Continued from the previous chapter, here.
𝔗he two men, one clad in green so dark as to be nearly black, one clad in mail overlaid with a surcoat of the same green and embroidered with an escutcheon of gules, on a bend argent a baton gules wavy, approached the walls of Anderitum–or of the town that had grown up around it. A low berm rose half the height of a person above the marshy land, and a wooden wall of uneven height emerged from out of it, standing taller than a person ahorse. Platforms, marked by higher thrusts of timber, studded its inside, and a largish gate stood open to the road. A couple of guards, standing in mail and leaning on their spears, kept watch on the gate at the level of the road; at least two more, archers, stood above, likewise watching.
The two proceeded ahead towards the gate, noting that there was some traffic through it. Farmers and merchants drove carts through, more going in than coming out, and people afoot walked freely in both directions. Most received no more than a cursory glance, although some merchants did have to stop and talk for a bit, and the mail-clad man marked that some coin exchanged hands more than once. One poor merchant was turned away, and progress through the gate stopped as he turned his cart around, the donkey pulling it resisting being guided about, and his face was sullen as he passed by the green-clad man and his knight.
At length, the two travelers came to the gate themselves. The green-clad man walked his horse through the gate as if wholly unconcerned with the guards around him, but the mail-clad man could not help but look about at them, and one of those carrying a spear saw his glance and called out to him, saying “Look, you in the armor, hold on a bit! We will need to talk to you.”
The mail-clad man stopped his horse and bent down in the saddle to hear, but the guard continued. “You’re going to need to come down, man, and give account. You’ve got a guilty look about you, you do, and we don’t need no guilty folk in this town. We’ve got enough problems as it is without more of them coming in through the gates.”
At that, the green-clad man turned back and rejoined his follower. To the guard, he said “What’s this about? Why do you feel the need to harass my man? What has he done that is so wrong that you would impede him? We are on urgent business, he and I, and we are not to be stopped by the likes of you!”
The attention of the archers was now fully on the two as the spear-bearing guard leveled his weapon at the green-clad man. “We guard the gate and guard the town, and if we think your man here looks guilty, then we will find out what it is that makes him so. And if he’s your man, then maybe you’re guilty, too, and we ought to stop you from heading on in and ruining what all we have.”
The mail-clad man reached out and lifted the spear away from the green-clad man. He seemed to move with little effort, but the guard struggled with the shaft of the spear and grunted as he failed to resume his posture. The knight said “As you guard the gate, I guard this man. In guarding, I note where those who carry weapons are, because each of you is a potential threat to my charge–as you have said I am to you. Being a warrior, I know the truth of this, and I take no umbrage at it. But I do take umbrage that you will point your weapon at the one in my charge, and I will ask you not to do so again, on pain of your suffering.” And he lifted his arm a bit, and the guard felt himself dragged up, pulled by the great strength of the mail-clad man exerted with seemingly little effort.
The guard let go of his spear suddenly, and he rocked a bit as he fell back onto his feet. He cried out, then, and the twang of bowstrings sang of arrows loosed. One, the mail-clad man caught in his other hand, stopping it scant inches from the green-clad man’s face; the other struck the uplifted spear. The green-clad man said to the guard “Stop your fellows, or my man will have to stop you all.”
Another twang sounded, and the mail-clad man whipped the spear about; two more arrows joined the first in its shaft, and the knight dropped it to reach for his sword. But the guard saw that they would not beat him in any fight that day, and he raised his hand and called out, and the archers relaxed their bows. And the green-clad man said “I am pleased to see that matters have resolved without incident. I trust that you are satisfied about my man and me, that he is no more guilty than I, and that I could not be so well defended were I laden with burdens. For I would hate to have to demonstrate matters more fully than has already been done.”
The guard looked at the two, then back to the gate, where several stood and stared at what had happened, and he shook his head. “I see no problem with you, now. Move along, then, and be about your business quickly.”
The green-clad man nodded and turned back towards the town. After a moment, seeing that the guards resumed their usual vigil and traffic began to flow again, the mail-clad man followed him. Houses and other buildings stood not far inside the wall, although there were fewer near it than further forward, where stone walls stood frowning. And as the knight drew abreast of his charge, he heard him to say “Welcome to Anderitum.”
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