As the group made their way across the dirt to the stable, Aiden wished he and Trystan were on their way home. Not that he wasn’t up for a real adventure. He worried that Dad would wake up and find them gone. He would worry about them, search the entire forest for them. When he didn’t find them, he’d call the ranger to help with the search. Then he’d have to break the news to Mom. Mom would freak out and cry.
Alyssa interrupted Aiden's thoughts. “It’s not far,” she said.
Aiden looked up and saw a boy standing in front of a barn. “I see it,” he said. The boy was watching them while stroking a horse. Aiden worried for a moment. He’d never been on a horse before. Mom and Dad had said they’d take him riding one day, but it had never happened.
Seth, the stable boy, watched them cross the yard and head straight toward him. He’d been a stable boy for as far back as his memory went and loved his job. His father was a groom and taught Seth well. He knew how to saddle the horse, clean its hooves and give it a good brushing after a long ride.
“Hi, Seth,” Alyssa said. “Are you ready for us?”
Seth stroked the horse on his nose. He nodded. “All saddled up and ready to go.”
Seth gave them instructions for mounting the horse. “Hold on to here, and here,” he said. Seth put Aiden’s hand on the saddle—one on the horn and one on the back of the saddle. “Put your leg in the stirrup.” Aiden put his left foot in the stirrup. “Now pull with your arms and push with your other leg. That’s right,” he said as he watched Aiden. “Now swing your leg.” Aiden mounted the horse with the ease of an expert. He grinned.
“I did it,” he said. “Your turn, Trystan.”
Seth helped Trystan get on his horse. Alyssa was an expert and needed no help.
“Make sure you give them water when you come to a stream. Horses need to stay hydrated.”
Alyssa rolled her eyes. “I know, Seth,” she said.
“There are some snacks and canteens of water in your packs,” Seth said. “It should take care of your hunger for a few hours at least.”
“Wow! You thought of everything,” Aiden said.
“You might need this too,” Seth said. He took two swords down from the wall and handed one to Aiden and one to Alyssa. “I think Sir Trystan might be too young,” Seth said.
“I’m too young!” Aiden exclaimed.
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