Revenge Of The Horseclans by Robert Adams

Revenge Of The Horseclans by Robert Adams

Revenge Of The Horseclans by Robert Adams


No matter how carefully Sir Bili Morguhn rearranged his hooded cloak, the cold, driving rain continued to find a sure path into his already sodden brigandine. Wearily, he leaned forward as his plodding gelding commenced to ascend yet another hill, and the movement started his nose to dripping again. Bili resignedly employed gauntleted fingers to blow some of the drip from his reddened nostrils, then vainly searched his person for a dry bit of cloth with which to wipe them. Leaning back against the high cantle as the gelding gingerly negotiated the mud-slick downgrade of the Traderoad, he thought that he could feel his every joint creak in harmony with his saddle. A reverie of the broad, sundappled meadows of his patrimonial estates flitted through his mind.

The wet hide of his stallion’s massive barrel came to rest against his booted leg and the warhorse mindspoke him, “Mahvros, too, thinks of the land loved by Sun and Wind, and he wishes now but a single roll in soft, dry grass. Is it many more days of wet and cold until we be there?”

Bili sighed in sympathy. “It’s considered to be a two-week journey by the traders,” he answered telepathically. “But I hope to make it in ten days . . . less, if possible, despite this abominable weather. That’s why I bought the geldings and the mule; you’re too good a friend to risk foundering.”

While speaking he reached over and patted the muscle corded withers, then ran his hand up to the crest and gently kneaded the thick neck. Could the big black have purred, he would have then. As it was, he beamed a wordless reaffirmation of his lifelong love for and devotion to Bili. Between the two minds, human and equine, flowed a depthless stream of mutual respect and trust and friendship.

The gelding raised his drooping head briefly and snorted. In his turn, Mahvros arched his neck and snorted in reply. The gelding, eyes rolling, shied from the stallion’s threat, stumbled in the rock studded mud, and all but fell. Only Bili’s superb horsemanship kept him in his seat and the gelding on his feet. He was about to chide Mahvros, who knew that the newly acquired animals were terrified of him, when the warhorse again mindspoke.

“Best to sit me, now, Brother. Stallions ahead, and mares and sexless ones and many mules. Their riders fight.” There were eager undertones in the big horse’s mindspeak, for he loved a fight.

A bare week ago, Bili might have been every bit as eager, but now, with his need to speedily complete his journey pressing upon him, he could see only the delay which a skirmish might entail. Nonetheless, he reined the gelding onto the shoulder where the mud was not so deep, then dismounted, tethered the two hacks and the mule, and mounted the monstrous black stallion.

Once in the familiar war kak, he removed the cloak and draped it over the mule’s packsaddle, then unslung his small, heavyweight target and strapped it on his left arm. While Mahvros quivered with joyful anticipation, , Bili uncased his huge axe and tightened its thong on his right wrist. Lastly, he slid into place his helm’s nasal and snapped down the cheekpieces.

“All right, Brother,” he mindspoke the stamping stallion. “Let us see what lies’ahead . . . but quietly, mind youl And charge only if I so command.”

For all his bulk, Mahvros was capable of moving silently as a cat. But even a cat would have found creeping difficult on the mudsucking road, so Bili put his mount to the wooded slope which flanked it. At the crest he was glad he had exercised elementary caution, for where the road curved around the hill sat two horsemen with bared blades.

Just below his hilltop position, a hot little fight was in progress round about a stonewalled travelers’ spring and six huge traderwagons. The attackers were obviously brigands rather than troopers, such that had become all too common along the lonelier stretches of the traderoads, since King Gilbuht had stripped away the bulk of the usual patrols to augment his cavalry in the current war.

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Categories: Adams, Robert