King of Foot & Yardle

Althaeas reigned up beside the aged farm barn peering down on the town he knew so well. Everything was awash with color, the Autumn Festival in full swing. He flung his soaked gray travel hat to the ground, let out a sigh and slid gingerly down off Sapphire, his new leather boots sinking into the spongy marsh. The dull dark chestnut mare bowed its head contently, thankful for the lush foliage the hill provided. The dew-covered hilltop was a welcome rest for the weary horse.
“I’m home,” Althaeas spat, “I guess I should be happy”…and picked up his hat!

His brother was late. He had looked forward to seeing him for a long time. While the two had grown into very different people, they would still be thicker then thieves. He was sure of it. Speaking of which, he was hungry and thought the market in town would prove a choice place for quick fingers! He had happened upon a hundred and more different towns and cities while traveling and none had ever disappointed his thirst for wine, women and song. All free gratis, of course, for a man that pays is a fearful man indeed…and this was the Rogue’s way.

On descent of the muddy hillock, he spied his brother stepping out from behind a large Sycamore affront the Town Gatehouse. It was late evening but Althaeas could already make out the senseless grin on this brother’s familiar face. Ollister had not responded to the last letter but he presumed, given the expensive manner in which he was dressed, that his brother must not have approved of this meeting place. Muddy fields spotted with horse shit were no place for a junior Treasurer of the Town Counsel, a position recently acquired by Ollister. Now he understood why his brother had waited at the Town Gate…and why he had never left home!

“So why the new attire? What’s the occasion Olly?” Althaeas japed, as he locked a firm grip on his brother’s hand. “…and you’ve lost weight and cultivated a beard I see. Could it be that a female has our Ollister bound to ball and chain? Is it a lady that has you dressed in your Sunday Best?” Dialog with his brother had always been laced with pushy sarcasm but never more so then when they reunited. The smirk on this brother’s face split to an ear-to-ear smile. The evening was turning to night with every sentence.
“And if I am not mistaken, you are donning the same rags I left you in. And they say travel widens the mind…but not the pockets I see. So are you buying dinner Al?” The elder brother was quite adept at throwing digs himself, never one to be out done by the younger sibling. Al ignored the question, chuckling, and pointed for the Town Gate. Olly nodded and lead them forward to the Yardle Gate House.

The Guard Captain Ned Fossoms had greeted Olly from a distance with a direct salute when he had left the town walls not ten minutes earlier. The stout Captain had been a high-ranking Yardle Town Guard since before the boys could remember. A reputable and pious man, he rarely let a chance slip to exercise his status and rank; his actions did not always reflect his religious convictions.
The two young men drew in towards the Guard House. Evening light had conceded to the night’s blackness while the silence the night promises was severed, from time to time, by cheers and screams inside the town walls. The festival was in full swing.
The matured Guard House was littered with lanterns; glowing in the resolute darkness like a birthday cake. The two men appeared in front of the Captain from the darkness as if by magic, the lantern’s light illuminating their faces. The stumpy little Captain gaped straight at the ‘Crossed Daggers’ tattoo on Althaeas’ neck, the unmistakable markings of a Rogue. The shirt collar did little to hide it and Althaeas did even less, his youthful pride curtailing common sense. His brother had not thought it would be a problem but Althaeas had experienced the distain humankind had for his line of work. He cared less. In a ferocious change of stride, Fossoms moved from a plod to a purposeful march straight for Althaeas pointing a sausage finger.
“No Rogues allowed on the King’s grounds. Your brother is a rat, is he Ollister? We already have our fill of rats around here…what with the festival and all,” he sneered, content that his insult had delivered a sufficient punch. He stopped 10 feet from them and placed a gloved hand on his small-sword staring intently at Althaeas. He didn’t see Althaeas’ horse belting towards him till the last second!

King of Foot & Yardle

morolo60

Joined November 2008

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Artist's Description

A light-hearted Prologue to a book I have started on !
Its tasty like salted chicken!

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