They followed the ridge, the nobles who had lost their shoes stepping from stone to stone to save their bleeding feet from the twigs and burs of the forest floor. The travelers reached a sharp curve in the ridge and Murrogar stopped so quickly that Thantos, who was talking to him, spoke into mid-air for two more steps. Everyone fell silent, except for Sir Wyann, who laughed and took off his helmet.
Yawning against the corner of the ridge was a cave. A gaping, ten-foot-high, toothless-mouth of a cave. No blythallow or palace had ever looked so beautiful as that crude, dark cave there in Maug Maurai.
Murrogar looked closely. No vegetation touched the rocks. He scanned the forest. Every inch of Maug Maurai was covered in green. But the rocks of the cave were untouched by grass or ivy. Not even the carpet moss wanted that cave.
“We’re safe!” cried Sir Wyann. He drew a birch-bark torch from his sword belt and struck it alight while Murrogar studied the cave. “We can hold off the Beast in there.”
Murrogar shook his head. “We keep moving.”
The nobles hesitated, their gazes creeping toward the cave. Sir Wyann turned on Murrogar, his face creased so tightly that his eyes were nearly lost beneath the blond brows. “Are you mad?” He pointed to the cave. “That’s shelter! The first decent shelter we’ve seen.”
“Yup,” Murrogar motioned to the nobles with his hands, ordered them to continue walking. He eyed the cave again. There were no tracks outside. No leaves disturbed.
Sir Wyann stepped closer to Murrogar. “Why? Why?”
Murrogar grabbed the knight by the top of his breastplate and shook hard. “Because that Beast cuts us off from every hill, ridge or hole that we’ve seen. Because it let us come here. Because that cave don’t look right. Because I don’t like it. And we’re not going in.”
But someone had already gone in. A scream echoed from the cave.