Tales of a Horse Thief, Part 6a

Tales of a Horse Thief, Part 6a

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Part 6) Flint


Flint was beginning to feel like he had launched a boat into a river, jumped in and then realized he had not brought any oars. He had been swept up into local events since Loden had galloped into the lumber camp with news of a pending bandit attack on a southern caravan. Flint and a dozen of the foresters had left shortly thereafter, bringing their bows and the basics for surviving off the land. They had arrived well after the bandits had begun their attack and had managed to save a few score of the caravan folk.

Lord Gainsly, the merchant who ran the caravan, had then convinced Flint, the foresters and a dozen of his own people to track the bandits to their lair and attempt to rescue his daughter and anyone else they might have been able to save from the caravan. The rescue attempt had failed, mostly due to the fact that there were so many bandits and their lair had turned out to be a village of a few hundred people, hidden deep in the Linklow forest beside a small lake.

After calling off the rescue attempt they had made their way to the lumber camp, where they had rested for a couple days and it was decided to leave some of the most wounded in the care of the local hedge witch, Othi. Meanwhile the business he had at the foresters camp and with Othi had been set aside in favour of aiding the caravan. Flint had accepted Lord Gainsly’s offer to escort the remaining caravan to Cof Crossroads, here the merchant lord had hoped that Marshal Thoddem would be able to assist him.

Despite the marshal’s most recent efforts to expand his patrols and increase the guard force at Cof, those efforts fell far short of being able to handle the number of bandits roaming the countryside. Besides the issue of numbers, it had also come to light that the infamous bandit Wol the Fox was leading them. Marshal Thoddem and his men would need help from the Lord of Carskot.

To make matters worse, there had been a Maldorn airship visiting Cof. They were trying to convince the marshal to allow a supply base to be built beside the village. That situation had been going on for some time, but the marshal and the Lord of Carskot had no interest in what the Maldorn were offering. When the marshal had, once again told them no, the Maldorn had taken exception and blasted the marshal’s tower with alchemical weapons as they flew away. That attack had wrecked part of the tower, killed a couple of guards, and left a dozen other people injured, including Lord Gainsly who remained unconscious from a head wound. Also, a stray shot had hit one of the village dwellings which had then burnt to its foundation.

Flint himself likely would have died in the Maldorn attack if Loden had not dragged him to the ground. Now the man was in the Hospice of Mercy recovering from the wounds he had taken when he had saved Flint. So, now Flint owed Loden a life debt. The gods alone knew what else might come to distract Flint from his quest.

Flint was not one to typically brood about things beyond his control. Today however, with all its surprises, was making him grumpy. Mr Dahlah, or whatever their name or gender was, had made a request of him earlier in the day to escort what was left of the caravan to GreensBridge. A short while later, Marshal Thoddem had requested that he escort a handful of the captured bandits to Carskot. Then, when he had sought out Ander to try and straighten out who was who within the caravan he had found the man at the roadhouse, in the OtherHall, extremely drunk and on the edge of a breakdown. Ander was heart broken about what had happened to the caravan, Lord Gainsly’s present state, the loss of Gainsly’s daughter and the death of so many people who he had known for the past decade.

After he realized Ander was not going to be of much use for the rest of the day he had headed over to the Temple of Mercy. The overcast day had brought rain on and off throughout the morning, as he came to the temple grounds he wondered what else might be in store for him today. He hoped this conversation with Loden was going to be as straight forward as he expected it to be. He stepped through the gate onto the temple grounds, the sky opened up after an earsplitting rumble of thunder and in moments he was soaked by the deluge.

Curse the new gods. He paused, briefly wondering if he should proceed.

With a shrug of his shoulders he trudged along the walkway until he found a few of the priestesses huddled together under the scant shelter of one of the shrines. They had been laughing and clutching at each other as he approached. Lightning flashed, quickly followed by another thunderous crash. The women sheltering at the shrine squealed, shouted and laughed.

Flint nearly had to shout to be heard over the pounding rain, “Excuse me ladies, I’m looking for your hospice. I have business with one of your patients.”

His appearance seemed to have startled them. They were as soaked as he was, their blue robes were heavy with water and clung to their bodies. Huddled together they looked out at him standing in the rain and he saw them collectively look him up and down. A few of them smiled and at least one of them gave a girlish giggle. It was obvious they liked what they saw. Flint kept his mouth shut and looked at them expectantly.

The oldest of them stepped forward, “Yes, sir. The hospice is this way. Follow me.” She turned to the others, “You ladies return to the dormitory and get changed. We’ll resume our lessons later.”

The shapely priestess then lead him along the walkway towards one of the buildings at the back of the grounds. They passed through a garden with many small shines and fountains, all of which were overrunning with water. She spoke loudly over her shoulder, “I apologize for the initiates’ behaviour.”

“That is all right. These things happen.”

“Still, they are supposed to be better disciplined than that.”

Flint said nothing further as he followed her to the hospice and the rain poured down. At the entry she stopped and turned to him, smiling. He noted that she really was pretty, wet pale skin and clinging dark hair and a pleasant curvaceousness with an open and honest smile.

“I dreamed of you last night.”


“The goddess sent me a sending and you were there, with me, I believe we were in the ruins of an old temple.”

Flint was at a loss, what could he say to that?

Her smile widened and she reached out and touched his shoulder gently, “I’m sorry, I did not mean to disturb you.”

“It is not so much you that has disturbed me, but the uncommon interest goddesses seem to be taking in me recently.”

“Then be blessed my friend and know that the Goddess of Mercy holds no malice towards mortals.” She paused to see if he had anything further to say, then asked, “Who is it you are looking for?”

“A man named Loden. He was burnt during the Maldorn attack last night. I was told he is here.”

“I attended him earlier in the day, but I think you will find him around back. Follow me, let’s not go through the hospice and drip everywhere.”

He made a broad gesture for her to lead on. She took him around to the back where he noticed Loden and one of the local guards standing in the door of a nearby shed, smoking. Still standing in the rain beside the priestess Flint said, “I owe you a life, friend. My thanks for saving me.”

The guard looked confused, but then realized he was talking to Loden, “I should probably get back inside, I’m supposed to be laying down.”

“I have a lesson to finish, I’ll leave you two fine gentlemen to your business.” The priestess walked off as well.

Loden puffed on his pipe, watched the priestess walk away, and then spat to one side, “No big deal.”

“So you say, but I’d likely be dead if not for you.”

“Don’t worry about it.”

“Well, I’m not sure its that simple. Besides, I was wondering about your travel plans.”


“I’m being pressed into taking some of the bandits to Carskot and would appreciate your assistance. It seems that the caravan would be going with us to Carskot as well.”

Loden spat to the side again and then looked at him.

Flint found his demeanour somewhat lacking in civility, but said nothing.

The man puffed on his pipe a few more times then asked, “Is there pay?”

“The marshal said there would be and I know the caravan is willing to pay for an escort to GreensBridge.”


“I see you were singed. Though it does not look too severe.”

“Ah, that’s nothing.”

“Will you consider coming with me?”

He nodded, though did not look overly interested, “I’ll think about it.”

Flint also nodded, “Fair enough, I’ll talk to you later then.”

Flint made his way back across the temple grounds and as he passed back through the gate the heavy rain abated.


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