They crested the final hill, road weary and filthy. The pair had ridden hard the past three days, stopping only briefly to rest, eat, feed the horses and relieve themselves. They had barely spoken but had finally made it to the valley of five roads, a full two days faster than Walker had made the trip before.
Demon trembled beneath him. Walker was not a large man, nor heavily armored but they had travelled a great distance pushing the reddish grey horse to the limit. He looked over at Nina sitting astride the great black horse Grendel. The picture was ridiculous, her feet barely halfway down the side of the horse, her tiny figure looked completely out of place. As they had raced north through the flatlands to the hills he wondered if she just hung on most of the time and Grendel had the sense enough to keep her mounted and follow his mother.
She looked at him and raised both eyebrows like she did, reaching around to scratch and then rub her ass.
Walker turned back to regard the valley. It was the northern crossroads, three roads and the great river all converged in the valley. Where they all came together was a single structure, but it was larger than most city structures. A full four stories tall and sprawling, The Red Dragon Inn was the only place of commerce that had set up roots and flourished here. There were a few out building and houses but it was all owned by a singular individual.
“Another Cursed Gods Inn, ” Walker said.
“We haven’t stayed in an Inn in three days, cursed or otherwise, ” Nina responded wearily. “We haven’t slept in three days. . .”
Walker turned back and regarded the valley again. Going on the single clue that Jane had been abducted and was going to be sold as a slave in Arkanus they had followed the most direct path to the hidden city. They had passed many caravans and travellers but none that Walker took as kidnappers or slavers.
“Do you think we’ve gotten ahead of them,” Walker asked as he started down into the valley.
“I’ve never been up here,” Nina responded. “Are there other ways to where we are going?”
“A few,” Walker responded. “But I only know of them.”
“Maybe we will find them there,” Nina said nodding toward the Inn. “It is Basil’s Day after all. I bet even kidnappers stop on. . .”
“Today is Basil’s Day?” Walker said reigning in Demon.
Nina looked at him sheepishly. Basil’s Day was the midsummer holiday.
“I know it’s not really important for you to keep track of days but sometimes it is useful,” she said and then took off ahead of him.
Walker sighed. He knew that the first one to the Inn would be free from the tasks at hand, boarding the horses, arranging rooms and provisions.
He turned Demon back down the path and chuckled for the first time in days as Nina and Grendel screamed down the road toward the Inn. Nina always won. He used to let her.