Quinn and Arlin rode side by side in silence for a few minutes before the older prince renewed the conversation. “The only thing I have to wonder is how those elves and dwarf were allowed to join this mission. They cannot be anywhere near as skilled in fighting as my youngest man.”
Arlin shook his head. “Father does not let you in on the important consul secrets, does he? They are here in the name of foreign relations. The Mallvrann elves have a great interest in how we carry ourselves. The elves with our fighting forces are observers, judging if we would be a worthy ally in war. My two allies fight alongside me, so I can prove how competent we are. Whereas dwarves love wars and weapons. I’m sure he’s along to sell us, and the elves, on the glory of his blade. How better can they prove their weapons than to have them used in defense of a prince?”
“I hope the dwarf isn’t along so he can work his way into Ildonia and sell them weapons as well,” Quinn laughed. “Your butt will be sore from all the demands your friends will impose upon you by the end of this adventure. I’ll give you one word of advice, don’t bend over too far brother. Catheldor princes have to maintain a certain level of dignity.”
The Catheldor warriors rode across the countryside. There was no trouble during the journey through Catheldor, no highwaymen along the road. During the nights Quinn had assigned his men to maintain watch. Arlin had protested his group could handle the duty but the older prince would not hear any complaints.
As they neared Ildonia the travelers left the road and rode across fields in an attempt to mask their entrance into the neighboring kingdom. It was late morning when one of the warriors who scouted ahead of the band returned. His mount galloped hard from the horizon.
The scout was out of breath when he reached Prince Quinn. “There’s a gathering of about twenty mercenaries not far from here. They look to have been sent by way of Ildonia and would not be too friendly to our presence. If we continue this way, we’ll ride into them.”