Icy Cloak & Silvery Lantern~VI~
Bitter wind was tugging at Adelaide’s hood and lashing her hair round her face. She was sitting in front of Lawrence on a grey warmblood. He was plunging through the deep drifts of snow at a great pace and smoothly passing over rifts and inclines of the land. Lawrence had both hands on the reigns while supporting Adelaide by his arms. The saddle on which they sat was large and made of fine leather. It was black and simple but strongly made. Adelaide had both her feet secured to the stirrups by straps that Cosmas had attached. Lawrence constantly urged the great horse onward by soothingly clicking his tongue and nudging the horse’s heaving sides with his legs.
The sun was sailing down its last field of sky and cast about the land a hue of gold and orange. The rays soaked the snowy land in its warm colours and painted lovely shadows among the hillsides. The once brilliant day was now drawing its cloak over the frozen land.
The horse flung the snow away from his path as he now labored up a thickly blanketed hill. Lawrence urged him forward, stroking the horse’s heaving sides with his hand. Adelaide could see the dark outline of the top of the hill. It approached slowly as did a bitter wind that was passing over the rim of the hill.
Reaching the top, the numbing wind tossed back Adelaide’s hood and confronted her frozen face. She beheld below them a large forest stretching before them in a range of many miles. Lawrence kicked the sides of the horse, and they made their descent.
As the sun cast its last rays on the darkening canvas of night, the large wood closed in upon them. Pines overshadowed the edge of the forest and blanketed the forest floor with soft needles. No snow lay there; the arms of the large trees had caught the flakes as they fell.
The large warmblood borrowed through the reluctant pines and tossed his head as the branches where flung aside. Lawrence leant forward, avoiding the branches as they passed swiftly by over his head. Adelaide was also pushed forward and leant her chin on her hands. She could hear the horse’s heavy breathing, laboring to catch the air as it sped by. Adelaide could feel her eyes starting to drag. The wind became her lullaby; it sang in a fluttering, whistling voice. Adelaide’s eyes closed, and she drifted to sleep.
Adelaide dreamt. She could see a golden sunrise with purple canopying the rising glory. A large castle was silhouetted against the horizon. Its flags were being tossed in the wind of the sea. Saltiness was flavoring the air. Adelaide felt herself quickly being pulled across the plain, drawn toward the warmth of the spring sun. Her feet were numb buried in the snow that surrounded her feet. Behind her, the sky was dark with clouds filled with snow. Before her, a new field of soft grass lay in the budding spring. Soon the grass gathered about her bare feet with a loving embrace. Birds started to sing, and the sun’s glorious rays leaped with a sudden bound over the sky, across the plain and over the snow, flinging back the dark clouds and wiping out the snowy blanket. As the sun made its triumphant ascent, Adelaide felt herself blinded.
Her eyes opened, lights shined about her. She could feel Lawrence holding his cloak around her, shielding her. Adelaide cautiously looked ahead. They were in the midst of a company of mounted armed men of twenty or more; men who were grim with harsh creases in their brows and their fists tightly clenched around the reigns of their horses. Adelaide was silent. She could see the hate in the eyes of the men. These were not of the persecuted. They were the persecutors.
Lawrence had put his felt hat on his head. He was sitting erect. Amidst the grown men in daylight, he would have been seen and questioned; but the shadows crept round his face and gave an older look to him.
The rifle was useless now; buried beneath the saddle flap it was unreachable. There was no escape. Adelaide could feel the heat of the lanterns, hear the grumblings of the men, and smell the burning of the oil. They were hemmed in. She could see the ending of the forest. A grey dawn awaited their entrance to a last plain before the walls of a small village. Adelaide remembered the words of Revocatus. They were to reach the village by sunset. Now it was sunrise. The village he spoke of was only three miles into the forest. Caught up in this group of riders, they were swept away from their designated path and in the sight of an unknown village on the other side of the forest.