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She took coin and reins with a smile and nod. He intimated that he would enjoy a meal with her as well, when he returned. She made a side-comment about cooking extra. He had never had trouble finding a friendly and willing woman.
As he had expected, the path didn't lead to the fortress, but it did reach a peak from which he saw a tower among the trees. Whistling, he headed back to Wendy's welcome arms and well-trimmed table.
In the morning, he bid her a fond farewell with a larger coin for the food. He led his horse most of the way through the mountains; the path was too steep and treacherous for riding. Thunder had no trouble keeping up and even pulled his master by the reins through some sections. Russel couldn't fault the animal, more constant than his wife, for certain.
Russel had to redirect several times when he emerged from the treeline to find the Fortress wasn't where he expected, but before noon, he found himself in a familiar garden, thankfully lacking in familiars. Rather than burst in, as he had the first time, he left Thunder to range and circled the structure, peering in windows. He found Pandora sitting at a spinning wheel.
Russel watched, confounded by a Princess doing something so menial. Surely none of the ladies he'd met at court had every done such. Needlepoint, certainly, with fine spun silk, but not raw, undyed wool. The thread winding round the spindle was nearly as fine as those silks. He jumped when Pandora screamed.