I laughed out loud, too loud, perhaps for a girl of my station but even us ladies have to have fun sometimes. And what fun we had sneaking to the back gate, pretending every shadow was a guard come to berate us for trying to get out alone. We chose a path least likely to run into people and still we had to navigate ourselves innocently past gardeners preening, foot soldiers sparring and riders enjoying a sit down in the early morning sun. It already felt like an adventure.
And an adventure it was riding through the woods, laughing out loud for once with my best friend of several years by my side. We're off to tame a dragon! The excited thought came upon me suddenly, and, with no small amount of joy I stood in my stirrups and shouted to the sky: “Long live Vell and Ary, dragon tamers extraordinaire!”
Ary joined in with my childish laughter for a bit until we turned up the slightly overgrown track to the forest proper. At the moment we were still riding through the mostly well kept woodland paths, but soon we'd be in the wild country. I grinned across at Ary before the path became too narrow and she had to go in front.
“Canter?” She called back to me.
And with that we were off.
I've never been to this part of the woods before, Ary has I expect, she goes riding a lot more than I do since she has more freedom. It's a lovely thrill to canter along the springy leaf strewn track, every so often there are small branches across the path to jump or low hanging trees that we have to duck under, the freedom is exhilarating, no stuffy guards warning us to be careful, struggling to keep up.
Once or twice we had to force new paths through the shrubbery when a tree blocked our path, too big to jump, but those were the worst setbacks we had. Come evening both us and the horses were worn out, we'd dismounted much earlier to change into the more comfortable mens clothing and had then proceeded to walk to rest our aching muscles but now we had even more pains and were all set to call it a night.
“What about here?” I asked Aryanna, coming to a stop and leaning on Ash, my young, but gentle, brown mare. Her full name was Mountain Ash but it was far too much of a mouthful for me so Ash it was.
“Good enough.” Ary replied stiffling a yawn and stretching, letting Ebony go. I giggled, if the guards were here they'd rush to grab the reins but Ary trained Eb well, she won't move a muscle except to follow wherever Ary takes her. I'm not quite to that stage with Ash yet but it'll come, I just can't spend enough time with her.
I led Ash over to a solid tree and put the rope halter on her, tying it round a lowish branch, she stooped her head immediately to munch at some greens. I then proceeded to untie the saddlebag. By the time I'd untied the stubborn knots Ary had Ebony untacked and was starting on Ash, deftly dismantling the bridle whilst keeping the halter on. I stuck my tongue out at her and she chuckled.
“Where's the tent?” I asked, starting to sort through our hurriedly gathered possessions.
Ary turned to me with wide eyes. “I thought you brought it?”