A Rogue's Tales: The Ties That Bind

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#8 - Ride needed

Taking an apple to snack on Violetta leaves for the village stable.

The two soldiers who searched her place are starting their way up the curved street to the west.

Cutting behind her home she walks east saying polite hellos to her neighbors.

A teen male is dumping a bucket of water into an almost empty watering trough, inside the stable pen.

She calls to him. “Excuse me young man, are there any horse’s for sale here?”

Barely looking at her, he shakes his head no, “Mr. Tavistock has several newly trained horses.”

“Thank you,” Violetta smiles enjoying the warm day and fresh air, continues north up the curved street greeting the other villagers as she passes them.

Crossing the main road she stops at a small round hut to see how one of Ingleside’s newest citizens is doing. After sharing some ooos and ahhs over the newborn with the family and a little dietary advice, she proceeds up a smaller northern road.

Ahead she can see Mr. Tavistock leading a small herd of horses, from a field into a pen off his barn.

Walking up the path to the farm Violetta calls out, “Good day, Mr. Tavistock.”

Finishing latching the pen gate he looks up, “Well, good day to you Violetta.”

The thickly built man, of early elder years, smiles walking to the other side of the pen, “What brings you out here, today? The cool breeze?”

She watches the different horses and their movements attempting to find a suitable choice, spotting an all black mare. “The stable boy says you’ve some newly trained horses.

As she leans against the fencing of the pen a chestnut colored horse nudges her shoulder. “Oh hello,” Violletta checks over the horse.

“Aye,” Mr. Tavistock leans on the fence beside her, pointing to the animals, “Best group I’ve ever trained.”

Violetta strokes the chestnut horse, “They seem well. Which ones are the most responsive?”

He watches her with the horse, “What do you need it for? Just riding or hauling?”

“Riding but It’s not for me. It’s gotta be able to learn new things quickly.” Violetta has a look in the horse’s mouth, “Although this chestnut one seems like an excellent choice.”

The man nods, “He does seem to take to you. But if its’ for someone else I’d say the brown colt with the white socks, or the black mare”

Patting the horse she asks. “Is there something wrong with this one?”

“No.” Mr. Tavistock warns her, “He just doesn’t take to most. He must sense your good nature.”

Violetta senses strong emotion coming from the stallion, “I get the feeling if he was Human I’d have a suitor at my door.”

Chuckling at the idea Mr. Tavistock leans in winking, “Girl, every single man in town wants to court you including a few of us married ones.”

Violetta smiles at the thought, “Your sweet Gerald.” She studies the black mare, “Have you a saddle and gear for sale also?”

“Aye, there’s a old set, in decent shape in the barn,” He looks to see what she’s got her eye on, “The black one is a good horse almost doesn’t need a rider. Who’s it for? Or should I ask?”

“I think you know.”

He whispers back, “Our young thief, eh? Well that’d be an excellent choice for him.”

Seeing someone different on the property, Mr. Tavistock’s youngest boy, of ten years, runs out to investigate.

“How much for the horse and saddle?” Violetta inquires, watching the boy approach.

Mr.Tavistock makes a generous offer, “For you fifty gold and I’ll give you the chestnut horse, for saving my baby girl last winter.”

Violetta looks him in the eye, “That’s more than fair, but I’ll gladly pay you for such a fine animal.”

The boy stands on a lower fence rail.

“Ah.” Mr. Tavistock sees a perfect match between owner and animal, “You can’t put a price on a child’s life. You go ahead and take him. Besides I’ll have a hard time finding another he’ll take to. He’ll end up pulling a wagon or getting whipped for not responding to someone he don’t like.”

The boy asks. “What horse Pa?”

He looks down at his boy, “She’s taking the chestnut colored one and the black mare.”

“Good.” The boy speaks his mind, “I don’t like that one. It tries to bite me.”

Chuckling Mr. Tavistock says to Violetta. “See that, the horse is picking you.” Turning the boy, “John do your old man a favor and saddle up the black mare.”

“Okay Pa,” The boy jumps down, hesitating, “Ah… which saddle Pa?”

“The one you’re always playing on,” He shoos the boy away.

Violetta reaches for the coins in her pocket, “What do you want platinum or gold?”

“Oh a choice, eh?” Mr. Tavistock watches her, “Best make it gold.”

“Alright,” she separates the coins handing him the gold as she finds them.

Watching John take the horse inside the barn Mr. Tavistock asks Violetta. “So, how much of what Darvel’s men are saying is true?”

Violetta was waiting for someone to ask. “He stole back some rings. But did kill a couple men.”

Tavistock tells her what he was told. “The men that came here said he stole the King’s whole tax collections for the year, and killed several men.” He laughs a little, “The boy’s got balls, but I wanted to know. How one small boy can carry twenty times his weight?” He smiles, “Just like his father. Eh?”

Violetta states what Carr suggested. “Piate may have used the foolish stunt for his own benefit.”

“Oh yeah. I can see that,” Mr. Tavistock finishes her thought, “take the collection for himself, blame a thief. Kill any men who don’t see the story his way. Convenient, I wonder how much Darvel would pay for such treasonous information.”

“Yes, I can see it like that too.” Violetta hands him the last of the gold. “Are you sure I can’t pay you. Healing children is always charitable.”

He shakes his head no. “Forget it. Besides I’d rather give you those horses, than let Darvel’s men take them. Even worse, haggling with those thieves, from the guild. Not to mention you do so much for the townsfolk. And that young thief gives us men something to talk about.”

She raises a brow of concern at the need men have for foolish and violent tales. “Us women talk about him too. And how glad that you men don’t take part in such a disregard for your lives and our feelings.”

Remembering his own past he laughs at the truth, “Anymore, for some of us.”

Avoiding speculations Violetta gets back to the horses, “If you’re sure, I’ll take him. He seems like a good animal. I haven’t ridden in a year.”

“You sure can.” He reminds her, “I’ve only one saddle to sell.”

She boldly states. “I prefer bareback anyway.” She climbs the fence to sit on the horse.

He raises his brow and forms a grin, “Oh, really.” He moves over to steady the horse for her.

Violetta adjusts her position, barely having to coax the animal, the horse trots proudly around.

Tavistock finds the sight amusing, “See I told you, he picked his owner. He looks happy to have you on him.” Watching Violetta’s body bounce with the horses’ strides, softly mumbles, “I’d be happy too.”

The boy comes out of the stable leading the mare, “Here she is Pa.” John hands him the reins.

Gerald wants to watch Violetta a little longer, “Thanks boy. Hey go ask your mom if she wants anything from town.”

Excited John asks loudly, “Can I go too?”

“Aye. But only you.” He doesn’t want to be wrangling the kids all afternoon.

“Alright!” John kicks up dust racing back to the farmhouse.

Amused by the boy Violetta comments to Gerald, “Betcha’ he’s going to be a handsome strapping man someday. Is he much help around the farm?”

“Aye,” Tavistock jokes with her, “Of late, he took over for the rooster.”

Unsure how to respond she asks. “How’s that?”

“Oh,” he laughs lightly telling her, “He’s been obsessed with monsters of late. And late at night he wakes the whole house, pointing to shadows in the dark. Last night it was a Griffon…” He points to the woods north of the farm, “…with a rider. I’ve never seen one, close up. He’s certainly never seen one.”

Now thinking hard on what Carr said, she turns to him. The horse automatically stops beside Tavistock. Violetta pats the horse’s shoulder, “A Griffon? With a rider, you say?”

“Aye. Kids eh?” More impressed with her and the horse he queries, “Are you actually guiding him?”

“I’m not sure, he’s doing what I’d like him to do.” She’s more curious about the Griffon.

Tavistock shares a viewpoint, “I tell you lass, it takes years for a good horse to respond to its’ rider like that. Most never will. This horse and you are a perfect match.”

She agrees, “I think I will keep him. And they do keep I stall open for me at the stable. Yes, why not.”

Happy to see a perfectly suited pair, he suggests. “I do have a lead I can let you have.”

“Yes, a good idea,” she smiles down at him.

The smile gives him some lift, “I’ll fetch you one.” He heads into the barn.

Stroking the horse’s neck and mane, she asks, “What time of night did he wake you?”

Returning from the barn he displays the leather lead, “Here we are.” Approaching the horse he ties the lead around the neck, “Hmm, I’m not sure when. Maybe after midnight.” Gerald clues in looking up to Violetta, “Was it our young thief?”

“Maybe?” Hesitating Violetta looks around for prying eyes, “He said he traded his horse for a ride into town.”

Making sure the lead is secure he ponders the statement, “He had that little tan mix right?”

“Yes.” She informs him, “He had her seven years. Loved that horse.”

Gerald hands her the end of the lead, “Trading your horse for a ride on a Griffon?”

They both wonder quietly, as John exits the farmhouse running back. One by one his four other siblings slip out the farmhouse door noticeably disappointed they don’t get to go.

Making the first comment Mr. Tavistock points out, “I was told the only one who can ride a griffon is one who’s been there since it hatched. Or however they come to be. In the wild they’re supposed to be very dangerous. Is he that smooth of a talker?”

Violetta jokes, “like a baby’s bottom complete with the occasional stinky mess.”

He laughs out loud, as John opens the pen gate, “What’s so funny?”

Not wanting to say too much Violetta inquires. “Your father tells me you saw a Griffon and a rider last night. Is it true?”

Figuring he’s being made fun of, John scowls at his dad, “I did see it.”

“Easy boy,” chuckles Gerald leading the two horses out.

Violetta asks John. “How do you know it was a Griffon?”

Latching the gate John explains. “It had really, really big wings. With four legs. And it was huge. The rider looked like a little kid on its back.”

Gerald lifts his boy onto the mare joking, “Just like you on this horse?”

Not amused John tries to ignore his father, “At first I thought it was a Pegussis, but it didn’t have a horse’s head.”

Gerald climbs on the saddle behind his son, asking Violetta. “What do you think of that?”

Violetta responds with, “I wish I had been able to see it for myself.”

Nudging the black mare Mr. Tavistock gets the animals moving towards the town, “Being hunted by many. A hungry beast, willing to trade for a ride. It could happen.”

Looking at the both of them John asks. “What are you talking about?”

Violetta changes the subject getting John to relay the list of things Mrs. Tavistock wants from town.

Entering the village they greet and wave to their fellow citizens as they pass.

Reaching the stable they’re told the soldiers have left. Unknown to the villagers two of Darvel’s men remained in hiding to watch the town.

Parting company they wish each other well. One of her favorite ways to remember a man, spending time with children, she watches them wander off.

After paying the stable boy a platinum coin she instructs him to tend to the horses and to make sure the mare is ready by morning to travel. For a gold he’d roll in a pigpen, gladly accepting the request.

With thoughts and questions for Carr, when he wakes, she returns home to prepare a much needed, nutritional meal.

<><><>

Eventually the heavenly aroma of a hot meal drifts into the loft causing Carr to stir. He tests the arm and shoulder, extremely weak, but moving as they should.

As his feet hit the floorboards with a creak, Violetta knows it’s time to open the hidden room.

Driven by smell and a grumbling belly Carr hastily climbs down the ladder. Missing the last rung he hits ground unexpectedly. No worse for wear and still upright, he carefully exits the room.

Attempting to be sweet Carr comments, “Other than you. What smells sooo good?”

Restraining inner thoughts Violetta can’t wait to grill him, “I prepared a vegetable stew, spiced just right.”

Grinning Carr rubs his empty belly, “Mmm, nice and spicy hot?”

“Well not too hot, you’re still healing.” Violetta displays one of her special loaves of bread, “I had a little bit of cinnamon left.” Picking up a pitcher she pours out two cups of water, “Come, sit down before you fall down.”

Not sure if she’s just being friendly or up to something, Carr keeps an eye on her taking a seat at the wooden table. “Cinnamon bread eh?”

“It’s been awhile for me too.” Violetta takes a large ladle and scoops out two bowls full of stew from a steaming pot hung in the fireplace, “I made sure to include things that will help your healing.”

“Thanks Violetta, for always taking such good care of me.” Thirsty he drinks down the cup of water and pours up another.

“You’re quite welcome Carr.” Sitting down she sets the bowls on the table, “I can’t leave your mother to fend for her self.”

Thinking that’s the reason she’s being nice Carr says. “Yeah, I got to get back soon there’s still a couple fields to be cut down.”

Violetta wonders how to direct the conversation. “Yes that would be a good idea.” She takes a knife and slices up the loaf, “It makes me happy to see you, still taking care of her.”

Blowing on a spoonful of stew Carr looks over, “What about you? Don’t you want some one to look after you?”

She knows he’s referring to himself. “I haven’t needed a man yet. How’s your friend Sonja?”

“As pretty as ever. But nowhere near the woman you are.” He smiles trying to be smooth.

She smiles back, “You’re still too young and reckless, for me to take seriously.”

He purposely sighs loudly, “I guess it’s always going to be the same between us.”

“I think you’re just taken by me because I’ve tended to your wounds so many times.” She does appreciate the attention, adding what he hates hearing, “If you weren’t always trying to run off chasing gold and trinkets…”

“I know if I was only happy to be a farmer.” Discouraged by the ongoing argument Carr restates his view, “But it’s so dull, stuck on the farm.”

Violetta pulls the tiny pouch out, “Is this what you risked your skin for?” Taking it off she hands it back over to Carr.

Hanging the pouch back around his neck, “Yes, it is,” He’s unsure how she actually feels about it.

A big warm smile covers her face, “That is the only one, of your foolish quests I can appreciate.”

“Yeah?” Carr looks at her strangely, “I didn’t think you’d approve.”

“Killing people over them, no,” Violetta points out, “Your father would’ve been behind you. I have a feeling your mother is not going to like the idea. I’m sure she’ll like the gesture. Did you at least tell her where you were going?”

“Ah… no.”

She shakes her head at him, “That’s disrespectful to make your mother worry.”

“Well… er… ah,” Carr tries to defend his actions, “I said I wanted to get them back for her. But she said it wasn’t worth risking my life over.”

“Well Carr I feel the same way,” Violetta remains calm explaining, “Sure they’ve got a sentimental value but they are just fashioned pieces of metal.”

Carr nods at the truth, “I couldn’t let them end up in some King’s treasure house never to be seen again.”

Seeing an opportunity to find out what else he’s been up to she asks. “You risked life and limb for those trinkets, yet traded your horse for a ride into town. Can you explain that to me?” Taking in a mouthful of stew studies Carr’s emotional response.

His eyes become distant struggling to carefully answer the question, “I promised not to talk about it. Lets just say. I didn’t mean to trade her for a ride. I had no choice.”

Sensing truth and sadness she inquires. “Why didn’t you have a choice?”

“I knew my wound was bad and if I didn’t make it to you. I would have died out there.”

Agreeing with his statement she nods, “Yes you didn’t have much time left.” Knowing he can keep a promised word she bluffs a statement, “Last night you were seen, flying on the back of a Griffon. Dropping you off outside of town.”

Carr’s eyes widen, as he quickly answers her. “I promised I wouldn’t discuss it. The Griffon threatened to hunt me down, or Ma, if anyone found out.”

Satisfied with his response she inquires. “Is Bressi really gone?”

Carr stops eating, “Yes.”

Feeling bad for making Carr sad and wanting him to continue to eat she reluctantly inquires, “Well tell me about your journey and you don’t have to tell me anything further about the Griffon.” Hoping his story telling will alter his mood.

It slowly does, by the time he gets to the Ogre his appetite returns. She informs him the medallion may be a curse to him as well.

He leaves out the first encounter with Kryston. Mainly describing the path he took over the mountains. Violetta doesn’t recall such a path but prefers to stay to the main routes when traveling.

Inside the city Carr boasts to Violetta that the mystery innkeeper wanted him. She doesn’t believe him but remains quiet.

As he goes into detail on the Lord’s bedchamber Violetta pours out a second bowl of stew. The rest of the tale up to fleeing the city and the fight in the range stays the same. He asks her opinion on the short-sword, she says she’ll look at it later.

The last part of the mountain tale he only says the basics. The Griffon found him and wanted him out of the area. When Carr told the beast he my not make it because his horse was gone the griffon felt bad for eating Bressi and offered to fly him to Ingleside.

Sensing most is true Violletta now understands why he became saddened when asked about Bressi. She does easily get Carr to describe the flight. He gladly does going into great detail.

By the time he reached Violetta’s the pair managed to eat the loaf of bread and Carr got three bowls of stew into his stomach.

Rubbing a bloated belly Carr compliments her, “That was mighty tasty stew Violetta. Is there anything you can’t do?”

Cleaning up she replies, “Yeah, I can’t keep beings from killing each other.”

Carr yawns stretching out the body, “Hey? Did you put galenous in the stew?”

Grinning she answers, “Yup. I wanted to make sure you got some more sleep in.”

“Oh.” Carr looks around as his eyes get heavy, “And I ate three bowls. Didn’t I get enough sleep already?”

Snickering at him she points up, “Yeah and if you don’t want to wake up on the floor you best return to the loft.”

Carr reluctantly agrees and she helps him back into the hidden room.

Making certain he doesn’t wipe out, she follows him up the ladder and even tucks him in.

Saying their goodnights, Violetta requires a long sleep herself, heading for her room.

The next morning Violetta fixes a basic meal of fruit and bread. Filling Carr’s canteen with water and making sure he’s got food for the ride home.

Recovering from the galenous Carr wakes descending to the main floor.

Sitting at the table he notices his gear is assembled.

“Good morning Carr.” In a great mood Violetta greets him, “I trust you slept through the night?”

Smiling back Carr says, “I should’ve after you drugged me. But I still love you.”

She laughs reminding him, “I had some too.”

“I see you’re happy to get rid of me this morning,” He jests pouring up a drink of water.

Passing by she kisses him on the forehead, “It’s almost noon. I slept well too.”

She hasn’t kissed him since he was a little boy. Carr gives her the once over. “I don’t think I’ve seen you this happy.” Starting to place armor back on, “That is you, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” she snickers, “haven’t slept that well in some time.” Helping him tie up the coverings she says, “Yesterday I got you a new horse it’s at the stable.”

“Really?” Looking her in the eye Carr states. “You’re the best Violetta someday you’ll have to let me make it up to you.”

Already with an idea she relays it, “Take care of your mother. That would please me.”

“Of course.” Not satisfied with her request he inquires, “Come on now, you do so much for me. I must be able to do something for you?”

“Okay, since your asking.” She lets him know, “Stay on the farm, find a nice girl to marry. Raise a family and stop risking your life foolishly.”

He shakes his head, “I should have figured. There’s nothing you want?”

She has the perfect answer, “Sure there is.”

Frustrated but curious he inquires. “What is it?”

A sly grin forms, “Let me do the marrying and help with the birthing.”

“You are something.” Giving up for now he asks. “So what kind of horse did you get?” Picking up a peach he takes a big bite out of it.

“A mare.” Not knowing the breeds she describes it, “She’s a little bigger then Bressi. And I’m sure you’ll like her coloring.”

“Oh yah?” Swallowing he guesses, “Is it white with brown spots.”

“No.”

Not really caring, as he trusts her decisions, “You picked it that’s all that matters and at least I don’t have to walk home.”

Violetta lets him know, “I have a new horse too.”

He tries to recall if she ever had one, “Oh yeah?”

“Yes.” She replies actually wanting to go for a ride, “He’s a beautiful chestnut color with dark brown mane and tail.”

He pulls his boots on to finish suiting up with the shin guards, “I can’t remember seeing you with a horse of your own.”

Thinking back she says. “It has been a long time. About a decade.”

“Um, Violetta?” He wishes to ask another favor, “I don’t suppose you have a vial or two of healing potion? I can pay you.”

Pondering over it briefly, she knows he’ll end up needing a second, “I already put one in your pack, but you, you will do something foolish.” Opening a cabinet door she pushes some bottles aside. “I think a can spare one. And next time use it for a wound like this one.” Tapping his left shoulder.

“Okay but I can, pay you.” He offers knotting up the last strap.

Rolling the vial in a bandage Violetta declines. “Just take it and for heavens sake stay out of trouble.”

“I’ll try.” Picking up the short-sword to strap on he asks. “Did you look at this blade?”

Inserting the vial into the pack she glances at the sword, “Yes its nice.”

“No.” Carr queries, “Do you think the blade is poisonous?”

She stands carefully drawing the sword, “The handle feels very negative, its’ taken lives.” She turns it over reading the ruins inscribed on the blade, “Not good.” Cautiously she returns the blade and goes back to the cabinet.

“What?” Carr watches her, “Is it poisonous?”

“Yes.” Finding a different vial, Violetta wraps it right away, “Its a venomous blade alright.”

Carr is happy but knows not to show it around the present company, “I best be careful with it.”

Knowing she can’t tell him to get rid of it, “No, you best hide that somewhere. You wouldn’t want your Ma to find it, accidentally.”

“Oh yeah.” Carr had yet thought of that.

“Yeah.” Violetta turns to him showing the bundled vial, “This is anti-poison. Try to keep it out of the sunlight, it’ll ruin the potion.” She stuffs it into the pack.

Carr appreciates her kind heart, “Thank you so much Violetta. To honor your generosity I’ll stash the sword when I get home and forget about it.”

Liking the first part of the statement, she knows he won’t be able to forget about it, “Yes, please hide it well enough, you forget where it is.” She helps him get his pack on.

“I will.” Carr makes an invitation, “You should come down. Before the winter and we’ll put you up for the night. I’m sure Ma would like you to stop in.”

Picking up the long-sword she accepts, “Yes I should. With a new horse. A nice ride. Maybe late next month.” She notices the numerous nicks taken out of the blade, “I don’t like people to have these things, but you should invest in a new weapon.”

He takes the sword recalling how each nick came to be, “It’s getting dull too.” Sliding it between his back and pack, jokingly asking for her opinion, “Have any suggestions on a new blade?”

Her suggestion is half humor and mainly truth, “Something useful. Like a new sickle. They can kill.”

Eyes rolling, Carr replies smartly. “They do have an advantage. I prefer a little distance from my foe.”

Opening the front door Violetta steps out into the warm cloudy day, “Come fool, lets get you moving. You aren’t going to make Ahn before dark.”

Following, Carr shields his eyes, “Oh the sun. I’ll make the campsite though.”

She looks at him and laughs once, “I can’t wait for the day that old, if you can call it a bridge, collapses and you end up in the Grun”

Carr enjoys a good creaky creek crossing. “I kinda like it. It’s like gambling. Will he make it across or will he be swimming.”

“Drowning you mean.” She pokes his backpack, “Not to mention you’ll be crossing in the dark.”

“Ah, I’ve got a new horse to try out,” he grins.

She warns him. “Come on now. Don’t run her into the ground.”

Wrapping his arms around her, “Thanks again.”

She likes it, but plays different patting him on the back and breaking the hold, “Next time try and make it social and not late.”

Nodding Carr grins, “I’ll try and I’ll try to behave.” He starts to walk away, “Besides I’m only gonna take the rest of the fields down and a trip across the swamp for winter supplies. This was probably my last job.”

Older and seasoned she knows better, “It’s not good to lie to your self like that. You’re stuck on the same road as trouble. Look for an alternate path.”

Hesitating at the corner of her place he glances back, “Hey trouble’s a good friend of mine.” Waving bye he rounds the corner.

Violetta sighs knowing from his lifeline, worse suffering will come before he learns. She mentally wishes him well and will say a few prayers for him. For now she returns inside to cleanse the house of negative energy.

Strolling over to the stable his eyes finally adjust to the daylight. Some of the locals take notice of him whispering to each other. He doesn’t mind at all and walks tall.

The waiting stable boy sees him coming and knows for certain who the horse is for and fetches the mare from the stall.

Carr walks up to the stable scanning the area, spotting the similarly aged male retrieving a saddled horse, “Excuse me. I’m Carr. Did Violetta tell you I have a horse here? I see your busy just point out the stall and I’ll get her myself.” Watching the guy lead out a beautiful, all black horse.

“Yup.” The stable boy replies, “I saw you coming and knew this was your horse.” He points out the black scale, handing over the reins.

“No way?” Carr takes a good look at her, “Wow, she picked out a beauty.”

Agreeing the guy informs Carr, “Oh yeah, the soldiers were talking about this one. And a couple of the others in town were saving their coin to purchase her.” He grins, “They’re mad. One was only a couple gold away.”

Carr looks at him, “Wasn’t you was it?”

Shaking his head no, “I’ve got a good one.”

“Oh well then,” Carr shrugs before hoisting himself in the saddle.

Holding the mare steady the stable boy inquires. “What did you pay for her?”

Unsure Carr answers trying to impress with a wink, “I don’t know. Violetta bought her for me.”

That comment removes a smile from the stable boy’s face, jealous of Carr’s position with the towns’ favorite woman, “She bought her for you?”

Knowing that information will quickly circulate around the small village, “Oh yeah.” To put the stable boy at ease and add to the gossip he says, “But that’s what family is for.”

The boy’s relieved Carr’s not a threat for Violetta’s affection, “Oh sure.”

Nudging the horse to leave the barn, Carr waves once, “Thanks for having her ready. Take care.”

“Sure, have a good ride,” The stable boy waves slightly, looking for someone to update, on the village’s exciting week.

Showing off Carr gets the horse to gallop across the grass. Tearing by Violetta’s Carr calls out as they pass, “Thank you! Good woman. She’s great! See you next time.”

She hears him and the horse go by, looking to the heavens reassuringly, “The boy just needs guidance. Send him a smart, strong, young woman.”

Tearing between the houses Carr cuts across the grassy field for the western road to Lafhee.

Keeping their distance the villagers speculate on what’s happened and will happen to Carr and them.

Carefree and thrilled with the horse Carr enjoys the moment. Following the rhythm of the racing black mare focuses on the road before him. Completely missing the two remaining soldiers watching him from a small clearing outside of town. Immediately as Carr gallops past they retrieve their horses to give chase.

Never to look back Carr is fortunate to have a younger and faster horse, as they easily escape the soldier’s view. Winding their way through the tree covered road both happy to be running wild.

After several leagues he slows the horse up for its own good. To also find a nearing path that’ll lead him to the campsite north of Ahn.

Way too far behind the pursuing soldiers will never see him take the trail. Entering the path, a tall weed’s branch breaks pointing the direction went.

Comforted by Violetta and being so close to home Carr never bothers to look back. Instead they leisurely navigate the old forest path, as Carr thinks of what to call the new horse. Chuckling at the common, unsuited names. Shaking his head to the obscure lengthy titles. Eventually they reach the river crossing.

The sinking sun still illuminates the riverbed. An old primitively constructed bridge rests atop the high riverbank.

Getting down Carr leads the horse to the bridge. Made up of four strapped together de-limbed trees.

Only a few steps on the bridge and Carr is forced to stop it seems the horse is reluctant.

Gently tugging the animal while talking sweetly gets her started.

Out over the river the horse’s legs tremble and the timbers creak.

Looking down at the river for fish Carr notices the bridge is starting to sag. Making a

longer stride crossing the middle, the horse decides it’s time to get off when a loud crack rings out.

Knocking Carr aside the horse quickly clears the rickety bridge.

Carr drops managing to dig fingertips into the old wood, holding on. The fall to water isn’t far he’d just prefer to stay dry.

Looking at the horse with annoyance he curses. Pulling himself up and rolling onto the timbers, the horse finds a way down to the river to drink.

Sitting up notices divots left by his fingers and chuckles. Standing Carr can see horseshoe prints in the softening timbers. Midway the third log has split and is sagging, held in place by the old bindings.

Making a mental note he walks on the first two timbers. Hopping off the end he looks back and smiles at the horse tracks left behind.

Back in the saddle they carry on, reaching the campsite within the hour, and before the forest becomes black.

Tying the horse to the usual spot Carr notices the swords he poorly crafted are gone.

Picking up wood to start a small fire he studies the small boot prints left behind. It appears a fight took place, softly laughing at the imagined sight of young boys play fighting.

Sitting in his favorite place watching the small fire drops the pack and sword. Taking out the meal made for him leans back and contemplates on the journey and what he’ll have to say to mother. Being gone a week with no real notice he knows she’s going to have some well, selected words for him.

A.R.T. The Ties That Bind Chapter # 8 Complete

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