It seemed as if the door to the house had sealed for it took the three of us to pull it open. A gust of dusty air rushed out and we staggered back a few feet.
I opened my mouth to comment but Som said “Don’t.”
Wulfgit grunted and followed him inside.
The interior of the house reflected the same clean neatness as the outside, which didn’t match the dusty air smell. No cobwebs hung from the rafters. The tile floor had no dirt. The cottage was one big room, divided into three areas by white, delicate-looking embroidered curtains. The main section had the kitchen area based on the caldron sitting next to the fire, the herb-drying rack, and the sturdy table. The table had four chairs. A small vase of purple and pink flowers sat on top. The hearth was cold.
The area off to the right turned out to be a sleeping area. The small bed had a fluffy blanket and large pillows. It looked quite inviting actually. I noticed Wulfgit starring at the bed with a wistful expression on his homely face.
“She weren’t that old,” he muttered.
The area on the left had two bookshelves with leather bound tomes, a small chest, and an odd chair. Covered in blue material with small wooden feet sticking out the bottom, it looked like a large pillow had swallowed a normal wooden chair. A lit lantern hung from the rafter that illuminated the area well. I imagined sitting on the chair and reading all evening.
I looked at the shelves full of books.
“If I’d only known,” I muttered.
Som’s bark of laughter made me flush.
“You want them?”
“The books? Of course. And the map.” I pointed to the wall.
“That’s a map?” Som asked, peering at it. “What are all those squiggly lines?”
Blue lines, green lines, little lines made out of squares. “I don’t know yet, but I still want it. See – that’s the creek and that dot is Oakvale.”
Som squinted. “How do you know?”
“Because it says Oakvale.” I pointed to the small word next to the dot.
“Oh.” He blinked and stepped back. “Is that the Crown City?”
He measured the distance between the dot for our little village and the much larger dot to the east with his hand. “That’s just a hand-length away. Why do the metal traders complain about going that far?”
Wulfgit snorted, “Them metal traders are stingy and need and excuse to charge more for their wares.”
“No, I mean, yeah, probably, but no. That length of your hand – it’s eight to ten days journey. See this mark, it shows the scale of the map. One fingertip is 20 kilometers.”
Som starred at the wonder of the map for a moment longer and shook his head.
“Let’s take it all back to the tavern. I expect no one would mind you taking the map, but the Elder might want to examine the books. You know, in case they have something about witchcraft in them.”
I smirked at him.

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