By Hugh J. O'Donnell
Copyright 2011 Hugh J. O'Donnell
Cover image copyright Katharina Maimer, 2010.
This story was originally published on the Every Photo Tells Podcast, and a free audio version is available at http://everyphototells.com.
It had been a long, rainy, journey. Malachi loved seeing new places and meeting new people, but the travel in between was the worst part of being a bard. Why did all these accursed middle country towns have to be so damn far away from one another? Perhaps if he'd had a horse, it wouldn't have been so bad, but he had left Kingshome with little more than the shirt on his back, his cap full of stories, and his bell covered walking stick. He had perhaps satirized the noble houses a bit too sharply, this time.
So, he was on a country tour for a while. He did have to admit that he enjoyed the little towns, with their easy crowds hungry for news and songs. Sleeping by a warm fire every night, and small beer served by pretty barmaids didn't hurt either.
At present, that fire, beer and barmaid were still a few hours walk away. The sky had stayed a uniform gray all day, only lightening by degrees, but he guessed that it was the middle of the afternoon. The rain had settled from a pelting wall to a foggy mist that clung at him and made the hilly road muddy and treacherous. He didn't see the campfire until he had nearly walked right by it.