November 2, 2016 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
The snow was falling when they reached the Lannamer River, big wet flakes that were clogging the road and making the bridge hazardous. Taikie rode up front with Libkazaarie, talking about the structure of the bridge and things she’d learned about it from one of her books, while Enrie leaned against Gianci and longed for the south, where snow was practically a myth and you never needed mittens.
“The wait is driving me mad,” she muttered. “It’s bad enough that we don’t know where Lirnilalie or Reeve Debereb is, but all this waiting, bouncing along the bridge…”
“Please don’t say ‘bouncing’ and ‘bridge’ in the same sentence.” Gianci looked a little bit green. “This bridge has always driven me a little mad.”
“If any bridge was going to do it,” Kekla agreed, “it would be this one.”
The Lannamer bridge was the biggest, longest bridge in all of Calenta, and it was no surprise it was in Taikie’s books. Three attempts had been made to build something more modern, but all had met in disaster. As it was, it was a bit of a nightmare to cross in the wind; it swayed, and it jostled, and if you had a wagon going each direction, it got a little unstable-feeling, although nothing had ever happened to it. Enrie did her best not to grit her teeth and show how nervous it was making her.
“There’s something up ahead,” Taikie called. “It’s blocking the road– oh, that doesn’t look good.”
“Tairiekie,” Kekla said carefully, “I say this in all friendship, but do please shut up. I can’t close my eyes any tighter.”
“No, I mean… oh, where is that spear? This might be bad.”
“Bad?” Enrie moved slowly to the front of the wagon. Objectively, she knew the bridge had hardly any sway. Rationally, she knew the sway was allowed for in the design, to keep the bridge from crumbling in high winds. But every time the bridge made any noise at all it made her twitch. “What sort of bad, Taikie?”
“Well, you see this carriage coming down the switchback from Lannamer? It’s got some people on it that look like… Well, the colors are right for it to be Lirnilalie.” Taikie pulled a collapsible spyglass from her vest and expanded it. When she put the glass to her eye, she hissed. “They look like nasty people, and they’re coming for the bridge. There’s another wagon, there, at the end of the bridge, but…” She squinted. “Those people look like they belong to the police force. I don’t believe we’ve done anything to call for…” She trailed off and handed Enrie the spyglass.
Enrie got it aimed in the right direction, her hands shaking, and steadied it carefully. There, at the end of the bridge, was a large wagon with the biggest goats Enrie had ever seen, and three people in the uniforms of the Lannamer constabulary. They looked unhappy. They were looking both towards the carriage of thugs and the wagon Enrie was in, and they seemed to be glowering equally in both directions.
“They must have sent a runner ahead.” Enrie collapsed the spyglass and handed it back to Taikie. “Maybe more than one. But if Ilonilarrona is in custody, who is sending everyone?”
“They can’t work for Lirnilalie; they’re too smart.” Taikie wrinkled her nose. “How did someone as stupid as Ilonilarrona end up in an Associate Governorship, anyway?”
“It’s really not the time for a comparative politics discussion. We’ll talk about it when we’re safe and, um, on land.”
Taikie turned to look at her, actually studying her face. “You don’t like the bridge?”
“None of us do. Kekla’s going to be sick.”
“I am not!”
“Oh! I like it.” She stood up in her seat and popped out her spyglass again. “I think we’re going to beat them. But it’s going to be close. House Monitor…”
“No. I cannot go faster.” The House Monitor clipped off the words. “And you can sit down, miss. Lady Enerenarie, you might start to think about Diplomatic ways to says ‘please get out of our way and stop those people from stopping us.'”
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