Tipper looked towards Sharlok’s border tower, shielding her eyes from the sun, she could see no sign of a response. She asked Adwin if he knew how to ride, he gave a nod but did not look too confident. “Alright, I think we should change our basic plan a bit. The west road is going to be troublesome for us. We can head southwest until we reach the migratory path of the wild folk and we’ll make good time there without having to worry about the news of our recent deeds spreading.”
Adwin looked shocked, Mokha horrified.
Adwin gasped, “You can’t be serious. The elves kill all who wander into their domain.”
Mokha seemed unusually anxious, “There are no towns or cities along their trail and those of Tannican blood are most definitely not welcome.”
She shook her head at them, “Adwin, the wild folk only kill those who offer them harm or would destroy the land. And Mokha, they are really only interested in Tannican priests and those who serve the Light, for they are enemies of the wild folk. You yourself are outside of that and seem uninterested in the Tannican Church. You should be okay. Besides, you said some of your blood was Loopee, there is a bond between the wild folk the Pwhanna and the Loopee. You should be fine.”
They both looked to protest further, she held up a hand, “Stop. Listen. We can’t stay on this road; Sharlok’s soldiers will hunt us and word will follow after us or get ahead us. If we cut south now, they may think we are not heading west and they are certainly unlikely to follow us into the wild folk’s lands. My kin live alongside the migratory path, we have known the wild folk since my great-great ancestors settled in the area. They will know my name.”
Adwin looked at her, confused again. Mokha seemed surprised and was giving her a considering look. Likely once again thinking she was some sort of mage. She doubted either of them could handle the truth, yet she should likely make some concession to Adwin for friendships sake, he deserved to know more about her. But that was for another time.
The swordsman’s horse had returned, its rider had fallen though his foot had entangled in the stirrup and the weight of his dragging body had skewed the saddle and gear. Adwin went to it, with calming voice and soothing hand. He pulled the man’s foot free and settled the horse.
After giving the other horses a look over Tipper took the closest to a pure bread pony of the bunch. She freed it from it lead and talked to it quietly in the elvish tongue. She hopped up unto its back, no saddle, just a coarse blanket. As she had told Mokha, it had been a long time since she had ridden and it was many moments before she settled properly on its back, thankfully the animal seemed familiar with the subtle signals of a bareback rider.
Mokha, she saw, had selected a horse and seemed comfortable enough in an eastern saddle. Adwin had gathered the other horses and was placing their extra gear on the pack horse. She noted he had also picked up Dannos’ short sword.
The three of them sat there for another few moments, once again Tipper noticed the small birds darting in and out of the grass, feeding on late afternoon insects. She smiled and with a knee set her horse in motion, heading southward along the trail left by Dannos’ mount.
They had kept moving southward at an easy pace for the rest of the afternoon. Tipper had insisted on riding until it was nearly dark, she sang the setting of the sun as they settled the horses and made camp. Luckily they had found some brushes for the horses and it turned out that most of the supplies on the pack horse had been feed, water and some food and cooking supplies for the posse. Ten horses, the gear and weapons that had been on four of the horses as well a crossbow, mace and short sword picked from the field after the fight. If all went well they would have more than enough resources to see themselves through a winter in GreensBridge.
The evening was hot, the sky clear, both moons were visible. The three of them settled in the grass not far from where they had hobbled the horses. Mokha had suggested a fire and some warm food, he was curious as to what might be within the saddle bags of their defeated foes. Though Tipper was also curious she said no to a fire and pointed out that the light of day would better reveal the tools and treasures they had won for themselves. Not to mention the fact that pursuit might lay just a few yat behind and a fire would surely show their position.
Adwin started to snore, asleep already. He tended to sleep more following combat and the riding was likely going to leave them all sore and stiff for the next couple of days. Mokha also drifted into sleep, leaving the first watch to her.
Shortly after sunrise they were up, Tipper had left camp earlier to sing the dawn and by the time she had returned the other two had laid the new gear on a tarp and Adwin’s poncho. A fair amount by the look of it, rope, bedrolls, clothing, grooming items, food, weapons, arrows, bolts, a basic fletching kit, a few other small tools, nick-knacks including a couple of games, a bit of coin and jewellery.
Mokha seemed most interested in the clothing, there seemed to be a fair bit of it, some of which seemed expensive and well crafted. Adwin was holding a small jar and looked generally miserable this morning. Tipper decided some food was in order and asked Mokha to help find fuel.
Adwin said, “I’m not sure how much riding I can do today, my muscles are twinging and really sore and I’ve a blister or two. I did find this though, a salve. By the smell I think its for sore muscles.”
“Let me take a look.” He passed her the small stone jar, well cut with a tight fitting lid. The salve inside smelled of pungent herbs and honey. “I’d say you lucked out. Need some help?”
He nodded and without preamble dropped his pants. He lay face down, with his butt up and his legs spread. She might of poked fun at him a bit but remembered how sensitive he had been after they had killed the bandits near Lekas. Instead she inspected his butt and inner thighs, applied the cream to the chaffed areas. “No blisters, but you’re going to have to acclimate over the next couple of days. Which means we won’t do too much riding unless we are pursued.”
“Thank the gods for that.”
She slapped his butt, “That’s that.”
He got up and with an indignant look on his face wrapped his under-cloth and pulled up his pants. “The salve has a bit of a burn to it, but it already feels better. Thanks.”
Tipper took a look at the loot they had spread out, four different piles and rows, placed next to the saddle bags that had contained them and off to one side the supplies from the pack animal. There was a lot of clothing, three of the bags had two changes of clothing each, one for travel or common wear and then a second change of finery. There was also a long coat and two cloaks and a pair of heavy gloves.
The fourth bag, it had belonged to the first woman she had shot, had held too much clothing; four tunics or shirts, two pair of pants, three skirts, an expensive looking dress, four halter tops, including one with nice bead work, under-wraps, socks and fitted underwear. Additionally a short coat, leather vest, hat, two pair of gloves, two veils, three shawls, a pair of flat sandals and a pair of ankle boots with raised heals. Then there was also half dozen small stone jars, similar to the one that contained the salve Adwin had, except these appeared to contain makeup. On top of all that there was a small fortune of jewellery and fancy hair combs in a soft bag, as well a few silver coins. Too much by far. Only a small amount of the clothing and gear was practical for travel, much of which was well made and expensive looking. Only the woman’s bow seemed unremarkable, of a common design without inlay or decoration, a typical light hunting bow, something you could find almost anywhere in the FreeHolds.
In addition to the clothing, the other saddle bags had contained some simple games, a couple wooden mugs a bone cup, two bowls, three spoons, a file, a tobacco pouch and pipe, manacles and chain, cord, some coins, other odds and ends and some tinder for starting fires.
Mokha returned with a small bundle of sticks, dried grass and dung, “Is that enough to get some water boiling?” He asked.
“It should be, though a bit more would be better.”
He placed the bundle on the ground, “Right, I’ll get more, but wait for me before you start divvying up the loot.”
She chuckled, “Sure Mokha, no problem.”
Adwin had fished out his kitchen supplies and carefully squatted down to build a small fire, pulling up a couple clumps of grass and stamping a shallow depression in the ground. He cleared more grass and settled into the task of breakfast. She left him to it and wondered around the area, checking on the horses and gathering fuel for the fire.
The sun was rising in a cloudless sky, she saw no sign of dangerous animals and no band of armed men hunting for them. She estimated the migratory path of the wild folk lay a day south. Despite her desire to be on the move as soon as possible, she realized that a slow morning and a proper distribution of the gear and treasures they had gained would serve better. Besides, it seemed unlikely that Sharlok’s men would have set out after them yesterday, so late in the day. They would have needed time to prepare and likely would have sent messengers back to Wikkersak. All this assumed they had learned of the fight before sundown, otherwise they might not get after them for another day or so. She wondered how many men were stationed at those border towers.
They ate breakfast, redistributed the common gear between two of the horses and divided most of the rest. Mokha took the pipe, tobacco, crossbow and quiver of bolts and a lot of the clothing. He was most interested in the brighter colours and did not seem to care if it was the women’s clothing or the men’s. He stripped out of the garments he had been given in Lekas and remade his ensemble, bright and gaudy seemed to please him the most. Adwin took the games, bow and arrows as well he had claimed Dannos’ short sword, he also reclaimed his poncho from Mokha as there were extra bedrolls. Adwin also took the wool long coat, heavy gloves, a pair of pants, tunic, some under garments and socks. Tipper took the fletching equipment, beaded halter, a skirt, two shawls and a pair of amber set hair combs. Mokha was shocked that she did not want any of the fine under garments and added such to his own belongings. There was consensus that they should hold the value of the dress, makeup, jewellery and horses until they needed to use it along their journey or they had a chance to sell or trade.
They were back in the saddle by mid morning, Adwin protesting his soreness and Mokha singing songs she did not know.