“It’s so quiet in here that I could hear every word you said. What a silly thing to argue over. You know,” Linvin paused in mid-sentence and looked around them. His face showed great concern. “That is what has been bothering me!” he cried in astonishment.
“That we’ve been arguing?” Bander asked.
“No,” answered Linvin. “It is too quiet. When have you ever been in a forest this quiet? You normally hear animals of some sort moving about or calling to one another. Even birds fly about. Here, there is no sound. There are no animals, no noise at all. In such a grand forest, you should hear something. You were right, Anvar. I was looking for something that did not exist. I found it.”
At first, the others appeared to discount the notion. Then they thought about their journey through the day. None of them could remember hearing or seeing a single animal.
“So what does this mean?” Rander asked.
“It means someone or something has chased all the animals from this area,” Linvin asserted.
“It appears to be a well-traveled road,” Rander noted. “Such traffic may have driven the animals from here.”
“Even the birds?” Linvin asked. “You lived in forests your entire life. Did the birds stay away from Varns?”
Rander looked at his brother and then turned back to Linvin. The twins shook their heads in unison.~
“So what do you propose we do, Linvin?” Rander asked. “Turn around and go back the way we came because we don’t hear any animals?”
Linvin was mildly annoyed. “No,” he responded. “We continue on our course, but be especially alert.”
Anvar was ordered to the rear of the party as Linvin returned to the column formation he had used in the grassland. All eyes shifted from side to side in search of Linvin’s phantom enemy. Rander became increasingly bothered by the heightened state of alert. Every time he went to speak, Linvin silenced him.
“You are letting your paranoia get the better of you, cousin,” Rander chided. “I was the greatest opponent to traveling this course, and yet you are the one obsessed with fear. Nothing has happened and still you cling to your delusions of danger.”
“Be silent,” Linvin barked while attempting to keep his voice low. “If you speak again, I will gag you and tie you to your horse with your belly in the saddle.”
Rander considered how sincere Linvin’s tone had become and chose to heed the warning. Angered by the rebuke, he urged his horse to take the lead in the formation. His brother soon followed suit and the two created an increasing amount of space between themselves and Linvin. Anvar was slowed by his custody of the mules. He could barely see Linvin along the twisting path. The twins were not visible at all.
Linvin’s alignment had been ruined by his cousins’ actions. He galloped forward to halt them and wait for Anvar. As he reached the twins he heard what sounded like a bird, calling from the trees. From another direction, came an answer.
Rander smiled as Linvin approached. “You see Linvin, there are animals here.”
Linvin was highly distraught by the sounds and called, “To arms!”