The heat is oppressive, even in the cool shade and shallow pool; the day is lazy and has long been slated to be wasted escaping the killer heat that roasts the land. Men and women, boys and girls play and talk quietly in the small pool hidden within the forest and their leader is no exception, lounging on the fringes of the group, watching over his loyal people like a hawk. The sun drags across the sky in a high arch just cresting its lonely trek when the pounding of horse hooves on dry earth sends the leader diving into the water, wedging himself against the bank and hiding from the rider that is coming. The pounding stops, the speaking is muffled, then a man splashes into the cool pond, sending a wave rolling against the sides and forcing the leader from his hiding spot with a loud gasp. “Oh there you are Throne.” His friend smiles, water clings to the man’s clothing.

“Alexander, what is your problem?” Throne sighs and stands up, his pants clinging to him as he wades out of the water with his friend just steps behind him with a childish grin plastered on his handsome face.

“Its hot, what do you expect. And you were the one hiding, Throne so you’re the one with the problem.” Throne rolls his eyes and turns.

“You’re such a child, Alex.”

“Says you, I’m still the Good Sir Knight of Cypress.” Alex steps pass Throne to his horse, taking the reins and pulling the stubborn beast with him “Come on, you need to see something.” Curious the leader of the small band follows the good knight back to the small village and into the low hut of the wise woman. Throne’s breath catches in his throat seeing the young woman laying on the cot, clad in odd clothing, bleeding, and dirty.

“Who is this?”

“I have no idea, I found her just outside your territory.”

“What’s wrong with her?”

“She will be fine, the wounds are superficial.” The wise woman hums returning with a bucket of cool clean water and white rag. The men step aside for her “She is sleeping now, I know not when she’ll wake so return to your pool, no use roasting yourselves in here with me.”

“Thank you, wise woman.” Throne bows at the waist and shuffles out of the hut, Alex remains just a moment longer to look at the odd women laying on the cot. “Alex, come on, standing in there will not awaken her any faster.”

“I was just leaving, Throne.” Alex steps out and sighs, his damp clothing already loosing their cooling factor. “Can we go back to the pool now?”

“Why, uncomfortable?” Throne teases, Alex rolls his eyes

“Its hot, Throne. If you want to stand around here in the heat you can, but that cool pool is calling my name and I’m inclined to listen.” Alex takes the reins and tugs his horse to the stables, quickly he goes through the steps of removing the saddle, the reins, brushing the beast, and then finally sets it free in the small fenced pasture with the few other horses owned by the group to relax in the shade and their own shallow pool. The knight steps back toward the pool only to stop suddenly and begin to hastily strip off his clothing leaving himself in his tight, damp leggings and draping the rest over a fence to dry in the heat.

Throne smiles and jogs passed him, slapping his arm to get his attention “Come on Good Sir Knight, last one there gets no dinner!”

“No fair Throne you have a head start and you know I can’t run!” The knight shouts as he picks up his pace, quickly matching then over taking his friend. The group already in the pool look over and part ways, already seeing the calamity as both men barrel down the dirt path toward them; just steps away Throne launches himself at Alex, tackling the knight into the water with a massive splash that sprays everyone around. They struggle for a moment before Alex gets the upper hand and pins Throne in a head lock. “Too weak Throne. I’m the stronger man.” Throne laughs and taps his friend arm.

“Alright, I give, I give.” Alex releases him “You really are strong.”

“Yes, but when you have surprise there is always little I can do but hope the tides change in my favor.” They laugh and wade to the shallower end, sitting in the sun dabbled water till the great orb finally begins its descent beyond the horizon, but even then the night is still too warm for a good nights sleep.

Lost [chapter 3]