Letters, towers and scary roads
Into the wilds!
Of course we still had to stay a day or two in Stonybridge. We had work to complete, customers to satisfy, taxes to pay… And, of course, to check out that ruined house on the hilltop. It turned out it was the place teenagers — older than Cynla and me, younger than married — went to neck and pet and maybe go a bit further… That was embarrassing!
But the ruin was INTERESTING!!!
It had the foundations of an eight-sided tower, completely in ruins, but still recognizable!!! Hylti is going to be SOOOOOOOO excited! The insides were a bit lower than the ground outside, of the walls only fragments were still visible, and NO corners at all. But I made sketches, measured everything and tried to see whether there was any alignment left in the ruins, but although I could feel there was some anea left in the stones, I couldn’t figure out whether it was Anshen’s or the Nameless’ — or neutral, of course.
Back in Stonybridge, I wrote a long letter to the school and a long letter to Hylti, and went to the market master to ask him to take the letters to the Temple of Mizran in Tylenay. I knew he was going there, because he’d told me so the first time we met, but isn’t it a pity that the veterans-for-letters plan the Queen once had hasn’t taken off? I don’t know how it happened, but right now it certainly is the Temple of Mizran that bosses it over all correspondence. And it’s NOT cheap!
The next day we collected our cart from the wagon-maker who had given it the once-over, our mule from the stable field, connected the latter to the former, and went on our way!
From here on, the land became quite empty, if still gorgeous! Overnight huts were far apart and few, as were farms, let alone villages. It took some days of camping out, catching our own fish and small animals and sleeping underneath the wagon until we found the next lived-in place. That was two widows living together. They were really friendly, and when we told them what we were going to do, their eyes begged for a sketch of the two of them together, so, of course, we complied.
In return, we had a lovely meal, a romp with their cats, another chance at learning how to milk goats.
And we got help! Apparently, there was a really, really dangerous bit of road coming up, a bend that was only just wide enough for our cart, if handled expertly, and a deep ravine at the edge of the road. So, next morning the ladies, Senthi and Riei, came with us, and when we arrived at the bend, they resolutely took over. The mule was unhitched, we were told to stay put, and these two old ladies, they manoeuvred the wagon around the bend for us!
From there on to the next village was a brutal slog! The scenery stopped being wonderful and started making us feel trapped. There was a log road over a marsh in the middle of two steep slopes. The insects were really hungry and out for blood, and the going was so slow! The air felt like it didn’t want to be breathed in, or breathed out, and everything was kind of greenish-grayish-brownish. Almost as if the light was wrong. And when I asked Master Jeran about that he said that it was because there was so much water in the air, it was like we were walking through thin mist. And yes, our clothes were damp, and we were so sweaty, too!
There were also weird little huts that I thought were used to catch birds by flipping over nets.
And when we arrived in the next village, it turns out I was right! There we had a real party, because they almost never met people from other places, and showing the kids (and the priestess of Naigha) my sketchbook was a huge success!