Taran dropped down from the roof already running, which turned out to be a terrible way to land; nearly stabbing himself with his sword, he rolled down the hill in a storm of curses. Arthur tried to gingerly lower himself to the ground, and succeeded only in dangling by his belt which was somehow caught on the edge of the clay shingles. Finally one slid loose and dumped Arthur unceremoniously into the bushes below, after which several more shingles dove after him and landed with amazing accuracy on the back of his head even while he swayed side to side.
"Arthur!" Taran shouted, regaining his footing. "Stop messing around and get down here!"
Arthur tried to shoot Taran an indignant look, but he was mildly concussed and it was dark out so he settled for glaring at a nearby tree. From somewhere terribly nearby came the sound of hunting dogs braying. Arthur and Taran ran.
The caravan was smaller than it had been when they left, the merchants and entertainers slowly packing up the enormous wooden carts and heading back to the capitol. Flyers advertizing the path of the Chosen One were posted in every town from Southgate to the Mountain of Flame, but word would travel ahead with the disappointed peasants that had departed after Arthur met with the legendary blacksmith Sardon and the flyers would be torn down by the time the procession arrived - not that it would be much of a procession by morning anyway.
"Where did they go?" Arthur mumbled, carefully stepping over one of the posters with his smiling face on it.
"Home, I'm sure," Taran replied, "because they came to watch the Chosen One, the blacksmith Sardon, and the White Mage all trek to the Mountain of Flame to kill the Dark One. Clearly that won't be happening."
Arthur shrugged. "I'm still the chosen one, you know."
"Shut up, Arthur."
As they climbed up into the back of the garish red cart Arthur had been riding in, a terrible smell assaulted them.
"'Ello, boys! 'Ow did yer midnight rondy-voo with Sardon go, eh?" Willis was perched on Arthur's bed with his feet on the desk, gnawing at a turkey bone that had long since stopped providing any sustenance.
Taran collapsed on the floor, dropping the heavy sack he had dragged down the hill. "About like the rest of this has gone, Willis."
The turkey bone ricocheted off of Taran as Willis snorted. "'Ey, there! Show some respect!"
Ignoring this, Arthur rubbed his forehead as he stared at Willis.
"Willis, as my agent I trust that you have a plan. I was impressed with the way you took a stodgy religious prophesy and turned it into a national event. Really, I was. But I'm wondering now if it was such a good idea. You have to admit, it did involve... going off script a bit, yes?"
Willis smiled, displaying the growing collection of food scraps caught between his teeth. "Arthur, buddy, yer the chosen one. You've got the birthmark, the magic sword, the whole whatsis. If we didn't stick to the exact letter of the prophesy at the beginning there it doesn't matter - yer still the chosen one and it's still destiny. Ey, you still upset about the big meet-up with Sardon this morning? Yeah, fine, 'im blowing you off lost us some followers but the prophesy says 'e decks the two of you out in magic armor, so he will."
Taran sat up. "You want to put money on that, Willis?"
"Why? Did you get 'im to meet with you again? Did you get the armor?"
Taran and Arthur exchanged glances. "Well... we got one set of armor," Arthur said.
"One is all we need, though," Taran said as he lay back down on the floor. "Sardon is dead."
Willis seemed to glaze over. They were well and truly off the map now. The prophesy hadn't had any wiggle room at all on this point. Suddenly he smiled again, but his eyes had a crazy gleam.
"No worries! This 'appens all the time. Let's... let's get the 'ell out of town before the local watch comes knocking..." Willis climbed out to get the horses ready, wondering how much he could get for a suit of magic armor.