“Are you sure you know the way?” Arlan the “Cleaver” asked.
“I’ve brought us this far, haven’t I?” Merla responded.
“Hmm,” Arlan snorted. He did know she had however, but he still resented being guided by a woman, much less rescued by one.
Arlan had indeed been rescued by Merla, who happened to come across the short, portly man as he was being accosted by seven brigands on the Nordland Road. The moniker “Cleaver” had not been given for any barbaric martial prowess on Arlan’s part, but rather for the fact that Arlan Kylhogg was the most prosperous butcher in the Kingdom.
When Merla intervened in the robbery, she managed to kill one of the miscreants, and wound two others before grabbing the merchant and dragging him into the woods. They managed to evade pursuit owing to her keen senses but were now making there way to the Capital by an arduous route. Worse still in Arlan’s mind was that he had lost not only an entire wagon-full of pork, but his team and money box as well. He was alive, however, that was some consequence. Unless, of course, this red-headed wench got lost and he starved to death in the forest. After all it had been nearly eighteen hours since he had eaten. He was hungry. His feet hurt, and above all she kept speaking to him in that over kind, patronising voice. It was almost as if she felt sorry for him. Him! How dare she! He really didn’t know how much more of this and that insufferable woman he could endure.
“Okay, You are on your own from here,” Merla said kindly.
“What, on my own?” he snapped.
She then pointed through the trees with her chin and smiled benevolently. There beyond the last of the foliage were the walls and towers of the Capital.
“I suppose you want some kind of a reward,” he grunted.
“That you are safe is enough,” she said smiling. “You take care now little man.”
With that she turned and headed back into the forest.