Oct 2008

Chapter 33Entertained

The third day had began. We prepare the horses again and took a few bites of breakfast before we set off. We both decided that it would be really nice if we found some water today. Not only were our drink supplies running a bit low, but after these two days we could both use a bath. The only problem was the lack of towels so we'd have to dry up the old-fashioned way. Although, I was playing with the idea to try and use Light to heat us a little, making us dry more easily.

Another issue on our mind was that of villages. If we were on schedule (and there was no reason to assume we weren't), we should arrive in a small village at the end of the day. Oddly enough I had some trouble remembering the name of it, something with 'stone' anyway. It didn't really matter. If I remembered my maps correctly, it was actually less than a village and may not even have a place for us to rest. I felt more at ease with sleeping in the forest, lately.

While we were on horseback we ate the rest of the food for this morning. Keeping to ourselves mostly as we made ourselves comfortable for yet another day of riding.

"Taran?" Deirdre spoke after she finished her breakfast.

I smiled and replied after I swallowed my current bite. "Yes?"

"I think this path leads to Stonesthrow, maybe we'll get there today." She thought for a moment and added. "That should mean we'll cross a large river before then. The only thing that has me worried is the lack of other travellers here."

I nodded. "Yeah, it has me wondering as well. But if not many use this path, not many bandits would either. So, have you been in Stonesthrow before?"

She giggled. "Eh, no. I know it's there, but it's much too poor for a lady of my stature to visit." She winked playfully.

It was so unusual hearing that tone from her. Sometimes it even scared me, if she could ever appreciate being with a guy like me. Of course I knew it was stupid uncertainty. A very human thing I forgave myself for having. I just hoped she wouldn't notice.

"So, it's small?"

Deirdre nodded. "Just a small, self-contained community. They didn't trade much with Rockwall that I knew of."

I had to ask. "Why the name?"

She laughed. "There's various silly stories about that. But I think the truth is somewhere along the lines of them saying Stonesthrow was just a stones throw away from Rockwall. It isn't, of course, but to farmers, the journey is negligible."

I grinned. "Fair enough. Any good stories about the name?"

She thought for a moment. "Well, there was one where the villagers supposedly chased away a demon from the forest by throwing stones at them, but it wasn't a very good story."

"Stories often.." I stopped talking as there was a man in the middle of the path a little farther on the road, with his back toward us. He didn't look very safe, clothed in leather , but we couldn't quite rush our horses past him. I looked at Deirdre, who'd seen the man as well. "What do we do?"

She looked back at me. "Be careful."

We rode on, our horses in a canter. We both kept our eyes well open to see if there was anything to see in the forest. I didn't trust this one bit. It felt ominous too, the forest was too quiet to be comfortable, with fewer sounds here than anywhere else. As soon as the man heard us coming, he turned around and we were close enough to see the smile on his face. He waved with his arms.

"Stop, stop!" He yelled ahead.

I wasn't sure what to do. "Slow, but don't stop?"

Deirdre nodded, we both slowed the horses down to a walk and kept our eyes open and our minds alert. There was something odd about this but we both couldn't quite figure out what it was. The man wore a scabbard across his back, but he appeared otherwise unarmed. His face had a few scars, which was strange but not too unusual. His smile wasn't too bad either. When we were just ten meters away, he drew his two-handed sword. It had a reach that was more than enough to hurt us or the horses if we tried to flee around him.

We stopped...

The man grinned as he brandished the sword.

"Your gold, if you please."