NaNoWriMo Day 2 Part 1
posted at: 11/3/2014

It was too late to be worrying about whether or not her youngest son had sent thugs to watch her or assasinate her. She had had a long day. Her bones ached and she had been promised an early rising in the morning. It didn't seem to matter how many times she told this to herself, she still tossed and turned for hours before finally falling asleep.

A quiet knock on the door signalled the start of the second day of her adventures. She jerked awake, expecting bandits in the guise of castle guards to break down the door. The quiet knock sounded again and she heard Cagil whisper "Jewel. Jeewelll. Wake up." The room was still as dark as a cave. The only light came from the low wick of the dying candle on the bedside table.

"Coming. Coming." Stiffly and slowly, Matilda rose from the bed and gathered together the few posessions that she had deemed worthy to take on her trip--the bag with some food, a skin of water, a blanket, flint and steel, rope, spare clothes, and a few other odds and ends, and the quarter staff. It seemed strange to go, in one day, from the pomp and wealth of the castle, to a bag and a stick. When she was sure she had gathered everything up, she shuffled to the door and was greeted by the round, jovial face of Cagil. He was carrying a tray decked with fresh baked bread, bacon, eggs, and a hot mug of tea. Matilda couldn't even imagine eating all of that at this hour of the morning. She could hardly imagine eating this early at all, but knew that she would have a lot of walking ahead of her and needed to keep her strength up. Her host led her down the hallway to a small room adjacent to the kitchen. A lamp was burning on the table.

They both sat down and Cagil took out a map while Matilda picked at the food. She wasn't sure when she'd get a hot meal again so she tried to eat as much as she could. As he unfolded the map, Cagil asked, "Ya got a plan? Know where yer headed? Or are ya just wingin' it?"

With a sigh, Matilda set down her mug of tea. "I just don't know. I might go see Old Herford. He always seems to be able to think of something."

"Are ya sure 'bout that? I don't really hold with them wizard folk. Scary, they are." He shuddered. Matilda laughed but Cagil continued on, earnestly, "No really. Ya can't take yer eyes off a wizard. They'll turn ya ta stone quicker 'an you can think."

"You know Old Herford has never been that kind of a wizard. He's a respected, venerable gentleman."

"Eh. I still don' like it. Gen'leman or not, he's still a wizard, but if it's what ya gotta do." He flattened the map on the table and pointed to the cliff top above the castle. "That's over here, ain't it?"

"Yes, directly above Castle Joley. He says he likes to keep an eye on things."

"Uh-huh. Sure he does." Cagil scowled slightly at the wizard's hut on the map. "Now, I don' mean no disrespect, but are ya sure he's still, you know, alive? I mean, if yer callin' him 'Ol' Herford' an all..."

Matilda chuckled. "That's just a joke. He's really not that much older than me." Cagil still looked doubtful so she attempted further reassurance. "You're forgetting that he's a wizard. They live longer than other people--magical arts you know."

The Innkeeper grumbled something about "Jus' not natural" and turned back to his map. "Looks like that'll be a good day an' a half a walkin'." He glanced apologetically at the Queen Mother. "Well, it'd be for me, that is. I don' know what kinda pace yer able ta keep up."

Matilda frowned ruefully. "Not fast. And I can't go for very long." She sighed. "Cagil, I wish I hadn't grown old."

"Well, can't be helped." He rolled the map up and tapped his forhead a few times. "Ah, yeah! I might know a guy 'at'll be able ta help." He scribbled a note on a piece of paper. "Give this ta the Tanner down the street. He'll unnerstand." The note was scrawled in an unsteady, untidy hand. It read "Spare donkey cart. You owe me. -Cagil"

"I can't thank you enough for all your help. And do thank Mary for the breakfast. It was nice of her to get up to make it for me."

The Innkeeper began ushering his guest out of a back door. "Anythin' for our Jewel. Jus' let us know if ya need anythin' else." He pointed down the empty street. The sun hadn't yet risen, but candles were starting to light in shop windows. "Yer gonna go fer tha' one down there. Ya should be able ta get outta town even before them roughs after ya are turnin' over in their beds. Herman'll be awake. He's a early riser."