Mercutio’s legs felt of stone as dusk of the seventeenth day convened. How much longer would it take. He unloaded the patient donkey, Horace, put a feedbag of oats over his fuzzy grey ears, then built a small fire for dinner. He wouldn’t starve, certainly, with all of the stock the donkey carried, but his body wasn’t young anymore. Arthritis gave a creak to his knees that wasn’t there five years ago. He laid out the pallet near the fire and soon dreamed he was flying over the mountains with the moon.
He loaded Horace in the morning after breakfast and resumed their ascent. Mercutio’s mind was flying again when his revery was interrupted by, “It’s about time!”
Looking up, he saw Merlin. He smiled with relief and happiness at the journey’s end.
Merlin said, “I am dying for a cup of coffee!”
Horace followed the two men, carefully stepping up the stone stairway. Once inside he was unloaded and led to a cool corner near clear water in a trough. Mercutio had never seen Merlin move so fast to his chamber’s kitchen area with the coffee tin and a jug of water.
The two men sat at a stone table and sipped the steaming java, both sighing with contentment.
Mercutio said, “Merlin, that was my last trip up the mountain. I’m hoping there is a place for me here, where my skills can be put to use.”
Merlin said, “My friend, I am honored you want to settle in here. My last assistant went off to pull a sword from a stone. How good are you at using a mortar and pestle?”
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