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Story Encounter
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Thread: Encounter

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Hooterville, MI
    Posts
    502

    Encounter

    Encounter

    FMJ


    One rule that I have tried to follow is to never discuss business in the presence of strangers. The risk is just too great when your customers always pay in gold. But it was just a little slip. It might have been the wine that flowed a little too freely over the meal or maybe I just desperately needed to believe that the others in the tavern were only travelers not unlike myself. It could have been the thrill of closing yet another successful deal with the prestigious Mercantile Guild Exporters that caused it but I will never know.
    The single slip I made was to mention that I had concluded my business with the Guild. I should have been warned by the short silence that followed or the pair of low whistles that came from the next table, but I took no heed. After all, these were modern times; what did I have to fear? I was only 3 days by horseback from my home in Vandenmeade on the coast with safe lodging in a sturdy inn and tavern each night. The King’s own men rode the Crown Road on regular patrol to make it safer to travel there.
    A few travelers embark on crusades; great journeys that could take months to complete but the common folk only travel for business or personal reasons over short distances easily covered by a few days ride on horseback or wagon. The travelers with the farthest distance to ride always leave the inn first so as to find shelter before nightfall, especially if they are unsure of their route. With my business concluded, I had no demands on my time and no scheduled appointments to keep. I arose late, enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and settled my accounts with the innkeeper for my lodging. The stable boy had my chestnut roan, Darcy, saddled and I had only to add my saddle bags before I could leave.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Queensland, Australia.
    Posts
    71
    OhhKay......?
    If you can't fix it with a hammer, you have an electrical problem.

  3. #3
    Thanks for the new story FMJ, it looks like a good start. I hope you continue with it.

    Wayne

  4. #4
    Sounds like he is in trouble in the first page.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Hooterville, MI
    Posts
    502
    “Good travels and fair weather to you, Sir!” the stable boy called amiably as I checked Darcy’s tack.
    “What news of the Crown Road north?” I replied as I rose to the saddle hoping the stable boy more likely to hear news first and recognize truth from rumor.
    “The King’s own men arrested bandits on the Crown Road in the last fortnight, good Sir!” he called out.
    I dug a copper from my vest pocket and pitched it to him calling my thanks over my shoulder as I cantered Darcy through the Inn gates to the edge of the Crown Road and headed north. I soon overtook the ox drawn cart of a woodcutter heavily laden with bundles and soon after, the cart of a farrier but other than those, the Crown Road was empty and I was alone.
    I rode on easily, luxuriating in the fresh air of the late summer morning through fields of wildflowers, grassy meadows and the occasional wood. Darcy’s hooves clip-clopped hollow musical notes as we walked over wooden bridges where they crossed swollen creeks and small swift flowing rivers. At about noon, judging from the sun, I left the Crown Road and walked Darcy to the edge of a field we had visited before where a clear stream flowed into a pond with lily pads and cat tails. I dug an apple from a saddle bag for Darcy that he eagerly munched before I sat on a flat rock in the shade of a bay willow to rest in this idyll by the pond.
    Dear sweet Darcy is the most sensible, level-headed horse I own and an absolute pleasure to ride. I go to great lengths to make sure he is properly groomed, fed and shod to the point that some would say I have spoiled him.
    He and I first met at a street fair where a fat merchant was pulling him by a twitch attached to his lip as he whipped his flanks because he was struggling to pull an over-loaded cart dragging a bad wheel. I have always been fond of the chestnut roan and the abuse of this one just hit a raw nerve with me.

  6. #6
    feels like I'm there.

    Thanks

    D.
    Dosadi

    III


    My family & clan are my country.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Hooterville, MI
    Posts
    502
    As I struck up a bargain with the merchant for his problem horse for an admittedly high price considering the situation and haggled over details, Darcy hung his head and looked forlorn but was obviously glad for the respite from the whip.
    The deal I struck with the greedy merchant was done when I added another piece of silver for the halter and reins and he was unhitched from the cart and freed from his torment. I wasted no time removing that cursed twitch from his lip while leading him straight to a farmer’s cart and buying him two juicy red apples. With a horse’s simple unique perspective, Darcy sized up this new situation by looking behind him to see that the cart was indeed gone and nuzzled me for another apple.
    With his head and tail held high, Darcy made a transformation from down-trodden draft animal to spirited steed as we walked the cobblestone lane to the stable behind the Inn. I requested that the stable hands feed, groom and check his hooves leaving four coppers for their trouble. I purchased his tack from that Innkeeper and we have been together ever since.
    I should have paid more attention when Darcy snorted and turned his head to peer towards the trees behind the meadow, but I fully believed I was alone since I had seen nary a soul since passing the farrier’s cart this morning. I had almost succeeded in convincing myself there was no danger anywhere near when Darcy snorted and reared. I opened my eyes in surprise to find a man with a hood covering his face holding a wicked looking dagger at my throat. His similarly hooded partner though, was having a serious problem with my Darcy who, mistaking him for the farrier, was engaged in a spirited game of, Step-on- the-Blacksmith.
    “We’ll be takin’ the gold or your life Mr. Guild merchant!” the first bandit hissed through clenched teeth. Tom! Get his saddle bags and we’ll be away!”

  8. #8
    Horse to the rescue for sure

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Hooterville, MI
    Posts
    502
    It was about then that my Darcy won the first round by stepping solidly on Tom’s left foot causing him to scream hoarsely before falling to the ground writhing in pain.
    “Help, Ben! He’s broken me damned foot!” screamed Tom.
    “Ye daft fool! I told you not to use me name!” yelled Ben hoarsely.
    When Ben yelled at Tom, I finally recognized this pair of erstwhile bandits as the men at the next table last night at the inn. This may not have been their chosen profession for as Ben turned to look at Tom, he removed the dagger from my throat and I gave my Darcy the “hup” and a short whistle. Darcy won round two with a quick jump that landed solidly on Tom’s right leg eliciting fresh screams.
    As Ben rushed to the aid of his fellow bandit, helplessly pinned beneath Darcy’s front hooves, twelve of the King’s own men rode into the meadow flying the royal purple banner.
    “Oh, ho! What have we here? Guildsman, do you require the assistance of the crown?” called the guard captain in a loud voice.
    “Indeed I do, Sire! These two bandits who call themselves Ben and Tom, threatened me with my life if I did not surrender my gold. But my horse stepped on Tom’s foot and foiled their plan.
    “What say you?” asked the guard captain. “Can you dispute the Guildsman’s story?”
    “He lies!” Ben cried. “He’s the one who tried to rob us and take my horse and gold!”
    The guard captain motioned to one of his men who rode forward to stand witness in the judgment.
    “Michael?” the guard captain asked. “On your honor, what did you see and hear at the inn last night?”
    “I saw this Guildsman at the inn and I heard him say he had concluded his business with the Guild. Then one of those two whistled low and they both began talking in hushed tones. I suspected they might plan to rob the Guildsman so I sent word to you, my lord.”

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Hooterville, MI
    Posts
    502
    The color drained from Ben’s face. He froze, his eyes wide in fear when he heard the statement of the sworn witness that exposed his lies.
    “Steven?” the guard captain called and another of his men rode forward to stand witness. “You spoke with the stable boy at the inn?”
    “Aye, my lord.”
    “On your honor, which horse did he saddle for the Guildsman?”
    “This chestnut roan, my lord,” Steven replied.
    “Guildsman, is this your horse?” asked the guard captain with a knowing grin.
    “Yes, Sire. Darcy is my horse,” I replied. I gave Darcy my “come hither” whistle and he readily walked to my side nuzzling my hand for his apple treat.
    “I’ve seen enough,” the guard captain said to the two bandits. You have lied to my face in a vain attempt to hide your crimes. Ben and Tom, I find you both guilty of robbery on the King’s Road. You shall be tried in a court of law and sentenced for your crimes. Surrender peacefully and I will enter a plea of leniency on your behalf.
    Ben sprang to his feet with a wild cry brandishing the dagger before him, desperately seeking any avenue of escape like some wild animal. Holding the dagger high, he lunged for the guard captain, but the guardsman Michael, anticipating his attack launched a bolt from his crossbow striking Ben squarely in the center of his chest. Fatally wounded, Ben stopped to stare curiously at the feathered hilt of the quarrel protruding from his chest before slowly crumpling to the ground. Tom saw Ben fall and raised one hand to meekly call, “I yield, have mercy on me my lord.”

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Hooterville, MI
    Posts
    502
    “Oh, ho! We have a fast learner!” called the guard captain as all his men laughed except for Steven who still held a crossbow trained on Tom’s chest. “Steven, we have no need for the second bolt after all,” the guard captain said quietly to carefully rein in the old war dog.
    “As you wish, my lord,” Steven said as he slowly and reluctantly lowered the weapon.
    The king’s men collected the two bandits and jovially bid me good travels and fair weather before turning to gallop from the field as if nothing more had just transpired than pleasantries. I stood uncertainly, beneath the bay willow, watching the last of them disappear from view with Darcy’s reins in my hand as silence returned to the meadow. I carefully avoided the great dark red stain upon the ground as I regained the saddle and resolved to make the inn on the lake at Tammerlane well before nightfall.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    nw mountains
    Posts
    2,465
    Nice to have others looking out for you. Thank you.
    The word Bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out. George Carlin

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Hooterville, MI
    Posts
    502
    Although my Darcy seemed none the worse for our brush with fate in the meadow, I could scarce escape the vivid images of the encounter. In my mind’s eye, I saw the look in Ben’s eyes as he held that wickedly pointed dagger at my throat and the way he looked so surprised when that feathered bolt suddenly appeared protruding from his chest. The way his eyes rolled back in his head before he collapsed and died will haunt my dreams. The reaper calls us all and I’m certainly no stranger to death, but neither am I the guardsman or soldier who can treat it so cavalier. I might never again have the luxury of a carefree ride through the countryside in the sunshine.
    Darcy was content with the pace I set in the effort to put the ordeal behind us as we gradually climbed through the broad green ridges above the lakeshore on the King’s Road. The hardwoods of the inland valleys gave way to conifers and the scent of pine needles filled the air. A fresh lake breeze met us at the top of that last ridge and Darcy picked up the pace as we descended towards the sparkling sun reflecting on the water. Far below, smoke curled lazily from a chimney at the inn bringing with it the delectable odors of food cooking and I decided I had never before seen such a welcome sight. Though he fretted, I tried to hold Darcy to a canter as we hurried down the well-worn road to reach the inn on the lake at Tammerlane.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    nw mountains
    Posts
    2,465
    Darcy? Probably his feelings bleeding into his horse. Thank you.
    The word Bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out. George Carlin

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Hooterville, MI
    Posts
    502
    Opposite the inn’s high gate on the King’s Road, stood a solitary figure in a leather riding cloak holding the reins of a horse and gazing into the distance as though waiting for someone.
    As I drew near, he called out, “Kind Sir, a moment of your time, if I may?”
    I wistfully gazed at the inn within the gates for a moment with its promise of rest and hot food before I reluctantly turned my Darcy’s head to cross the road.
    “I am weary from the road,” I replied shortly as I came abreast of where he stood.
    “A question of the road is all I seek from a fellow traveler, kind Sir,” he continued hopefully.
    “I don’t know what I could possibly ...,” I began and stopped. “Yes, yes of course. What question of the road?” I asked in resignation.
    “It’s my son Ben, kind Sir. We were to meet here. You came from the south. Might you have seen him along the way? It’s not like him to be late and I worry he may have had trouble.”
    As he looked up at me, his hood fell back and the family resemblance was unmistakable. I hesitated looking into those familiar features and I must have made a poor recovery, as it were, stammering my denial, for first concern, then confusion and finally a suspicious sneer crossed his face in rapid succession. I mumbled an apology that I could not be of more assistance as I turned Darcy towards the welcoming gates of the inn.
    Darcy hadn’t taken four steps before the man screamed, “No, you’re lying! I can see it in your face! You know what’s happened to my son! Tell me please, I beg you!”
    I could not bear to turn and look at the man when all I could see was Ben’s savage face demanding my gold at the point of a dagger. I held my gaze downcast till Darcy walked through the high gates and the stablemen closed them behind us.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    nw mountains
    Posts
    2,465
    That would be a rough one, Thank you.
    The word Bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out. George Carlin

  17. #17
    Thanks FMJ for the story

    Wayne

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by stjwelding View Post
    Thanks FMJ for the story

    Wayne
    ^^^^THIS^^^^

    FMJ,

    Another fine story that could continue....

    Texican....
    An American Christian....
    Live Free and Die Free....

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