The Road to CarvilietMature

When Seymour and Seoc returned to Wyrinther, they were greeted by a most peculiar sight: Simon's head was poking out of a saddlebag, grinning at them cheerfully.  While on the outside, the bag was the approximate size of a large human baby, apparently it was quite large enough on the inside for Simon's body, plus whatever else was in there, with room to spare.

        "Simon, my boots are in there," Seymour informed him, trying to sound unimpressed.  "Would you mind fetching them for me?"

          Simon vanished entirely inside the saddlebag.  There was the sound of rummaging, followed shortly thereafter by the ejection of first one boot, then the other, from the opening, before Simon's head reappeared.  

         Seymour looked up from pulling on his boots.  "How is it in there?"

        "I think I'll ride in here the rest of the way," Simon decided.  "It's much more comfortable."  With that, he ducked down once more and was lost from view. 

         Without further ado, Seoc swung up onto Wyrinther's back, and Seymour behind him, neither bothering with the stirrups as they were still set to Simon's height, and they were off, trotting briskly off for Carviliet.  

          As the afternoon wore on, the forest grew thicker and nearly impassible with underbrush.  Wyrinther, who seemed to know exactly where she was going, picked her way out of the tangle and onto a road.  Seymour was uneasy about this, but it was probably the fastest route.  Anyway, if they were seen, they would be less likely to be recognized now, as Simon was hidden in the saddlebag.  He decided that the benefits outweighed the risks and encouraged the mare to a canter.  The bounciness of her trot had been rather unkind to the more sensitive areas of his anatomy, and he was beginning to envy Simon, who was undoubtably snug and cozy in the saddlebag.

          Simon was, in fact, soundly asleep at the moment.  He had chosen the bag in which they had stowed their blankets and was now curled up amongst them, happy as a clam.  He had thought for a time that the stuffy atmosphere in combination with the rhythm of the horse's motion might make him seasick, but the feeling had passed once he had poked his head out for a breath of fresh air, and now he was quite content.  He was, currently, the warmest and most comfortable he had been since before his arrest, more than two years prior.  And so he slept.

        On the mare's back, Seoc too had fallen asleep.  His doze, however, was fitful and oft interrupted, the sort of sleep that is exhausting rather than refreshing.  Both he and Seymour were still damp from the river crossing even as the sun made ready to set.  They shivered and leaned close together for the benefit of each other's body heat, but it would not be sufficient to stave off the autumn chill that waited just on the other side of dusk.  Their only hope was to reach Carviliet before the light faded from the sky and all of the little remaining warmth left the land.  Safety was so close at hand that the anticipation was growing unbearable.

         An armored man strode suddenly out into the road in front of them.  "Halt, stranger," he ordered curtly.  "Who goes there?"

The End

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