Two Are Better Than One Chapter 3


By Samara Secor

When Tyrian told Neil to leave the horse behind, he was reluctant to do so. However, as soon as Tyrian explained about how it was almost impossible, not to mention costly, to find accommodations for a horse outside of the prairie, Neil was forced to admit defeat. Thus, he had to continue his journey on foot.

Thanks to Tyrian’s early wake-up call, Neil had already gone a fair distance by the time the sun had gone a quarter of its journey across the sky. He was passing by a forest when he heard the faint sound of pipes playing. He turned aside to follow the sound, figuring that the piper might have some news of the twins that could aid him.

He had no sooner entered the clearing when a voice said, “Before you ask it’s the wind, and that’s all I have to say about it.”

Startled, Neil asked, “Huh? What are you talking about? And just who am I talking to, anyway?”

“Why, your own imagination, of course! Oh, please!” Conch exclaimed as he flew out of the tree branches once more. “Are all you prairie people like this?”

Neil’s eyes widened and he asked, “Did twin sisters named Alicia and Laticia come here?”

“No, no one with violet eyes has ever come here,” Conch said and winced inwardly, ‘Oops, me and my big mouth! Now, I’m in for it....’

“So, they have been here! Where did they go?”

Conch shook his head violently and said, “I’m not talking! I’m already in enough trouble.”

In a blur of motion, Neil had Conch by the scruff of his neck and said, “You’re going to be in more trouble if you don’t talk. There are some people back home, including their parents, that are pretty worried about them. They ran off in the middle of the night, or didn’t you know that?”

“No, I didn’t,” Conch whispered, but then he straightened, “Wait a minute! How do I know you’re telling the truth? You could be making this up.”

“If you don’t believe me, why don’t you come along, smartmouth?”

“Fine! I will!” Conch snapped.

“Then, let’s get moving, uh.....”

“The name’s Conch.”

“And I’m Neil. Well, then. Conch, which way do we go?”

“Southwest, of course. It’s the only way to go, unless you’re heading back where you came from.”


“Boy, am I glad to be off that leaky pile of sticks!” Latcia exclaimed as soon as the ferry was out of earshot. “I thought the thing was going to come apart under our feet any second.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean,” Alicia agreed. “Someone really ought to build a bridge over there or something.”

“So, what’s the rest of our agenda today? Wandering around in another forest and then sleeping out under the stars?”

“I’m afraid so.”

“Then, we’d better start now! I want to get to Vane as quickly as possible,” Laticia said and began walking faster.


With Conch clinging tightly to his shirt, Neil took off at a run. Everyone back in Pao always remarked on his fleetness of foot, so he figured he’d better put it to good use if he wanted to catch up.

Even with his great speed, he barely made it in time to catch the last ferry. As it was, Neil was certain that the rat-like ferryman was charging more for that very reason. However, Neil was in no position to argue, so he just paid the outrageously high fare and got on.

Once they reached the opposite bank, Neil continued running and didn’t stop until he reached the trees. While Neil caught his breath, he said, “Okay, are there any beasts in there that I’m going to have to deal with? Or is the most vicious creature this place has a squirrel?”

“We shouldn’t have any trouble with monsters here. Still, you should go running through this forest either. You’re likely to break your neck,” Conch warned.

“Then, I’ll just take things a little slower. Do you think that we have a chance of catching up to them tonight, Conch?”

“Maybe, but I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you.”


“This sure has been a long day,” Laticia said as she began unrolling her sleeping bag.

“Yeah, but we’re making good time. Depending on how much trouble we have getting past Reza, we should make it to Althena’s Temple sometime late tomorrow night. Then, we’ll be within sight of Vane,” Alicia said and leaned back to study the stars.

They had almost fallen asleep, when they heard the sound of something running through the grass. “Laticia...” Alicia hissed.

“Yeah, I hear you,” Laticia whispered back and fitted an arrow to her bow.

They waited as the noise got closer and heard a familiar voice whine, “Come on, Neil! It’s so dark that if you keep going on like this, you’re going to pass them up without even knowing it.”

“Should we say something?” Laticia asked.

“I guess so.... That little blabbermouth,” Alicia muttered and then shouted, “We’re over here, Neil. Just slow down and try not trip over anything.”

“Neil! They said slow down, not speed up!” Conch screeched.

Neil slid to a stop and collapsed in a weary heap on the ground. “I finally... caught up with.... you,” he gasped out before reaching for the water flask at his belt.

After taking a long drink, Neil eyed the two of them and asked, “Now, would somebody please tell me what’s going on? Why did you just up and leave like that? Everybody’s worried sick.”

“I guess we should have left a note. As for why we left..... You tell him, Alicia,” Laticia said, giving her sister a nudge.

“I’m taking Laticia to Vane so that she can have a chance at her dream of becoming a magician,” Alicia answered.

“A magician, huh? Are you going to become one, too, Alicia?” Neil asked.

“No. Why do you ask?”

“I was just wondering what you’re going to do once you get there,” Neil explained. “I don’t imagine that there are many people up in Vane that are too interested in swordfighting.”

“I hadn’t really thought that far ahead,” Alicia shrugged. “I’ll worry about that once I see Laticia in an apprentice’s robe.”

“Mmm... whatever. You don’t mind if I tag along, do you? If you’re that set on going, I want to make sure that you two make it up there without any problems. That, and the fact I’m a bit scared to find out what your parents would do to me if I told them that I found you and just let you wander off again.”

“Neil, you really are a chicken, aren’t you?” Laticia asked.

“I am not,” Neil protested. “I’m just not too eager to find out what it feels like to have my head separated from my body.”

“Chicken,” Conch repeated and snickered.

“Shut up, you little furball,” Neil growled.

“Please, everybody! Just settle down! Sure, you can come, Neil. It’ll be nice to have you with us. Now, can we please get some shuteye? I don’t want to be walking around like one of the undead in the morning,” Alicia said.


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