These continuing snippets are due to the patronage of a group of lovely people who are helping me make The Story of Jasmine saga complete for publishing.
Somewhere off to the right of the trail, sun beams illuminated a small grassy plateau. Rogan and Ahearn noticed some shadows milling slowly within that small meadow-like enclosure and realized they’d located the horses of Bardulf’s hapless, but well-supplied men. Unlike their masters, the horses were very much alive, happily trampling the dewy grasses glistening in the growing light. Rogan and Ahearn quickly took this opportunity to select from among them, the two most suitable beasts and riding equipment for Jasmine and Glynn. When Glynn arrived, he collected whatever might be of use from the saddlebags, packs and containers.
By the time they were prepared to leave, the sun had already replaced the night’s cold, blue-gray mist with a warm, rosy haze, which hung thickly over the grass, turning more golden as the dew began to evaporate.
Rogan and Ahearn expected the women to have shown up already. So, with a horse in tow, they returned to the ruins to collect them. Glynn stayed behind to finish his foraging. After he found a store of tobacco and heavy sacks of wine, he’d decided to take another horse to serve as a pack animal. After loading the second horse, he released the rest of the horses from the make-shift enclosure.
Rogan and Ahearn reached the ruin. Even from a distance, both noticed Thorne’s normally paled cheeks were hot red. Both knew not to utter a word. They already guessed that Thorne was livid with impatience and consternation at having had to keep waiting so long. Finally, they saw Jasmine climbing up and out of the dark. Thorne nearly grabbed Jasmine’s hair but she quickly checked herself and grabbed the large bundle Jasmine handed her instead.
Thorne turned to notice the men brought an extra horse. She signaled to Rogan. Nodding, he quickly dismounted and rushed Jasmine onto the saddle of that horse. With bundle in hand, Thorne leapt onto her own horse. In no time, Jasmine came to be perched, precariously high upon a horse, carrying her wrapped staff. Rogan steadied Jasmine for as long as he could before Thorne, in haste, quickly snatched the reins of Jasmine’s horse, making them lunge forward as Thorne lead them swiftly away.
As the sound of their hooves disappeared into the distance, the wind picked up. Swirls of leaves savagely chased each other in spinning battles. Crows called out a warning. Rogan instantly froze in position to open his senses and became hyper-aware.
Within this deceptively beautiful morning, the nature of the cawing sounds was a dark harbinger of change. All at once, Rogan knew they’d lingered too long. Being on the western loop of the trail, they had completely missed the group striding up the eastern trail. Thorne must have known the danger, she hurried too much not to have known.
Rogan then noticed some not-so-distant flashes of colors and flickering movement, accompanied by the dull thud of hooves upon rock and ground and the uneven hum of conversation. Rogan turned to Ahearn who also heard it, and whispered hoarsely, “Soldiers are nearly upon us. I will buy you some time to escape. Wait for me beyond the first outpost, at Flint Hill! My signal…” Then Rogan made a shrill, bird-like warbling sound. Ahearn nodded an acknowledgment, immediately whirled his horse around, and fled down the trail after Thorne and Jasmine.
Rogan calmly moved his horse out of sight, into the shadows of a thicket at the edge of the ruin. Out of his saddle-pack, he pulled out a simple muslin robe, dyed black. He put it on and belted it at the waist. After he dusted away some of the footprints, he located a small vantage point, nestled himself within it, and waited. If he were to be discovered, he was sure that his attire, along with the story he rehearsed in his head, would be convincing.
© 2018 DARLENE
It’s been about a month since I last posted–Did you miss the snippets?