Alton and Velda is my first, and so far only, attempt at medieval fantasy. I have some modern fantasy novels, but I never tried one with naiads, wood sprites and sorcerers before. It was fun and I might try it again.
Revanth is an ensorclled man, turned into a horse by an evil swamp naiad. He and his fiancee, Astrid, have been traveling with Alton and Velda. They stop for the night at a tavern only to have something untoward happen during the night.
While the women packed, Alton went out to the stable to saddle Revanth. He checked the stall where the black stallion had bedded down the night before. Saddle and bridle were where he'd left them, but Revanth was gone.
"Where's my horse?" Alton demanded. "I left him here, in your care, last night. Where is he?"
"What sort of horse, good sir?" The groom appeared somewhat touched in the head. His speech was slow and deliberate.
Alton wasn't sure the man understood him, but he described Revanth in detail.
The groom shook his head. "Warn't narry sech horse here when I come to work dis mornin'. I check 'em all. I'd o' remembered a horse that sleek—all black, you say? And a stallion? Rare, that is."
"Very rare, hence my irritation that my—horse—is—gone! See here, this is his bridle and saddle."
"Likely run off," the groom said, scratching his stubbly chin.
"He wouldn't do that."
"Why not? All animals like freedom like us folk."
"Not Revanth. Who's the law around here?"
"You don't need the law, young master. . . ."
"The name is Sir Alton of Lyndon Mead. Not young master. I want the sheriff or constable—whoever the authority is here."
"You be wanting Tom Joyce, t' Magistrate."
"That will do. Where is he?"
"Out back. He owns the tavern."
Alton barely thanked him. He went behind the tavern and found a stout, balding man. His pants and shirt were homespun and grubby from hard work. He was trying to fix a wagon wheel without much success.
When Alton approached the tavern keeper turned toward him, touching his forehead in respect. "What can I do for ye, milord?"
"My horse is missing from your stable. I saw him put up last evening. My traveling companion curried him before bed. His tack is where I left it, but my horse is not."
Tom Joyce pulled on his forelock. "Well, then. It appears we've a problem."
"Do you think so?" Alton said, surprise in his voice.
The chubby man had enough intelligence to know he was being chastised. He frowned. "No need to be like that."
"There is, I'm afraid. I have places to go. I need my horse."
"He's worth a lot of money, is he?" The older man's expression changed subtly.
Alton frowned, leaning over the much shorter man. "He's worth more than your scurvy life, old man. He's the war horse for a knight of the realm. The mud in his hooves is ten times the cost of this flea ridden tavern. If you know where he is, I'll have him back. If by your ineptitude, you're hoping that the thieves will spirit him away, let me assure you." He took a step closer. "There's no place he can go where I can't find him. And when I do, I'll make it my business to come back here, lay you open from groin to gorge—nice and slow. Am I clear?"
"As crystal." The taverner gulped, his flabby chins bobbing nervously.
© 2017 Dellani Oakes