This is a mobile proxy. It is intended to visit the IOMfAtS Story Shelf on devices that would otherwise not correctly display the site. Please direct all your feedback to the friendly guy over at IOMfAtS!

At Days End

by Arthur

Chapter 6

The next morning dawned slightly overcast, there was a light wind blowing and the dust was stirred slightly as small puffs sent the fine soil into the air. For Kros, it was a good sign that his tracks from the previous day would be well covered; hopefully this would give them more respite from the Priests that seemed determined to use them to set an example for the rest of their flocks.

After breaking their fast, Grega set about checking around the cabin, small repairs that had been put off could now be done while the three other boys went on their search of the nearby canyon. Kros hoped that the revelations of Davi were as good as the smaller boy had told them.

It took less than half an hour for the three boys to squeeze their way through the narrow crack in the cliff at the end of their home canyon. Inside, it was to Kros's eyes, a strange strata of rock, most of it showed up as a glass like substance in varying colours from deep dark browns to almost black, then it would change again and turn reddish brown.

The sides were highly polished but on the floor was a fine covering of whitish grey dust, so fine it got into their noses and down their throats, after only a few yards, they had to cover their mouths and noses with a piece of cloth torn from the bottom of their shirts. It took no time at all for their hair and faces, as well as their modest clothing, to also be covered in the fine dust, when they reached the end of the narrow crack, the vista before them nearly sent Kros and Danil into a spin.

Spread out before them was a huge oval shaped canyon. It was almost a freak of nature. Its base was covered from one end to the other in long lush green grass, over which moved small herds of deer and wild cattle. From the thick stand of trees bordering most of the valley came the mixed cries of many varieties of birds, among which the distinctive gobble of wild turkeys stood out.

Kros and Danil could not believe their eyes, as they wiped the fine grey dust from their eyes, they could only stand and stare at what lay before them. The canyon seemed to stretch on forever, although it was probably no more than a mile long and about half as wide. The towering cliffs that went higher than they thought possible made them feel like miniature dolls. Even the soft tinkling of a small stream running through the middle of the valley could not make them take their eyes off the rest of the canyon.

The three boys had had to drag their small day packs behind them to be able to make it right through the crack. Grega, being larger than all three would be able to make it, but it would be a tight squeeze. A full grown adult stood next to no chance; this looked as though it would make a fine safe home for them all.

Kros could now see only one problem, how to get their newly acquired horses into the new valley, as far as he could see, there was no opening anywhere along the high cliffs, the valley was oval in shape but curved slightly until part of the far end was hidden from view. Taking their packs up, Kros led the other two boys in that direction, if there was a way into this valley then it had to be hidden by the curve, how else could the mixture of wild animals have got into this small slice of paradise?

They set out for the far end of the valley. The tall green grass swished against their knees as they moved through it at a steady pace. The animals seemed to have little fear of them, proving that they had not seen many humans in their little hideaway. The cattle appeared to be the more aggressive. As soon as the boys got a little too close to their herd, they would form a semi circle and start to stamp the ground in warning, the deer were totally different in that they would just amble away a short distance and go on eating or scratching.

The boys worked their way towards the end of the valley. At no time did they see any hint of an opening or ravine into the valley. It appeared to be no more than a large bowl with no entrance, it was closer to mid morning when they stopped under the towering cliffs at the end of the valley, the surrounding trees offered a nice place to sit in the shade and think things over.

The three boys dropped their small packs and took out a little food, with the cool water of the nearby pond, they could take time to work it out, there had to be a way into the valley or there would not be the larger animals here. The boys sat, ate and thought while they all looked around for a way in or out of the place.

Davi seemed to be more interested in the pond. It was about forty yards long and twenty wide; the water was crystal clear and seemed to bubble up from below. It would not be long before they discovered the pool was also warm and the water felt like a lot of bubbles on their skin. The stream they had been following on the way to the end had simply disappeared into the cliff face at the other end near where they had crawled through.

Finally, it was Danil that thought he saw the way in and out of the valley.

As Kros followed his pointing finger back along the way they had come, Kros saw the wide track made by animals coming down the side of the cliff face, while it was not wide enough for two men abreast, it was certainly wide enough for a horse and rider, there was their answer as to how the mixed range of animals had got here. All they had to do now was find out how to get to it from their old home.

Kros looked over at Davi; the boy obviously wanted to take a plunge in the pond, but they had more important things to do just now. Smiling at the younger boy, Kros asked him.

"Davi, I've got a special job for you; we need you to go all the way back and tell Grega that we two will be a while longer, maybe not coming home until tomorrow some time. Can you do that for us?"

"Why, what are you going to do?" Davi asked with suspicion in his young eyes.

"Danil and I need to follow that track way up there, then find a way to get our horses back here. If we can find a way, we can make a new house to live in right here."

Davi seemed to give this a bit of thought; he didn't like the idea of missing out on a new adventure in the valley he had been the first to discover. After a few minutes thought, he looked up at the two older boys.

"Ok, but you have to tell me everything when you get back, this is my valley; I found it, so you better tell me everything."

Kros was almost ready to sharply tell Davi to behave himself when Danil stepped in.

"Ok, little brother, I'll tell you everything we do and see in your valley; now you better get going so Grega doesn't worry. Be careful when you go past the cattle. Keep your rifle in your hands just in case, Ok?"

Davi still didn't look happy, but with a sigh of resignation, he slung his .22 rifle over his shoulder and picked up his pack, within a minute he was making his way back towards the far end of the valley and the narrow crack in the cliffs. With this done, Kros and Danil also picked up their packs and began to move towards the track leading up to the top of the high cliffs. It would be a real climb. The light clouds hid the sun as it was moving towards the zenith. They shrugged their small food packs higher on their shoulders and slung their own rifles so their hands would be free for the stiff climb ahead of them.

The two boys moved quickly through the long swaying grass. The ground underfoot felt soft and, by the way the grasses and tress were growing, would be excellent for their garden if they found a way in. As they neared the line of tress that bordered the cliffs, Kros made out a narrow game trail that led in the right direction. Following this, it was only minutes before they came to the start of the upward trail. By the steepness and zigzag nature of the trail, it was going to be a long hard climb, although he was still certain they could get the horses down here with little trouble.

They steadily climbed and climbed. The trail was mostly clear, although now and again they came across some very strange rocks, some of them almost as large as their bodies, they were the same sort of greyish white as the dust below, but were patch-worked with thousands of small air holes, when the two boys tried to push them off the trail, they found that the large boulders weighed almost nothing and were easy to roll to the edge and off into the valley now far below them. It was just another strange event in the new discovery.

They had noticed that the high walls of the cliff were like nothing they had seen before. Like the narrow crack they had come though, the cliffs here had the same striations and were of the same glass like material. They seemed solid and did not have the crumbling look of so many other places they had been to.

The boys kept at the climb. With luck, they should be at the summit just after midday, had it not been for the breeze and the overcast sky, they would really be doing it hard, as this sort of climb in the full heat of a hot day would have sapped their strength in no time. Although steep, Kros was still sure the horses could make the descent with only a little effort.

With a last great effort, the two boys made it to the top. Before them, they saw that the upper rim was no more than fifty feet wide and was covered in low bushes and more of the large light weight rocks as well as a lot of the glass like ones. Under foot, it seemed solid, and from their high vantage point, they could see for miles.

The oval valley they had just climbed from spread out in a green vista. To the other side, they could see not only the vastness of the sand plains, but also the change in the type of rocks and ground around their own mesa. It looked as though this place had somehow just pushed its way up from the surrounding desert.

The mesa that held their present home was of a totally different type of sand and rock and looked as though it had been attached to the side of this larger mass. Kros tried to work out why he had not noticed this anomaly when they first arrived, with the height of this new place he should have been able to see it from the sand wastes, he shook his head and put the question aside for another time. For now, he had to find the way down.

After stopping for some food and a long drink of fresh water, Kros and Danil found they had little trouble finding the track that led back to the sands below them. All they had to do was follow the many hoof prints left by the wild animals. It was common knowledge that a wild animal would always find the easiest route up or down a mountain.

Kros and Danil looked over the steep edge of the mountain. Below them, they could easily make out the worn trail. It looked as though it had been in use by the wild animals for years. The further down the steep sides the trail went, the more it branched out into smaller trails, it appeared the main trail to the top was where they all joined up.

Most of the trail further down the mountain turned out to be partially hidden by small scrub bushes and low trees; it would be easy to hide their tracks on the course rough ground of black and red polished stone. There were also small piles of the strange light weight grey rocks and stones, many smaller ones were scattered widely over the mountain side.

After a short rest, the two boys began their descent of the strange mountain. Going down proved to be a lot easier than going up. The many small animal trails made it easy to find a good path; getting the horses back up here should be relatively easy, even with packs on their backs to carry the boys' goods.

Kros took great notice of any places that could be used for defensive purposes. If they had to defend this new place, he did not want any surprises. Their backs would be well covered by the old home canyon, they would only have to watch for anyone trying to climb up the one trail to the top. It was something he would think more on when and if they decided to settle into the new canyon, although he had little doubt that this was going to be their special place from now on.

They were about two thirds of the way down the mountain side when Kros called a halt; after another bite to eat and a long drink, Kros said they had seen enough and turned back the way they had come, by the time they made it back to the top, it would be almost dark. They would have to sleep out and resume in the morning.

With little more than an hour to full dark, the two boys made it back to the top of the ridge line. Knowing full well they would not make it back down in the dark, Kros and Danil set about collecting as many of the light weight grey stones as they could to make a small place to sleep in, they had just enough dried meat and water to see them through the coming night. Although it would be a little uncomfortable, they had each other to keep warm until morning, unless it rained.

Much to the surprise of both boys, the black and red glass rocks seemed to retain a lot of heat from the daylight hours and they slept reasonably well behind the windbreak of the grey rocks. By morning they were well rested and ready for the fast trek back down into the large bowl like canyon, they would have to wait until they got back to the old home canyon before they could eat again.

Both boys were almost at the base of the stiff climb when they spotted a small fire under the same tree they had rested at yesterday. The two small figures of Grega and Davi could be seen sitting back waiting for them. It took only another half an hour to make it to where the others waited for them. Grega had a large scrape on one shoulder, evidently from the tight squeeze in the narrow crack as he came through, on the fire was the small black cooking pot that had a wisp of steam rising from under the lid.

Kros and Danil smiled at the older boy as they saw the hot food waiting for them. As they sat down, still puffing from their exertions, Grega filled two plates with a hot stew and then sat back to hear all they had found and seen. With the birds above in the trees calling and whistling, the four boys felt at peace they all thought they had at last found their new home. With luck, they would not have to leave it for some time, and only when there was a need for supplies.

After their first hot meal in two days, the boys all began to talk about what would be needed to make this new place like a true home, the security of this strange canyon was evident. They also had an escape into the other canyon if it was needed in an emergency. Everything they would need was here. It only needed them to work for a while and it would be a true new home.

For the rest of the day they sat and discussed what would be needed until, finally, it was decided that Kros would be the best one to take the horse over the trail they had found. They would load as much as was safe from the old cabin and he would lead the string of loaded horses down here into the valley, the other three would take what they could through the narrow crack and begin to build some sort of cabin, the old cabin would be kept as a second hideaway, but they would only leave a minimum of goods there.

It took Kros two days to make the journey up and over the high mountain side and down into the new valley. With the horses well laden. He had taken his time and not tried to hurry them, as he came across the long green grass flats towards the far end where the crack in the cliffs was, he saw that the other three had already begun on their new house, there was the start of a wooden framework and little Davi had been spending all his time either carrying or rolling the large light weight grey rocks into a pile close-by.

Kros and Davi spent a lot of time with an old piece of flat steel, shaping it until it had one side that was fairly sharp with a place at each end for a handle. This the two boys used to shape the easily cut grey stones to fit into a wall around the fast growing house frame. The inner walls for the two bedrooms were also made from the grey stones. To cement them into place, they made a mixture with water and the remains of the powder from their cuttings.

Grega had used an old two man saw he found in the back of the old cabin. It had taken him some time to scrub off the rust and sharpen the large teeth, but now he and Danil had a good sharp saw to fell the smaller trees they were using for their frames. Where they were placing the new cabin, they had cut down all the long grass and set it aside to dry. This would be used for the roofing, tucked back into the trees close to the narrow crack, it would almost blend into the surrounding landscape. Only the walls which were going to be made from the grey rocks would stand out.

The house was placed in such a way that it totally hid the exit crack from casual view. The cabin was also larger than the old one. The main room would be where they would gather or do their cooking. Behind that and closest to the escape crack were two smaller rooms for the boys to sleep in, one for Grega and Davi and the other for Kros and Danil. It was like a real home at last, although none of the boys said anything, it was a general feeling that this was the last place they would settle. If the Priests ever found them, then they were in for a very hard fight from the four boys.

For the next two weeks, the boys spent every hour of the day working on their home or setting out a place for the new garden. Grega spent extra time in cutting down small willow trees that bordered the pond at the far end of the canyon. These he used to make a few small pens in the hope of catching one of the wild cows for milking. He also made a pen for chickens. At the end of the two weeks, Davi was given the job of trying to catch the now wild chickens that ran freely through the stands of trees. It kept him busy and entertained for three days, but at the end of it, he had nine chickens in the pen. Grega had clipped one wing to stop them from trying to escape.

Grega, Danil and Davi, coming from a small farming area, found they had less trouble than they thought when they went after a wild cow. They needed one they could use for milking, and after Grega saw one cow with a young calf, he settled on catching the calf first, with a rope around the calf's neck, Grega and Danil led the bleating calf towards the fence they had made. Hearing the calf calling for her, the cow just followed along, although a little testily, and went straight into the well built pen. It would be another three days before either boy got close enough, or calmed the cow down enough to be able to milk her for the first time.

Kros had used a long rope on each horse and pegged each one out. That way, if they needed them in a hurry, they would be easier to get. The long ropes allowed them plenty of freedom to graze as they wanted but stopped them from running far down the valley when needed.

After the house was finally finished, the boys set about making a smoke house, with the number of large beasts around, they had to preserve the meat in some form, and smoking was by far the better choice. Salting was ok, but then they would have to go out often to purchase it and, as far as the boys were concerned, the less they went into the outside world, the better they would be.

For the next six weeks, the boys worked on their new home until finally they could settle back and look at what they had created. There was plenty of smoked meat in their new wood lined cellar, the vegetable garden was growing like nothing they had ever seen, in the rich black soil. The chickens had now grown to twelve and the eggs were welcomed each morning, the cow had settled down when she found she and her fast growing calf were in no danger, there was now only one more serious concern. After a good three day rest from all their work, the boys sat out in the sun one morning and talked about the security of their new home. It was time to take steps to defend themselves from outsiders. If they found this garden of Eden, then sooner or later, others would.

After discussing their new home for over an hour, the boys finally settled on a system of early warnings high up on the top of the canyon, this would be backed up by regular visits every second day for one of them to keep watch, while the others did whatever was needed around their home cabin.

It was decided that each of them would take turns. At first, they were only going to do the top patrol with the three older boys. That was soon dispelled by Davi who had decided he was just as responsible as the others and demanded his turn. Knowing how Davi could throw a tantrum when needed, they decided he should also have his turn as guard for a day.

The next thing that needed a decision was what could be done in case they did get unwanted visitors. Firstly, they would set up some deadfalls above the outside trail. They would be made up from heavy rocks, and held back by a few logs that could be released easily if needed. Next, it was thought they could make up some bags of the fine grey dust to also be either thrown or dropped on those below. The fine dust would make it hard for anyone to see or breath.

The next line of defence would be at the very edge of the inside trail. Here they would make a small rock wall to hide behind and also use for cover. With only fifty feet to the outside edge, it would be easy to keep others' heads down as they tried to come up over the trail. At the base of the cliff, they would erect another wooden barricade just inside the line of trees.

The next barricade would be set up half way back to the cabin, again, just inside the tree line for extra cover. With each small barricade, they could make a slow withdrawl back to the cabin and then into the narrow crack and escape back through that, it would mean they would lose everything they had worked so hard to build up, but it was better than being in the hands of either Priests or rogue gangs.

Just about everything had been carried through from the old cabin, although they left a hidden stock of food and ammunition in the cellar, in case there was an emergency and they had to retreat there. Now the plans had been set, the boys got to work. By using the horses to carry most things up the trail, they soon had the top barricades and things ready when needed in only two weeks. It was then time to start on the lower protection.

All four boys had got into the habit of taking their turn to watch up top every second day, with the view they had up there, no one would be able to get close enough without them being seen. That was if they could even find the trail. Kros had checked when he was at the base of the mountain and he even had a hard time seeing the trail, even though he knew where to look.

The cutting of timber and construction of the small fort like barricades took another three weeks, but when all was done, the boys knew they could put up a good defence from the new positions, and still be able to retreat back to the cabin if it got too hot for them, although it was doubtful as it would be a hard fight for anyone trying to come down the cliff face without cover and under the boys' rifles.

They had been in the new valley for over seven months, Kros and Danil felt comfortable with each other and little Davi was putting on some size and weight. His marksmanship was now very good, and he was happy to take his turn up on the ridge top. Grega did a lot of the really heavy work, but most times they all worked together to get things done.

When they felt like fresh beef, Grega would use his larger rifle to bring the wild steer down quickly. It would then take all four of them to dress and skin the large beast. Over the last seven months, they had built up a good stock of hides and skins, they now had the whole floor covered in the thick strong cattle hides, the cabin was now quite cosy and no more dust over everything. The deer skins were dressed out for extra strong clothing or moccasins.

On the days when someone was up top watching for strangers, the other three made it a habit of looking up every hour or so, the signal of others around or close to the mountain was a large piece of red cloth tied to a rock and thrown over the side into the valley like a flag. It was this they kept watch for when a guard was up there.

It was just into the eighth month of their stay that Danil saw the red flag fluttering down from above, Grega was on guard duty and Danil called Kros as the flag hit the bottom of the canyon. Grabbing their rifles and telling Davi to make things ready in case of trouble, the two boys then caught a horse each and rode hard towards the trail leading up to the top. It would not be long before winter set in and they hoped they would be able to keep hidden until then. Once winter was here, they would be almost impossible to be found until next spring or summer.

Once at the top of the trail, they tied the horses to a small bush and hurried over to where Grega lay flat on the ground as he peered over the outer edge with caution, he kept his outline close to the ground as he watched. Kros and Danil lay on their bellies and crawled up beside him.

Grega whispered to the two newcomers and then slowly lifted his hand and pointed far out into the sandy wastes. The boys followed his arm and soon spied the large groups of riders, there were far too many to be a rogue gang, Kros and Danil lifted their rifles so they could make use of their scopes. It didn't take long for them to see the black clothes of the distant figures; all three boys swore at the same time as they saw the far off men for what they were.

It seemed that the damn Priests had not given up on their quarry, this time, there were even more of them, they were broken up into five groups and spread out over the sands, trying to find some sort of trail of their escaped teens. With the deaths and trouble the boys had cost the church, it had now become a matter of honour to catch them at any cost, either in coin or lives, unknown to the boys, these new groups had been instructed not to come back without the boys or the bodies of the boys.

Doing a fast count of all the five groups, the boys settled on a figure of over forty men and horses over the five groups. There were also what appeared to be dogs and trackers with them, so the total men after them numbered more than fifty, the only advantage the boys had now was to either remain hidden until winter set in when it would be almost impossible for the searchers to find them, or, if they had to fight, then to make it so expensive in man power that the Priests would give up and leave them alone until summer, by then, the boys would really know what they had to do.

The three boys had been watching for over an hour when they heard another horse coming up over the inner edge, Danil scurried back to stop Davi from showing himself as he topped the trail, tying the horse, Danil asked Davi what he was doing up here, Davi, with a bit of a petulant look on his young face, lifted his hand and showed the pack he had made up for the three boys, it had smoked meat, bread and fresh water for them. The boys had not realized how long they had been up there, as they drank and ate, they all smiled their thanks at the thoughtfulness of the younger boy. Davi felt mollified when he saw the welcoming smiles.

An hour before nightfall, Grega along with Davi, left the other two to go and start a hot meal, Kros and Danil would watch until full dark, then make their way back down, the groups were well spread out but, the boys noticed as the shadows got longer and time moved close to night time, the groups began to close up and join together for the night. Once they saw the first of the fires in the far distance, the two boys left their post and turned for home. They were hungry and ready for a hot meal. They would need to discuss what had to be done for the next day.

After a large dinner of thick beef stew, potatoes and fresh baked bread, the boys sat around the table and discussed what they would do the next day. It was decided that Danil and Kros would spend the day and night up there watching while Grega and Davi checked the weapons, except the two rifles the boys would take. Grega and Davi would also set out extra ammunition in cow hide bags at each of the barricades.

Kros and Danil would take food and extra water with them so they had no need to come down or anyone else have to go up. The following day, if all went well, Grega and Davi would go up and watch. The horses would be hobbled close to the cabin, but back in the tress a bit, during the afternoon, if all was ready in this valley, Grega and Davi would crawl back to the other canyon and check everything there, just in case they had to run for it, also to make sure the Priests had not found it and left guards.

The boys were well aware that if it came to a fight, then their secret valley would become well known and they would be under the threat of the Priests for ever more. In the back of his mind, Kros began to think there was only one way to ensure their new home was kept safe and secure; if it came to a fight, they would have to eliminate every single Priest; none of them could be allowed to escape to tell of their location. It was a sobering thought to have to go to sleep on.

Kros snuggled tighter into the solid form of Danil as his eyes grew heavy. As the time passed, both boys grew only closer during the nights. While Kros had not grown any taller and was still slim and sinewy, Danil had grown by at least 2" and put on a little more muscle. His ability to almost completely enfold Kros in his arms at night only lent truth to the fact his growth spurt was well under way.

It was also noticeable that little Davi was not so little anymore. While he was a little taller, it was patently obvious he was much thicker through the upper body for someone his age and, none of it was baby fat. Grega now looked the most matured of all of them, although he still deferred to Kros on any important decisions.

The next morning, before the first rays of the rising sun were in the sky, all four boys set about the tasks that they had worked out the previous night. Kros and Danil had captured a horse each and were already riding hard for the trail. Grega had Davi outside working on gathering as much food from the garden as they could get. Davi would then clear all the smoked meat from the smoke house and place it in the cellar under the cabin. Grega sat at the table in the brightening morning sun and began the long job of stripping all their weapons and oiling them ready for use. He would then have to go and count every bullet they had.

Kros and Danil made it to the top of the ridge, just as the first rays of the sun broke over the far horizon, the horses were no longer afraid of the trail as they had been made to climb it often in the past few months, and were now very sure footed, even with the light weight of the boys and their packs on their backs.

Kros and Danil crept to the very edge of the canyon rim and lay down behind a small battlement of the black rocks, their rifles pulled in close by their sides. Far below, out on the sand wastes, the boys could just make out the first plumes of smoke from the Priests' morning fires. It was not long before they could also see the dark figures moving around the five fires, their hunters were rising for the day. The two boys got a little more comfortable and settled down for the long day ahead.

When night came, the two boys stayed where they were, although, after eating for only the second time that day, they both snuggled under the thick warm hide blanket they had brought with them for such a purpose, but they still kept their focus on the five groups as they neared their lair. As darkness fell, the five groups had once again gathered together in one place. It seemed to be their pattern, as Kros said to Danil as they watched them.

"We may be able to use that habit of theirs at night time, if we have to."

They had watched the search patterns of all five groups from their higher point. The trackers with the dogs ran well out in front of the eight horsemen. The dogs were held on a long leash so they could quarter back and forth. There was a dog and handler on each side of the group of eight Priests, so they all covered a great deal of ground.

As the hunters settled down for another night, Kros estimated they were now no more than two miles from their hiding place. As long as they kept a low profile, they maybe by passed without incident, he could only hope so.

At first light the next morning, both boys heard Grega and Davi tying their own horses at the back of their hideaway. The two boys got up carefully and moved back from the rim, once they had all hugged a greeting, Kros related what they had so far seen and his conclusions about the five groups. With this knowledge, Grega and Davi went to settle in the same place, as Kros and Danil walked back to their own horses. They were ready for a rest and some hot food.

Back in the cabin, Kros and Danil set about stripping their own rifles for cleaning as their breakfast cooked on the fire, Grega had set out smoked venison and last night's cold cooked potatoes to be fried for them, there were also four fresh eggs waiting to be broken into the pan, the heady smell of hot food soon had the boys' mouths watering and the addition of fresh coffee only increased their desire.

After a fulfilling breakfast and a long lazy sit in the sun, the boys felt ready to check for anything they may have missed. From the floor of the canyon and looking back towards the cabin, Kros could now see that the climbing plants they had placed around the base of the cabin were almost completely covering the front. It was difficult to make out the true nature of the building among the shadows of the tall trees.

The boys decided to take one more look around the canyon in case there was something more they could do. mounting their horses, they began to ride over as much ground as they could. Once at the far end of the canyon from the cabin, Danil pointed out that the single barricade at the foot of the trail was not enough to stop a lot of men from coming down.

Kros agreed and they began to look for another way to fortify the trail. After some time they worked out that another barricade hidden in the trees across the valley from the trail would give them the best advantage. From there, Grega with the heavier rifle could keep the trail from being used and still be a good range away from trouble. If attacked hard, he could also use the thick tress to make his way back towards the cabin without being seen.

The two boys took the now thinner piece of steel that they had used to shape the light weight blocks of grey stone for the cabin, and set about shaping some new ones they rolled and carried from deep within the tree line. They formed a short wall so Grega would be well protected even if kneeling, and left a long thin slot for him to fire through without being seen, they had discovered that, while the grey rocks were light and easy to handle, when hit with a bullet, they seemed to envelope it and slow it to such a degree that, if the block was more than ten inches thick, even the high powered rifle of Grega could not penetrate it.

The boys used fresh wooden stakes to anchor the blocks, just as they had for the cabin. By the time they were done, it was late afternoon and they were ready for another hot meal, so they turned their horses back towards the cabin. Tonight promised to be fun as the other two boys would not be there. Kros could feel the heat building up in his groin as he thought about a night alone with Danil. It would the first time since they had met that the two boys would have the cabin totally to themselves.

Kros guessed that it was close to midnight as he lay beside Danil. He was still panting as he took stock of what the night had been. His skin shone with his sweat, his boy hole was now a little sore and his legs ached from being held up for so long. Still, he felt sated and happy. He marvelled at how Danil's stamina and ability to have multiple orgasms in such a short time had increased with the fact of them being alone. It was a welcoming thought; perhaps they should even build a second cabin for themselves if they managed to avoid the Priests. It was something to think on for the future.

In the morning, while it was still dark, Kros and Danil ate a quick hot breakfast; they left out the makings for the other two, just as they had done for them. Before the first rays of dawn showed in the sky, the two boys were on horseback and galloping towards the trail. Kros could feel every jolt through his tender butt as they galloped along. It had been a good night but now there was work to do.

Once on top of the rim, they told Grega about the extra barricade they had made for him. With a nod of thanks, Grega led a very tired Davi towards their own horses and were soon gone down over the edge, to leave the two boys alone, they had been told by Grega that the large number of Priests were now camped directly below them, at the foot of the black mountain. It did not take long for the two of them to hear the faint voices of awakening men, and soon the smell of smoke was in their nostrils.

The boys spent another long day watching and listening to the large group of hunters. It seemed, for the moment, they had no intentions of moving on from the camp at the foot of the strange black mountain. Kros looked at Danil and both boys thought the same thing. They hoped against hope that the Priests would not decide to make this a permanent camp from which to base their search. If so, it could lead to dire consequences for all of them.

As they peered over the edge to look down on the camp far below, both boys saw the small figures of eleven men with the Red Cross on their chests the damn knights were here once again, and this time in a bigger number. These knights seemed to be once again the leaders. They had gathered to discuss this day's search and what their plan would be if they could find any sign of the hunted boys.

Kros and Danil had no idea of what the Priests of the Red Cross were saying, but by the look of things so far, they had little intention of moving on any time soon. The boys would just have to keep an eye on them while they were here.

The boys watched as one of the knights sent two ordinary black Priests a little up the side of the mountain to watch out over the sand wastes. As they watched the pair scramble awkwardly among the sharp black stones, trying to keep their feet in the loose rubble, the boys ducked lower, just in case they were seen, although it was unlikely from their angle of climb.

It was not long before the camp below was moving, but by the look of the two Priests that now sat in the small shade offered by a low bush, and the remains of the Priests camping equipment, that all of them were coming back here again. It was the worst thing the boys could have hoped for. The Priests were not moving on any time soon; they would have to keep their guard up for some time yet.

The day passed like all of the others. The Priests would fan out and continue their search, while the two put on the side of the mountain sat in the shade and watched over the camp.

It was early next morning when Grega and Davi joined the two boys that they came to a decision that they would have to take the initiative. If they did nothing, then there could be a good chance they would eventually be found and their camp discovered. It was time to take the fight to the Priests once and for all.

For an hour, the four boys discussed their strategy; finally they decided to make use of the other valley, they would go out in twos and attack the smaller squads of eight, then retreat back into the other valley when chased. With luck, they could cut down the numbers without revealing this valley and it would keep the Priests busy and away from their new home.

The next thing they had to work out was how to keep the guard up here, to stop anyone from trying to climb the trail. This was worked out with both Danil and Davi staying here. Each boy would take turns to go back to the cabin for fresh food and water, once a day. Grega and Kros would leave through the other valley and attack and harass their enemies.

Kros and Danil spent most of the day cooking extra bread so that Danil and Davi would not need to worry about it, they had also spent a lot of time cutting some of the long grass for the horses when they were on top of the ridge line. It would not do to have the horses hungry when they were needed.

That night, both boys spent the last time alone that they would have until the Priests had been dealt with. The next morning, Kros was showing the same signs as the last time they were alone for a full night. In the morning, Danil got his horse ready while Kros loaded two of the others with the large bundles of fresh cut grass. Grega would bring back the extra horses when he came off the rim, Danil and Davi would have enough food and water for three days. That was about what Kros guessed they would need to cause some havoc with the hunters below.

While he was waiting for Grega to get back, Kros checked his and Grega's gear. They would scramble through the crack and go out from the old valley, then, if needed, they would also retreat back through there, without the aide of the horses, they would have to be on foot, so he paid special attention to their footwear.

Kros had just finished all his checking when he heard the clopping of the three horses coming towards the cabin, Kros went out to welcome Grega, he had put on some hot food for the boy and as soon as Grega was ready and well fed, they would leave for their task. For the first time in a long time, Kros felt the tingling in his belly. It was not fear, it was anticipation.

Two hours later, and the two boys were ready. Taking their weapons and small food packs, they went towards the narrow crack. The fight to protect their new home had begun.

Talk about this story on our forum

Authors deserve your feedback. It's the only payment they get. If you go to the top of the page you will find the author's name. Click that and you can email the author easily.* Please take a few moments, if you liked the story, to say so.

[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address (it goes directly to your clipboard without having the courtesy of mentioning that to you) to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. Note: If the email address pastes or arrives with %40 in the middle, replace that weird set of characters with an @ sign.]

* Some browsers may require a right click instead