Alton & Velda is my first venture into Medieval fantasy with elves, nymphs and so on. Alton is a Wood Sprite, Velda is a Naiad. Astrid is a human, but her betrothed, Revanth, has an unfortunate problem. He was turned into a horse by an evil witch. His plight worsens when he is stolen by a couple of cruel horse thieves. Alton follows after, determined to get his friend back.
Revanth had not been well treated in his captivity. He was covered with mud and black fly bites. A stone had lodged in his hoof and he walked with a limp. The men weren't interested in that, though they did stop and wash him before entering town.
Horse and men made their slow way to the town. The men decided to look for a buyer before approaching the auction. If that didn't pan out, they could still put Revanth on the auction block.
The first potential buyer was a wealthy merchant from the Southern Continent. He was lavishly dressed in flowing robes in bright colors.
Revanth did his best to look disconsolate and down trodden. Unfortunately, his noble bearing (as horse or man) couldn't be hidden. He did his best to exaggerate his limp, but it wasn't until the man tried to examine his teeth, that his opportunity came. The fellow reached soft, pampered hands to Revanth's mouth. The horse-man bared strong, white teeth. A snarl curled his upper lip and he snapped.
The hands approached once more. Revanth opened his jaws, biting firmly, though not as much as he could have. He was still a gentleman and the merchant hadn't wronged him. Besides, he sensed his captors would beat him senseless if he seriously injured a potential buyer.
The merchant hopped back, squawking in panic. "Vicious beast!" He swatted at Revanth.
A horse's body doesn't lend itself to laughter, but he could snort and twitch his ears. Revanth's attitude certainly conveyed mirth.
"Get away from me, you beast! How can you ask someone to buy a horse like that?"
Other attempted sales went much the same way. The thieves decided to stop at a seedy tavern for a cup of cheap ale.
"If we can't find a wealthy buyer, any will do," the leader growled.
"Sly, we should take him to the auction."
"Where the entire city can see how badly he behaves? Are you mad, Grit? If we don't sell him in the next hour, we'll kill him and cut our loses."
"I hate doing that, Sly. He's a beautiful beast."
"Pretty or not, he's a burden. We can't keep him. He's too distinctive. What would a pair of drifters like us be doing with a warhorse?"
Sly picked up his tankard, draining it. With a click, he set it on the table and signaled for another.
Alton wandered into view. He spotted the men and Revanth nearby. He swaggered over to the tavern, ordering a cup of mead. Once it was served, he made a show of examining the crowd. His eyes slowly drifted to where the two thieves sat, heedless of his presence. His eyes narrowed and he plunked down his tankard.
"That's—my horse!" He pointed to Revanth. "What are you blackguards doing with him?" He put his hand on his sword hilt, advancing on the hapless pair.
The crowd spread quickly, giving him space to approach the men. They froze, cups of ale suspended halfway to gaping mouths.
"I've been after you bastards for two days. Call the watch!" he bellowed. "Hold them," he commanded.
The men finally decided it was time to flee. They rose from their seats, turning to run away. Bystanders surrounded them, closing the spaces between them. Horse theft was a serious crime in these parts. The wouldn't get away.
The city watch arrived moments later and the sergeant quickly ascertained the situation with a few carefully worded questions of the crowd. He addressed particular individuals, whose word he seemed to consider reliable. When he was done, he granted Alton leave to question the thieves.
Alton advanced on the leader, standing mere inches from Sly. Before he could speak, the man started babbling.
"We didn't steal him, young master. We found him wandering the road. We brought him here to see if we could find his owner."
"Then why did you try to sell him to anyone as would look at him?" the tavern wench spoke up. "If you was trying so hard to find his owner?"
"He were wandering, like," Sly persisted.
"Liar! My horse is battle trained. He doesn't wander off. He disappeared from the tavern where we stayed two nights hence."
"Would that be Tom Joyce's tavern?" the sergeant asked.
"I don't recall his name, but he passes himself off as magistrate there."
"That's the one," the sergeant said. "Lock them up," he ordered. "You may get away with theft in Tom Joyce's jurisdiction, but you won't do so here. You're in Baylor Fallow's territory now, and he won't hold with horse theft. Take 'em away."
He turned to Alton. "Now, sir. Prove to me that's your horse."
"Gladly." The Wood Sprite stepped forward. "Revanth, come."
Revanth snorted, lifting his head. He stepped forward, limping.
© 2017 Dellani Oakes