Away SouthMature

Wyrinther was the fastest horse that Seymour had ever ridden--or seen, for that matter.  Even with the weight of three riders, and so precariously stacked, she wove through the trees with all the speed and grace of the wind, leaving their pursuers struggling far behind.  But although it did not seem to bother the mare, Seymour found their seating situation rather uncomfortable and strove to adjust it as soon as possible.  Giving Simon the reins and wedging his feet securely into the stirrups, the Aechyed reached up and removed Seoc from his shoulders, sliding him down behind Simon.

"Not...enough room...for that," Simon gasped, now pressed flat against the horse's neck.

"Sorry," Seymour apologized.

Seoc's eyes flickered open and he stared blearily up into Seymour's face.  "Who...?"

"Who am I, or who are you?"

This question seemed to cause the young man physical pain.  "What?  I..."   He trailed off and blinked hard, bringing his dark brown eyes into focus.  "Could you repeat that, please?"

"Never mind.  My name is Seymour de Winter."

"I'm Seoc," said Seoc.

"I know that," replied Seymour with the faintest hint of a smile.  "Do you think I would break two unknown, scrawny, filthy, diseased men out of a madhouse on a whim?"

Seoc thought about it for a moment.  "Well...probably no'.  But you ne'er know."

Seymour brushed off the dirt that Seoc had left on his shoulders, wrinkling his nose at the results.  "You'd better not have given me lice."

"Oh, I'm sure I have fleas as well," Seoc informed him, his tone matter-of-fact.  "And Simon has things crawlin' on him that I canna even identify.

On that note, he lay his parasite-infested head against Seymour's chest and fell asleep. 

 The Aechyed grimaced, wondering for the first time whether the fifty thousand knamick was worth the trouble.  Risk to his life?  Fine.  Possibility of capture and imprisonment? Also fine.  But exposure to pestilence and countless contagions?  Not fine.  If he caught anything, he would be certain to demand extra payment.

And then there was the matter of Simon and Seoc.  They stank.  They smelled strongly of sweat and vaguely of mildew, as if their clothes were molding, but the most obtrusive of the stenches they carried was that of human waste.  Seymour did not know how much longer he could stand it.   The close proximity was beginning to turn his stomach.  He would have to dunk them both in the river as soon as it was safe to do so.

They rode along the banks of the Waelyngar until dusk, at which point Seymour located a decent camping spot a short distance from the water's edge.  He didn't want to tempt fate by lighting a fire, but he found a decent supply of food in Wyrinther's saddlebags, along with  a bar of soap, spare clothing for the two humans, and various other useful odds and ends.  The bags seemed to contain more than their apparent volume should have allowed;  magic, Seymour surmised.

The End

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