With nothing to do, Entri went to take inventory. When he first joined the pair, they had no system or method of rationing their food and water. It was a wonder how they even got this far in the first place. In fact, right after Entri joined, due to the resulting celebration and feast, they ran dangerously low on food and resorted to hunting wild game.
The first thing Entri went to check on was the water. Normally, people would check on the food to obtain an ease of mind, but Entri learned to save it for last as it prevented Talia from stealing provisions once he looked away. Since they had just visited a riverbed, they had plenty of clean water. The herbs and other ingredients that Talia used for her magic and potion making were running on low. Although they could simply pick common herbs from the road, it was the rarer herbs and plants that could did not naturally grow in the region. Those would have to be purchased. Last of all was food. They were running low because they traveling a long distance to reach the next town. According to Talia, it should have taken two weeks, and if her memory served right, they were ahead by a few days.
Thanks to the cushions and sheets, they took less breaks than before, and since cushions and sheets were light but took up a lot of room, the horse felt less resistance as it pulled the covered wagon, leading to less stress and rest.
After checking the food, Entri noticed that their dehydrated provisions were nearly empty. Entri approached Talia and asked, “do you have anything to do with our dwindling dried foods?”
“What?” Talia asked, dragging out the word. “Of course I don’t. I don’t know what happened to the jerky.”
“Funny. I never said it was jerky.”
Talia did a small jump and yelp upon hearing she had been caught red handed. Entri didn’t want to admonish Talia, but he couldn’t just let her go unpunished. Entri was going to wait at their next break so the three of them could decide Talia’s fate. He would normally hold her trial immediately, but their ration situation was becoming an emergency. They would not have enough food to last another day, counting Talia’s thievery of course.
The sound of metal scraping and clashing, grunts from strained muscles and deathly wails could be heard further down the road. It wasn’t even sundown when Talia, still on the coach, heard the disturbance. With a snap of the reins, the horse increased its motion and the cart jolted in response.
“Master Talia, is something wrong?” Alice asked.
“Not sure, but there might be trouble ahead.”
“And we’re charging in?” Entri asked.
Talia didn’t answer. She couldn’t quite justify herself, but she didn’t want to leave people in trouble to their own fates while they debated whether or not they’d charge in.
“Look, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t go assist, but we should scout ahead first.”
Again, Talia didn’t answer. Seeing her determined eyes, Entri relented and pulled out readied his weapon.
It wasn’t long until they found the source of the commotion. Although distant, they could barely make out what seemed to be a village under the attack of a bandit raid. The attacks were well coordinated and the villagers attempting to flee unfortunately ran into bandits in waiting. Without flinching or hesitation, Talia drove the horse and wagon towards the bandits. By the time they noticed, it was too late. Talia had broken their formation, trampled the ones in the center, and rolled over the others on the side. The ones farther to the sides came out unscathed, but not free of wounds. They were undoubtedly in shock at the sudden entrance of a new challenger.