Chapter Twenty Seven
Franklin leaned his good shoulder into the harness and pushed again, to no avail. The sledge was stuck fast. The further down the mountain he got, the less ice and snow, and the more often this happened.
He needed a break anyway. He sat onto the Sledge and downed another ladle of the ale he’d salvaged from the mine. Lying on his side he closed his eyes and let the warmth from the liquor spread through his body.
How he longed for solid food! It had been days since he’d eaten the flat bread and all he’d had since was small swigs of ale. It had been enough to keep him going largely because it was mostly downhill. Still, if something didn’t change soon, he’d have to come up with a different strategy. He took a deep breath, stretched his good arm a couple times and then climbed back off the sledge and turned to look back down the trail.
Three men in an unfamiliar uniform stared back at him. More precisely two men and an older boy. How long had they been there? They were mounted on fine cavalry mounts and leading a work horse by a torn halter. He next found his attention drawn to the swords at their waist. Silver lined scimitars, nearly identical to the one he’d found in the weir remains at the cart.
“Identify yourself. Why havent we seen you on our patrols before.”
Franklin slipped into the role he’d been practising for just such an eventuality. A cross between Thom and the miners, nothing at all like a noble, it case anyone was trying to make a claim on his contract.
“Thank Ferus ya found me! Ya wouldn’t believe what happened to me. Dream turned to nightmare. Got on as Walt’s apprentice but we was attacked three days ago before I ever even got to see the mine …”
“Slow down boy, you look injured? If you disarm yourself, Sven will take a look at you.”
Franklin pulled Earl’s shortsword from his belt and dropped it on the road. One of the men, presumably Sven, dismounted and started uncovering his wound.
“We was attacked by monsters I say! T’was thrown from the cart when the horse bolted. Came to in the undergrowth but everything’s in ruins and Walt and the others was gone!”
The man still on horseback raised an eyebrow at Sven.
“Checks out. This wound’s days old and no sign of infection … well that infection anyway. It could definitely do with a real cleaning and dressing in a clean bandage.”
“I’d appreciate that mighty much. Twasn’t much left of the supplies. I did manage to salvage some ale and a bit more though. I’d be willing to barter for yer help getting back to town in one piece.”
“Herman, bring Sven the medical supplies.”
The boy dismounted and brought a cloth bundle to Sven.
“We found this mare in a broken harness and followed its trail back this way. Is this the horse that bolted?”
Franklin winced as Sven cleaned out his wound with a clear liquid that smelt of alcohol.
“I surely believe it is. She twasn’t my responsibility to care for so I wouldn’t be able to tell ya any of her markings, but she looks mighty similar.”
The boys voice broke behind him.
“Claude! He’s got a Crescent Spark in his sledge. I think it’s Tony’s.”
The leader’s eye’s narrowed and Sven took a step back. Well that didn’t seem like a good sign.