“I won’t tell you not to… do what you do,” Sylvie stated. “But you could at least show some courtesy towards other people and keep it down.”
“It’s not that easy,” Inés stated. “Maybe someday you’ll meet a girl and experience it first hand, but until that happens you’ll have to take my word for it. When you’re making love, you get really caught up in it and noises happen.”
“Maybe we could get a scroll for a silence spell in Ghiana,” Serena suggested.
“Might be difficult,” Inés said. “We aren’t exactly carrying much money. We may be able to get horses from some faithful folks, but explaining our ‘need’ for a silence scroll won’t be easy.”
“As much as I’m loathe to agree with Mermaid, she’s right on that count,” Sylvie said.
The three came across a carriage that had strayed from the road and gotten its wheels stuck in some muck. The horse handlers were whipping the animals, trying to get the to pull free.
“The poor things look exhausted,” Serena observed.
“Hold it right there!” Sylvie declared. she walked forward with her hands on her hips. “They’ll be able to pull better once they’ve grazed and had some water and a chance to rest. So, give them a break.”
“With all do respect, Priestess,” one of the handlers said. “This is none of your concern. We have to get loose and get to the next town.”
“It’s not that we’re cruel,” his companion added. “We just need to reach the city by nightfall and we can’t go back towards Ghiana.”
“Is there a reason you can’t camp out?” Serena asked.
“Because of me,” a young, aristocratic lady stepped forward. “I’m afraid that ill rumours would start if I spent the night under the stars with a couple of men.”
“If you could get free, you’d have some leeway to let the horses rest before actually moving on, right?” Inés asked.
“We can get there in about six hours if the horses are rested,” the handler confirmed. “But we need them to pull the carriage free.”
“Let them rest,” Inés said. “I’ll free your carriage personally.”
“You?” He asked.
“Are you a mage?” his assistant added.
“Not really,” Inés answered. “But I can get this free.”
“Don’t joke around like that,” the handler laughed. “If my team of horses can’t manage there’s no way you can.”
“Let her try,” the lady ordered. “I’m curious to see what she has in mind. Unhitch the horses and take them to graze.”
“You can’t be serious, Milady,” the handler said. “If we lose too much time on this…”
“I’ll take that risk,” she stated. “If nothing else, the rest may help them pull it free.”
Grumbling, the handler unhitched the horses and led them to graze while Inés went into a series of stretches.
“Will she be okay?” Serena asked.
“Just watch,” Sylvie stated.
Inés put her hands under the carriage and lifted, hefting it free of the mud and pushing it back to the road and carefully lowering it.
“How did you manage that?” the assistant asked.
“That was quite amazing,” the young lady said. “Truly, Athena herself has blessed you with incredible strength.” She curtsied. “I am the Lady Astrid of the Kane family. Are you good priestesses on a journey?”
“We are,” Inés answered. “We’re on a pilgrimage to Drahaven to offer prayers for the draconian souls.”
“Such a noble undertaking,” Astrid said. “If you pass through Wicadia, allow my house to give you refuge.” She produced a seal from her bags and pressed it into Inés’ hand. “Take this as my token. Should you arrive before I return you can show that to my parents or elder brother. I shall send word ahead so that they might anticipate you.”
“We thank you,” Sylvie said. “And we shall take you up on your generous offer. But, if you will please excuse us, we must make our way to Ghiana.”
“You mustn’t!” Astrid exclaimed. She lowered her voice. “They say that recent travellers to Ghiana do not leave nor is any trace found of them. I fear that something evil has taken residence there.”
“If that is true, then it is our duty to investigate it,” Inés said.
“But…” Astrid began.
Inés clasped her hands. “Worry not, fair Astrid. I shall bring any misdeeds to light and make Ghiana a safe place once more. Believe in me.”
“I shall,” Astrid said, her face flushing. “Best of luck, noble priestess.”
“Inés” Inés introduced herself. “You may call me Inés.”
“Inés,” Astrid repeated. “I shan’t forget that name.”
The three bid the carriage goodbye and continued on their way.
“You certainly work quickly,” Sylvie muttered.
“I don’t know what you mean,” Inés said.
“I mean flirting with the aristocrat,” Sylvie stated. “And right in front of your… one of your lovers.”
“That wasn’t flirting,” Inés protested. “That was giving reassurance.”
“I’m worried about what she said,” Serena said. “Do you suppose there’s really trouble in Ghiana?”
“If there is we’ll handle it,” Inés said.
“Indeed,” Sylvie agreed. “Such is one of our most important tasks.”
The three reached Ghiana just as the sun was going down. Serena almost stumbled over an odd ridge in the road, but Inés caught her.
“They need to do something about this road,” Sylvie stated. “Look at all the indents.”
“You would think that they could take some time to fill them,” Sylvie agreed.
“Welcome!” an elderly woman approached them at the gate. “It’s so lovely to have visitors! My name is Miriam, I run the Inn. Please, follow me.”
“Of course, we’d love to,” Sylvie said. She moved back to Serena and Inés. “Not the welcome I was expecting.”
The three followed Miriam to the Inn.
“It’ll be three gold coins per room and that includes food,” Miriam said. “Shall I give you three?”
“Two will be fine,” Inés said, putting an arm around Serena. “The two of us can share.”
“Of course,” Miriam said. “Six coins, if you please.” Sylvie counted them out and handed them to her. “Please take a seat, I’ll get your suppers. I’m afraid we don’t allow eating in the room but there’s a table right over there.”
“Odd that it would be so cheap,” Sylvie said.
“Maybe they’re trying to make up for the bad rumours,” Inés suggested.
“Perhaps,” Sylvie said. “But they must be losing money from food costs alone.”
Miriam brought them out three plates, piled high with food. An attendant brought them glasses of wine, he wouldn’t look directly at them.
“Is something wrong?” Serena asked. He hurriedly hid behind Miriam.
“No offence intended,” she said. “My grandson is just shy around attractive ladies. Please, eat.”
Inés took a bite first. Seeing nothing happen, Sylvie and Serena followed her example. They didn’t get a third of the way through before collapsing.
“Help me get them to the feeding grounds,” Miriam ordered. “And may Athena have mercy on us for this.”