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Ben sat up and looked around as Lansal made rounds waking the party about an hour before sunrise and set them about preparation for their journey.

Lansal reached Edwin and leaned over him as he had Ben and tussled his shoulder. “It is snowing again. We have no time to waste.”

 

Edwin wasted no time getting the group together and they left quietly before dawn. They passed through the empty dark streets as the snow fell silently through the cold still air. The whole town was dark and silent except for the squeaking of the snow beneath the feet of the fourteen travelers.

 

They came to the first long, steep section just as the sky turned grey beyond the mountain. The road ascended the slope twisting back and forth over the mountain’s face in a long series of switchbacks whose pitch approached the steepest grade possible for a good team and a light load.

 

“There are teamsters around theses sections when the pass is open with extra horses they add to the team to help pull the wagons,” Tarduunal said. “They help under-prepared travelers get up these first sections.”

 

“I guess you two are the extra horses I need,” Nathan replied.

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Copyright 2018, 2019, 2020  —  Bill Snodgrass