NaNoWriMo Day 4 Part 1
posted at: 11/5/2014

"Well, now she has. You wanna cross this bridge, you let us have that bag of yours and maybe the donkey, too. Consider it a donation for the privilege

of crossing our bridge."

This put the Queen Mother in an uncomfortable position. She wouldn't be able to make it to Old Herford's without a cart or food. "If that's the

payment, maybe I don't need to cross the bridge. I'll just head back..."

There came a bark of laughter from behind her. "Nope, Grandma. Can't you see there's already other people in line to cross?"

The man in front of her pulled out a short sword and lurched forward to snatch up Sugar Bell's reins. The beast was happy to take her new situation

with benevolent dignity, but her mistress was far from pleased. It is a trying thing to be threatened with a blade twice before lunchtime. Matilda

grabbed her quarter staff and swung a blow at the bandit's head. It may have been an effective attack, but the villain caught the weapon before it

could make contact and laughed. "Hey look! The old bird's got some pluck. Too bad you're not 50 years younger."

Before another move was made, a small *thwack* resounded from Sugar Bell's head and she did something entirely unexpected. The quiet creature let out

a scream and reared onto her hind legs. The bandit stumbled backwards as she came down with a crash. Matilda held on with all of her might as the cart

lurched forward while Sugar Bell continued her tirade. The bandit had dropped his sword and been knocked to the ground. He fumbled backwards for a few

paces before gaining his feet and bolting. The donkey managed to get a few vindictive bites in before the bandit escaped, but quickly recovered her

gracious calm once he was out of reach. Matilda sat, shaken and confused but otherwise unscathed.

While Sugar Bell did her work, the highwayman's partner on the opposite bank was having troubles of his own. A rain of pebbles was pouring out of a

bush not many yards from him. It was a bush with remarkably good aim. Most of the pebbles were aimed at his head and most struck true. Shielding his

head and neck with his arms, the bandit yelled, "Oi! Help! What's..? Oi!" and, seeing that his friend had already disappeared, decided to exit as

well.

The questions that remained were: how did that bush get all of those stones? and where did it learn to throw them? Fortunately, the questions resolved

themselves almost immediately when a boy stepped out of the bush and made his way towards the bridge.

He shuffled up behind the cart and, eyes on the ground, said, "Excuse me, Your Highness. Are you ok?"

Matilda laughed and the child blushed, "I am. And all thanks goes to you for that."

He twiddled his thumbs and shuffled his feet. "I'm sorry I had to hit your royal mule with a stone."

"That's perfectly alright. It was quick thinking and you should be commended for it."

With a broad smile, the boy looked up, "You think so? It was a pretty good shot wasn't it?"

"It was."

"And did you see how I scared off the other one? He didn't even know what happened."