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

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Queen of the Westerlands
Part XIV
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.


A cold grey dawn saw an end to any rain from the night before, but mist and fog now shrouded the landscape around their cabin. Barker was setting out food when Isabelle opened the bedroom door and entered the common room. He looked up as she closed the door.

“Good morrow, me lady,” Barker said with a slight bow. “We were about to break our fast. Please, sit,” he added and swept his hand across one of the benches.

“My thanks, Master Innkeeper,” Isabelle said as she took her place on the rough wood. “I seem to be quite famished.”

“Aye and no wonder; ye slept through supper, me lady,” he told her and placed some bread and hard cheese on the table before her, along with a mug of ale warmed near the fire.

She put both hands around the warm mug and took a sip of the frothy mixture. The outside door opened and Humphrey entered, followed by Bruce. “The horses be ready as soon as we finish here,” the dark knight announced.

“Sit and break yer fast and then we be off,” Barker said as he placed two more mugs of warm ale on the table.

Humphrey nodded to Isabelle and took up one of the mugs. “Did ye sleep well, my lady?”

“Indeed I did, Sir Knight,” she replied, “and had a most unusual dream.” She smiled but did not elaborate, so Humphrey and Bruce sat at the table and began to eat. They completed their meager meal in short order and were soon once again on the road.

#

It was well after mid-day when they came upon the Welling River. Usually a wide and somewhat shallow tributary which merged with the Green farther downstream, today the normally calm waters rushed by in a cascading fury, showering the small party with frigid spray.

“We shall nae be crossing this river, today,” Barker said.

“So it would appear,” Humphrey stated. “What would be the quickest way to get around this?” he asked their guide.

“If we travel downstream mayhap a day, we could cross over at Richford,” Barker replied.

“And what of a longer way?”

Barker turned to study the dark knight. “If we go upstream into the hills we may find a place to cross, Sir Humphrey. It has been many a year since last I was last this way, but there once were a ford at Haster, to bring ore down from the mines and take supplies back that way. The journey could take us many days out of our way, however.”

“Even so,” Humphrey said as he looked to the deeply forested hills above them, “I do not wish to backtrack and place the young queen in further danger. There still be many who may seek us downstream, while I feel few will search for us in the hills.”

Barker shrugged his shoulders. “As ye wish, Sir Knight,” he said and then turned his horse upstream to lead them single file along the muddy bank.

#

Toward dusk they came upon a rock overhang that would give them some protection from the elements, so decided to make camp for the night. Not far from them, the Welling continued to froth and foam as water rushed down from the hills above.

Barker moved close to Humphrey as the latter took down his blankets from Bastion. “Sir Knight,” Barker spoke quietly. “To me, yonder rushing river do nae seem to be normal runoff from the storm of last night.”

Humphrey turned to see the older man’s brow deeply furrowed. “What say you, Innkeeper?” the knight asked, also keeping his voice low so as not to alarm Isabelle.

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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," "Sword's Edge," "The Eldritch Gazette," "Horrotica" and "GlassFire Magazine." Also, 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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