The sun slowly dropped closer to the horizon. Marta looked uneasily at the line of trees that bordered the track. She felt awfully exposed here. A shiver of fear raised the hairs on the back of her neck.
Shouts traveled down the length of the column of holders. A camp-site had been found about a hundred yards into the forest on the west side of the road. The line began to move.
The holders wound their way between the trees into a small meadow, startling a herd of deer from their grazing. A narrow stream bordered the meadow. Children ran toward the water for welcome relief from dry throats.
Everyone gratefully dropped packs to the ground where they intended to rest and others guided their horse-drawn and hand pushed carts into a line that would provide some shelter from an attack from the road. The horses were hobbled and left to graze on the dried grass, younger boys put in charge of watching them.
Fires were started and food was prepared. Marta scooped a bowl of stew from the pot and took it to her granda. She found him leaning against a tree, fast asleep. She shook his shoulder gently. “Wake up, Granda. I’ve brought you supper.”
With a jerk and a snort, her granda woke. He grinned at her, face drawn in tired lines. “Just taking a little nap,” he said.
“I know,” she said kindly. “Best to eat first and then sleep,” she recommended.
“You go get yours, girl. I’ll be fine.”
“Yes, sir,” she said, smiling at him. She hoped desperately that he was strong enough to make it to Red Dragon’s Keep.
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