The little stones by the lake, queer shapes – newly broken-, glanced occasionally off his horse’s shoes, making a clinking sound. His own mail was tattered and torn, but still rang as he shook his body, to keep his arm from falling asleep.
The fog is the den of enemies, he knew.
Fresh from the war and slaughter, he wished to take his mind off it all, but then he must first find shelter, away from the shore and its warships. Inland he had struck, seeking, hiding, following the freshwater, before the accursed fog rolled in. Actually he had stepped into it as though it were a wall..
He hitched up his armour – what remained of it – and peered, keenly aware all his sounds carried far to any waiting enemy’s ears.
A shape, lissom and tall loomed in the fog. Out came his blade from its scabbard, ready, though notched.
“Stand down!” He spoke in the native Silene tongue. “State your business – friend or foe?”
The steel glinted defensively even in the gray light, within range of the figure’s neck.
A gulp was audible, and then she stepped out by his charger. She stood beside a large rock, and her face was lovely, but pale as though from loss of blood. Her eyes stared..
About her person, and dress, no weapon could be seen. Was this a trap?
“Who are you?” he queried.
“I am a princess of yonder township,” she said haltingly, though with perfect fluency. Her eyes flicked right and she smiled, wanly. “Good sir, may I know your purpose in these parts – you’re hurt -” The blood running down an arrow wound was dripping onto the rocks.
The waves lapped.
Hearing the common tongue of his land put him abruptly at ease – no one, much less an aristocrat of the enemy, knew his native language so naturally – and her shock had been real.
His sword he steadily and firmly withdrew, and he turned his horse which had become skittish so he could see and speak better.
“I seek rest and accommodation,” he explained, wincing. “Money, what I have, can be used as payment.” It was heaven to speak the common tongue to another.
“Sadly, you – we are unable to help, sir knight,” said the pretty lady with another nervous smile. “As we um, have run into difficulties, our crops have failed -” she ended lamely and suddenly.
“I see,” said the knight, keeping the disappointment he felt from his voice. Another day of riding might take him up the valley..
“Will I reach another township further north up the valley?” Tears sprang into her eyes suddenly, but her voice came out clear, “Yes, Sir. The valley of Hobart lies north. It is a beauteous town.”
Keen concern sprang into his breast at the sight of her tearing face, and he moved to dismount. “Good sir,” she suddenly broke out, “a day’s stiff riding would take you there, from which a wide highway will mean an easier ride. From there, it is but a three-day journey to the city of Kyotes.” She smiled, and George thought an angel had cried for and left instruction for him.
Not desiring to intrude into her private grief, he shook his stirrups, and with a graceful bow – without further wounding the waist, turned from the lake to make the slow uphill journey.
A slow realisation came over him, as he rode, that the atmosphere was changing, and that the ground was trembling ever so slightly through his horse’s hooves, and her girth had suddenly tightened.
“NOOO!” The scream broke out the soldier in him, and he sprang from his saddle, even as a stone tail whipped across the shoreline and struck dead his horse at the neck.
Renalda! The inner cry was all he made, for he was a warrior, with eyes already locked with and sword menacing the danger before him, a towering hill of stone and steel that bore down with deadly intent – the dragon.
Wanted to have Puissance do more, but … didn’t turn out that way.