Himeko showed the messenger papers to the guards, who looked them over, looked over every individual in the party, and looked back to the papers. He handed them to the other guard, who also looked them over, looked over each party member, and then looked back at the papers. They talked to one another for a couple minutes, and then showed the group through the gate. Himeko and the others thanked the guards, and wasted no further time at the checkpoint.
“That was a little unusual,” Cerys said. “What do you think that was all about?”
“I thought you had traveled over international borders before,” Himeko told her.
“Sure, but isn’t going between baronies more like going between states? What is going on with all of this security?”
“Maybe this is just the way they do things,” Himeko told her friend.
“Look,” Peter said, starting to sound frustrated, “let’s just safe the questions for when we meet our guide and keep walking. What’s the point in speculating?”
Nobody really felt like arguing with Peter at that point, so they took his suggestion, quieted down, and kept on walking. It took a lot more walking, but they did eventually come to another village. It was more of a city, actually. Instead of wooden wall surrounding it, it had brick wall. Not freshly-laid bricks, but old ones. It looked like it had been built ages ago, and was taken care of quite well. Cerys wondered whether the other cities in the barony had such nice walls.
The gates leading into the city were made of wrought iron. An intricate pattern wounds its way between the vertical bars, so as to prevent small figures from passing in between the narrow spaces. It must have taken an incredible amount talent to weave such a pattern while the iron was still hot, which made it the kind of thing that Cerys would have stopped and stared at for a long time. Back on Earth, she would sometimes do exactly that, staring at something for a long time until she understood it better. She liked the beauty of architecture and patterns, even if she was not interested in going into that field.
As it was, though, she was more than willing to follow her friends into the city, and did not dally at the gates. She was tired from all the walking, thirsty, in fact, and ready to have a meal that she did not have to eat while she was walking. Even though the summer sun was not beating down on her, she was starting to get warm, and was ready to get out of the sun and into the shade. Hopefully, she thought to herself, their a guide would not insist that they leave right away when they got to the tavern.