Queen of the Westerlands Part X By: Terry D. Scheerer


Queen of the Westerlands
Part X
By: Terry D. Scheerer

Editor's Note: If you have not yet read the previous chapters to this story, please go to the Fantasy Archive and read those, first. Thank you, TDS.

When the Innkeeper spoke Isabelle’s name Bruce turned a startled look toward Humphrey, who merely shook his head and offered a slight smile.

“I told him naught, lad,” the knight said. “Master Barker has a way of gleaning the truth with a bare minimum of information, it would seem.”

Barker gave Humphrey a quick glance; his great moustache was atwitch and a twinkle in his eye indicated a hidden smile, then he turned back to face Isabelle. “Me lady,” he said with enormous gravity, “ye bless me humble home with yer presence.” He performed another, slightly deeper bow and backed a few steps away from the princess before he straightened.

Isabelle nodded. “We thank you for your kindness and hospitality, Master Barker,” she said, “and your assistance will nae be forgotten.”

“Whatever I may do for the family of King Harold I do gladly, yer Grace,” Barker told her, with yet another bow.

Humphrey thought the young queen might falter at the mention of her father and all of the unexpected attention Barker was bestowing upon her, but she held herself straight and proud—every bit a royal. He smiled to himself to see such a change come over her; a day gone she was but a young girl playing at life, and today she was the leader of a country. Albeit a leader on the run, he reminded himself and his inner smile vanished.

He cleared his throat to direct attention to himself. “Bruce, were you and Isabelle able to eat as yet?”

“Nae, Sir Humphrey,” he said. “What with all that were going on down here, I fear we forgot to ease our hunger.”

“In that case I suggest you escort Isabelle up to her room and both of you eat, then get some rest. We leave before dawn on the morrow,” Humphrey told them.

“Aye,” Barker added, “and I shall have a meal ready to break yer fast before ye leave.”

“Our thanks again for your hospitality, Master Barker,” Isabelle said, then turned toward the dark knight. “You need your rest as well, Sir Humphrey. Will you retire along with us?”

He smiled at her concern. “Momentarily, my lady,” he told her. “I must discuss some travel plans with Master Barker afore I retire.”

Isabelle gave him a slight nod and then allowed Bruce to take her arm as they headed up the stairs.

Both men watched until the young couple were out of sight, then Barker clapped his hands and rubbed them briskly together. “So, then, Sir Humphrey, another mug of ale to aid yer sleep?”

“Aye, Master Barker, that and a bit more information, if it pleases you,” Humphrey said and returned to his bench.

The Innkeeper soon came forward with two jacks of foaming ale. He placed one in front of the knight and sat down across from him, then took a long pull from his mug. “And how may I be of assistance to ye?” he asked, while wiping at his moustache with the back of his hand.

Humphrey gazed intently at him from under the wide brim of his hat. “These soldiers,” he said. “Where do they hail from?”

Barker shook his head. “None seem to know,” he answered, quietly. “Lest none be speaking of it to me own knowledge.”

“When did they first appear in this area?”

He scratched under his chin in thought for a moment. “Must a been shortly after the spring festivals,” he finally said.

Humphrey nodded. “Aye. That would be near about the time Harold took his knights to the plains of Ar, in expectation of the invasion.” Both men paused to take a pull from their ale mugs.

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About the Author

A published writer since 2001, along with his work which has appeared in "The World of Myth," Terry D. Scheerer's short stories have appeared in such magazines as, "Dragonlaugh" and "Sword's Edge," and a book of his collected poetry and short stories was published by Gateway Press in August, 2005. Mr. Scheerer continues to work as an Editor and writer (as health permits) on a number of ongoing projects.
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