Some stuff is old and I’m still editing. Some is it a bit thinking?
When all is said and done with this bunch of stuff and even when I edit it, is a project work in progress.
I’m changing too much for it even to be called raw and I change ideas of the story and characters and possible plots all the time.
The main thing is I am taking my time and I have now stopped rushing and screwing it up more than usual.
The ideas are there; I have faith in the words, and I hope to finally finish something.
In the meantime I’d ask you put up with me and I will post stuff as I can.
The time advantage was also being worn down by Alisia, who unused to not getting her own way was now playing King Martan’s deathly games for him.
She wanted to head for the road so it was more comfortable, and was increasing her toilet stops to make her point that cornfields were causing her to stop too often. They were barely making five miles an hour – courtesy of Alisia – whilst unknown to her, their pursuers were making between twelve to fifteen miles an hour as they galloped through the cornfields and ate the distance between them. Finally they made the copse by the road and Alisia with a sigh large enough for everyone to hear, said, “we have made the road!”
“What we have made Alisia, is someone threatening your life; our mission, and the lives of this escort for nothing more than your tantrums! Our scouts are already reporting that nearly forty men are pursuing us and they are eight miles behind us. You have wiped out any advantage we had!”
“If you had taken the roads, they wouldn’t have found us.”
“Alisia. We would be twenty miles closer to them and dead by now, if we had. As it is, your arrogance will probably kill all of us, and that includes you, my proud lady!”
“So how will you defend me now, my proud leader?”
“Possibly, by wringing your neck but that wouldn’t affect your brain, since that is in your loins and your death is all they desire.
“If you, Alisia, do not delay us any longer with your death wish, there is a second branch from the road about twenty miles ahead. The first branch is eight miles ahead. We need the Cat to spray scent around, and we’ll have to hope they have a Scout who will seek where the horses leave— …? Gods, what am I thinking of? They’ll expect us to leave the escort and the escort then draws them away. We need some decoys to carry on through the trees and be where the road turns off on the bend at eight miles. Others will turn off after twenty miles and the first team will join them. The rest will stay with the plan. The Cat needs to spray its scent through the trees across country for the next twenty miles to attract the hounds. We, Alisia, stay with the main party although we’ll lose half the force over the two roads but if you could do your business in the trees for their hounds pick up, some should follow the troops through the trees; they will take their horses through it and the rest should follow the escort. Hopefully we’ll be able to turn right at the next bend and finally might make Spragend—”
“You’re not trying to make Spragend, so why have you headed this way?”
“Didn’t King Martan tell you anything?”
“I don’t know what you mean.”
“Ask yourself this question. If the road to Toshon Village lies to the West, why do you think have been moving east?”
“Do you know where Charguar is, Alisia?”
“In the mountains to the west.”
“Sir Charles Dastry’s troops are actually in the forest bordering the road you would have to take from Matira with no means of escape and Sir Charles aiming to kill you.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Leaving Matira and heading west would take us past Sir Charles’ troops in the forest who could ambush us with archers from north and south of the road. The aim, which you have deliberately thwarted was to head through the cornfields; build up a lead of some miles; head towards Spragend and turn back to the west across some thirty of the Spragend sea. Then we head for the Matira sea and finally make the Toshonia sea which would then allow us to sail Rocs Revenge and be within walking distance of Jacque and Mari.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Let’s get on with the job. We need to gallop across this land like a wind passing more than these troops do. Gobetween the seas and there are no roads, just rough country. Hopefully by the time they realise, they’ve little chance of catching us as it will be boat and horse and the Drunk should have the first boat hired by the time we get there and he’s had his last drink. The main problem, now, is that we’ve lost our time advantage and King Martan did not plan this route. His plan was for you to use the roads and be caught by Sir Charles.”
“That is a lie. You are a traitor! You are sacrificing my life.”
“I am not prepared to sacrifice the lives of my troops for you, and King Martan does not want your child born and I am to cut its throat if it ever—”
“That is a lie. He told me he loved me—”
“—Then why did he lie to you. Why did he tell to move slowly. Our only hope was speed and you wiped that out. My troops with you are just a decoy and Martan thinks you’ll die on the road or in Spragend and my troops with you – we are all a sacrifice and I’m trying to take you to where you are safe.”
“Why would he lie to me. He loves me.”
“Why would he marry Princess Routani if he wanted you as his Queen and his is King, and can decide who he marries. There is no law against a King of Matira marrying a commoner.”
“There is a law. He can only marry a Princess. That is the law.”
“The law is the King and he is the law. He can do whatever he wants and you have no political value and bearing a child, you have the ability to plung his kingdom into even more warfare. You got yourself pregnant, thinking to control the King. He decided you were disposable and I’m not prepared to risk my live for the antics of a King and concubine.”
“You are disloyal—”
“But still alive, in spite of you.
“Our troops would now reverse and head across cornfields, bypassing another forest and we would finally join up, surprisingly at the bit of you wanted to with Sir Charles and his troops some twenty behind us. You left us little chance with your tantrums. They will follow your scent: your urine, and perhaps that ends when the hounds find your throat!”
“Are they really that close?”
“Tell Lady Alisia.”
“They are drawing closer the longer we sit here! No matter what plan we decide, we need to move. None of us wishes to die, sat here.”
Jinny rode up to the three guards she’d selected, “go through the trees. Make sure you create a trail. They probably won’t follow you but at the turn-off after that, you move across country again; another six troopers will move to join you there. You wait for them. I don’t think they will attack you as they should follow Alisia’ smells and that will lead them to us. You then harass them from behind. All of you have horse bows – use them. They Cat will go with you. If nothing else, it will confuse them and slow them down, and they will wonder how many troops we really have left if we can squander troops? You have leave to run, once you engage them but don’t run to Matira – that should, with luck, confuse them even more and hopefully split their forces. This is your note of authority should you meet patrols on the roads. It requires them to assist you,” They took off and the rest of the troops moved on at a far faster rate, after Alisia had once more excused herself.
Jinny watched them. There wouldn’t be any troops for them to meet up with but maybe a couple of troopers who were useless could be targets and join them; you never knew, they might survive, or even be of some use, afterwards.
Alisia actually tried to fool King Martan, thinking that if she became pregnant he would not marry Princess Routani. Martan did not want a child as it complicated things and he decided her escape would be her death-trap or at the very least a miscarriage. He knew Sir Charles had troops in the forests to the west of Matira but it was too close to comfort for him to arrange her own death.
Instead the idea was to move across country her on a horse for some forty miles whilst word of her leaving was released to the remaining spies of Sir Charles to make him move. The troops were as much a sacrifice as anyone else, and Jinny has started to realise that quite early on. The whole plan was a shambles and the drunk had slipped away earlier whilst the Cat had followed her hand directions to go through the trees. Convincing Sir Charles was the next target and in this she was aided by the tantrums of Alisia who’d deliberately slowed them down. Now all they could do was run and hope to split Sir Charles’ forces.
Mi Kee at times thought he slept and they say you can’t choose your neighbours. His were a ‘walking log’ with a parrot on it; two large Cats who acted as if they were his bodyguards and his own personal vortex. Maybe some of his decisions had been wrong as a Mandarin Magistrate but if the Gods were unhappy, why didn’t they just sack him; not transport him to another world with a bunch of animals – he was an educated man: he followed and applied the law; he was not someone who failed their examinations, and deserved their future life and failure. It made his ‘swinging bed’ seem a haven at times and he was as desperate as you can you be to sleep. And without the Cats above or the smell that rose from the bowels of the lodge.
The Cats weren’t bad but they liked to climb onto the roof, which then bent even more and he swung out a little more every day from the Cats on the roof until one day he decided the vortex would be kinder that the Cats dripping things onto him and he finally headed to the beach to face the vortex, which did seem a lot smaller.
When Mi Kee arrived, the Vortex was a hundred foot high; now it seemed to have dieted and it was still a blaze of so many colours and aimed at him— he just looked at the vortex— …? What was he thinking?
This thing had ripped him from his life and now like some child’s puzzle, spun around him.
They stared at each other.
he and the vortex seem to reach some agreement for him to sleep by the beach.
Mi Kee did not, and never had felt like a mystic. He was, or had been, a mandarin magistrate and something was appearing by on the beach and he watched as it slowly appeared. First
It was made of wood by on stilts and as the
They carried on with her towards the west of Toshania and then all but Alisia, Drunk and Jinny, and the Cat carried on to the south whilst the rest headed north but the Cat was unhappy and so was the Drunk. Alisia felt Uguar was of little interest to anyone but they and Alisia dismounted with a sense of relief and she watched as they led the horses into the trees while she headed towards some other trees whilst they Cat moved around all the trees relieving himself, so everything stank of Cat.
They’d head for Toshon Village and a couple she has once met once, who lived to the west side of the village and were virtually ignored – Jacque and Mari who liked their house near the rocks and sea and with the smell of the Cat she could understand why and the Cat was out and ‘pwologing’ as the Cat sniffed and logged into it’s system – ‘Old Stock’ weren’t all dumb and the nervous system is a brain, closely linked, in this case, to a large cat.
Alisia found her mind … something that seemed … she knew her mind … she had always known her mind. She wasn’t Old Stock.
Jacque and Mari kept and flew hawks; they was all they did.
They weren’t Old Stock, and not was she.
If I was Old Stock, the Cat would be around; it wasn’t …? ‘I don’t know what the Cat is doing. I’m going to sleep!’ Why did they tolerate the Cat … she thought again … the Rocs were tolerated – why – apart from the mind-bonding …? Wolves could be a problem at times, however the Rocs kept the wolf numbers down and how did she know and when she did she know!
She could feel the Cat as it ran, often fighting from the darkness until it swung over a dog, biting into it’s neck and she felt the Cat wore something as she now did. Something that she’d be instructed to never remove.
The Rocs often sought hight as they held a wolf and how did she know that.
The wolves soon learnt to stay in the rocks to the east or die but they still preyed on the village and its two farms.
Tonight’s stop was to allow anyone following to assume they had gone to Spragend.
Martan had prevailed upon a Priestess of Astoron – Rosanna – by subscribing a large donation to provide Alisia with an amulet, prevented her from being sought by magical means … now, she felt she needed to rest after she had adjusted her bladder. Magical means for her bladder would have been better, still, at least she could sleep. They finally settled down under a tent the Drunk and Jinny had erected. To Alisia’s surprise they didn’t sleep together but they weren’t far apart either, and both slept across the tent entrance while the Cat slept outside.
The Cat still made her nervous. It’s body was level with her hips and its head nearly a foot higher than that. It often disappeared but then it always seemed to be around. It was a fawn colour but still difficult to see at night.
Alisia finally asked how Jinny and the Drunk met.
The Drunk just put his head down and was quickly snoring. Eventually, Jinny looked at Alisia and smiled, “The Drunk was a woodcutter … I suppose he’s never had another name? He drank and cut wood and that was his life; nothing else until we met, or rather Cat and he met. The Drunk has always been attracted to gin, anyway, and that night, in a drunken state thought he heard someone shout gin and managed to stagger upright for a change; made his way to the bar shouting for gin and fell on his face at my feet – a nice proposal? The barman looked at him, looked at me and said, ‘is he with you?’ The Cat liked the Drunk and I liked the Cat, and so we came together.”
“Jinny …? I don’t think he’s with anyone, never mind himself.”
“He’s not bad when he’s sober; it’s just a question of how long can you wait and the Cat gets really uptight is he tries to drink a lot, and the Cat makes his point so Drunk doesn’t get drunk that much, anymore. I don’t stop him, the Cat does. First time I picked him up and put him in the horse-trough outside. I did check him in the morning; had to move a horse’s mouth to a better part of the trough, away from the Drunk to do so, and he was still sleeping. He finally crawled out some hours later and the Cat licked his face, seemed to like him. I looked at the Cat and I do like the Cat … maybe he does have more than alcohol in his body. We’ve worked together since.”
“What is the Cat?”
“I’ve no idea, Alisia. Old Stock, I suppose; tends to stay away from people unless he likes them. You come across Old Stock from time to time and it’s better to leave them alone. They don’t harm anyone. They just want to be left alone and that’s fine by me.”
“Jinny, the people I want to help me are Old Stock …?”
“Do they know, Alisia?”
“I love my Lord Martan …? I still don’t understand why he is forcing me away from him as I carry his child. Riding miles, and probably miscarrying his and my child to avoid her being killed by Laseith, Routani or their killers if she survives being born– why doesn’t Martan kill Laseith and Routani – there must be other Princesses?”
“That Laseith and Routani haven’t already killed! How do you know you carry a girl?”
“Boys, are more difficult. I carry a girl! She will live, even if I must abandon her!”
“We haven’t reached that point yet, Alisia. We sleep, then we move in the morning.”
“We are meant to stay here for days?”
“Cat is already picking up prowlers. They were following the troops to Spragend but Scouts have picked up our horses leaving the group near here. At this moment the Cat is watching and frightening the horses so they churn up the ground and hide our sign – the riders are also wondering what is happening. We leave in the morning and the Drunk is right to sleep – he knows the Cat better than I do – which I’ll admit, annoys me. Sleep, Alisia, we will protect you and your baby … sleep … sleep … you need it.”