Saturday, November 06, 2004


Day 45

Sharing a horse with one's girlfriend may be bad for the horse, though the one I'm riding is a pretty large, powerful animal, but it has its compensations, especially on a cool autumnal day. Memree did suggest that she could sit astride the horse backwards, so that we'd be face to face, but I do have to give at least some attention to where the horse is going!

So, a whole day on the trail. Considering that Wealdstone is a fair-sized town, and our destination, Broadwater, is a large and busy coastal city with its own harbour, I'm surprised we've not seen more people along the way - people on foot we're overtaking, people with faster horses and less time overtaking us, and all sorts of people, with and without carts, coming in the opposite direction. But, while there have been some travellers, including one merchant caravan coming from the coast, with everyone in sight obviously half-convinced we were bandits about to raid them, it does seem to me to be surprisingly quiet.

The only interesting conversation started during our mid-day stop, just by a pleasant little stream so clear one could see small fish darting around from one clump of weed to the next. Cleve leaned in and picked some of the weed, then passed a few leaves to me - she chewed on a leaf or two, and smiled... it was watercress, so we had some with our cold game pie. Tayne's wife Sharna was an excellent cook, and the mixture of rabbit, chicken, and I think partridge, was extremely tasty.

"Cleve's a mute", Memree said as we rested afterwards in the sunshine. "And I can't remember anything before you rescued me from Atzmon's awful dungeon, not so many ten-days ago - you're collecting some strange companions, warrior."

"You think so? I'm getting used to it, it certainly beats travelling alone, or with some scruffy male who's convinced he's in charge." I made a silly face. "He may not fight as well as me, but... oh, forget it!"

Memree chuckled. "Cleve says she's met too many men like that!"

"Is there any other kind?" I rolled my eyes. "Good for just one - what did you say...?"

Memree looked startled, not just from the change in my tone of voice. "She... she talked! With her hands.. sign language..."

"Since when can you--"

"I don't know!" Memree looked scared. "I didn't know I could, until just now, when I saw her fingers moving. It must have come from before... before Atzmon did what she did. Was it from me, or did it come from poor Marius Restormel, whose life-force that she-demon used to power her spell?" She shivered. "Someone hold me... I feel cold..."

So I held her, and then we mounted up again, and rode, which meant I could continue to hold her, and Cleve hasn't "said" anything else yet, which is sensible of her, as Memree has had a bit of a jolt, an unpleasant reminder of a time best forgotten. But it's good to know that we can hold a two-way discussion with Cleve, I'm sure that will be very useful in the days ahead.

Tonight's camp was, again, a place often used by wayfarers - the area for the fire had even been paved with large stone slabs, black from heavy usage over many centuries, I think. There was a pile of firewood ready-cut - we used some to start our fire, and then topped up the pile with a similar amount while we waited for the water to heat. So I can't really think of anything else to report today - though with any luck, tomorrow will see us arrive in the Big City!

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