Mists of Time

As the mists swirled around them they joined hands and staggered forwards....or was it backwards?

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22. A Strange Sight

Sat next to the fire were two men. They weren’t Terry or Paul.  

Tom couldn’t make out much, but his first impression made him hesitant on approaching them. Something wasn’t quite what it seemed to be.  He could make out that they were not eating the sausages; in fact a rabbit or small animal was on a spit over the fire. The men were filling cups up from what looked like a fur covered bladder. 

Tom scanned the clearing and couldn’t make out the bivvys anywhere. He began to wonder if this was the same clearing, but he could see the stream. Maybe they’d come too far. He shook his head, no he knew these woods. This was the only clearing around here that was large enough for a camp. A thought came into his head. Had they been moved to a different part of the country.  

Tom lay on the ground and pulled himself a little nearer so he could hear what they were saying to each other. He also could see now quite clearly the faces of the two men. The one on the left had a large face, ruddy in complexion. He had a beard that looked red in the reflection of the fire, but Tom thought was probably brown. The other man made him stare closely. He was the spitting image of Sinead’s father. He had the same features as him exactly except for a wispy ginger beard. Tom tried to remember whether Sinead dad had a beard. He couldn’t remember that he had. 

‘Do you think the earl will be angry that we haven’t brought the bones with us ?’ The larger man said 

‘He probably will. You know how cruel he can get if you don’t do what he asks’ the other answered. 

‘Why did you bury them?’ 

‘I wanted to have some leverage in case he didn’t pay us’ 

‘He’ll have us hung drawn and quartered, I’m sure he will. I don’t know what you were thinking of. The more I think about it, the more I think you’re just plain mad. He’ll have us in the dungeons as fast as you can say Jack Spratt’ 

‘He wants those bones, and we’re the only ones that get them back. He’ll soon see that he’ll have to pay us before ‘e gets ‘em’ 

‘What if he tortures us and finds out that way, what good will that do us?’ 

‘Ah’, the larger man said ‘he won’t do that will he ?’ 

‘Look I think at first light we’ll have to go back to that old wizened tree and dig it up. Then we’ll just say we were kept delayed in that fog’ 

‘Ok, that seems like a good plan. Let’s get some kip and we’ll do it first thing.’ 

Tom slowly crept backwards until he could stand up and walk silently back to the others. What a tale, all sorts of things came to his mind, but the story that Sarah had told them the night before was top of his thoughts. 

He made it back to the path. He couldn’t exactly remember where they had hidden. He wandered along in the shadows for a few minutes before he heard his name being whispered from the left. 

‘Tom, we’re here’ Sarah whispered. He crouched down where they were sat.  

He started to think about what he’d heard and how was the best to tell them. However he wanted to be sure about his theories. He knew it wasn’t safe to go towards the fire. The two men didn’t look like they would welcome the sight of the kids around. 

‘Is that our site ?’ Mai asked, ‘who are those men, have you seen Terry and Paul ?’ 

‘It’s not our site now, we need to move as far from here as we can, I’ll explain more when we’re out of earshot of them’ Tom said his face etched with concern, indicating backwards towards the clearing. 

The others saw the look on his face and silently stood up and followed him. They knew he wouldn’t have that look on his face for nothing.

He felt a hand seeking his out. Looking down he saw that it was Mai. He squeezed her hand. He was scared right now and he imagined the others were too. Human contact always helped in this sort of situation.

They’d been walking for about 10 minutes when Tom stopped. In the distance he could hear the sound of hooves. They sounded as if they were moving fast and coming this way.  

‘Quick into the woods’ Tom whispered and led the group a few feet back into the undergrowth.  They all crouched down once again. It was starting to get lighter and they needed to really hide in the shadows. 

‘What is it?’ Sarah said.

‘Horses, I think they’re coming fast up the track.’ Tom said. 

Sarah looked at his face and saw the worry was still there. This was no time to ask questions. 

A few moments later three horses carrying men went past. They were too deep in the shadows to be seen, but all four of them realised what they were seeing. 

‘ohhh’ Sinead squealed. Luckily the noise of the horses hid the sound from the riders. 

They all looked at each other wondering if they had seen a vision. 

The three men looked like they had just come off a film set. They wore helmets and chainmail. Over this were tabards with a crest on it. Hanging from the belts were swords. 

‘Did I just see that’ Sarah spluttered out looking totally astonished at what she had seen. 

‘Mmm,’ Tom said thinking hard., ‘come on we need to get out of here fast, The track forks just down there’ he indicated in the direction that the horses  had come from.  

‘We need to move fast but as quietly as we can, I don’t like the look of those men’ Tom continued. 

The four of them started moving towards the fork in the path, they took the left fork which Tom could see would lead them up hill towards the top of Long Lane. It was now almost full light and they tried to stay in the edge of the track to avoid being seen. However they didn’t see the solitary pair of eyes that were watching from the wood. 

 

 

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