Tales of a Horse Thief, Part 8c

Tales of a Horse Thief, Part 8c

Previous Next


Lord Gambonti seemingly felt it was necessary to have some of his people keep track of Loden and Flint, they had spotted two people following them up to the keep from the tavern. People, Flint insisted, he had seen on their way into town earlier. Both men reported that during their stay in the keep they had hardly been left alone the entire time. Loden did not seem too concerned by the lord’s actions, saying he had seen stranger behaviour from people. Flint however seemed to take it as yet another sign of the man’s lacking. For a while, as Flint was explaining his plan to extract themselves, Asta had been worried that he intended to kill the Lord of Carskot. It still might might come to that, Goddess preserve.

Flint had first gone to Mr. Dahlah, while she and Loden had remained in the hall, casually keeping an eye open for eavesdroppers or other trouble. Flint had talked to Dahlah privately and managed to convince them that now was a better time to leave than later. Flint’s concern, regardless of the fact they intended to leave today, was that Dahlah and the rest of the caravan would not be allowed to leave, ever. While Dahlah had been sure of their ability to negotiate a way through the present situation, they also had no desire to protract their stay here any longer than required. Dahlah quickly packed their belongings while Loden and Flint also gathered their own gear. A short stop at the stable to gather Loden’s horses and then they headed for the main gate.

Asta had lead them out of the keep, calmly and without interference. No one challenged them. Though she was pretty sure his lordship would have heard of their departure shortly after they had left. They crossed the drawbridge and headed into town along the main road, which ran west to east, making a point of being seen. A bit over halfway through the town, where the buildings were closest together they double backed through a couple of side streets and headed towards the docks where the barges Dahlah had hired, had been waiting to depart for over two days. Dahlah had to also stop at the inn where they had billeted the people who would be travelling on to GreensBridge. The caravan folk were told to grab their stuff and get to the docks, departure would happen shortly and anyone not there would be left behind.

Flint saw Mr Dahlah off, while Loden and she stayed with the horses.

Loden seemed to find the situation amusing. Asta was worried their gambit would not succeed. While Flint seemed confident his plan would work, a lot of it depended on an assumed authority she did not possess. His basic observation of the deference most people lent her and the other priestesses was not incorrect. However, the Temples of Mercy specifically shunned any appearance of secular power. She had also told Flint she was unwilling to directly lie to anyone and he insisted that she would only need to tell anyone who cared, that she had been given a vision from the goddess wherein they had been travelling northeast through the Linklow Forest. Just as she had been telling them for the last eight-day.

Loden took his pipe from between his teeth then spat, gestured with the pipe and said, “There it goes.”

Asta looked where he was pointing but did not see anything unusual. “What do you mean?”

“That kid there, running down the street. He bolted from the guard station over by the docks, message in hand.”

“Well, it will take him a while to get to the keep and even longer for the message to reach Lord Gambonti. This just might work.”

“Ha! We’ll see.” He spat again, “If Flint extends this goodbye much longer the summer will be gone.”

“You do not like Mr. Dahlah, I’ve noticed.”

Loden spat again, shoved his pipe back in his mouth and scratched Tingy’s nose. “I just think she’s kind of silly, insisting to be called mister and strutting around in men’s clothing while acting so refined.”

“They are refined, polite, capable and dependable. I find Dahlah very attractive, it’s pleasing just listening to them talk.”

Loden laughed, shook his head, “Well, Sister, I think you and I have very different tastes then.”

Asta placed her hands on her hips and gave Loden a look of incredulity, “Loden, I’ve seen you checking Dahlah out on more than once occasion. Do you really believe you can lie to a priestess?”

He looked at her and puffed on his pipe, smoke briefly billowed around his head before the breeze blew it to the northeast. Asta smiled. Loeden smiled. Flint strode up, “What are you two grinning about? Are we ready?”

Loden was quick to give an affirmative nod and passed BigNose’s reigns to Flint. Asta asked, “So we are still going out the north gate?”

“Yes, it’s close and the road is apparently in great condition, unlike the Linklow road that heads northeast, we’ll get further, faster, if we start along the River Trade Road.”

Loden passed Rogue’s reigns to her and said, “Let’s get going. If we’re lucky we’ll be three yat down the road before his lordship is able to sort things out here. But we did see that messenger running to the keep.”

They walked around the great Temple of the East Sister, ancient river goddess. Past the slaughter houses near the north gate and then through it. No one stopped them. When they had cleared the main area of the gate they mounted and headed north at a modest pace. It was nearly two yat along the road before they were out of line of sight of the keep and then they turned onto a track cutting northeast, alongside a small stream. The pace quickened for a while, then slowed, they crossed a bridge and passed some farmers taking some crops to town, from the early harvest. Then the pace quickened once again and the horses were soon galloping along the trail leading between the back country of the farming homesteads. Once again they slowed to a walk, for a blessedly long while.

Asta was finding their flight from Carskot rather uncomfortable. A robe was not a good garment for riding, other than the shift she had under the robe and her sandals she had nothing else to wear, although there was travel gear on the back of the horse and the cloak that Dahlah had sold to her for much less than Asta thought it was worth. None of her garments were tight enough to provide her any support. That last gallop had left her chaffed and bruised. She focused her will to her connection with the Goddess and soon felt some relief, but all too soon Flint was suggesting they should move quicker.

A long trot, followed by a walk of about equal length, followed by yet another spree of galloping. The couple of times that she had ridden Rogue with Loden’s instructions and oversight had been enjoyable, she had only been a little sore after. Her experience though, was not up to this type of riding and if Rogue had not been such a good horse, she doubted she would have kept up at all. As it was, she was done in by a small stream that the other two easily leapt over and rode on. When Rogue jumped, Asta was suddenly no longer in the saddle. She came down with a thud that knocked the wind out of her. She lay stunned by the side of the road for many moments.

When she was able to breathe normally again she was more relieved to no longer be moving than worried about what kind of damage she might have suffered from the fall. Content in her moment, she lay there watching clouds blow across the sky above her.

After a while Asta thanked the Goddess that she was still alive. She could hear the other two returning, so she sat up and looked around. Rogue was nearby chomping on some grass. She stood and straightened her clothing and pulled some dried plants and a couple small sticks from her hair. The other two reigned in and sat a top their horses regarding her. Eventually Flint asked, “Are you alright?”

“Thank the Goddess, I am.”

“Can you ride?”

“Oh, I’m not as sure about that.”

Loden spat to one side, “What seems to be the problem?”

“I’ve leaned a couple of valuable lessons today.”


“One’s choice of clothing when riding should be well considered. And, in all your rush to get out of Carskot, I should have considered getting some supplies from the temple.”

Flint and Loden sat on their horses looking down at her, Flint seemed concerned and Loden had a mischievous smirk.

After neither spoke up, she continued, “Thankfully the Goddess will sustain me and I should recover quickly from these discomforts. Though at the next opportunity I should get clothing better suited to riding.”

Flint finally spoke up, “Hopefully we are far enough away from Carskot at this point that we can take it easier for the rest of the day. When we make camp I have a bit of salve for any chaffing you may have experienced. I’m sure I can improvise something to bind your breasts with, I’ve some good dwarven rope that would work.”

“Sounds lovely.”

Loden, thought that was funny, “Ha!”


Previous Next

Leave a Reply

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