3/30/2022: An Auspicious Meeting Part II
I’m trying something new. Every day I’ll write for 10 minutes. I won’t limit what I write to any particular thing. It could be fiction, poetry, an essay, whatever. The goal is to write and then publish and share it. I need to get over my fear of publishing and I need to build a writing (and publishing) habit.
This is part II of An Auspicious Meeting. You can read the first part here.
“Sherman,” I called. “Come.”
The words weren’t necessary, but the forcefulness of my voice seemed to intimate something my thoughts did not to the horse, likely something primal in the animal’s auditory nerve system. Sherman cantered over to my position, and I grabbed hold of his reins. He didn’t spook easily, but being so close to three giant wolves definitely made me nervous and feel like bolting.
My contact perhaps led her pursuers by eighty meters. Surprisingly, she actually slowed and then stopped her animal near me. I would have kept riding had I been her and hoped the fool standing still on the hilltop served as a distraction for those chasing me.
“Barrister?” she said in a raspy, high-pitched voice. She and her animal lathered sweat and breathed as one would expect creatures that are fleeing for their lives to be breathing: panting like nearly drowned. The goblin was aged by the standards of her people, with hair going to white and wrinkles creasing her brow and the creases of her eyes. She wore a ceremonial headdress made of bright red, pink, and black feathers made to look like a dragon resting on her head. That they were bird feathers and not dragon made no difference to her or her people it seemed. A conspicuous garment, but I’m sure she prized it higher than anything she owned.
“I am,” I said. “Rowena?”
Her pursuers arrived then and slowed down as well. I expected them to barrel into the fools standing atop the hill like chickens waiting to be slaughtered for noonday. I raised my crossbow. Shooting is the last resort when you’re essentially outnumbered and have but a single shot. I held my finger on the trigger and waited.
“These are my grandsires,” Rowena said. She cast her hand toward them idly.
“Why are they chasing you?”
She chuckled. “Why, they’re running me off!”
“I see.” I lowered my crossbow but kept my finger on the trigger and tightened my grip on Sherman’s reins. “This is… highly irregular, madam.”
“Madam? Aren’t you a charmer!” one of the boys laughed.
“Hush,” Rowena said to him. “I wasn’t aware there was a ‘regular’ in your line of work.”
“I suppose that’s somewhat the truth of it,” I said. “But, even then, this is my first time working with a biddy run out of her village by her grandbabies.”
All three laughed at me then. It was a mirthful laugh, and I couldn’t help but smile at the pitch of their cackling, especially Rowena’s wheezing.
“I suppose it’s time for us to depart, Barrister,” she said.
Rowena turned to her grandchildren and bade her old she-wolf forward. She hugged both and their wolves nuzzled each other. Now that I saw the three wolves altogether, they looked similar. Likely they were grandsires of her mount as well.
Without further word or ceremony, the boy and girl turned their wolves and headed back toward their village. Rowena watched them until they were out of sight. I mounted Sherman and sidled up next to her. I could see tears had welled in her eyes.
“I’m sure it isn’t easy to give up one’s whole life,” I said.
“You would know,” she said. “I bet you do it every day.”
I nodded and we headed in the opposite direction of her village, north toward The Firmament.
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