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A boy finds a tunnel under his bed filled with all sorts of strange creatures
#839455 added January 27, 2015 at 1:53am
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Book 2 Chapter 5
“So who are we going to see first?”

It was morning, we hadn’t intended to sleep the entire night but were much refreshed by the rest all the same, when I asked the wyvern if anyone had passed by he just grunted. The wyrms didn’t seem fazed so I took it as a good sign.

“There is a fur trader named Bartholomew that lives just outside of the tree cover, I’m not sure if it’s in a village or just a house but we’ll try to find him first, if we can’t we’ll just move on. He could save us some time if he has a beast we can ride and send back to him, but if we have to spend a day or more looking for him ot won’t turn to our advantage.”

“Will he know you?”

“He might but he would definilty know my dad. Wool and leather and all that. I’ll give him Linus regards even though he didn’t tell me too.”

“Is that wise?”

I smiled at her and hugged her around the shoulders, “he would have sent them if he knew we were going but we won’t bother if we can’t find him.”

The trees were much farther along in their fliage than they were up at our village, most of the flowering plants were already done, the blubs were long finished and the fruit and berries were already set if not ripeing.

“I’ve never seen most of these fruits. Could we take some back with us when we return?”

“I don’t know that they can survive in our weather. They might die due to the cold, but we can ask someone from here perhaps. Maybe some of them are heartier than others.”

“Do you think that band will hire horses to take them faster?”

This was a question I had been trying to keep myself from asking nearly since we went out. If we couldn’t get a ride and they did avail themselves of a horse for hire we would have no hope or prayer of catching up to them. Worse it would make the entire trip a mute point and I wouldn’t be able to provide enough of a description to help to catch them if I wanted too.

“I’m hoping that since they want to avoid detection that they won’t put themselves in such a position to be questioned.” That didn’t mean though that they might not have anyone on this side of the mountain prearranged to give them transportation. The thought turned my stomach for a moment but I refused to think about it. I was able to distract myself by focusing on Gemy’s hand.

“Were those places your dad marked villages?”

“I’m guessing some of them are,” I pulled the map out so we could inspect it. “But I’m not sure if even my dad knows which ones are which, I think he traveled off the mountain once, to see Bartholomew, nut other than that…I know he got the map from one of the traders.”

Gemy and I jumped and Gemy nearly screamed as the wyvern suppenly launched itself into the stream that ran adjacent to the path. I disappeared for a moment and then reappeard with four fished squred on its tail and another large one in its mouth. It climbed out as though nothing had happened to startle anyone, using it’s wing knuckles as though they were feet then anchored the barb of its tail in the soft earth by the stream and shook itself violently. Once we were all wet and he was not he dropped te fish he had in his mouth on my boot and started handing the others out to the wyrms. The wyrms swallowed the fish headfirst, not bothering to rip off chuncks as I was used to seeing then do. The Wyvern did the same and then resumed his place on Gemy’s skirt. He opened one eye to look at us like we were the odd ones and then went back to sleep. It was going to take a while to get used to this one. I took a moment to find a stick to squer the fish so we could carry it with us easier. The next time we stopped I would have one of the wyrms flame it. I had some slight memory of how to clean a fish but there weren’t that many that were in the mountains unless you were all the way at the bottom or were lucky enough to live by a stream that they would fight their way up to spawn. Or maybe we would meet with someone and trade it for a ride up the road.

The road down the mountain was much buisier than the one we were currently traveling. The traders were probably gathering supplies still to bring up, haggeling and deciding their prices and arranging for the large caravans that would bring the wood the north side craved so much from the forests on the other side of the plain.

“Why don’t they just use these trees?” Gemy waved her arm to indicate the forest we were standing in.
I opened my mouth to answer but realising I didn’t have one I closed it again. “You know, I don’t know. Maybe they think it will somehow keep the north traders appeased if they can look over the mountain from the shoulder and see that there are trees between the mountain and the plain.” That made as much sence as anything…that or they thought the forest was inhabited by evil creatures or something like that.

The wyvern grunted. Both wyrm started to look about them, wary and alert. We moved off the path. The wyrms hadn’t reacted to the grunts of the wyvern like this before. Perhaps it was the band. We took the best cover we could find, which the wyvern wasn’t satisfied with until we have gone to the otherside of the path, through the stream and into what must have been aspiring to be a thicket. We waited, the wyvern always gave us plenty of time ot hide before anything showed itself, but that also meant we were starting to get cramped up by the time we heard voices that were getting increasingly upset with each other.

“I thought you said you saw them around here. What’s going one then eh? Just trying to lead us on a wild goose chase?”

“A goose chase would be better then at least we’d have some meat for latter.”

“Would you be more quiet they must be just a bit more up the path. I saw them with my own eyes I did. On their way down the mountain for a holiday I’ll wager, they’ve probably got a lot of gold.”
Definitly not the band, “thieves,” I whispered to Gemy. The wyvern grunted.

“They can’t have gone far.”

“Would you be quiet.”

“What if they saw us coming and hid?”

“Then you need to be quiet!”

“You’re the one shouting.”

A burly man with short curly hair full of tangled twigs fell through the underbrush as a smaller lythe man jumped on top of him and started raining down fist upon ineffective fist. Anther followed calmly behind them. Picking up the skinny one by the colar of his coat and holding him off the ground as he put his hand above his eyes as though that would help him see down the path better. The skinny one started swinging his rather short arms at his captor, all with no effect.

“Well, either you underestimated their speed or position grossly or you’ve been drinking and didn’t see anything more than a couple of wild deer wandering about.”

“I saw two travelers! I swear it. I was in that tree.” His attempt to point at a tall tree some distance away looked rather comicall since he couldn’t get a fix on it from where he was hanging.

“Of course,” the nonchalount one dropped him, “and you would explain their sudden disappearance as..?”

He sputtered, “well maybe...maybe they started running when I was climbing down the tree.”

He was pulled in front of the calm one and made to look both down and back up the path, “you do know that if you have a straight path a person can’t just run down it and disappear. I’m going with that you were drinking again.” He strated to help brush off the tall burly one.

The skinny one started fussing, “if Kilegan was here, he’d believe me.”

“If Kilegan was here,” the calm one spoke a bit louder to be heard above the skinny ones muttering, “he’d have had you flogged already for wasting time, drinking before going on watch, and unnecessary violence to anther comrade. Or would you prefer that was how I acted in his abcense?”
More muttering. We heard some slight rustling to our left. The wyvern didn’t seem the least bit worried so we held our position. They could only stand on the path for so long.

A dark haired man, similar in build to the calm one emerged from the undergrowth. “Well, Kay you have my full permission to behave that way in future. I’d like to think that I’m not that soft.”

The skinny one paled. The burly one beamed and the one addressed as Kay nodded in appreciation into something that resembled a half bow. “Welcome back, I hope your trip was successful.”

“Not as profitable as I would like but enough to make it worth while.” The burly one extended his hand and helped their leader across the stream. “I’m going to go ahead and assume that you haven’t caught thing for supper?”

Kay shook his head, “Gin thought he saw some travelers, which is how we got to be out here but…” he shrugged his shoulders. “I’m hoping that there might at least be some deer to inspire the apparition but I haven’t got a chance to check for signs yet.”

“Forget it. If there were they’d be long gone after all the noise you are making.” He took them all in his gaze, “gold and silver are good and fine, but they are useless to feed us unless we have someplace to buy food from and after that last incident in town,” he looked pointedly at the skinny one, Gin, “that option is off the table. If we have food feel free to go after whomever you will when however we do not. Leave well enough alone. There may not be patrols out this way yet but from what I’ve heard that could change. There are rumors…”

The three others looked spell bound I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if they plopped down on the road like the small children being told a story in the village.

“But I don’t like spreading rumors so let’s get back into hunting mode shall we?”

Kay laughed but Gin picked up a rock and threw it.

Right at us.

It broke through the foliage and hit Gemy in the shoulder. It was so sudden she didn’t have a chance to brace herself to avoid a yelp. I grabbed one of the wyrms and threw it into the face of the brute that came unpon us. Sartled man and wyrm fell into the stream as I attempted to land a punch on the next assailant. Gin screatched as Gemy scratched his face in self defence. My arms were grabbed,
“We’ve got a live one!”

“Perhaps this wasn’t a waste of time after all. Traveling somewhere?”

They tried to take my satchel, I attempted to swing another fist at them but my wyrm reared up and set a puff of fire at them.

“Whoa!” they released me. I cast around for Gemy just in time to watch the wyvern launch off her skirt beat his wings at Gin. Gin’s screatching and cries of “Get it off, get it off!” were far more high pitched then anything I had ever heard uttered, even by Letti. The big oaf finanly emerged from the stream, his head leaned back and eyes squeezed shut, his hands nad arms waving wildly in front of him. He launched from the stream when the wyrm raised her head, making a girggling noise and waving back and forth rapidly, probably trying to shake water from his eyes. The thieves were making a full retreat now. I tunred back to Gemy to help her regain her balance and go back across the stream. I reached down for the the wyrm and looked up to see the last of their boots disappearing back into the forest but not before Kay, laughing turned to salute us as the wyvern alighted on my shoulder.

“Do you think we’ll we many more thieves?”

“I think we should hope not. For their sakes.” I smiled at Gemy and offered her my arm. She returned the expression and put her hand intot he crook of my elbow. The day passed rather uneventfully after that.

If you had enough wyrms in a well insileted room, I wonder how much heat they could produce.

Today would hopefully be the day we could catch a ride.

“I don’t see any villages.”

“Perhaps it is a farm, we’ll look for a path away from the main road.”

The trees were just starting to give way to the plains. We mounted a rise just off the path to get a look around. It was not as spectacular a view as what we got from the mountain looking out, but it was a closer view and thankfully the land sloapped mostly down from where we were. To the sides we could see spots where fires rose in houses in large enough numbers to be seen from a far. Villages, but none close enough to be the one we were looking for. I pulled out the map and we tried to identify where it was that we were supposed to go next. The road had been bult wherever it was most level so it did a great deal of curving around the last of the hills before us. Straight ahead we could see some peeks of the buildings of what I assumed were the castle.

“That must be the city. That’s the only tall building in the whole of the southlands.”

“It looks very nice,” she leaned forward and tried to squint to bring it into view, “but why only the one?”
I took her hand to lead her back to the path so we could resume walking. “It isn’t practical. I’ve heard many traders complain of its lack of servicabilty. I think it was built before the kingdoms got on such bad terms with each other, but, “I smiled at her, “that was well before my time, and my grandpa hardly remembers so I guess we’ll never know. Well, maybe after we deliver our warning, we can ask Cornelius. He would probably know, or know who to point us to in order to answer the question.”
We walked along that path, occasionaly getting up and down a hill to cut a bit of the trip, until it was nearing the midafternoon. It was only then that we came across a well warn set of wagon tracks leading around a brace of trees to a decent sized house with several buildings.

“Now we hope that this place belongs to who we’ve come to see. Hello there!” I called at random, I hadn’t seen anyone but that didn’t mean there wasn’t anyone here. We waited a while and I tried again. We heard some shuffling and a rather portly woman appeared in the window of the house, she regarded us a moment before letting the curtain hang back down. We waited and finally the door opened.

“What can I do for you travelers?”

Well, at least that part was obvious, “we’re looking for Bartholomew, my father knows him and I was given to understand that he might help us while we’re here.”

“That he might. I assumed from your accent your from the mountain,” I nodded, “Well then. I dare say he would be he isn’t here right now.”

My heart sunk, “do you know when he’ll be back.”

“Oh not for another fornight yet. I suppose you wouldn’t know about the bazaar that they have in the capital this time of year. Lasts a whole moon it does. He’s been gone a good long time but if you’d care to wait till he gets back, I’m sure I could put you up.”

Gemy touched my arm and looked worried.

I took a breath to control my voice, “as lovely as that would be, I’m afraid our errand is time sensitive. If he isn’t here, we’ll perhaps see him on our way back, or maybe we’ll meet him on the road. But I’m afraid we’ll have to keep going.”

“Where are you headed off to then?”

“The capital,” I answered partially over my shoulder as we had already turned to go.

“Well now, if you’d be agreeable to going in a mule cart, I might take you on as far as the village. You might be able to hire a mule form there but with most if not all of the merchants in the city it’s unlikelythere will be any available.”

Relief washed over us, “if you’d be willing to ma’am we’d be most obliged even if it is only to the village and we have to continue walking after that.”

“Very good then, but you will join me for a cup of tea before we go, it can be quite barcing and just the thing to warm you up after you’ve been traveling so long. Walking from the mountain must be quite s trek.”

Tea in the valley is very different for the herbs and roots we use on the mountain. It was dark and earthy with a slightly burnt undertone to it. When the lady had her back to us Gemy leaned over and whispered that it tasted like dirt. I worked hard to keep from spewing my drink when she said that.
“Well now, we’d best get aquainted,” she sat down and took a long draught of the dark beverage, “I’m Gretel, Barth is my husband.”

“My name is Edmund, Garth is my father from the village on the shoulder of the mountain, I’m not sure if he would have mentioned us,” I added tentatively.

She looked thoughtful and slowly nodded as recongnition dawned on her face, “Yes I do believe he mentioned a Garth and that he had a son though I’m not sure he listed your name. And the young lady? Not your sister I am sure, she has no common features.”

“No, ma’am, this is my wife, Gemy.”

She looked a little surprised, “you are tall to be sure, but are you not young for marragie?”

Gemy smiled and answered before I had any chance to form a reply, “we are but lately married, less then a week ago in truth.”

“Then how came you to be down the mountain on an errand?” she looked confused now, “I could understand if it was a holiday before settling down, but you made it clear you had business.”
I would need to pick my words here carefully, Gemy seemed to sence this and waited for me to make the explanation. “The timing was indeed unfortunate, but something arose that we could not ignore and I am taking a message to one of our contacts in the city on that subject.”

“Something alarming?” she was nearly shaking.

I shook my head, saying a quick apology for lying in my head, “it is most likely nothing, or if it is will probably not affect you or the trade relations but it could have some significance to our friend,” that part was true at least.

She eyed me warily, “and no one more suited to the task…and not only just married, could be found to run the errand?” she didn’t sound like she believed me in the least.

“We were forced by circumstance to leave immediately,” I spead my hands, “there was no time to inquire for someone more suitable.”

She reluctantly accepted this explanation with some moe swig of the tea, which also finished off the cup. She poured the last of it into a skin. Grabbed some buns and cow’s milk cheese and put them in a bag. “Well now, if it was that urgent, I’d best help you on your way. I’ll bring you somthign to eat tonight, you might as well save your traveling food for as long as you can,” she leaned in to us, “between you and me the prices those inns along the sides of the road charge, are roadside robbery.” She leaned back, “for that matter you’re lucky you didn’t get set upon while traveling through the forest. That thing is just ripe adnn teaming with thieves.” I smiled at Gemy the first available moment her back was turned.

Mules are more cooperative than donkys. Or at least that is what I’ve heard. I’m not so sure that is correct. Gemy and I looked at the mountain for a while estimating where the villages were nestled into the trees and where Gemy’s mother’s house might be. The trees were very thick and the road was rarely visible the houses, being the color of earth were even harder to pick out.

“Alright,” Gretel finally drove the cart around the front of the house, the mule looking much to docile to have caused the flush to her cheeks and the whisps of slightly graying hair on her head, “let’s get a move on you two, we’ll make the village with just enough time for me to get back before dark, that should save some walking at least. I’ll drop you off a Muriel’s house. She’s as likely to have a mule or donkey for hire as anyone, and you’re more likely to find her a generous sort. Her husband does quite well in the lamp making business, why I’m sure he supplies lamps for everyone this side of the capital, once when I had to go to town…”

I stopped listening as Gretel filled us in on all the town gossip…and then some. Gemy took it in stride and nodded or gave appropriate gasps at times, but I think based on the looks she tured to me every now and then that she really wasn’t the least bit sure what to do with all this new and completely irrelevant information. I squeezed her and tried to estimate better how long it would take us to get to the city. The sun was getting low. Gretel stopped at a house just outside of the main village with a very well made, all be it simple sign for a lantern maker.

“I see a light on up stairs so I’m sure she’s at home.”

“Will you be alright getting back by yourself?” I smiled privately at Gemy, she wasn’t really in any position to offer the older woman any help or aid but I was touched that she had thought to and expressed herself so.

“No my dear, I’ll be fine. I’ve traveled this road in the dead of night before with no trouble. You’re such a dear, perhaps when you’re on your way back and not strapped for time you might stay a while at my house, I’d love to get to know you better.”

Gretel started the preparations for the about turn she would have to make, at that moment a thought came to me.

“Gretel,” she regarded me curiously, probably in part due to my calm silence on the trip, “I’ve very thankful that you’ve brought us here but if I may be so bold,” I moved closer, “if you see a band of some five or so people that you do not recongnise come to ask you about a horse of some such thing. Please do not provide it them.”

She smiled, “I hardly would have a horse to hire out, all I’ve got while Barth is away is this here mule and I don’t know that she’d be willing to let anyone else drive her.” She drew back a bit more and became serious, “But I’ll take your word that it would be a problem.” Her brow furrowed and she leaned toward me and said in a near whisper, “are they dangerous, this band that you speak of?”

I answered slowly and carefully, “I wouldn’t put it past them, but so long as they do not think you have a pointed reason for turning them away aside from what would be ordinary, I hope nothing will come of it. You probably won’t see them at all,” I managed to say with more confidence then I felt. “We’ll see you at your house safely when we are on our way back.”

She started her cart moving, taking her time navigating her turn so she wouldn’t get stuck and started her journey home. We returned her wave before turning to the door behind us.

We had barley applied the knocker when the door was whipped open, both our wrists were grabbed and we were dragged inside to the sing song melody of a lady old enough to be my grandmother but with the strength of a woman half her are calling out, “Comapany! Welcome welcome.”

She removed out coats in a whirlwind, barely giving me enough time to slip the wyrms into the satchel before she also slipped that onto the shelf she was employing. The wyverns seemed to somehow anticipate all of this and had let himself get swept away with the cloak.

“I suppose Gretta had to get back before dark, oh well that’s what happens when you have to take care of a place. Me I just stay here all alone waiting for company when my husband is away. Now what might I do for you youngsters? It isn’t very often I get young people on my door step.” She absconded Gemy’s bundle that had been given to her by Gretel, “on my stars you haven’t eaten! Well why don’t we just save this for later, I’ve got just the receipe to try on you. I’ve been wanting to make it for a while but Im sure to make far more than I can ever eat on my own. Would you like a change of clothes dear? I’m sure I could find somthign that would fit you.” Before either of us could say anything she wisked Gemy up the stairs and out of my view into the first room on the right. I leaned back on the wall in bewilderment. I wonder if getting back to feed her animals and beat the dark was the only reason Gretel hadn’t stayed.

The wyvern sounded like he was chuckling but when I peaked at him he appeared asleep again. Maybe he just looked like that all the time when he was really alert…or he was a really light sleeper. I could still here the woman chattering away at Gemy up the stairs. Along with the occasional rustling of fabric.

Gemy reappeared in a daze bing nearly dragged down the stairs again as the women pulled her along to where I was guessing the kitchen was located. I followed along just close enough to see where they were going. As I entered the compact kitchen, which did surprise me a bit considering the size of the rest of the house, there were already four pots on the stove, well one of them was a kettle, something was being prepared that I assumed would turn into bread or biscuits. Did the lady really just sit at home and plan what to do if company came over? Looking around seemed to justify the suggestion. Gemy was sitting at a small table close enough that the lady could continue talking but not have to leave her work but also far enough away to discourage the guest attempting to help with the preparations. I would have to thank her for the forest green dress she had settled on for Gemy, it was a lovely color with her red tinged hair and I suppose it matched her eyes, though the green she had there was more like the color of the fine moss on a grey rock. Still lovely to look at but not the same artificial color of the dress.

By this point I had no following what so ever for what the woman was talking about. I sat down beside Gemy and held her hand, thoughfully caressing the back of it while trying my level best to look interested. She kept cooking, she made some kind of porrage from turnips of all things for us to eat first. She had put a roast on to boil, there were now bicutes in the oven, a soup separate from the boiling meat, was waiting for us to finish the porridge nad I could see that she was assembleing a pudding as well. Gemy saw the need to pace herself nearly as soon as I did so we tried to take small portions and I ate some off of Gemy’s plate whenever the lady had her back turned.

When she got back around to why we were here, I told her an even more abridged version of what I had told Gretel. All she seemed to need to know or process of what I said was that we were from the mountain, on our way to see and friend and we could borrow a pair of her donkeys the next day to go one the two day ride to the next village where they could stay with her cousin’s family until we were on our way back and could return it to her.

She continued to talk the entire time. After we had eaten as much as we could, she started on the dishes, happily pratteling away. Then we went to her sitting room and Gemy held yarn for her in the hope that she would knit something. She spoke the entire time she was knitting. We started to exaggerate our yawning and only then did she stop, wish us a good night and direct us to one of the rooms upstairs.

“What do you think Gemy? Can you put up with her talking the entire trip tomorrow?”

She smiled at me and rubbed her feet, “some of what she says is interesting but she doesn’t seem to require much more from a body then to be there and smile so I think I should be alright. What about you?”

I shrugged, “I can tune her out alright. It will be easier if we are out on the road somewhere.”

We slept well in a real bed that night. Gemy woke me with a kiss the next morning, “wake up, time to start another day. I can here Muriel up already in the kitchen.”

I groaned and covered my eyes with my arm, Gemy gently poked my arm up and kissed me again.
“I hope you’re hungry. It sounds like she’s planning to feed an army down there.”

“I don’t suppose you could lovingly starve me for a day or something before I go down there?”

She slapped me playfully and moved away from the bed.

“Is that a new dress?”

Gemy nodded and smoothed the front of the dark blue day dress, “Apparently I’m the perfect size for some extra clothes that Muriel had around the house. She insists that I keep them.”

“How many?” I swung my legs over the side of the bed and stretched my arms. Gemy gestured to a pile in a chair neer the bed. Granted they were on a raised surface but it was still as tall as I was and a smattering of every color I had ever seen in fabric and a few that I hadn’t. My mouth hung open as I stared at them.

“I told her we wouldn’t be able to take them with us, she said that we can pick them up on our way back and that she’s sure her husband would be willing to take us home,” Gemy looked a bit nervous and unsure, “I didn’t know how to say no.”

I smiled at her and finanly got up to give her a hug. “It’s alright, as long as her husband is good with it since I have no idea how we would get them back I it was nust us.” I dressed and we headed down.
“Ah so good to see you, did you sleep well I hope the room was to your liking.”

“Yes it was very nice. The bed was very soft.” Gemy answered for both of us.

“Isn’t it though? It’s a real proper goose down. So much of what get sold is on inferior quality or not stuffed enough. My husband and I found that…” Pancakes, bread, biscuits, porridge, every possible breakfast food was sitting out on the table, what we didn’t eat was packed into a sack and taken along for the journey. If she wasn’t talking to us she was trying to talk to the people on the street. Once I saw her out and about I began to feel pity on her and resent myself for having thought so little of her. She was civil, kind and attentive to everyone we passed, and I do mean everyone. It broke my heart to see how she was overlooked, sometimes outright snubbed by the other ladies we passed. They looked at Gemy and I with pity or as though we were part of a sideshow. More than one whisper followed by giggles took place behind hands held to shiel but not protect from the spectical. Whether Muriel didn’t notice or was just putting on a bold face I couldn’t tell. People would see her coming and quickly duck into a shop or decide that they needed to visit a house they were in front of…even if we had just seen them come out of it. Muriel was able to identify all of them. She pointed them all out to us, their name what they did, connected their relation to anyone else on the street that we had already seen or were currently visible. Once we were out of the town she started in talking about her husband, where he had come from, how they met, even how he made the lanterns that were their lively hood. I tried to get a gage of her face, but couldn’t tell if the sheen on her eyes was from the wind on the wagon or from trying not to cry.

About halfway through the trip, when we had eaten our lunch, she finally ran out of history and stories to fill the silence. She sat there on the box, awkwardly shifting around not comfortable with both silence nad companions. Gemy took pity and began asking her about the berries and plants. When the next village was coming into view Muriel had agreed to find some berry bushes for Gemy to take back with us that she thought would work on the mountain. I was surprised. She knew a great deal about plants, her husband’s business, she was a good cook, all be it an essessive one. Perhaps she talked so much because no one was willing to listen to her. I felt bad at my own judgment but worse when I thought of how she must be living by herself shunned by all their neighbours when her husband was away. Was it any different when he was home?

“Well, I suppose I should leave you two here and head back.” She gave Gemy another sack of food in addition to the one Gretel had assembled for us while I took the donkeys from the back of the wagon. “Just you make sure you ask right away when you get to the village for my cousin, George, his wife’s name is Gladys, and they have four children. Oh I maybe should have mentioned that before,” she blushed and held her hand before her lips, “I forgot to mention that, how could I had missed something so simple. You don’t mind children I hope.”

“No ma’am, I have a little sister and Gemy quite enjoys kids,” I put the reigns for the donkeys into one hand and put my other arm around Germ’s shoulders. “Thank you for the lift this far. It saved the donkey’s some carrying, we can see it now so shouldn’t get lost. We’ll take our leave and we’ll see you on our way back. It was a pleasure to meet you, we look forward to seeing you again.”

Gemy quickly chimmed in with a thank you for the dresses and the work she was going to do for the plants. Muriel beamed at us, she was so happy she didn’t know what to say. I assisted guiding her wagon around so she could return home and we waved goodbye, though not with as much enthusiasm as she did.

“You’re hoping that the next time we see her she won’t feel the need to talk so much.”

My eyebrows went up as I turned to Gemy, “and when did you get to know me so well?”

She smiled saucily at me and turned to mount one of the donkey, “She’s a sweet old woman, I think she’s just lonely,” she lowered her lashes and fiannly admitted as I stood there with my arms over my chest and one eyebrow higher than the other. “I was hoping she’ll be more sedate next time too.”
I laughed at that and clamored up onto the other donkey. It really is amazing how much weight they can hold considering their size, “Well let’s leave then for then and in the mean time work on covering some more ground before dark.”

We encountered slightly more traffic on this road. To tell the truth there was all of five riders, two wagons and one farmer plowing a field neer the road. We waved to them all, most looked at us curiously before waving back. The wyrms were very happy that they were able to be out in the open again. We hid them when there were other people on the road. But they chirped and sang to fill the quiet, every now and then looking greedily at the birds that were flying by. The wyvern didn’t seem to care much. He still grunted when we were approaching others but slept the rest of the time. I briefly wondered if he would show any signs of rouseing if I dropped him in the water. But decided against it when the thought floated through my mind that he might just awaken and unbalance me enough for me or both of us to land in the stream.
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