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"Star Keys" (9 Knights 9 Keys)

“Found it, have you?” Tee pulls his water container to his lips and drinks while tossing eyes to Caige, Ghamen, and Goshen.

“Ah, yes. I have my map,” says Ghamen.

“Oh, a compass, too?” Corners of Tee’s lips turn up.

“Excellent,” says Caige.

“Who-wee!” wind whips.

Ghamen winks. “Scouts motto, Caige, Tee: be prepared. Goshen and I have orienting tools, safety kits, grub, all-weather clothing, our tents, fire-starters, cooking utensils, our knives, an axe, even a checkerboard and…”

“Too, we have three books we brought: Dwarves and Trolls, Elves and Dungeons, Bridge to Secret Hoggerland. Beneath starlight,” says Goshen, “around a campfire, or during tinkling rain and in our tent, exploring territory as we, scouts do, resting overnight, Ghamen and I have spent many an hour, reading.”

“Books,” gushes Tee. “I’ll be schooled.”

“You will,” chuckles Ghamen. “In constructive fashion, books help, pass the time, Tee. Our elders penned these books, those senior to us being, Mary Hrury, Ms. Thidlepine, Crooky Dumpsey, and Mr. Whooterpot.”

“I see. Well and good.” Caige shrugs. “But, can we see the map? Are we on solid ground?”

“Let me study,” says Ghamen. Made of flox, unrolling a yellowed scroll, the Lilliputian from Gameon sniffs and squints. “Hum.” One hand waves near his ear as he rubs fingers, studying. “I see Harvest House, town lines, grain fields marked with x’s, Knorr Knoll, Mount Kubio, Berepnion, the Cliffs, Boregadon, the Raja, ah, no good,” he gushes.

“Ah, Ghamen.” Goshen tilts his skin cap. “We need more detail. Another scroll, please, as we have three.”

“Right. Yes, yes, yes,” Ghamen drools. “Old, these maps are, gentlemen. Created by Warriors of the Watch and scouts before, us, we will study.”

“Please,” says Tee.

“Scree,” Tee’s bird, Scoot, whistles.

“Shu.” A finger to his lips, Tee nestles the young falcon closer to his chest.

“Who-wee!” Wind kicks. Scant, pestering flurries flick faces.

“Show us what you have, scout.” Caige inhales then exhales deeply.

Ghamen’s eyes widen. He unwraps another, yellowed, withered-looking paper. Then, peering to landmarks, he studies as he slides one finger along old, yet, rich, well-crafted, silky, durable parchment. He continues, “Then, ah, here we have a well-defined quadrant. It includes Mt. Kubio where we are, now, stretching to the Black Forest. Yes, friends. See here,” he says and points. “Elders mark a legend.”

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