Lysara played some notes on her lyre, humming to herself as she did. Occasionally she’d stop, go back and try something different, replaying the entire melody up till that point.
Velvet was lounging in his wagon, feet in the air. His canine team pulled him forward, keeping pace with the others without any difficulty.
Lilly, Twila and Axra rode side by side, chatting as they rode.
Bonnie watched the road. It was true enough that they hadn’t had any problems in the days they’d been riding, but that could easily change at any moment. All it took was a group of bandits of sufficient size or remnants of the Hestial League seeking revenge. It didn’t help that they didn’t have too far to go until they reached Grimswald.
She sighed and rode her horse back towards Axra and the others. “Princess, if I may have a moment.”
“You don’t have to call me ‘Princess,’ you know,” Axra said. “What’s up?”
“It occurs to me that we could save time on our trip if I ride ahead to Grimswald, pick up the supplies and meet up with you so that we can pass through and continue on our way,” Bonnie suggested. “With your permission I’ll leave immediately.”
“Th… that sounds good,” Lilly said. “I… I mean, it will save time so… we might want to, you know, consider it.”
“But we’ll be passing through very near dark anyway,” Twila stated. “At least we will based on our present speed. Wouldn’t it make more sense to get the supplies after we arrive and sleep at an Inn for the night?”
“I’d have to agree,” Axra said. “If we just passed through we’d get, what, twenty minutes worth of travel time before having to stop anyway?”
“Those twenty minutes might prove valuable,” Bonnie said, her voice a lot softer than it had been.
“And it might be, you know, really nice to camp under the stars instead of, you know, sitting in a confined old room,” Lilly added.
Twila and Axra gave each other a knowing look. “All right, out with it,” Axra said. “What exactly are you two so worried about?”
“W… worried?” Lilly asked. “Oh, no… there’s no need for worry. N… none whatsoever.”
“You two do seem to be hiding something,” Twila said. “Wouldn’t it be better to tell us about it so that we can come up with a solution, or at least be prepared?”
“As Lilly said, it’s nothing,” Bonnie stated. “My apologies, I was overzealous.” She turned back and resumed her position at the head of the group.
“Hey, Bon,” Lysara said. “Which one sounds better. This…” she strummed a quick melody “or this” she played a similar but slightly different tune.
“Maybe asking another bard would work better,” Bonnie suggested. “Or Lilly, she knows plenty about music.”
“That’s okay, Bon, I’ll trust your judgement,” Lysara said. She smiled and stared intently at Bonnie.
I suppose the first one,” Bonnie said.
“Then the first one it is!” Lysara declared. “Thanks, Bon!”
The group arrived in Grimswald in the early evening, the sun was just starting to show signs of going down. They didn’t have much daylight left.
The town wasn’t large, but it was busy. Guards patrolled the street. Peddlers lined the road, trying to sell some last wares before closing up for the night.
A guard stared at them with a vague sense of recognition. He seemed to be trying to focus and figure out where it was coming from.
“Velvet and I can grab the supplies,” Bonnie said. “You four can secure rooms for us at the Inn and get space for the horses at the stables. If memory serves, the two are very close to each other.”
“Sounds good,” Axra said. “Just don’t take too long.”
“Azure Butterfly!” A young man ran out of a pub and moved directly to Bonnie. “It is you! I haven’t seen you since…” Bonnie ran through a complicated set of hand signals and he went silent. He quickly nodded. “I’m sorry, I seem to have been mistaken.” He bowed. “Excuse me.” He hurried back to the pub.
“Azure Butterfly?” Lysara asked. “Bon, what was he talking about?”
“W… we should get the rooms,” Lilly said. “And I’m sure that Velvet and Bonnie need to hurry, you know, before the shops start closing down.”
Bonnie nodded. “That’s true enough. We’ll meet you at the Inn. Let’s go, Velvet!”
“Yeah, yeah,” Velvet muttered. “I’m coming.”
The two hurried away, quickly fading from view.
“Lilly, you know something,” Lysara observed.
“M… me?” Lilly asked. “I mean, I do know some things, b… but that doesn’t mean I know anything about the thing you’re curious about, you know?”
“Uh-huh,” Lysara said. “You know, this city doesn’t look dangerous. It’s got plenty of guards, nicely lit streets and I haven’t seen so much as a pickpocket. So, what’s the real reason that Bon didn’t want to come here?”
“We… well it has changed a lot,” Lilly stammered. “An… and we are still in, you know, the good part of town. Y… you should see the slums.”
“Is the Inn in the slums?” Lysara asked. “Or really close to them?”
“We… well no,” Lilly answered. “B… but it’s co… complicated so…”
“Uh-huh,” Lysara muttered. “Complicated, I see.” Her voice grew louder. “I guess that I don’t need to know then. Come on, let’s get those rooms!” She memorised the location of the Pub while they rode away. It would still be open at night, she’d wager. She just had to sneak out and find her way back.