Mists of Time

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

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25. Walking

Will had followed the four strangers. He couldn’t take his eyes off Mai. He’d never seen anyone who looked like her before. She looked a very kind person and he wanted to find out more. He crept as silently as he could through the undergrowth trying to keep up with the rapidly fleeing group. People always ran away from the Duke’s men but he wondered why this group were. He lost them for a moment but knew that they were following the trail up to the route across the hills. He’d never been across but the traders that he’d met when out with his father had told of large towns and a huge expanse of water that they called the sea. The truth was Will had only ever visited Boulderstone  and the fields and forests around there. His father had been to the town of Wakefield once as part of the Earl’s party, but all Will knew were the lands that he could see from the top of the trail.  

He wondered if they were going to take that track when they got into the open. He didn’t particularly like to go onto the top, onto Gibbet Hill. There was always someone who had been hung and was left swinging in the gibbet. It was a gruesome place. His mother always used to say that if he misbehaved, he’d end up swinging from there.   

Creeping up the banking he heard their voices. He couldn’t quite work out what they were saying; he crept quietly up on them and settled a short distance away where he could hear what they were saying. He didn’t quite understand some of the things they were saying. He heard the words Boulderstone and Stockby. He knew Boulderstone, but had never heard of Stockby or steel works for that matter.  

He then noticed that one of them, the tall red haired girl had got some sort of small box out of her clothes and was holding it to their ears. He wondered what it was. Two of the others also pulled similar looking boxes from their clothing and were looking at them. He needed to get closer to them to try and work out what they were doing. He heard them talking about rings but couldn’t quite understand what they were saying. He looked at the one who was facing him. It was the girl with the different eyes. He thought she was very beautiful and wondered where she had come from. The way she held herself she looked like she was of noble birth. He thought he caught her looking directly at him through the trees and held his breath. She said something quietly to the others and they instantly turned round in his direction.   

Quickly he moved towards the right into denser foliage. They were still looking at the spot he’d just vacated. Good he thought, maybe he’d got away with it, maybe they hadn’t seen him.  

He continued to watch them, he was mesmerised by this strange crowd and the beautiful girl with the strange eyes. He looked at each one in turn. There was a young man wearing a purple jacket with strange writing on it. He couldn’t work out what it said, but then he couldn’t read or write. The man had the look of authority about him, he clearly was the leader. The red haired girl was wearing strange looking trews. She was quite tall, slim and wore a pink coloured jacket that looked very comfortable.  

 The other person was short, had longish wavy hair that gleamed in the sun. He wasn’t sure if she was a boy or girl. She wore trews and the same sort of jacket. He noticed when he looked carefully that there was a crest and some writing on this article of clothing. His eyes then rested on the strange looking girl. She too was wearing trews and had a black jacket on with a hood attached. Her hair was long, black and shiny. He’d never seen anyone wearing such different clothing, he’d never seen girls or women wearing anything but long dresses.  

He should be going back for his breakfast now. Hopefully the Duke’s men would have left by now and he could get home without being caught. His dad would wonder where he was, although he had an idea that his dad knew that he wandered around outside before it was light. He couldn’t however pull himself away from looking at the strangers.  

‘Is he still there’ Tom quietly asked Mai  

‘Yes he’s moved to the right a bit to get better cover, but he’s there all right. I don’t think he’s a problem to us, he’s just a boy’   

‘If we are in the past, I suppose we must look a bit scary for him. After all when you look how we’re dressed it’s only understandable’ Tom replied. They were all still unsure quite where they were. 

‘Do you think he might be able to tell us where or when we are?’ Sarah whispered  

‘He might’, Tom said, ‘the least we can do is talk to him’  

‘Can we move away from here?’ Sinead said, ‘ I don’t like standing so close to that thing over there’ she indicated the gibbet behind, but didn’t look up.  

‘Can’t do any harm can it ?’ Mai said seeing the look on Sinead’s face. If truth be told she didn’t like what she saw any better than Sinead did.  

‘Ok, we’ll wander down the track; it’s in the rough direction of where we think that Boulderstone is. We’ll stop a little further down, then we can see if the boy follows us’ Tom said  

They all started to walk down the track towards the bottom of the valley. After five minutes Tom looked back and saw that the gibbet was out of sight. There was a track leading into the woods here.    

Tom stopped and looked along the track. It had dense foliage at each side. Longish grass grew on the track. Tom reasoned from this that it wasn’t used much and so should be safe. It wasn’t wide enough for horses, another reason for taking it. The dense vegetation would also provide cover if they did spot anyone. 

‘This way’  

They all followed Tom up the track. About half a mile in they spotted a small clearing.   

‘Can we stop now’ Sinead said holding Tom back. Tom looked around.  

‘Yes, let’s stop and think about things’ Sarah said  

They settled down on the grass. Tom looked around at the three of them. They all looked totally disoriented. Mai looked the most composed, but Sinead and Sarah clung together as if their life depended on them being in contact with each other.  A lot had happened in a relatively few hours. Last night, was that the right phrase, they’d been having fun around the campfire looking forward to a great weekend camp. Then the fog had come and they found themselves in the past or had they?  Yes he thought either he was dreaming or they had gone back in time. He pinched his arm and looked up.  

‘Yeah, I had the same thought,’ Mai said, ‘I don’t think we’re dreaming. It’s too vivid to be a dream. I think we really are in the past’  

‘How, why ?’ Sinead said, it was taking her a long time to come to terms with her new environment.   

‘Yes, I would swear that that valley, is the one we live in, will live in’ Sarah said  

‘I’m pretty certain it is. It must have been something to do with the fog last night’ Mai said. The others nodded their heads.   

It was Sinead who came up with the words they were all thinking.  

‘How are we going to get back ?’ she whispered.   

Mai looked up at Tom. She knew that he’d find a way. He looked like the rest of them though. All he did was shake his head.  

‘So we’re stuck here?’ she said  

‘Until we find a way’ Sarah said.  

‘We’ll find a way’ Tom said but he didn’t look convinced.  

They sat in silence for a while, each with their thoughts. The realisation was dawning on them that they only had each other.  

‘I need to pee’ Sinead said standing up, ‘I’m not going on my own though’  

‘I’ll come’ Sarah said.  

‘Don’t go too far, you two’ Tom said  

We won’t’ a departing Sarah said.  

Tom was left with Mai. He looked at her.  

‘ Do you reckon Sarah and Sinead an item then ?’ Mai said not looking at his face.  

Tom shrugged, ‘I don’t know, it’s weird, they’re very close, but then they’ve known each other such a long time. They looked be be very, erm, friendly, in their sleep though.’ 

‘I think Sinead has a thing for Sarah’ Mai said. 

Tom raised his eyebrows 

‘How do you know?’ he asked 

‘Just the way she looks at her at times, nothing I can put my finger on, but……’ 

‘Female intuition?’ Tom asked  

They sat across from each other.  

Mai suddenly smiled and laughed.   

‘This is just like in the library, me and you sat across from each other’ she said  

Tom looked up and smiled, probably the first time today.   

‘LOL, wish we were back there now’ he said looking deep into her eyes. He held the gaze until Mai put her head down. For a moment he felt a shiver go down his back. This time though it wasn’t unpleasant. He wanted to reach out and grab hold of Mai, he wanted to feel her in his arms, and he wanted to kiss her lips

A few minutes later Sinead and Sarah came back. Sarah looked at the other two

‘What?’ she said.

Mai and Tom both burst out laughing. The tension lifted for a few moments.

 Sinead  was looking into the undergrowth. 

‘That lads still there’ she said 

‘Where’ said Mai lifting her head 

‘Behind you’, she said, ‘do you think we should talk to him, he might be able to tell us something about where and when we are?’ 

‘It can’t do any harm’ Mai said. 

Without waiting for the others, she turned towards the wood.  

‘Hello, I know that you’re there’ she said. Her voice had a level tone, not wanting to frighten the boy away. 

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