We turned and clambered up the hill. We found ourselves on a narrow causeway with puny sheep munching on scanty grasses. A small village clung a little way along, huddled against the walls of an old, decaying church as if sheltering from the wind.
An old villager was the only one brave enough to watch us pass by. Siward Barn held him by the shoulder. ‘What is the name of this place?’ he asked.
‘This is the middle town,’ he answered.
Siward Barn swept his hand around. ‘And this land?’
‘The island of the stag?’
The old man nodded.
‘Is it an island?’ I asked.
‘It is when the tides are high,’ he answered. He glanced up at the sky. ‘You should be able to wade across by now.’
‘Can we buy horses here?’
The old man looked confused. ‘We have no horses. The priest has a donkey.’
‘That will have to do for now,’ Athelstan said. ‘Anna and Freya can take turns to ride it.’
‘The priest won’t loan you his donkey,’ the old man said. ‘He needs it.’
We ignored him and headed towards the church.
‘We have a long journey ahead,’ I said to Athelstan. ‘We shall still need horses.’
‘I’m not so sure,’ Willard said.
Willard glanced at the heavily forested land beyond the coast. ‘Not if the country is forest or high country like where we wintered. Men walking with a will can go as swift as horses on such ground. Horses only make good speed on the roads of Rome and if we take those we’d be spotted by anyone pursuing us. We’d be wiser to head into the wilds and go by paths that horsemen cannot follow.’
I weighed up what he said. ‘The words of a woodman like you should be heeded,’ I said.
‘A donkey might be all right,’ he said. ‘For the young women.’
I nodded. ‘Will you come with us, Willard?’ I said. ‘I value you greatly.’
Willard gazed at his men. ‘Hog and I will. I cannot speak for the others. I’ll talk with them.’ He took a step towards his men then paused. ‘Where shall I say we are going?’ he asked.
‘To Scotland. To the palace of King Malcolm.’
- The Lost King: Book 3 #SampleSunday #amwriting #Kindle #HistoricalFiction Please take a look (martinlakewriting.wordpress.com)
- The Lost King: Wasteland. #SampleSunday #Kindle (martinlakewriting.wordpress.com)