NaNoWriMo Day 3 Part 1
posted at: 11/4/2014

Now alone with the donkey and cart, Matilda turned to the droopy quadraped. "It looks like it's just you and me now. Two old girls past their time going on one last trip." Sugar Bell didn't seem to appreciate this dialogue very much. She picked out a piece of hay and chewed it slowly without looking at her new owner. "Well, I guess we'd better get going before them roughs turn over in their beds. I wouldn't want Cagil to have turned in a favor for nothing."

With that, she threw her bag and staff into the back of the cart and climbed up onto the front seat. The pair ambled along the still-empty road, past the wakening shops, and out into the farmlands surrounding the town. It was slow going, but faster than she would have been able to make it on her own. The sun was just rising at her back as she began to turn towards the bridge that would take her over the river and lead to the pass to the top of the cliffs.

It promised to be a lovely, warm day. Dew sparkled on the wheat fields--just now turning a soft amber color. The air was fresh and crisp and the pathway was only minimally bumpy. It was easy for Matilda to forget her troubles, or at least push them to the back of her mind, on such a bright morning. Especially on the road to see a friend who she hadn't spoken with in several months.

She had kept up correspondence with Old Herford until the beginning of that year when the wizard had suddenly stopped responding. At the time, she had blamed the lack of reply on a period of unusually heavy snow storms. Afterwards, she had been too caught up in the troubles within her own royal family to sit down to write her friend another letter. Cagil's words crept uneasily back into her mind: "are ya sure he's still, you know, alive?" but she tried to push them away. Of course Old Herford was still alive. He wouldn't do something so disappointing as dying precisely when she needed his help.

The bridge was looming closer now. It was a stone arch older than she was and probably older than her grandmother.The stones were greened with moss and, in some places, crumbling. She made a mental note that it needed repaired before it was taken by the river. The donkey plodded her way onto the bridge--dragging the cart behind. They were nearly halfway across when a man wearing what appeared to be a few large brown and green sacks stepped into the middle of the path before her.She stopped the cart and hailed him with her best impersonation of a peasant. "Good morning sir. I don't know if you had noticed, but I was heading that way."

Instead of answering, he shouted to someone on the other side of the river. "Oi! Lookee what we caught this fine morn! An old widder woman out for a jaunt."

Matilda turned to see another, similarly dressed man standing in the road that she had just come down. He responded, "Aye, and I bet she ain't heard of the toll neither.'

"Well, now she has."