Tales of a Horse Thief, Part 2c

Tales of a Horse Thief, Part 2c

Previous Next


During the morning of the next day Flint came across more of the unfamiliar ruins. Large megalithic stones lay toppled, some broken, the foundations of buildings were scattered through the hills and, most surprisingly, he had found a stairway cut into the cliff leading down to the river. Along the edge of the river were a couple of very large stones that may have served as docks. When he descended partway down the stair to get a better view he spotted cliff side openings and walkways carved into the stone. Though the river was wider here than what he had seen yesterday, he was pretty sure the far cliffs were likewise carved. Once again he wondered who these people had been, but curbing his curiosity, he did not investigate the cliff-side dwellings.

A yat or so north he found Loopee structures amongst the older ruins, some of these were partially intact, certainly not as old as the unknown structures. Many of them had been built over the older remains, sometimes incorporating the previous foundations.

A bit further along a precipice rose out above the river, extending thirty or so paces past most of the rest of the bank and a partial circle of standing stones still stood. As he approached he could see that erosion had degraded the cliff below the standing stones and he found fault lines and cracks in the natural rock. He did not go all the way up, but from what he could see of the remaining stones they appeared to have been a calendar, marking the seasons with their alignment to the sun and stars. From this vantage he could also see up and down the mighty river. A few yat northward he could see that the forest reached the river’s edge as well to northeast, slightly inland from the river, were a couple sizable columns of smoke. Maybe the lumber camp.



Flint approached the foresters camp cautiously from the south along the cliffs above the river. There were a couple of seldom used trails leading into the nearby woods. Half a yat further along he came to a small cottage with a couple of outbuildings. Wooden racks contained fish drying in the sun. A small net was being repaired by a woman sitting on the front step of the cottage and three young children were at play on the far side of a small animal pen that contained a few chickens and a goat. Some domesticated cats were around the area as well, mostly basking in the sun.

“Hello.” he called out while still a fair ways from the cottage. The woman looked up with a startled expression. She called the children over and sent them inside, then she carefully rose to her feet collecting the net in her arms then draped it over an empty rack.

“Unusual for travellers to come up along the river.” She said. He could hear in her voice that she was nervous, she held some sort of small hooking tool in her hand and glanced over to where some yard tools were leaning near the cottage door.

“I apologize if I startled you. I’ve actually come up this way looking for an old hall, a dwarf I talked to suggested that what I was looking for might be in this area.”

She snorted, nearly rolled her eyes and noticeably relaxed, “I see, another adventurer looking through the ruins for lost treasures. Not really my thing, that there, but Othi would be the one to talk to.”


“Oh, she’s our local healer and mystic,” The woman eyed Flint as if appraising a horse, “She’ll be happy to see you, just her type.”

Flint waited a moment or two, “Where might I find her?”

“Well her cottage is that way, there’s a trail behind our garden, a little less than a yat from here. She might be over near the village though, up by the sawmill or near the trade road, sometimes she offers divination to passers-by. Take the trail behind the outhouse to get to the village.”

“Thank you.”

“Peace be with you.” She watched as he departed.

Flint took the trail behind the garden, hoping to find the woman in question at her home and not have to chase about the countryside looking for her. The trail he was on was infrequently used by the locals, but deer sign was plentiful and he even spotted boar tracks. Distantly he could hear the sounds of a saw blade and men calling to each other as they went about their work.

As he came closer to his destination Flint noticed that some of the trees had been marked with hexes and that charms or fetishes hung from the branches. Some of it he recognized, many of his family had a talent for such, though he felt no compulsions or desire to turn back. A few dozen more paces brought him to a beautiful glade and a sizable, rambling series of buildings mostly centered around an old sod house. There were charms hanging from tree branches all around the glade and more hexery on the buildings. On the high ground behind the buildings, at the north edge of the glade, he could see what appeared to be a ritual circle, thirteen carved wooden posts marked the outer edge of the trampled ground within.

A dog barked from somewhere near the buildings and then a couple mutts trotted into sight, one of them gave another bark but they did not appear overly concerned at his approach. He stopped, put down his bow and took off his sword, setting it beside the bow. He knelt and called the dogs over, excited tail wagging belied their cautious approach and they were soon pressing in on him for rubs and pats. Flint liked dogs. They appeared to be healthy and well cared for.

A young woman, tall and well muscled came from around the buildings, she was very pregnant. She strode up, muttering about the pair of dogs being useless. The dogs reluctantly went to her with ears back and appeasing wines. She briefly stooped to pet one on the head and glared at Flint.

“Hello. Nice dogs.”

“If you say. You here for Othi?”

“I guess so, a fisher woman directed me this way. She may know things about the local ruins that I’d like to ask her about.”

“Fine. She’ll be here for the midday meal, I think. It will be ready in a bit, you’re welcome to join us, but I’d suggest you clean up first. You stink.”

“Thank you for your hospitality, is there a place I could clean up and stash my gear?”

With a frown she gave a curt nod, “This way.”

He retrieved his weapons and followed her to the homestead. The dogs loped along, tails wagging. She went between a couple of the buildings and through a gate in a short fence. The sod house was old, the nearby facing was what appeared to be a wood shed made from heavy beams, newer than the rest of the building. The roof of the sod structure bowed down towards the center, a couple of goats were overseeing the area from the top. The other buildings made a loose circle around a large kitchen garden, trampled yard and general work area. Fences of different sorts, filling the gaps between buildings did little to keep the chickens, geese or pigs contained. Another goat had somehow ascended to the roof of one of the sheds. The buildings were all marked with arcane symbols and hexes.

The strong woman walked up to one of the newer buildings on the north facing and opened a door, Flint noticed a stream running under the east wall, he could feel the cooler air a couple paces from the door. She gestured for him to enter, “This is the spring house, use the pool at the west end, you can leave your stuff inside. If you’ve no change of clothing I’d recommend doing some laundry.”

Flint wondered if the woman was always this brusque or if she was having an off day, or if the pregnancy was the cause. He thanked her and stepped in, she closed the door behind him. It took a couple of moments for his eyes to adjust to the dimmer light. The stream ran through the center of the building, a small pool to his right held what appeared to be a jug of milk and a couple of large bowls, one of which contained butter. The pool to his left was larger than he had been expecting and it was made of finished stone, it may have been something leftover from the ancient ruins. A stone step ran along the inside edge, the center of which was a couple feet deep, a spillway allowed the water to run out under the west wall. A couple of covered baskets held fine sand as well as soap. He stripped, tossing the clothing he had been wearing into the pool, minus his cloak and boots, he would brush those out later.


Previous Next

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *