the map? We’re coming to a three-way split in the road and I’m not sure which way to turn.”
“Here you go,” Darwin says before giving him the crumpled, damp parchment. Unaware that the missing ink is on his face, he continues smiling at Arlinger, who frowns at the smeared map. “What happened to . . . Oh . . . My nose was gross and I needed a tissue. Give me the map and let me rest on my lucky pillow. I should be able to choose the right way. I’ll get us through this. Just let me clean up my mess and I’ll make everything right. Are you mad?”
“Nope, Darwin. Just enjoying the adventure now,” Arlinger chuckles before closing his eyes.