The Legend of Quone-Loc-Sie: part three - A Perilous Journey by Alan P. Ellis by Alan P. Ellis - Read Online

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The Legend of Quone-Loc-Sie - Alan P. Ellis

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The Legend of Quone-Loc-Sie

Part Three – A perilous Journey, by Alan P. Ellis

Smashwords Edition. Copyright Caelin Day pty ltd (aus).

The clip clop of the horse’s hooves, and the rumble of the wagon echoing in the tunnel had accompanied them for so long that it had become familiar when they reached the entrance. There were mounds of rubble both inside and out, and the lack of snow covering the external piles indicated that the entrance had only recently been unsealed.

Once out Nicholas could see that many years ago the road had continued on as below the trees patches of a solid dark tar still remained, though the thick vegetation had ruined the smooth surface with matted roots. As if to emphasize that the undergrowth had been cut only during the preceding day Nicholas could smell the fresh sap.

It is too late now for a hidden entrance, said Colen guessing his thoughts. No wagon or person save us and the cutters have stepped on this ground in time past remembering. Let them see it now, for now is the time to strike, and that is our taskmaster Nicholas: onwards to Riverslee.

They crashed and jolted their way through the slashed and crushed grass and over the stump's of trees to the nearest road. Once there they became just another wagon on their way to the aging.

As Simeon had predicted the road became full, almost choked with traffic towards the town, and once there, Riverslee was far busier than Nicholas had imagined. Whether this was due to the approaching aging, or if this was usual for a market day, he could only guess.

Calling out to pedestrians for directions they slowly made their way into town's center, amidst a stream of carts, wagons, and townspeople. Dogs and children spilled onto the road from the narrow footpaths, and on several occasions they almost hit one or the oblivious other, racing across the road. Colen smiled at the chaos. It’s good to be back in town again, he observed.

Nicholas smiled although with the noise and crush he was inclined to disagree.

It had been an uneventful journey. The local militia had stopped them twice; but to their relief the inspection of the wagon had been cursory, the soldiers having little interest in fully carrying out their duties with such a number of travelers on the road.

It was after the time of the mid day meal that they finally turned into a small lane containing a number of two story buildings. The uppermost floors of these cantilevered out over the flagstones. Close enough that a fit man could clear the gap between the houses on either side. The whole experience was beginning to give Nicholas a feeling of claustrophobia.

Most of the buildings in the lane had a large timber gateway at street level, and it was in front of one of these that they stopped. Colen stepped down and walked to the entrance, his heavy boots clumping on the smoothed stone surface as if they were still inside the cavern. He thumped several times with his clenched fist, then stood back looking up to the windows above.

Moment's later one gate slowly swung back, and an old man stepped from behind. He looked at them with an impassive face, and disappeared back behind the stout timber. Then the second half slowly swung back. Neither he nor Colen acknowledged one the other.

Colen climbed back onto the wagon, let the horses forward then pulled them sharply round. The man walked to the lead horse and grasped its reigns. The animal protested a little but then began to step backwards. Between him and Colen they reversed the wagon into a stable just large enough that the horses stopped with their shoulders still in the lane.

Looking inside Nicholas could see to the right was an area for storing hay and saddlery; on their left four individual pens, two already containing horses, and at the rear a door.

They unhitched the horses as the man closed the double gate, and still the owner: if that was who he was, did not speak. In silence he put the horses in the spare pens, turned and went through the back door.

Nicholas turned to Colen as he began to wipe down the horses. Talkative friends you have in these town folk?

Colen grinned as he refreshed to manger with a feed of oats. Not my friend, but a friend to the cause all the same, for he is one of us. Rumour has it that he is Harry's father.

Then I hope our meeting with the child is more encouraging than his bloodline.

Do not be too harsh Nicholas, for there is more to it than you see. I'm told his name is Vicktor, and he does not speak because he has no tongue.

Nicholas wished he had held his.

Taking off their dusty boots they placed them with their cloaks on a rack beside the door, and followed the way Vicktor had gone. Beyond was a set of narrow timber stairs running immediately to the right, and at the top of them another door opened into a small hallway, placed over the stable.

Vicktor had heard their approach, and came from a room at the end. He opened a door and pointed inside. It was the kitchen. Nicholas was surprised, as it was as tidy and clean as his own mothers had been. He immediately felt guilty, judging the man without good cause by presuming that this house would be less than his own had been. Their host pointed to chairs pushed under the table, they sat and were served two large plates of dumplings and gravy, one of Nick's favorite meals. The two men tucked in and gratefully took a second helping when that was offered. Vicktor refused their offer of help with the washing of dishes, and led them to another room with comfortable old chairs; they understood from his gestures that they should wait. Neither wanted to talk.

Colen took out some baccy and started to smoke, but Nicholas noticed that on shelf next to the window were several books. He was immediately drawn to them. His still forming estimation of Harry improved. He had always felt an affinity with other readers, and glancing at the titles, knew that he would like the man, if indeed these were his books. There were a