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The Traveler 580 words

Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.


Nov 29, 2021
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The old man climbed onto his horse and continued along the root-choked trail towards the pitiful town below. A venomous old brood mare, his horse had no name and a temper as black as the crypt. In his weaker moments he was truly afraid of her. He would catch
her looking at him at of the corner of her eye with a baleful gaze, hay dangling, stopped in mid-chew. He knew that if he ever fell, she would continue until she ate her fill, then step calmly over his broken body on her way to wherever it is that she felt like going as he expired in her wake.

The moldering town grew larger as they approached, thin columns of greasy smoke curling out of the chimneys, adding a layer of soot and filth over
the grime that had accumulated over the years. Here and there a filthy child played in the dirt, crushing insects or throwing rocks at the occasional
skeletal cat that prowled that alleyways. He stopped at what appeared to be the local inn, a decrepit, sagging building slightly larger than the rest,
marked on one side by a sign long since rendered unreadable by the elements and on the other by a large mound of flesh, which upon further inspection revealed itself to be a passed out local, snoring slightly. He dismounted, simultaneously flinging a coin at one of the local whelps as he dodged a savage bite from his horse.

"See that she's fed, you little urchin. I recommend you keep your distance."

The boy stopped rummaging through his nose long enough to rummage thru the muck and retrieve the copper before flinging some hay at the mare. The man chortled to himself as he prepared to throw open the door and inspire some real terror in these imbeciles. He had
need of assistance; no doubt he could cow one or two of the locals into helping him with a proper display of his sinister bearing and
one or two parlor tricks. He cleared his voice, strode to the door and gave it a mighty heave, immediately regretting his decision as his momentum carried his face into the surprisingly sturdy door, its damp wood wedged into the frame. He gave another shove, then another, his anger rising in him until he shrieked at whoever might be inside to open the door.

A slot opened and was replaced by a round face, whose eyes immediately narrowed into squinty-eyed suspicion.

"Who are you?"

"Open this door, you miserable harridan, before I turn your bones into gruel. I'll not be toyed with by the likes of you."

The slot closed.

His face turning scarlet, the old man heard giggling behind him. He spun, and dodged a blob of mud flung at him by the boy. Apparently his reflexes were improving, honed from weeks of dodging the mare's attacks. He took his staff and smacked the child on the side of the head with a dull thwack. Squealing, the boy spun around, flopped into the mud, got up, flopped again, then ran off promising vengeance. Grunting with the petty satisfaction of scaring children, he turned his attention to the door once more and thumped it heartily with his staff.

The slot opened and the round face reappeared.

"Open the door this instant. I have ample coin to pay for this disgusting hovel."

The eyes squinted again, the slot closed and the door opened.

Elizabeth George's book Write Away