The caravan, part eight

7 0 0

Harbend swore as more and more wagons got mired. It was one of the hazards with a caravan he'd only heard about but never seen. A few wagons would never have been caught this way, and only the trailing wagons got into problems as the road softened. It took days of rain for a single wagon to get stuck.

He ordered their reserve horses and all oxen to be added to the last wagons in an attempt to keep up speed. Now he could only hope the rain wouldn't get much worse, or they'd start losing yet more time.

Turning his horse he rode along the caravan until he met Arthur and the escort captain, a silent man named Trindai Laiden who, with Vildir's approval, had picked the men to be in the escort.

"Arthur, how is the road further on?"

Arthur growled in response and Trindai answered instead.

"Road's impassable, M'lord. Creek turned river, but we can ford it if we follow a game trail Lord Wallman found. I guess it must have rained more further east."

Harbend looked at Arthur. Gods! He wasn't just wet from rain. The man must have fallen into the water, which would explain his less than cordial greeting earlier.

Hold there! I asked my question in De Vhatic, but he must have understood it anyway.

A marvel of a man, a very wet marvel at that. Harbend laughed and the captain shared his mirth, even if in a more silent manner.

"Well, Arthur," he said, in English this time, "I see that you keep to your high standards of hygiene."

"You be silent or you'll bloody share it when we pass that river," came the sullen response.

"Now, now, do not start complaining. You wished for a change in weather. You have it. I shall call it a fair trade."

Arthur started grumbling again but was cut short by the sound of rustling wings when a large bird of prey passed over them and struck an animal no more than fifty paces away.

"What was that?"

Harbend glanced after the bird struggling with its prey. "An eagle. They are rather rare."

"That's no eagle. Maybe not even a bird."

"It is an eagle. One of you outworlders taught me the word less than a year ago when we saw a bird like this circling over Verd."

"But, Harbend, it's got teeth and four legs! That's a lizard's head, not a beak."

Harbend stared at his partner. Strange reaction from a man who supposedly had seen most of his own world. "So, some birds have beaks and some do not."

Arthur didn't answer. He just kept on staring while the eagle devoured its prey.

The TaleweaverRead this story for FREE!