Carol was still a little skeptical about the journey, but was determined to return alive. She gripped her reins with a strength that wasn't based off her muscle, but her will to arrive to the destination. Carol sighed, and followed behind the small group of horses. She drew a small smile, eager to step away from that tavern for once.
Vince watched as the party moved about. They mounted their chosen horses and were set on a journey towards Babdol. Vince himself rode a mongolian horse with sleek, brown mane. He clumsily held the reins, showing his inexperience in handling horses. He sometimes steered away from the group while they moved on. But he always came back with a steadier grip over his mount's reins. "I'd never thought that riding a pony would be this hard." He spoke out to the group.
Iani rode at the head of the procession, checking his compass periodically. The device pointed him in a crow's flight to his objective, but he didn't much feel like trekking cross-country through hill and dale. That was a surefire way to end up stuck in a box canyon or on the wrong side of a swamp, he'd learned. In spite of the meandering nature of the wide, rutted dirt roads, sticking to the path for as long as possible was usually the fastest way to get somewhere.
He chatted constantly as the rode; mostly to his goat, and occasionally to his horse, who he seemed to mistrust.
"Nothing personal," he explained to the horse, "I was double-crossed by a horse once. Makes me cautious."
No further details were given; instead he started singing a lewd travelling ditty about a road-weary prostitute and her talking donkey.
The road wound upwards into a country of grassy, rolling hills, sparesly populated with thin trees. They passed a shepherd with his flock of sheep; Iani waved cheerfully at him as they passed, oblivious to his confused and suspicious stare. The day was bright, the breeze was cool, and the sun was warm. Everything was look perfectly rosy.
The trail took a hard curve and cut through a narrow draw between two rows of steep hills. A few hundred yards up ahead the faint outline of a downed tree could be seen laying across the path.
Iani reined his horse to a stop and squinted, peering at the obstacle.
"Hmm. A roadblock in a place that's easy to ambush from the high ground. Seems legit," he laughed. "I think we've got ourselves some filthy bandits over yonder. We wanna ride up like heroes and give 'em the old what-for, or backtrack the way we came and lose an hour or two tromping over the hills?"
He seemed to be addressing the goat.
The horse didn't get a say. He didn't trust the horse.
Tsidia's body waved from one side to another. If she wasn't holding her horse with whole body, she'd get thrown off like a kite. Tsidia bent her hinds down on the animal's rear. She reached forward with her paws. The dragoness made sure not to claw through the skin. The ness rushed forward in a sudden pull. She settled down like a cat resting on the couch. Her tail unwound and slapped over the animal's rump. As the horse kicked up, she dashed to its front and then... the leap.
Tsidia spread her wings. For a few moments, she was swimming through the air. Her body bobbed up and down like an eastern noodle before she stabilized her flight. The dragoness took a deep breath. She rolled over to make a barrel, feeling the wind brush over her scales. The dragoness gained fair altitude fast. Her horse stayed below, the two knowing what each other had in mind.
If hard terrain came to pass, she could map it out from above. Then, she'd land on her horse, stir it the optimal way and take flight again. This guidance continued until she found herself in a crack. If she stayed careful, Tsidia could keep up the narrow flight. Instead, she lowered herself. The dragoness folded her wings, crashing down in a dive. About 10m before impact, she opened them slightly. Enough to start cancelling momentum. With the right timing, she would grab onto her horse once their speeds were similar.
The Dragoness soared over the aspen trees laced with ice and snow, as Iani slowed down. The Zombie stared ahead and spotted it too. A log lay in the way a few miles away.
She felt her gut wrench in terrible instinct as her party approached.
Iani, too busy chatting with his goat- was that correct? Yes-talking to his goat, was too distracted too stop them. She dismounted her dapple and barred the path. Then with a gist of her fingers and a warning look she conjured an imploding cloud of smoke to prevent the travelers from continuing.