Queen of the Westerlands
By: Terry D. Scheerer
When they stopped later in the day to water their horses and eat a spare meal, Humphrey approached the Innkeeper. “My thanks, Master Barker,” he said as he took the offered dry bread and cheese. “Mayhap we should soon seek some shelter for the night, as it appears rain is on the way.”
“Aye, Sir Humphrey,” Barker said around a mouthful of food. “If me memory serves, there be a lodge of sorts nae too far from here, where we might stave off the weather.”
“Indeed?” Humphrey asked. “Would there nae be strangers at this dwelling?”
“Nay, I doubt it.” Barker swallowed and reached for an ale skin. He offered the skin to Humphrey first, who declined, so Barker took a long swig and wiped his moustache with the back of his hand. “’Tis an old hunting lodge,” he added, “what was used many years now gone by King Harold’s father, the former king, on his hunting forays into these woods. Those who live in the area know it were the king’s own property, so they stay away. We could be there before nightfall, if ye wish it, Sir Knight.”
“Very well, Master Barker, lead on when you be ready,” Humphrey agreed and then took the ale skin and tilted it back.
A light rain fell from the cloud darkened sky as they came upon the disused lodge. There was a covered stable area connected to one end of the dwelling and the horses were brought inside the shelter. Bruce began to remove the animal’s saddles as the others went through a door and entered a large common room. Tables and benches were lined up in the center of the room in front of an empty fireplace, while the area along the walls was bare and no doubt used for sleeping by the king’s hunters and guards. A door in one wall led outside, and on the opposite wall another door opened onto an unadorned bedroom which also contained a small fireplace.
“Here is where you will sleep, my lady,” Humphrey said to Isabelle. The old bedclothes appeared somewhat dusty, but the room was dry and once a fire was started it would no doubt be comfortable and warm.
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