Both girls took quite a bit of effort to get into the saddle, but the two knights offered no further protest to their presence and even chivalrously assisted them. Less than five minutes later both Alis and Aurei were ready to go, with Sir Eleazar riding behind the Drow girl and Aeric behind Alis.
"We'll ride the way we came into town; the horses probably will try to get as far away from the smell of the ghasts as they can, so they may be on the other end of Thurgood." Eleazar said to them, and then to Aeric, "We should ride quickly until we are out of the range of the Sorceress on top of that Silo."
The half-Elf knight agreed, "Alis, hold on tight to the reins; we want to get some distance between us and the Sorceress.
"Okay, I'm ready." The girl said, leaning over in the saddle.
"Aurei?" Eleazar inquired.
"Ready", she said, and with a jab in Vanyasulie's side with her spurs, matched by Sir Aeric's spurring his own horse, they took off at a full gallop, over the slight embankment and onto the dirt road, rushing up the street as if they were in full retreat. Aurei cringed partially in pain from her stomach wound and part in apprehension of a sudden sonic blast from behind them at any moment, but fortunately they had caught the Sorceress and her minions off guard and a moment later they were down the hill and out of range of the magic user on the grain silo.
They slowed as they reached the middle part of the village, feeling safe enough here to do so. In the still grey light of the day they trotted up the street glancing from side to side, looking for their group's horses. But nothing living, not even some of the villagers' steeds, were in sight.
"How frustrating." Eleazar said to her after a few minutes of searching, "Not even other horses to replace those we lost. Only homes and a few businesses."
"Businesses!" Aurei suddenly exclaimed, causing the other three to jump.
"What?" Aeric asked her, unsure what she meant.
"That reminded me - when Laz said businesses, that made me think of something!"
" 'Laz'?" the half-Elf repeated with a wrinkled nose, "You mean Sir Eleazar?"
"Never mind that now!" Aurei dismissed the comment, "When he said that, I began thinking of what businesses they have here, and there are not many, just the basic sort that a small village would have. But their most famous one is Grandmum Velters'."
Alis made an exclamation when Aurei said the name, "Of course!"
"Who is this Grandmum Velters?" Eleazar asked.
"An old lady - some claim she is a witch - but she has lived here forever. She's a midwife and sort of the local herb doctor - makes her own potions and pretty good at it judging from her notoriety. I've heard for years how wonderful her healing potions were. Her house should be just up the street from here."
A few minutes later they came up to a long rectangular house partially hidden by a yard full of trees of various types. On an old worn sign post was a wooden placard with the words MIDWIFE, POTIONS & HERBS.
"I guess this would be Mrs. Velter's house?" Aeric asked Aurei.
"I'd say so." Aurei peered through the dense foliage toward the building, "I don't imagine she's alive. I hope her place isn't ransacked and that she kept an inventory of healing potions."
"Well there is only one way to find out." Eleazar suggested and so they rode their horses as far up the path to the house that they could, until the trees overhang so low that they had to stop.
"Aeric and I will go in and check - you and Alis stay on the horses."
Both Aurei and Alis started to protest, but Eleazar held up a hand, "Listen to me - if there is danger, we may have to mount and ride off fast and neither one of you can get in the saddle quick enough. Besides, we need to keep an eye out for any activity by those down the road. Aeric and I will move quickly and we'll take all the healing potions that we can find."
Both girls couldn't argue with the logic of his plan, so a moment later the two knights had dismounted and disappeared under the overhanging branches as they went up to the house.
"Be careful!" Alis called after them, but they didn't answer her. She turned to her friend, "Aurei, I sure hope they find something in there other than zombies or ghouls."
"I think all the undead are down around the pumpkin patch - and hopefully they will stay there. If it hadn't been for my stupid idea on watchtowers, we both could be back at the Muddy Boot preparing for the dinner crowd right now."
"Yes, but you'd also not know that one of the villages in your duchy had been overran by undead. So don't knock yourself, I think you're doing a fabulous job as duchess."
Aurei smiled weakly, "I didn't realize it would be this exciting - when Father was active, he never had anything even remotely like this happen while he was Duke."
"Alis, I'm afraid this is just the start of a time when our way of life in Westmark will change and never be the same."
"Don't say that, hon, this is just a bad time, but we will all get through this. Trust in Yesh!"
Aurei nodded, glancing under the foliage at the few bits of Grandmum Velters' house she could see and wondering what was going on within.