Riding, I’ve found, gives one time to ponder but walking, or trudging in mud, gives one time to dwell. Sentinel Captain Vytar, with his above average height and his close-cropped copper hair – now muddy – strode along purposefully. I wished he had some of that drive to loan to me. I had mud in my low boots and, dirty again, I felt like I’d been hit by lightning. Oh wait…
I didn’t remember what my mother – mothers, either of them – had said about whining but I’m sure it was applicable. I really wanted this adventure to have been in a book. I’d be at home, drinking a pint of dark beer, my feet up – dry and warm – and my stomach full. Jeslynn would be tending bar and I’d have some blessed solitude.
“Hey – How did Sentinel Elenosa know that I was a hospitlar?”
He slowed his pace until I caught up.
“I asked The Handyman about you while you were sleeping.”
“And so you told her.”
“Well, yes. I tell her everything.”
“So she knows why you call me ‘my lord’?”
I snorted.
He waved with his hand and said, “It’s complicated.”
“Isn’t it always.” He didn’t respond to my smirk. “So what else did ‘The Handyman’ tell you?”
“He said he thought you were unusual for a tavern keeper in that you weren’t good with money. He thought you were particularly gullible and were probably someone who’d been bullied a lot as a child for playing with dolls. He went on to describe – and I didn’t believe him – how you probably had never been married and lived with a dominating mother who scolded you relentlessly for picking your nose.”
I laughed and shook my head.
“He can spin a tale.”
“So you’ve known him for a while?”
I shrugged.
“Did he know your mother?”
Back to the mother subject. “Let me be plainspoken, Sentinel Vytar. I just recently found out the woman – a hospitlar’s wife – I thought to be my mother wasn’t my mother, so asking me about my birth mother is probably not going to assist you in proving or whatever my Nord heritage to that person you are taking me to.”
He sighed.
“I am fairly certain of your heritage, my lord. I just wanted to know if you knew it.”
“That I can answer. No.”
He considered that and the silence between us grew. I saw flashes of lightning in the distance and shuddered.
“You know of the troubles that Adnor has had with its northern and southern neighbors over the past half century?”
“Something about the Nord and Dvergr fighting and Adnor being in the middle.”
“That about sums it up. Both races have certain abilities.” he paused.
“Magic,” I added.
“As you wish – magic – that we men of Adnor do not posses. Myrik’s father, King Dagrik, arranged with the leaders of the Nord for Myrik to marry one of their princesses – a woman named Lyntrillienne – as a way to create peace. When she arrived at Crown City, the populace – including the nobles – found her to be lovely, like a spring morning.”
Vytar went on about this woman and I gathered that he too had been charmed by her.
“Myrik, besotted with his new queen, had her by his side at all possible moments. Then, King Dagrik was killed – some say by Dvergr and others claim it was Nord. Myrik became king and Lyntrillienne queen. She bore Myrik a son. They ruled in peace for several years until the great drought.”