23 June 2006

Chapter Seven

It would have been normal for them to reach Ambush Pass in the mid-afternoon, but they weren't making very good time. The dust and noise of the other traffic on the road, sparse as it was, kept them moving somewhat slower than any of them would have liked. Snarky seemed out of place on a horse, and spent a large part of the morning walking rather than ride on what was clearly a very fine mount. The Goon brothers, both better teamsters than swordsmen, kept the wagon moving as smoothly as the roadway permitted. Twice, Selfless raised his head up to check on their progress, scowling at Snarky before sinking back down into the baggage.
They stopped near mid-day to rest and water the horses near a small stand of trees near an equally small village. None of the farmers, merchants, or travellers they had seen in the morning had paid them any heed, and the villagers they saw were likewise disinterested. The village was located where it was because it was about four hours from the city, making it's small pub a convenient resting stop for those going on a long journey, as well as a convenient place for farmers to sell their crops and livestock to merchants out on day trips from the city. Larger towns, usually walled and with their own ruling noblemen, lay another four hours out on each of the roads excepting the one Snarky was taking the party down. The road before them was deemed so perilous that few dared to traverse it, leaving the town of Abandoned to overgrowth and disrepair.
Adolescent, raised in a very similar village, kept gawking at the few peasants he could see, and had to be prodded into tending his own horse by Idiot. Having grown up tending farm animals, Adolescent still took a few moments to discern the canvas feed bag from the canvas water bag. This put him in a more caring position than Snarky in terms of their horses. Snarky didn't even seem to be aware that his horse needed water. He just tied the reins to the back of the wagon and walked to the trees. As he began gathering wood, Stupid and Idiot moved his horse up with their master's and the wagon team.
Selfless sat up in the wagon, watching Snarky gather wood. He barely acknowledged Amiable or Dandy when they climbed up and sat next to him. Amiable dug into one of the bags and brought out some bread and cheese that he shared with the others. Noreach grabbed a few large pieces and went o share them with Adolescent, Idiot, and Stupid, who were discussing the merits of various horse breeds.
“You don't suppose that Snarky fellow is going to cook his lunch, do you?” asked Fop, who would obviously preferred a cooked lunch to the bread he was chewing.
“I was told by Assistant Advisor that Snarky Anachronism was well-traveled and brilliant man unaccustomed to our ways. He seems, though, to have a very slow wit.” answered Selfless. He paused a moment before turning abruptly to Amiable, “Did I miss anything this morning?”
“There were a lot of filthy peasants like the ones we dealt with last time,” volunteered Dandy, “a few messengers galloping past.”
“Toward the city or the pass?” asked Selfless.
“The city,” said Amiable, “You missed nothing important., but if I may ask the Lord Fop, what was your last excursion?”
“Oh, someone kidnapped the crown prince. We found him in the headquarters of a supposed bandit king named Scruffy Vagabond. Vagabond made the foolish claim that the prince had kidnapped himself. The prince is safe thanks to the actions of myself and Sacrifice, and Vagabond is in the prison, where his sort belongs, no offense.”
“None taken.”
Selfless spoke slowly and with greater elocution than he normally did, the while staring at Snarky who had finished his gathering and was approaching the wagon with an armful of wood, “The Advisors, both of them, for they know me well and give me some of their confidence, believe Vagabond and not the prince. They favor seeing his brother on the throne.”
“Oh, dear,” muttered Dandy under his breath. “Come now,” he said with a raised voice, “What did you bring this wood for?”
“Firewood for the barren plain, to keep the dark beasts away.”
“Good thinking, that.” said Amiable with a grin.
“We can get wood anywhere,” said Selfless, harshly.
“Yes, but this is Kindling Grove. It's the best wood to get a fire started,” replied Snarky, somewhat taken aback by Selfless' harshness.
“I fail to see the point of carrying wood with us, just as I fail to see the ponit in taking a road full of bandits just to save a few days, but the Assistants' saw fit to leave you in charge.” Selfless then climbed down from the wagon and readied his own horse.
Fop hesitated before blurting out, “Actually, as the only noble, I'm in charge here.”
“He's already foraged the wood, it'll save us time later,” offered Amiable, smiling and shrugging.
Dandy beamed at him, “Good point, that,” before turning back to Snarky. “Put it in the wagon for later.”
Snarky did as he was told, and a few minutes later the group was moving again, going further up into the hills.

Goe, sorry it's taking so long.


Rachmeg said...


Rach - offering a link for your trouble destroy the earth

Goemagog said...

Yeah, that is cool.

Goe, likes cool things.