I was posting instalments of the Fantasy story I wrote 17 years ago every Sunday and Wednesday afternoons. The most observant amongst you may have realised that I haven’t posted an instalment in some time. In fact, the last one was posted last Friday, the 17th of August.
Well here is the next part. I hope you are enjoying it.
If you want to read it from its genesis, here is the link:
Piotr Drake had not been enjoying himself. No, not at all. He was not in the best of moods. He had been travelling on the road for several days, since leaving the City of Savarias, on horse back and dressed up like a Mage. This had presented a couple of problems for Piotr. Firstly, that despite being a coachman he was not at all a good horse rider. He was fine with horses when he was sitting up high and they were harnessed to the coach and he had the reins and his whip. He found sitting on them quite unbearable. Truth be known he was not at all fond of horses. Riding them, he felt that the horse was more in control of the situation than he was. It took all his strength and stamina to keep the horse from straying from the road to have a munch of some tempting thicket. The way Piotr gripped his reins you would have thought he was riding a fierce stallion. Actually the horse was a particularly docile example and had been christened by its original owner, ‘Plodder’.
The second problem, as far as Piotr saw it, was the clothes he had been forced to wear. He found it a profound embarrassment to be made to wear a Mages robes. He would rather have put on one of his wife’s dresses! In all the villages he had passed it had caused him more problems that he could articulate. In return for a night’s lodging, a meal and some oats for his horse no one would take any money. They all said something like “Oh, we couldn’t take any money from a Mage, such as yourself, but our little Timmy has got the warts and we’d appreciate it if you could see him”. He couldn’t have refused, but he felt awkward, there was nothing he could actually do, he wasn’t a Mage, but he couldn’t tell anyone. In the last few days he had been shown more illnesses and ailments than he’d ever cared to witness. Shameful the way that complete strangers had come up to him and bared their various body parts for him to examine. That was the worst bit of it. They all stood there with something exposed to the elements and expected him to do something about it. They always expected something grand like lightning to spark from his fingers, so some similar nonsense. He had played his part to the best of his ability, he wiggled his fingers and spoke some mumbo-jumbo. The villages had all appeared rather underwhelmed.
Piotr Drake continued to feel sorry for himself as he slowly followed the road back through the North Eastern parts of the district of Argor, towards home. The scenery in that part of the district was beautiful, if rather remote. The soil was not really good enough for raising crops nor was there sufficient food around to raise livestock. The undulating hills had rocky outcrops and the valleys were all heavily wooded. The trees were common enough types, Oak, Ash and Satinbark, all the deciduous trees hag begun to lose their leaves and the ground was covered with those glorious Autumn colours of orange and gold. A few evergreen thickets broke the monotony of the increasingly bare and lifeless trees. As he headed south, and gradually the ground became more hilly, more of the trees were bare.
Piotr had just left behind a small village called Oaksfoot, which wasn’t much more than a collection of rough wooden huts around a stream. They had provided him with a basic lunch in return for him muttering something that would guarantee them a mild winter. He honestly hoped it worked, but there was a smell in the air that promised the coming winter may actually be one of the worst. From there, the road ran straight through a densely packed coniferous forest, inhabited by wolves. Usually Piotr had driven his coach at full speed to get through without incident, but plodder lived up to his name and refused to go faster, so he rode on at a steady pace, the feeling that he was being watched became a permanent itch between his shoulder blades. To take his mind off this, he continued thinking about his troubles. Not long afterwards the fir trees on one side of the road began to tremble and shake, then someone rode out of the trees and onto the path ahead, interruption Piotr’s lamentations and making him come to a stop. The person wore a leather jacket and breeches stained dark green to blend into his surroundings. A deerskin cloak was fasted around his shoulders pinned with a clasp in the shape of a stag’s head. The strangers face was obscured by a dark green scarf that was tied around his lower face, covering his mouth. This instantly made Piotr suspicious. Then he heard more noise coming from behind him and he twisted in his saddle to see two more similarly dressed people emerge from the trees and block the path behind him. Piotr panicked and kicked his horse into action. Plodder, possibly for the first time in his energy-efficient life, galloped at top speed towards the man blocking the path ahead. As Piotr got nearer the bandit, he seemed to balk and moved aside to let Piotr pass, but when he drew level the bandit swing a cudgel and knocked him clean off his horse. His limp body lay in the mud of the roadside ditch he began to lose consciousness as the bandits gathered round for the spoils.
End of Part Twenty-Three
Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 26/August/2018