Saturday, February 9, 2013

Chapter Eleven, Scene 1

Going back and re-reading the scenes of road travel keeps reminding me, that I plan to change things around and put the characters on horses. I don't recall exactly why it was that I originally had them going on foot, but it no longer makes any sense to me (if it ever did). Aside from that, there's not much to say about this scene. It's really kind of a bridge, to get the characters moving out of Westmere and on their way back to Castor.

* * *

They departed for Castor on Freyasday, after spending the evening loading the wagon with supplies and other items that Roidh had purchased, apparently at the direction of his master, Adradomir. The next morning after breakfast, all they had to do was harness the horses and depart, since everything else was already packed and ready to go.

Balfrith took the point position that day, with Eldamir in the rear and Calunoth remaining with the wagon. As Balfrith walked, he realized they’d hardly seen any sign of Calunoth the few days they were in town, and thought he would ask about the man’s whereabouts. Not that I really care, he thought. But it pays to know if my peer is staying out of trouble.

They ate lunch on the move that day, as the skies were growing dark with clouds in the west, and they wanted to make as much distance as they could before it rained. By about mid-afternoon, the clouds had moved in and the rain began, a steady drizzle that wasn’t enough to slow them down yet, but it did make the walking a lot less enjoyable. Balfrith had taken his water-proofed cloak from the wagon at one point earlier in the day, so at least he was able to stay mostly dry. But the rain still ran down his face and neck, soaking further down into his tunic, and bringing a slight chill even on that warm summer day.

They made camp that night in a copse of trees at the edge of the road, for the ground was so soft that Roidh feared taking the wagon any further from the road than was absolutely necessary, lest it get stuck in the mud. From their campsite in the trees they could still keep an eye on it, and of course one of them was assigned to stand watch near it all night, so it was never unattended.

The horses were picketed in the trees, close to the camp. In camp at least, they were able to get mostly out of the rain, for the trees provided some protection from it. They even got a fire going, from dry wood that they’d found laying on the ground under the same tree cover.

With the rain, no one gave any thought to sword-play, so they sat around the camp fire for a while after supper, then went to bed early. Calunoth pointed out, sensibly, that if they went to bed early and the rain stopped over night, they could be on the road that much earlier and make better progress the next day.

Unfortunately, the next day was full of rain, as was the day after that. By the time the rain stopped, it was Moonday, and most of their things were fully soaked through. But that morning dawned sunny and hot, more like a typical late summer day, and so everyone took out their clothes and draped them all over the wagon, hanging them from whatever hooks or straps that they could, in an effort to let them get some sun and dry off. Balfrith, walking in the rear, would have sworn that he saw steam rising from the wagon around mid-morning, and he smiled at the thought, even while he was sweating through his layers of clothing and leather armor. At least tomorrow I’ll have dry clothes.