Heir of Dishonor, Chapter Five--On the Road to Anasil

Fiction By LoriAnn // 2/19/2010

 

They set out under a cloudless blue sky, with the winter wind chill on their faces. Daniel perched uncomfortably on the back of the pony he had purchased in Morris, his pack tied carefully across the creature’s hindquarters. It wasn’t that he disliked horses…he just wasn’t at ease around them. His father had paid an associate once, to give the boy riding lessons. Daniel had learned to ride fairly well then, but that had been nearly four years ago, and he was having a hard time remembering exactly what he was supposed to do.
The pony was well-mannered, at least, and she had a smooth walk. Still, Daniel clutched at both the reins and at the pony’s reddish mane with white-knuckled fingers, desperate not to fall off.
The man he had met last night at the Dragon’s Horn; an elven horse-trader, apparently, who had introduced himself as Richard Barlow, rode ahead of him on another recently purchased horse. His was a long-legged, golden mare with a dark face and a temper to match. She had tried to bite Daniel this morning, when the horse-trader had asked him to hold the reins for a moment, but she was perfectly sweet to Barlow, even when he had pulled her head away from a pile of sweet hay in a nearby farmer’s wagon. Barlow had named the mare Canary, much to Daniel’s disgust.
“Why not name her Toothy?” he had muttered. “Or Nipper, or Plug-Ugly, or Stupid-Horse-What-Bites-Innocent-Kids?”
He heard a muffled guffaw from Barlow, quickly stifled.
Now he wondered if he was supposed to name his own mount. He had bought her, after all, with some of his own money. After his defiant words to Barlow at the inn last night, he wouldn’t let the man even offer to buy a horse for him. However, he did ask for the horse-trader’s advice on which horse to purchase.
Barlow had examined each of the horses in the livery carefully, running his hand down forelegs and checking teeth, stroking necks and patting hindquarters. Finally, he settled on two choices: a seemingly enormous black gelding, or a small chestnut pony.
“These two are probably the best for a beginning rider,” the trader had said. “You can pretty much take your pick.”
He had seemed slightly surprised when Daniel had chosen the pony over the gelding, but only nodded and chose his own mount while Daniel bargained with the livery owner.
“Should I name you?” Daniel mumbled to the pony. She flicked her ears toward the sound of his voice, her steps even and steady on the gravel road. “I could call you Shorty,” he continued, mostly just talking to hear his own voice. “Or Penny, since you’re about that color. Or I could just give you a girl’s name, like Kate or Jill or Peggy or…” he grinned. “Or Pricilla.” This name game was fun—and it was keeping his mind off the discomfort of sitting in a saddle. “Kelly, Leona, Rebecca, Sally, Francis, Bonnie, Imogene, Heather, Julia, Laurel, Kendra, Anne, Madge, Nelly, Rosamond, Tammy, Petunia, Molly—”
The pony whinnied, and Daniel shook his head. “Fine. Molly it is—I can’t think of any more names anyway.”
The newly christened Molly snorted at a passing bush. Pulling her head away from the tempting branch—tempting only to a nearsighted pony, since there was nothing green on it—Daniel nudged her into a faster walk. Resignedly, the pony obeyed, and closed the distance between herself and the golden Canary.
“Is there a town where we’ll stop tonight?” Daniel called up to the horse-trader. Barlow sat slouched in his saddle, riding with much ease and absolutely no grace. The man glanced over his shoulder.
“No. We’ll be camping.”
“Oh.”
Daniel had never camped before—at least, not unless you counted the times he had slept on a roof or in a doorway while his father waited to break into some rich house.
He quickly found that he didn’t like it.
He didn’t like the cold, damp dinner they ate—leftover chicken, courtesy of Simon the innkeeper—or the lack of something to drink. He didn’t like the small, spluttering fire that Barlow lit in a circle of cleared earth, and he didn’t like how one had to be within inches of the flame to feel the warmth. And he especially didn’t like the damp, muddy ground he had to sleep on.
And, above all, he didn’t like the horse-trader’s snores.
Laying on his back, wrapped in his cloak and the blanket from his old bed—and still shiveringly cold—Daniel stared up at the inky-black sky and groaned. His eyes were gritty with fatigue, and he wanted only one thing in the world: to sleep.
Which was something that wasn’t going to happen anytime soon.
Richard Barlow, horse-trader and elven guide, snored like a pack of wolves after a three-deer dinner. The noise rumbled and groaned through the wet night, grating on Daniel’s every nerve. He nearly felt like crying with frustration.
Finally, he threw off the blanket and sat up. Reaching across the small space of dank ground that separated him from the trader, he nudged the man’s foot.
No response.
Gritting his teeth, he shoved the foot harder, hissing a loud “Shhh!”
Barlow grunted and moved his foot out of Daniel’s reach, though he didn’t actually wake up. But he stopped snoring.
Daniel sighed with relief and lay back down, finally able to relax and perhaps fall asleep.
With a loud snort, the horse trader rolled over—and once again, the rumble of his snoring ripped over Daniel’s shredded nerves.
With a discouraged groan, the boy rolled over and plugged his ears with his fingers until they cramped.
It was going to be a long night.

Comments

Snoring.

Oh, poor boy...I really feel badly for him, especially since my dad snores like an elephant sometimes...At least the trader isn't trying to kill him yet.

Julie | Fri, 02/19/2010

Formerly Kestrel

Ahh...

But who says that Richard is going to try to kill him?

LoriAnn | Sat, 02/20/2010

Ouch...I pity poor Daniel. I

Ouch...I pity poor Daniel. I have an uncle whose snores can be heard from one end to the other of their enormous house. Yuck. 

Should I like Barlow? Because I think I do--but almost all my favorite characters either end up turning bad or getting killed. (I call it Boromir Syndrome because it all started with LOTR). :0)

Your elves aren't typical elves--it makes me pause sometimes and readjust my thinking. But I like it! You're breaking out of the mold.

Heather | Sat, 02/20/2010

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
And now our hearts will beat in time/You say I am yours and you are mine...
Michelle Tumes, "There Goes My Love"

My mother snores loudly. I

My mother snores loudly. I like Barlow too, He's a great character even if he does snore. :)

Kay J Fields | Fri, 02/26/2010

Visit my writing/book review blog at http://transcribingthesedreams.blogspot.com/

Like it!

Good job! I am really enjoying this story. I have a grandfather who snores. Thankfully he's not very loud. I am almost in love with Daniel (not literally, but his character). Please post more soon!

Arya Animarus | Thu, 06/10/2010

Oh for the times when I felt invincible.

LOL! Love it! LoriAnn!

LOL! Love it! LoriAnn!

My sister snores! and my brother! And my Grandfather! And my cat! LOL

This was great!

Can't wait to read more!

Kassady | Sun, 02/06/2011

"Here's looking at you, Kid"
---
Write On!