One more day until they reached Tildon’s empire. Alieahsha shivered in her seat. The cold morning air was really getting to her, she decided.
Dawn was just breaking, exciting birds flying about trees and making a huge racket. Inbus didn’t seem to care, though. He just invited the noise just like he welcomed everything else.
The beautiful, warm sun was rising up above the trees, making Alieahsha shade her eyes from its radiance. Inbus was like that, Alieahsha thought, smiling a little. Radiant and colourful, making people want to smile.
“You’re joyful, you know that, Inbus?” she said to the front of the cart. She could hear Inbus chuckle ever so slightly.
“Am I? Well I reckon you’ll agree I’m nort after you see how tired I am after a day with nowt sleep!”
“Seem pretty joyful to me,” Alieahsha shrugged. Inbus gave a playful growl.
“I’m too nice fer me own good.”
Alieahsha didn’t answer, instead staring out at the view unfolding before them. There were green pastures, sparkling with morning dew. There were less trees here now that they were entering farming land. The forest they had passed through before was now thinning out, leaving behind only the animals, who chirruped and squeaked, running amok among the freshly plowed fertile land. Alieahsha had never experienced anything like it before. She had only seen the city in all its glory, which didn’t come close to this. Even the splendour and wonder of her house didn’t match this. This gave her a feeling, something that she didn’t usually get when looking at scenery.
“Ya feelin’ it too?” Inbus said from the front of the cart. Alieahsha guessed he was grinning. “It’s like nature, ye know? Byoo-tee-ful,” he whistled appreciatively. “Kinda like someone I know,” he added.
“Don’t tell me it’s that Tildon woman,” Alieahsha groaned. “She’s probably got billions of charms making you think that. Or maybe you’ve just got a weak mind.”
“Never mind,” Inbus sighed, urging the horses to keep going. He rapidly changed the subject. “Hey, you hungry? Let’s say we stop now, eh?”
“Inbus, you might be always hungry but you must learn that not everyone is eternally hungry.” Though Alieahsha had to admit, her stomach hadn’t eaten a full meal since two days ago, when she was still at home. Did she miss her family yet?
“Fine, be that way. I’m still stoppin’, though. If yer nort hungry, ye wait outside fer me.” Then, glancing over his shoulder, he said, “Hey, get me a map, will ye? There might be one stuffed in tha maid’s disguise, if yer lucky.”
Alieahsha reached back and found the maid’s costume, now dirty and grey. She quickly searched the pockets, coming up with nothing. “There’s nothing there, Inbus.”
She could see him shrug. “Oh well. We’ll just have ta look fer one with our own two little peepholes, eh?”
“You know, I must teach you how to speak properly. Your accent is really annoying.”
“Don’t worry, miss. Jurst two days o’ bein’ wiv yer will be enuff ta change me.”
“I hope so,” Alieahsha said grimly, then said nothing else on the matter.
“If we could just find a farming house near here then perhaps we could also find a map. Farming houses have maps, don’t they?” Inbus asked.
“Your accent has changed again,” Alieahsha sighed. “And yes, I think farming houses do sometimes own maps. If you’re lucky, that is. I think maps would be a tad bit too expensive for them.”
Inbus shrugged. “We have to try, don’t we?”
They rode on, but yet they saw no sign of any houses. Not even any barns or farming land.
“I’m really hungry, now, Alieahsha,” Inbus complained. “I ain’t gonna look fer no farmhouse. I don’t ev’n need a map that much. I’m just gonna go orf me instincts. Now, let’s eat.”
Inbus stopped the cart and they both got out. “Grab the pack, will ye?”
Alieahsha went to the back of the cart, and, sure enough, there was a pack there. She brought it over to where Inbus was sitting on the grass. He sure seemed really cosy there.
“Open it up,” Inbus said. Alieahsha did so, and, looking inside, was surprised to find two bottles of water, a hunk of cheese and some stale bread.
“Wow, that’s really good. Where’d you get these from?”
“Oh, just say the name, will you?” She really had to train him not to be scared of the woman.
“Tildon. Happy?” Inbus still looked around superstitiously, though. Some other time, Alieahsha thought to herself.
She took out the two bottles of water and took a long swig from one. She threw the other one to Inbus, who caught it perfectly.
“There was only two because ...” he glared at Alieahsha, “Tildon didn’t expect us to give any to the captive.”
“But now that Nifty isn’t here...” Alieahsha murmured. Inbus bowed his head in a moment of reverence.
“He was a fine friend. We both knew we was Bound, and it twas only th’ both orf us tegether which made it kind orf bearable.”
“Accent,” Alieahsha said. Inbus nodded.
“Somethin’ aboot it switchin’ off an’ on just ain’t right. I mean, how many times does I haff to change personalities in a day?” he shook his head, all sadness gone from his eyes. Then he clapped his hands. “Food.”
Alieahsha rolled her eyes. Just like Inbus to get distracted by the prospect of food.