Tales of a Horse Thief, Part 8d

Tales of a Horse Thief, Part 8d

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The rest of the journey, on their first day out from Carskot, had been easier going than their initial rush to elude Lord Gambonti. Mostly they had walked, leading the horses. They had made camp fairly early, along the edge of the Linklow Forest. After the horses had been seen to and the basics of the camp set up Flint offered her the cream he had mentioned and showed her the dwarven made rope. The rope was finely crafted, soft to the touch even, it was only slightly thicker than her thumb and surprisingly light weight. When she had asked Flint how they had crafted it he said he was unsure, then he asked if there was anything else that she needed.

“Well, much of the chaffed areas are in hard to reach places. I’d not want to waste your salve. Also, I’m unsure how you expect me to use this rope.”

“Well, I was going to attempt the rope work while you were seeing to your aggravated flesh. Though, truthfully, if your modesty allows, it would be much better to do the knot work on you, as I make the binding.”

She detected no discomfort in his offer and there was nothing suggestive in his tone, “Well, I’ve never been prudish.” She untied the simple rope belt that she wore around her hips then removed her robe.

Loden, who had been over near the horses was suddenly walking off into the forest, “I’m going to gather some more fire wood.”

Flint made no comment about Loden’s departure, Asta moved over to her bedroll and removed her shift. Flint had strong hands but a gentle touch and if she had not been in such discomfort she would have suggested he do more than apply the salve. Then, surprisingly quickly, he was knotting and wrapping the rope about her breasts, over her shoulders and around her upper torso and despite her discomfort from the days travels she found herself highly aroused. Though, she regulated her breathing and thanked the Goddess for giving her such capable and handsome men to care for. It was done all too quickly. Flint showed her a couple knots she could untie to loosen the improvised halter a bit, but he suggested keeping it on until she no longer needed it. Then he put the rest of his rope back in his pack and started preparing some food.

Loden returned some time later with a big armload of wood for the fire, he made no rude comments nor suggestive jokes and was very happy to eat the food Flint had cooked. They agreed to keep a watch though the night, Asta would take the first shift, Flint offered to take the second and Loden was happy enough with the last shift.

She had sat quietly by the dying fire, keeping an ear out for trouble and contemplating the Goddess and her gifts. Flint woke for his shift and Asta was very happy to crawl under her blanket and sleep. That night, and for many of the following, her dreams were about Flint’s capable hands.

They were up shortly after the sunrise and Loden was proudly showing off a bottle of booze that his hat had magically produced. They ate and were back on the trail in short order. Near mid-morning they came to the North Linklow Road and generally were headed northeast for the next few days.

There were very few buildings of any sort along the old road, only during the first day did they pass occupied dwellings and the people there were wary of strangers. The road soon dwindled to a seldom used trail, mostly overgrown and sometimes blocked by fallen trees. Over the next couple of days they saw three other dwellings; a burntout cottage on the bank the North Linklow River, a forester’s hall that had been abandoned and a small stone homestead that also seemed to have been unoccupied for at least a few years. They saw no one else along the road, not even recent tracks left by people travelling through.

Asta had never been deep in the forest before. Previously her travels had taken her along the edge of the old forest, rarely more than a yateer from the East Sister River. She, and Loden as well, were amazed at the size and variety of the trees, the flowers, ferns, streams, springs and the vast variety of wildlife. Flint however had spent much time in the forest when he had been younger and had also travelled though parts of Els’Vain Hoff, far to the northeast. His experience and skills kept them from dangerous animals and he would periodically find tracks of goblins and one time he found sign that trolls had moved through the area. Thankfully the goblin and troll sign were many days old.

Flint had a fair amount of plant lore, though he claimed it was mostly passing knowledge, stuff he had picked up along the way; he mostly knew what was good to eat and how to prepare it. He was also knowledgeable on hazardous plants and to some extent medicines and poisons. As far as Asta was concerned his knowledge was much more than passing, but that was Flint for you, one of those guys that seemed to know a bit about everything.

“My Aunt Tipper is very knowledgeable on the subject of plants, her mother and my oldest sister studied with one of our elders who was well versed in the old lore. My sister went further with it though, she spent time in GreensBridge and studied alchemy and herbary at the university.”

“Wow. I know a few of the Sisters who studied at GreensBridge. One of them told me there was more lore and knowledge available there than a person could learn in a lifetime. Sister Gwethrek, she studied as a medical student, learning all the parts of the body and how to do various surgeries.”

Flint and she spent a lot of time over those few days talking about the different healing arts and showing each other plants they knew, sharing formulas and enjoying each others company. As well, Loden spent a fair amount of time riding along side her as they travelled, making sure she was sitting properly on the horse and generally helping her to become more confident with Rogue.

The travelling was becoming easier and by the fourth day after Carskot she was in much less discomfort. The forest trail rarely offered a chance to let the horses travel with any speed. There was, however, much to be aware of about regarding the uneven, root-strewn, ground when riding through such terrain. She also noticed that the further east they travelled the less tense Loden seemed. Though he was getting booze from the hat every morning, he was not drinking, instead he intended to keep gathering the bottles with the idea he would sell them along the way. He already had a lot of equipment stashed about his person and on Tingy, not to mention a small barrel of tobacco, so the addition of many more bottles was going to become a problem, at some point.

Loden liked smoking, drinking, wenching and generally anything that was a good time. He said that after the invasion he had learned that life was too fleeting not to enjoy it, while you had it. He did not mention much about the war and she was not inclined to push him to do so, all things in their own time.

The day previous they had found a hilly glade and a number of cold springs which formed large pools and streamed together across mossy rocks before becoming a bubbling brook winding south towards the North Linklow River. An ancient dulmak had rooted across the rocky ground, it was near seven paces tall and its branches partially shaded two of the larger pools.

Loden suggested it looked like an excellent place to take a dip and smoke a bowl, Asta had agreed readily, at least about taking a dip. Flint though, was more concerned with travelling on and did not relish the idea of loosing half a day’s travel. It was not hard to convince him however and they had stripped down and splashed around in the steams and sat in the pools. Afterwards, they made an early camp, ate fish that Flint was able to catch in the brook and drank one of Loden’s bottles of wine. Then Asta was in a mood to sing, so she sang some of the temple hymns and just to see the expressions on the men’s faces she sang a couple of dirty limericks she knew. Loden cackled with delight that she had done so, Flint seemed surprised but chuckled and smiled at her.

The travelling had continued the next morning and Asta was very thankful that she was present, riding through a beautiful forest, doing the Goddess’ will. She had a good feeling about their future travels and what they might accomplish together.


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