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Alastor continued the journey, steadily leading his mules deeper into the wooded country, further than he had ever ventured. He kept to the road and that made him uneasy. It was midday but he had not encountered any other travellers. News must have spread regarding the wolf pack.

He guided his mules up a slope and sat behind a low grassy rise. From this vantage point, he ate his lunch and watched the road.  

Suddenly, riders came up the road from the direction of Theron’s Cross, as the junction had come to be called. They rode at a fast trot.

It was Sabas and his two companions, the same men whom Alastor met a day earlier on the path near the hills. For men tracking wolves, they were headed in the opposite direction.

They stopped at the spot where Alastor had turned off the road.

‘Hello there, Alastor, my friend,’ called out Sabas. He looked this way and that. ‘Hello!’

Alastor was hidden, seated as he was behind the rise, but Sabas must have guessed it to be a good spot to rest. 

‘Hello Alas—ah, there you are, my friend,’ said Sabas. Alastor had stood up.

‘What brings you this way,’ said Alastor, remaining behind the rise.

‘The wolves,’ said Sabas, ‘their tracks led us in this direction.’ He grinned, exposing his yellowed teeth, and his companions smirked but fidgeted as they tried to calm their nervous horses. It was obvious the animals smelled fear.

Alastor moved to the top of the slope, one hand grasped the sword handle, the blade resting on his shoulder, and the other gripped the short bladed kopis. He was ready for a fight and that wiped the grins off the faces of the three men.

‘We mean you no harm, my friend,’ said Sabas.

‘As you said, there are wolves about,’ replied Alastor. He was about twenty paces away and had stopped at the crest, giving him the advantage of height.

*** Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2018 ***

Context: During ancient times, meeting strangers on the road can be froth with risks.

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