Rebe, the least wise of the group, was starting to connect the dots. In Kobo when she was younger she took an Octo Trail instruction lesson taught by Miss Yessenia. Her sister Missa learned how to catch a fish, while Hettie took bow and arrow lessons. Many of the guardians did not agree with having lessons related to the Octo Trail. They felt that it would encourage young Koboians to explore the trail. The only part of the trail that was to be used was the part leading to Bristol. Everyday, Bristol had a market where you could buy new gadgets, sweets or knick-knacks if you had enough gold. The people of the Bristol village feared the Punishere so it was safer to visit or live there.
Rebe noticed that a giant letter “C” had been carved into a tree. A collection of what looked like human skulls could be clearly seen in the grass near a huge rat. They had been walking for an hour when Agnes stated that she needed to take a break. She sat down in the grass and rubbed her left foot. The makeshift shoes that she bought at the market were not surviving the journey. She hurled three berry tarts at the rat to keep it occupied. Rayden stayed by Agnes’ side in case the rat happened to crave flesh. Rebe knew that they were near the Crescent after a Komodo dragon joined them on the trail. Komodos lived in Sandor because of the climate and the sand but at times would wander into the Crescent. Hettie said that they had not entered Sandor yet. She was right, they had passed by the trail leading to Sandor. They were headed straight for the Crescent.
Rebe was struck with fear. She looked at her sister, who was horrified by the sight of the dragon’s long split tongue. “We are not following Hettie anymore. We are going back now. I took some trail lessons.”
Missa whispered back to her. “You took lessons eons ago. We are staying with the group and with Rayden. We are safer together. We should be in Sandor soon.”
Rebe sighed. “Listen to me. We’ve been tricked. This is the border of the Crescent. It’s obvious now. The rats, skulls, dragon, the letter “C” carved into a tree and no sight of any sand. Plus it’s getting colder out here not warmer.”
Missa frowned. “Are you sure about this, Rebe?”
Missa addressed Lottie to test her sister’s theory, “We should’ve entered Sandor minutes ago.”
“Agnes, there is slowing us down.”
“No, minutes upon minutes ago. What’s going on here?”
Rayden peered at a triangle red mark that was on the trail. “I have failed you. If you take a few steps forward you will be officially in the outer Crescent. Hettie and Lottie lied to you. ”
Missa began to cry. “And you knew about this Rayden?”
Rebe explained. “There’s no time for blame. We have to leave now. We can make it back to Kobo. Hettie we will leave your things at Nestor’s. You both are no longer welcome at our home. I’m going to put a giant stick in our door to keep you out.”
Rayden gave both the twins a hug. He ran his fingers through their curly blond hair. He knew that he may never see them again. He gave them each a few berries. “Only eat these if you are on the brink of starvation, it is a long way back.”
“You are staying here with Hettie? So she can use you again.” Missa folded her arms and shook her head in disbelief.
“Agnes needs to rest. I will depart when she is ready.” Agnes waved farewell to the now brave and independent twins. Even though, they were two young bothersome worrywarts, she did like having neighbors that she could boss around. She certainly didn’t want them to get lost on the Octo Trail or die out here in the Crescent. Such a fate should only be reserved for Miss Hettie. She realized that Nestor would be pained by this vision. All of the men in Kobo had taken a liking to Hettie since her youth and had suffered for it.
A hideous troll appeared on the trail shortly after the twins left. His long hair did indeed stick up on his head. His large nose aggressively sniffed at the air. “Humans, are you lost?”
Rayden put himself in front of Hettie and Lottie. “No, we were heading home. Are you lost, troll?”
The troll smiled showing his green mouth and four large teeth. “Outer Crescent, my home not yours.” His nose started to grow forward. “Someone here smells like berries. I’d like an offering then I’ll let you go.”
Lottie yelled, “An offering. Go away, you freak!” She tried to hide her sack of berries behind her back.”
Hettie jumped in. “She didn’t mean that. We were just on our way to meet with a man named Josephus. We are late actually.”
“Then there’s no rush. Give me thirteen of your berries.”
“We don’t have any berries,” Hettie lied.
“Maybe, you have something better for me.” The troll peered at Agnes. “She smells of berries. Yes, very strongly. Her nails have a violet tint to them. Is that natural for a human?”
Rayden drew his sword. “If you take one step towards her…”
“She is fairly old, I recon. Is she perhaps the tart maker of Kobo? Agnes?”
Agnes cringed upon hearing the troll say her name. “Did you see her reaction?” The troll jumped up and down with excitement. His hair danced in the cool breezes. “You are free to go now. Gold, gold and more what? Gold!” A green wave of lightning struck the ground leaving a small crack in the concrete.
Rayden dropped to his knees. “What have I allowed to happen?” Agnes’ worn out shoes laid in the grass. Just as the troll had disappeared so had Agnes. Lottie frantically searched the woods with her eyes for Agnes. “Nestor’s going to kill us or he’ll send me back to Bristol.” Lottie realizing what she had uttered corrected herself. “I meant back to Flaco.” Her eyes widened.
Hettie laughed. “Calm down. Nestor doesn’t kill people or freaks. I will deal with him.”
“You are laughing? Who are you, Hettie? Nestor loves Agnes and now that nameless troll has her. He knows that she is our tart maker.” Rayden began to pace back and forth.
“No one asked her to come along. No one would keep Agnes in their company for too long. He’ll let her go. Look, we have come this far. Josephus is still waiting for us at the orphanage. I still plan on becoming a guardian,”Hettie maintained.
Lottie was shivering from her emotions and the cold. “I know this is important to you but is it worth it?”
“That witch Mercy killed my daughter and made it so I can’t carry again. You weren’t here.” Hettie started walking again down the trail.
Rayden took a swipe at Hettie. “Well, it’s good to know that Lottie is still human.”