Ells leads the party through the town, past the fortress on your right and through the west gate--which is a good deal smaller than the rather impressive North or South gates. Your feet fall onto a narrow road, barely wide enough for a wagon, with the Asper river on your left and a series of cow and sheep pastures on your right. You note that, while the Asper is perhaps twenty yards across as it passes through the town, where both sides of the river have been embraced by stone walls, here before the river enters the town it is much wider, somewhat shallow and grown with reeds. Numerous sand bars follow its banks and from place to place there are deep ruts crossing the road where for centuries cattle have been led from the pasture to the water.
The day grows warmer by ten bells (you can hear the distant toll of the bells of Dachau for a good four miles), and to keep from growing very uncomfortable you will need to doff your cloaks. I cannot remember if anyone has a hat, but if they do, it is greatly appreciated.
You have walked a good five miles to reach a small stone marker describing the distance rising two feet on the side of the road. Peasants are rare, and there are no travellers approaching along the road. Over that distance you have seen many farms growing rye and other crops, mixed with pasture land. Now and then there are streams, with bridges and guards asking for tolls, but Ells demonstrates a patch of embroidered cloth and metal baubles and you’re exempted from paying. Increasingly, both sides of the road have grown thick with a mixture of elm and pine trees, with small forested patches falling into darkness on the side opposite the river. From time to time, where you have climbed a low rise in the road, fifty or a hundred feet, you’ve been able to see extensive, forest-covered foothills to the south, perhaps forty or fifty miles away, and purple mountains beyond that; even at a distance of eighty miles, they look impressive, with glaciers visible on their high slopes.
At the marker, Ells will point at a much narrower track, hardly wide enough for a cart, which will climb the isolated hill group rising three hundred feet on your right, perhaps a mile away. Almost at once as you leave the main road, you find yourself passing through a forest. The track crosses, then recrosses a stream as you begin to climb. There are no longer any farms, nor inhabitants to be seen. The cart track is in quite good condition, and shows signs of being maintained.
What preparations do you care to make?