The Last Drops of the Gray Rain

Samuel Lewis © 2003

She stood quietly on the beach staring far off across the ocean, the fresh sea breeze filled her heart with joy. She had never felt so at peace with herself, so attuned to everything that surrounded her, it was as if life was rewarding her after so many false starts and disappointments.

'Layla!' It was Keifer's voice, he had been sleeping when she had left the tent this morning. 'There you are, you worried me!'

Layla looked at her new husband and giggled at the sight of him only in his underwear. He must have been so worried when he noticed she was not there in the morning that he must have rushed out without bothering to dress.

'I'm fine my Prince.' smiled Layla. 'Shouldn't you be wearing clothes, I would hate anyone to see my husband half-naked.'

'What are you doing out here alone?' Keifer attempted to change the subject, his blushing was hidden underneath his full bushy blonde beard.

'I love looking out over the sea, the sound of the waves.' Layla shrugged. 'I find it relaxing.'

'We better make back to the tribe today, it's the sixth day already.'

'Do we have to go back so soon?' Layla flashed her deep green eyes at him.

'You know your...' Keifer's tongue slipped, 'our tribe's traditions dictate that we spend only six days away from the tribe after our wedding.'

'You're so serious lately,' Layla grinned and pulled Keifer closer and then whispered in his ear. 'Let's go for a swim.'

'I should put the fire on for breakfast, I'm starved.'

'You're always hungry,' Layla smiled and ran her fingers through Keifer's long blonde hair, she looking into his pure blue eyes and saw a look of discomfort in them. 'You don't like the sea do you?'

'It's not that I don't like it,' Keifer's muscles tensed, 'I just got sick of it, that's what happens when you get brought up on an island.'

'You start breakfast then,' Layla kissed Keifer lightly on the cheek, 'and I'll go for a little dip.'

'Don't go too far out,' warned Keifer, 'I know this area seems safe, but you never know what kind of monsters are around.'

'Just go and get it ready.' Layla ran across the sands and looked back over at Keifer warm trusting face.

Keifer watched as Layla jumped into the sea and dived under the waves, she moved so eloquently in the water, he wondered if she had a mermaid as a distant relation. He smiled to himself and allowed the morning sun to warm his skin.

Keifer had been with the Deja Tribe now for a couple years, his courtship with Layla had been long and arduous because of his new duties of Deja's Guardian. He had so much to learn and so much to do that there almost was not enough hours in the day. The chief of the tribe, his perspective father-in-law, was initially their sternest opponent to their marriage. He had seen too many pervious Guardian's wives end up premature widows, and did not want the same fate to befall his daughter. But Keifer's strength and determination had impressed even the most suspicious of the tribe's minds, and the chief finally accepted their union with his blessing. Besides he knew that it was unwise to go up against Layla when she made up her mind.

Layla and Keifer took the traditional six day honeymoon of the Deja tribe, the new man and wife had to leave the tribe for this time to consolidate their union with the sleeping God. After the sixth day they would return to the tribe as man and wife for the first time.

Keifer struck the flint and in no time the dry branches that he had collected last night were roaring into life. The fire was warm and welcoming on this cool morning, Keifer felt more awake and put on some clothes as he retrieved some of the fish Layla had caught. Keifer had tried to spear fish in the sea himself, but he was no Borkano and spent most of his time swimming after his empty spear. Layla had laughed until she ached seeing how useless the Deja Guardian was with a spear.

The smoke was rising as Keifer started to cook the spicy-smelling fish, the smell made his nose tingle. His stomach ached in demand for nourishment and his mouth was watering in anticipation of breakfast. Keifer led down the ground and looked up at the clear sky, before he knew it he was drifting off into a light sleep.


A sudden noise in the distance made Keifer wake instantly and jump to his feet, he drew his sword, it sounded as if someone was shouting in his direction.

'HEY!' It was the voice of what looked like a teenage boy running in the direction of the tent. Keifer lowered his sword a little, but still kept a firm grip.

'Stay right there,' boomed Keifer, 'and don't come any closer.'

'Please,' the boy had stopped around eighty meters from the tent, he looked worn out from the run.

'What is it boy?' Keifer called out. 'Speak up!'

'Help,' the boy shouted breathlessly, 'I need help.'

'Really?' Keifer raised his eyebrows in distrust, the boy looked very scruffy. His clothes were tattered, old and looked somewhat small for the teenager. Keifer knew how vulnerable he and Layla were out here, and so kept the grip on his sword tight.

'Please, can you come and help my Uncle!' pleaded the boy, Keifer noticed the intense sincerity in the boy's tone, but then reminded himself that bandits were exceptionally talented liars. 'He's collapsed and unconscious, I don't what to do!'

'I'm no doctor,' Keifer shrugged his shoulders.

'Please, he's old,' the boy took a few steps towards Keifer, 'he's all I have left.'

'Don't move another inch!' Keifer raised his sword to emphasize the point, the boy froze still.

'Keifer what's going on?' asked Layla, she was running back from the beach and was still soaked with sea water. She had hurriedly tied her wet hair in a makeshift ponytail. 'Why are you shouting?'

'Oh, Miss,' the boy turned his burning eyes upon Layla, 'my Uncle has passed out and I cannot bring him to, can you please come and help?'

'Come here boy and tell us more.' Layla then scowled at Keifer, 'Put your sword down, he's just a boy who needs help.'

'I don't trust him,' whispered Keifer, 'what if his Uncle is some ten foot tall barbarian waiting to ambush us?'

'You're always so paranoid,' Layla put her hands gently on Keifer's and made him softly lower the sword.

'Thank you Miss,' the boy said as he got closer, he ignored Keifer.

'How did you find us?' asked Layla.

'The smoke from the fire,' the boy pointed at the now extinguished fire, only a faint whiff of smoke still emitted from it.

'The fish!' Keifer leapt over to the fire and inspected his now charcoaled remains of his breakfast. He gave Layla a guilty look, 'I fell asleep.'

'So did your Uncle hit his head?' asked Layla to the boy, whilst shaking her head at Keifer.

'No,' the boy shook his head. 'He seemed fine when we went asleep last night, but this morning I just couldn't wake him. I know nothing about medicine so I wrapped him up warm and went off in search of a village, but then I noticed the smoke from your fire so I came here instead.'

'I think there is a village to the south of this continent maybe you'll find a doctor there?' said Keifer.

'Keifer!' snapped Layla, then she turned her attention back to the boy, 'That village Keifer speaks of is about a five day journey from here, you'd never make it. I think we should take your Uncle to our tribe. Maybe our healer can help.'

'If he's still alive,' mumbled Keifer to himself.

'Follow me now then, let's not waste anymore time!' the boy looked at both of them anxiously.

Keifer shook his head at Layla. 'We can't just abandon our tent.'

'Well I'm going, and since you're not only the Deja Guardian but my husband you'll just have to come along.' Layla smiled, she knew that Keifer had little choice in the matter. Keifer responded by kicking the ground, making a small cloud of dust rise to the height of his ankles.

'Quick, this way,' the boy called out from over his shoulder as his was running back in the direction he had come from.

'Let's see if you can keep the pace,' giggled Layla as she ran after the boy, who now had quite a head start on them.

'I still think this is a bad idea,' mumbled Keifer as he reluctantly chased after his wife, 'don't blame me if our tent's ransacked when we get back.'


'Joseph!' the old man was startled by the sound of approaching feet, 'Joseph is that you?'

'Uncle Clayman?' Joseph was shocked to find his Uncle wide awake and sitting upright against a tree. Layla and Keifer came to a halt behind Joseph, they both noticed that the old man, despite looking rather frail, was fully conscious. But his eyes seemed to drifting, unfocused and pale.

'Very funny,' Keifer looked around anxiously and drew his sword again.

'I'm sorry,' Joseph was embarrassed, his face was crimson as he looked at Layla, 'but he was unconscious earlier, I swear it.'

'It's OK,' reassured Layla. She could almost feel Keifer thinking “I told you so.”

'Joseph, who is that man and woman with you?' Clayman stared in the direction from where the voices had come from.

'Uncle Clayman these people are here to help,' explained Joseph.

'Then why is that gentleman waving around his sword?' asked Clayman.

'Look, “Uncle”, I don't like this situation any more than you do!' snarled Keifer as he scanned the surrounding trees. 'Would you mind telling me what's really going on here? An ambush perhaps?'

Clayman started to laugh, a deep hoarse laugh that developed into deeper hoarser coughing fir. Joseph immediately rushed to Clayman's side and tried to give the old coughing man some water from a leather drinking pouch that he picked up by the side of him. The water cascaded into the old man's mouth, it spluttered out again, but the seemed the coughing was subsiding.

'That's a nasty cough you got there.' Keifer examined the old man leaning against the trees, for some reason he felt a nagging sense of familiarity, but he could not understand why. The old man was bald, but had a full white bread and his face bore thousands of wrinkles. He wore an old green cape over nondescript grey garments, and around his neck was a small blue bottle on a chain.

'Joseph is right, my dear travelers, I am not well,' Clayman coughed, 'I am old, blind and sick. My body is not what it used to be.'

'Uncle, don't say that!' Joseph got to his feet.

'What are you doing so far out in the wilderness?' asked Layla.

'Young lady, perhaps you have heard of that nomadic tribe The Dejans?' Underneath Clayman's voice coughing lurked insidiously. 'We're looking for them.'

'Why yes, we're of the Deja Tribe!' exclaimed Layla. Keifer instantly shoot her a look of contempt but she ignored it.

'No Uncle, they can't be the Dejans.' Joseph shook his head as he looked at Keifer.

'We are, I assure you,' asserted Layla. 'But why are you looking for the Deja Tribe?'

'A quest,' said Clayman, 'which is soon coming to an end.'

'What are you talking about old man?' snapped Keifer, his empty stomach was making him especially irritable.

'Don't talk to him like that!' snarled Joseph, 'Uncle Clayman is greater man than you'll ever be. Even at his age we've traveled the whole world together!'

'Joseph,' coughed Clayman, 'please calm down.'

'Keifer,' whispered Layla, 'we should take Clayman back to the tribe at once, he's very sick.'

'Maybe that's exactly what they want,' whispered Keifer back, 'I don't trust them. Remember as Deja's Guardian I must put the tribe's safety first.'

'How can you be so cold hearted?' frowned Layla. 'Please don't make me ashamed of my husband.'

'Layla,' Keifer spoke softly, 'it's just dark forces are at work in this world all the time. You know how important our tribe's role is in the revival of God.'

Clayman coughed, and then said: 'Perhaps you've heard of a village called Dialac? The village cursed by the Gray Rain.'

A spark struck in Keifer's mind, reviving an old memory. Suddenly he remembered where he had seen this old man before.

'Dialac?' said Layla. 'Never heard of it, have you Keifer?'

Clayman smiled, it occurred to Keifer that the old man knew who he was too.

'A long time ago, a different time altogether.' Keifer said under his breath, and then he looked at Joseph, as if for the first time. 'The boy has certainly sprouted up.'

'Uncle?' Joseph was as confused by his answer as Layla was.

'Joseph, this man is one of those kind people who helped us all those years ago back in Dialac,' said Clayman, 'one of the ones who helped bring peace to Dialac, and brought you back to life.'

'No,' Joseph shook his head, 'not him. He's nothing like those kind people who helped us!'

'It was a long ago,' shrugged Keifer, 'you were only little at the time.'

'It can't be you,' said Joseph.

'Keifer?' Layla put her hand on his shoulder. 'How do you know these people?'

'Me and my friends stumbled upon their village, Dialac, long ago,' Keifer a far off look in his eye, 'a village in where all the people had been turned to stone by the Gray Rain.'

'Almost all the people,' added Clayman as he coughed.

'Over the years the statues had crumbled beyond any hope of resurrection, but we managed to give peace to the petrified villagers and released their souls finally. The boy was unexpected surprise,' remembered Keifer. 'He had hid underground, so the elements had not worn him down like the other petrified villagers.'

'But...' Joseph looked to Clayman.

'It is him Joseph,' nodded Clayman, 'your memory is clouded by childhood.'

'The whole village turned to stone!' Layla was horrified.

'Me and Joseph have spent the years since traveling the world, warning others of the dangers of the Gray Rain.' Clayman coughed, his face turning a subtle shade of purple.

'Uncle!' Joseph ran to his side again, but before he could give Clayman any more water, he had recovered from the coughing.

'It's OK Joseph,' Clayman held his hand up in protest, 'I'm fine.'

Keifer could see that Clayman was far from fine, he looked so weak and frail that he doubted he would even survive the journey back to the Deja Tribe.

'Why were you looking for the Deja Tribe old man?' asked Keifer.

Clayman had to compose himself for a few seconds, his breath was heavy and wheezing. Finally he said: 'We have been to every village in this world that I can think of and warned them of the Gray Rain... everyone, that is except for the Deja Tribe.'

'Clayman,' said Layla softly, 'we'll take you to our tribe and our healer, she'll be able to help you.'

Clayman's face was full of sadness, he held the small blue bottle that was hanging around his neck in his fingers. 'I had an ulterior motive in finding your tribe...'

This made Joseph look confused.

'What do you mean?' asked Layla.

'Joseph,' Clayman turned to address the teenager, even though he was blind it seemed as if he was staring directly at him, 'we have traveled far and long. Our quest to warn others about the Gray Rain and what happened to Dialac has taken us across this whole world. But now I can travel no more, my age has finally caught up with me and I must soon rest eternally.'

'What are you talking about?' said Joseph bravely, but everyone could hear the fragileness lurking beneath his tone. 'You're not going to die, not like everyone else! You're all I have left in this world!'

'Joseph,' Clayman held back a cough, 'the Deja Tribe is on the side of God, they are good people. Like us they travel the lands fighting evil, they share our same spirit. I'm well past my traveling years now, in fact, it has been only by the grace of god that I have been able to continue for so long. I don't want you to be alone Joseph, that is why I want you to join them.'

'But I don't want to join the Dejans!' Joseph bit his lip.

Clayman started to couch again, he covered his mouth with his hand. The coughs sounded dry and painful, and when Clayman withdrew his hand they noticed that it was covered in a little blood.

'Joseph...' Layla walked over to Joseph and put a hand on his shoulder.

Keifer's senses suddenly went on the alert when he heard a sound from the trees.

'What a touching scene,' came a deep menacing voice, 'it brings a tear to my eye.'

'Who's there?' Keifer spun around and raised his sword.

Behind them was a group of four men, dressed in rags and wooden masks over the faces. They all had raised their shabby swords, there was no mistaking these were bandits.

'Well, well...' the tallest one, presumably the leader, took a step forward, 'what a strange bunch we have here. We've been following you since Firks saw the smoke from your fire this morning. Doesn't look like you have anything of value... but perhaps your pretty girl will make up for that!'

'Leave us now, or by the spirit of the Deja Tribe I shall strike you all down!' growled Keifer. 'I will show no mercy!'

This sent the pack of bandits into fits of laughter, the tallest one mocked: 'A woman, a boy and a sick old man! My friend, I do not doubt you prowess, but you could have chosen better fighting companions!'

But before Keifer could react, Joseph sped past him towards the bandits with a dagger drawn. His speed caught the bandits off guard to and Joseph sunk his blade in the nearest bandit, making him scream and fall to the floor.

'Impetuous brat...' mumbled Keifer, he ran forward and locked swords with the head bandit.

'Keifer! Joseph!' screamed Layla, she backed away in horror.

Joseph was now surrounded by the other two bandits, they were either side of him, circling like vultures waiting from any sign of weakness. Joseph heart was beating so hard that his ears were pulsating with the sound. Then one of the bandits made a lunge for Joseph, quick as a flash Joseph dropped to the floor to avoid the strike. The bandit could not stop his momentum and his sword sank into the chest of his comrade who was standing behind Joseph.

Layla felt paralyzed with fear as she watched the fighting unfold, since Joseph had felled two of the bandits in was now two against two. But then she felt two hands grab her from behind, she struggled, but she was stuck in the grip of the fifth bandit who had been hiding in the trees. Layla screamed.

'Layla!' Keifer automatically turned to see his new wife trapped in grip of the fifth bandit. This momentary lapse in concentration gave the largest bandit the opportunity he needed.

Keifer made no sound as his enemies sword struck his back, the pain surged through him and he fell to his knees, from behind he heard Joseph cry out in pain too.

'Keifer!' cried Layla as she saw her husband fall to the ground, and through the tears in her eyes she could make out Joseph also being hit.

Everything was lost.

But a strange thing happened to the arms that held her so tight, they started to stiffen. It was as if the arms were becoming more rigid and robbed of their movement, then they started to turn grey. Layla then realized that they must be turning to stone.

'Don't worry Miss, they'll be fine,' a voice reassured her from behind. It was Clayman's voice, except it sounded different, stronger, more confident.

'Clayman?' Layla struggled to look around in the tight grip of the statue that held her.

The old man walked into view, he was standing upright, holding the small blue bottle in his hand high, ready to strike with its deadly contents. He walked forward purposely towards the two remaining bandits.

'What are doing old man?' laughed the leader. 'Going to hit that little bottle over my head?'

Clayman swiped the bottle downwards, a few grey drops of water left the bottle and struck the large bandit in the chest. This caused the bandit to laugh even more.

'Look,' the large bandit mocked to his acolyte, 'I've been baptized.'

They both laughed, but the leader stopped when he felt his muscles stiffen. It was as if the air around him was turning into thick treacle. He tried to scream, but his lungs could not move the heavy air. Then he saw his body start to turn grey, this was the last thing he would see before he would become stone.

The last remaining bandit had stopped laughing and watched in horror as his leader turned to stone.

Clayman faced the general direction of the last bandit with his small blue bottle held high, the bandit threw his sword on the ground and ran with all his might. He moved so fast that he was soon out of visual range.

'Not bad,' Keifer raised his head a little and smiled, there was a dizzy look in his eyes, 'for an old guy.'

Then Keifer's head dropped to the floor and he lost consciousness.


'Attack!' screamed Keifer as he suddenly came to, he very disoriented and his back stung immensely. He relaxed and looked around, he realized that he was back in his tent, and laying next to him was not Layla, but Joseph.

Joseph had many bandages across his stomach, he looked pale but stable. Keifer could feel the pain of his own wound in his back, but it was his pride that hurt more.

The tent flaps opened and in walked Kios, the Deja Tribe's healer, she smiled when she saw Keifer was awake. 'Good, good. Some nasty wounds you two got, It's a blessing that none of your vital organs were hit. You'll still be weak for a while considering the amount of blood you lost.'

'Kios?' Keifer forced himself to sit up in bed despite the discomfort it gave him. 'What happened? Why are you here?'

'You should thank your wife for that, she ran to the tribe whilst the old man tended to your wounds. He did a good job to, probably saved your lives.' Kios smiled. 'I think Layla broke the land speed record by the time she reached us, I followed her immediately. When I found you I used some pretty powerful rare herbs on both of you, then we took you back to this tent.'

'Clayman.' Keifer smiled as he shook his head.

'Keifer!' Layla stuck her head threw the tent and then ran over to her husband's side, planting several kisses on his cheeks.

'Layla, I'm sorry,' Keifer swallowed. 'I should have protected you better. I failed not only as your husband, but as Deja's Guardian.'

'Nonsense.' Layla kissed her husband deeply.

'She's right Keifer,' added Kios, as she smiled at the sight of husband and wife reunited, 'a true Deja Guardian can make mistakes, as long as he learns from them.'

Joseph made a noise as he stirred at Keifer's side.

'Where's Clayman?' asked Keifer.

'What's happened?' Joseph opened his eyes sleepily.

'Clayman saved us,' said Layla.

'I think he had a little Gray Rain stored up in that small blue bottle of his,' said Keifer, 'so he turned the bandits into stone.'

'I want to see him,' Joseph sat up in bed, causing him visible discomfort.

'Yeah where is the old rascal?' asked Keifer.

'He said he wanted you and Joseph to meet him by the cliff close to here,' answered Layla, 'he said he had something to show you both.'

Keifer dangled his legs over the side of the bed, the pain made him wince. 'Well let's not keep the old man waiting.'

'I think you two should rest,' advised Kios.

'No,' Keifer shook his head, 'I feel like I could run a thousand miles. C'mon kid, your Uncle's waiting.'

'But you...' Kios felt helpless to stop her patients from getting up.

'Kios, relax,' Layla put her hand on her shoulder, 'you know it is impossible to change Keifer's mind. Let them go, the cliff isn't far.'

'If they pass out, don't expect me to drag them back to there beds,' said Kios.


The cool breeze was flavored by the salt of the ocean as it drifted over the coastline. Keifer and Joseph were moving along slowly side by side, occasionally staggering, the morning sun making their shadows vast silhouettes.

'I was really impressed with you back there kid,' admitted Keifer, 'you're a lot more lethal than you look.'

'If you walk the lands so long it's vital that you learn how to protect yourself,' said Joseph, 'I mean it's not like you can just get on a flying carpet to avoid the trouble.'

'I think Clayman is lucky to have you around,' said Keifer.

'I guess,' shrugged Joseph.

They walked in silence for a little, until the sound of Keifer wincing in pain from his back broke to tranquility.

'Do you want to lay down?' asked Joseph.

'No!' Keifer shook his head and bit his lip. 'I'll be fine, I've been hurt worse.'

'We can stop if you want,' suggested Joseph.

'I said I'm fine,' growled Keifer from between gritted teeth. 'Don't you hurt too? You got sliced pretty bad.'

'Clayman taught me a way of putting pain elsewhere in my mind,' said Joseph, 'if you don't think of it, you can't feel it. At least that's the theory.'

'Speaking of your old man, he's just ahead, I can see him now,' said Keifer straining his eyes against the bright sunshine. 'Hey Clayman!'

'Uncle?' Joseph waved one hand in the air in Clayman's direction

Clayman turned around slowly and waved back, then he faced the sun again and dropped to his knees.

'Uncle!' cried out Joseph, he started to walk fast, but his injury impeded his speed.

Keifer tried to keep pace with Joseph, but the wound on his back hurt so intensely that he was falling behind. Keifer saw Joseph reach Clayman before him and saw Joseph's face drop. Looking at Clayman he realized why, as now on his knees was no longer Clayman. Only a statue.

'Uncle!' Joseph held his arms around the cool stone. 'Why did you do this? Why?'

'Joseph,' whispered Keifer quietly.

'Why did you let the Gray Rain take you too?' Joseph face glistened in the sun with his flowing tears.

'Joseph,' said Keifer as neared closer, 'he wanted you to come with us, the Deja Tribe. He was old, very old and knew he was just a hindrance to you now. But he also knew that you would never leave him.'

'So he did this!' spat Joseph sarcastically.

'I think it's his way of joining back with Dialac, the past... his past,' said Keifer, 'but you, you have your whole future ahead of you Joseph.'

'But what about the Gray Rain?'

'You can't just wonder the lands by yourself,' said Keifer, 'but if you join us Dejans you'd still be able to wonder the world and warn people of Dialac's fate. Besides, seeing the way you fight, maybe I could use an apprentice. It's hard work being the Deja Guardian alone, maybe I'll need someone to take over from me someday.'

Joseph sat looking with tears in his eyes at the petrified Clayman. After a brief silence Joseph said: 'Could you please leave me alone now?'

'What about joining the Deja Tribe?' asked Keifer.

'Just leave me,' growled Joseph, not even looking at Keifer, 'I don't want to join your stupid tribe.'

Keifer did not know what more to say to the boy, he was never very adept at dealing with sensitive situations so he left silently. He looked over his shoulder a few times as he walked away, he could tell that Joseph was deeply distraught, but understood why Clayman had done what he done. Keifer staggered slowly back to the tent, his wound burned so much that he cursed himself for not listening to the healer's advice.

Layla saw Keifer approach and ran out to greet him. She said: 'Where's Joseph and Clayman?'

'Can you give me some support here?' asked Keifer, he was struggling to keep moving. Layla went over to her husband and rested his arm on her shoulder, the relief for Keifer was instant.

'So where are they?' asked Layla.

'Clayman's turned himself to stone,' said Keifer, 'he wanted the boy to join us.'

'Old fool,' scowled Layla, 'so where is Joseph?'

'I asked him to come to the tribe,' sighed Keifer, 'but the kid's a bit emotional at the moment. I left him by Clayman's statue.'

'Keifer!' snapped Layla.

'Calm down,' coughed Keifer, 'I told the boy he could join the tribe but he didn't seem interested. I don't know what he'll do.' But Keifer noticed Layla was no longer listening to him, she was looking over his shoulder smiling.

'Looks like he made up his mind already,' grinned Layla.

Joseph was running along, clutching his wound which made him stagger a bit. He shouted: 'Hey! I've... changed my mind. Changed... my mind.'

Keifer, still being supported by Layla turned around to greet him. The boy stopped when he got close, his wound did not seem to be hurting him as much as Keifer's did.

'So you want to be the Guardian's apprentice?' coughed Keifer, his face serious.

'Yes, yes,' nodded Joseph enthusiastically.

'Why did you change your mind Joseph?' asked Layla, straining a little supporting her husband's weight.

'Clayman left me a message in the stone,' Joseph smiled, 'I know he'll always be with me now. Whenever I need him, I'll know where he'll be for me.'

'Well, you know there is an initiation for the Guardian's apprentice?' asked Keifer, he was unable to resist smiling a little.

'Just name it and I'll do it,' said Joseph.

Keifer nodded over to the spears resting on the side of the tent. He said: 'Catch us some fish for breakfast. I'm absolutely starving.'