The Sheriff of CarvilMature

Seymour recognized the armored man immediately as a sheriff.  Glancing around, he saw the rest of his patrol, waiting on the side of the road.  Panic rose in Seymour's throat and he put his mind to work.  There was a way out of this: both he and Seoc had the hoods of their cloaks up, and the human had his wrapped all the way around him, hiding his body.  And Seoc was small enough to be passed off as girl...

         "I be Cuak," Seymour replied, reverting back to the Aechyed-slave accent, but this time in a rough, male voice.  He didn't know where he had thought up the name, but it seemed right.  "Dees be Cuak's meestress, the Lady--" Seoc, Jacques, Jack-- "Jacqueline Caligard, sir.  She be gravely ill, sir.  Cuak sent by master to take Lady to Carviliet, so that she might be cured, sir!"

         "I see," grunted the sheriff, still a bit suspicious.  "But why, pray, do you not come in a carriage?  Carrying a delicate lady by horseback is a desperate measure indeed."

          "We before coming in carriage, sir, but dee horses needed resting in Carvil Crossing, and der be no replacements ready, sir!  Only dis one.  Cuak thought it best to move on hasty, for think she not last the night."

           The sheriff seemed convinced.  "Of course, that is quite understandable.  I address the lady with my apologies and beg her forgiveness.  We must stop all passersby, you see, for there are reports of fugitives in the area.  I am sorry for the delay.  You may ride on."

            "Thank you," Seoc whispered in a barely audible rasp.

           The sheriff nodded to them and stepped aside to let them by.  It was at that moment that Simon, who had heard voices and thought that perhaps they had already arrived, poked his head sleepily out of the bag to investigate.  One of the sheriff's men saw his apparently disembodied head emerge from the saddlebag and stared in wide-eyed shock for a moment or two before pointing.

          "Look, Sheriff, sir!  The head!"

         The sheriff looked, saw, and comprehension dawned upon his features, which quickly contorted in fury.  "'Tis them!  Seize them!"

           Conscious that they had been found out, Seymour thrust his feet into the too-short stirrups and nudged Wyrinther to a flat-out gallop.  He heard the clatter of the armored men mounting their own steeds and kicking them into pursuit, but Wyrinther was faster than any of them.  The white mare flew forward gracefully, muscles rippling beneath her skin, running with all the urgency of the Carvil River.  Soon, the sheriff and his posse were far behind.

            And then, abruptly, an enormous castle loomed in front of them, its reddish stone resplendent in the light of the setting sun.

             "Welcome," Seoc said softly, "to the Castle Carviliet."

The End

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