The party easily found the small wooden bridge the sergeant had mentioned. It was in fairly good repair, though many of the timbers were green with moss. In fact, the growth was in several places on the span as well, giving the clear indication that it was seldom used. It had an eerie feel to it, and it was just wide enough for the party to cross two abreast.
“I’m glad I have my Troll ring,” Seymour said stopping to look over the railing at the shadows below. “Really don’t need to lose any more time with a fight.”
The women gave him kind smiles, and a couple nodded as if in agreement. Even Wil fought the temptation to snicker, as she was starting to get the hang of just going along with his asides.
The far side of the expanse was more heavily wooded, but as they were still within the kingdom they were not overly concerned with security in daylight hours. At night the resumed the practice of camping well off the road, however, and night watches became part of the routine.
It was largely quiet with the usual woodland sounds; the creaking of trees in the breeze, and the song and flutter of birds. The caw of the occasional crow stood out, and by in large the main sound was their own conversation and the hoof beats of their mounts.
On the third day the underbrush began to be less dense, and it was clear this part of the wood was maintained by a Woodward. Then the trees too became more spaced and charcoal burning mounds began to fill the gaps. They emerged from the forest into a meadow land, where a small village, of no more than a dozen cottages and a tavern stood by the roadway.
It was evident by the lack of any agriculture that the residents made their living as charcoal burners. The way-side inn was a testimony to this as well, as it bore the name, “The Embers.” Not wanting any further delay, however, the company hurried past the settlement towards the river crossing before them.
* * *
The recent rains had made the river level higher than usual, and the bank was still being licked by the current. The ferry could be seen on the far side of the flow, so they waved the flag which had been placed on their bank to summon the ferrymen.
The ferry itself was larger than they had imagined. It was long and flat with railings along its sides, and rope barriers on its ends which provided some safely during crossings. At mid-ship there was a paddle wheel on either side powered by a horse on a treadmill. It was a relief to see that the entire party could pass in a single crossing, avoiding the loss of time or the possibility of becoming divided.
The signage written in both the common tongue and Ralulee, indicated that it would cost them two coppers each, and a half silver for each animal.
“I’m just glad we don’t have a wagon,” Thilda said to Gwendolyn. “Ten silvers is extortionate. Eight silver and twelve coppers is bad enough.”
Gwendolyn shook her head in agreement, and took the coins from her main purse and placed them in a small bag on her belt, along with a few extra coppers. She then put her the cash bag back behind her cloak.
When the ferry arrived on their side, the rope gate was opened and the party boarded. Then Gwendolyn made a big show of counting out the fare. She then stood with six coppers in her hand, and said to Wil, “Sorry darling, looks like we will only have bread and broth when we get to League Town.”
The ferrymen seemed suddenly disinterested in their passengers from that point onwards, and got on with the task of the river crossing.
Once on the other side, the companions breathed a sigh of relief, and headed on their way to tavern.
Fandango’s Prompt: Temptation
Ragtag Daily Prompt: Cottage