TITLE: Chestnut Maiden
GENRE: YA Fantasy Adventure
The hero, escorting a disguised princess, doubles back to make sure they weren't followed. He nearly stumbles upon a couple of villains hunched over a small campfire and eavesdrops.
“’Tis none of our business, lad. Just do as ye’re told and follow the donkey tracks.”
“A wild goose chase, it is. Nothin’ up here but scrawny sheep and scrawnier shepherds,” the younger man whined.
“Sheep’s what’s fillin’ your belly, so’s ye better shut yer gob.”
“Hey, I’m just sayin’. It’s stupid to waste ourselves up here. The other men who’s got the lowlands are the ones who’ll be getting’ the reward.”
“That ferryman thought our girl had come up here.”
“Aye, because she had fine boots and didn’t say nothin’? More like she didn’t notice his fine mustache. Soothes his pride to send us after her.”
“I’m gettin’ weary of your chat, Ricco. The master wants that girl.”
Scorch it. They were hunting for Anna. He’d known it, in his gut.
“… We keep goin’ ‘til we get to Montargento. We look high. We look low. We cross the mountain a dozen times if need be. If that girl is anywhere between here and the city, we bag her and deliver the wench. Ye want out? Leave right now. Go back, ye softy. Join those fat merchants and doughy lowlanders.”
“Hey, no need to wave that knife around. I’s just sayin’. No harm in talk, ye know.”
“I’m tired of hearing it. Zitto, else we’ll take your third and split it between the two of us.”
Third? Zino hadn’t heard a third man’s voice.