23 August 2010

Days of the Great Divide

"Darkness surrounded the long forgotten ruins of a castle. Burnt beams of wood lay dead on the floor and stones lay scattered across the once beautiful hall; ashes concealed a mat, once full of colours and warmth.
A magnificent hearth lay disguised by fallen beams and smothering vines…Aye, an’ do ye know what happened to the long forgotten castle? Just as I had thought, ye wish to hear the story then, eh? Aye, an’ who wouldn’t? Now, gather around ma’ wee bairns, as I tell ye a story you’ll ne’er forget."

 Silence filled the air as three dark, shadowy figures crept through the woods of Lachmere. The winds blew and the trees swayed, but the three figures continued without delay. Suddenly all three broke into a run, racing with speed and agility, they dodged trees and leapt over fallen logs. When they reached a clearing in the woods, they stopped. Breathing and chuckling lightly, one of them spoke.

 “Oh, I beat thee this time, eh William? I told thee I would win. John, William, go and gather some wood for the fire, and then you shalt make a fire for us, John. His skill does exceed ours, dost it not William?” William nodded. “Aye that it does, come John let us go and gather the wood.” 

Chapter One

John smiled and slowly followed William. “Aye. What would thou be making for our victuals, Henry?” Henry took the leather bag off his shoulder and lay it down.

“Food that is what! Now make haste, go.” William and John swiftly disappeared into the darkness, as Henry rummaged through the rough leather bag. Taking out some bread and cold pork, he placed it on a tin plate and sliced the pork into slithers.

John and William noiselessly entered the clearing and placed the wood down beside Henry. John shook his head doubtfully and said,
“Aye and that’s all we could get. It is damp and there’s not much to be had, Henry. Nevertheless, I will do what I can for thee. Sithee, is that pork an’ bread I catch a glimpse of?”

Henry sighed and nodded his head. “Aye, though it’s the last of it ye’ll see. We have nothing else but apples from now on, lads. However, Great Lachmere Castle is only a day away; do not vex thyself about it.” Passing them and him a piece of pork and a thick slice of bread each, Henry bowed his head. William and John bowed their heads with him and were silent as Henry prayed.
“Dear Heavenly Father, we ask Thee to bless this food to our bodies and protect us while we—as Thy servants—complete this task set before us. Give strength to us all O’ Lord. Amen.”
“Amen” John and William agreed in unity. John took out his knife and started trimming shavings off the pieces of wood. They silently watched John as he skilfully prepared a fire. Soon there was a hearty, however small fire blazing.

They ate their food gratefully and in silence while watching the fire and warming themselves by it. The sky was dark and calm, stars were dotted here and there, but the moon attracted all attention. It was full, brilliant, and luminously looking down at the three young men as the pondered in stillness. Each of their thoughts so completely different and varying, yet each of their expressions were the same, they were that of serenity, and contentment.

William broke the quiet, as he usually did and said, “When dost King Rith expect us, Henry?”
“Tomorrow at dusk, if all goeth well. Mayhap we might get some better food, eh?” Henry replied.
William chuckled. “Aye, that would be good. Are thy papers dry, Henry?”

“Yes. Yon King Rith would behead me if they were not.” Taking off his quiver and bow, he placed them on the ground at arms reach. John stretched and lay down on the soft patch of grass.

Yawning he inquired, “Dost thou have any notion of what they might say?”
Henry shook is head. “Nay, no one but King Serrig and his advisors know. Mayhap they have something to do with yon spies that have been lingering. I am not knowledgeable on such matters.”
“Aye…Don’t ye think its time to settle down for the night? I am tired, I don’t know about thee! We hath to be up on the morrow. At dawn, Henry?” William questioned.

William lay on his back looking at the night sky and it’s moon. Henry fed the fire and followed suit by lying down by the wavering heat. “Yes, at dawn. Goodnight John, goodnight William.” John yawned again and shifted closer to the fire. “Aye, an’ I just hope that nought be following us, I have had such a suspicion all the way.” He paused, frowning and then added, “Goodnight.” William murmured a goodnight to Henry and John and closed his eyes.

Soon they were all in a peaceful slumber, dreaming of feasting in castle halls rejoicing in their good fortune of delivering the important message to King Rith safe and sound.

But it was not to be…


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