Æthelstan squirmed and fidgeted at his side of the carriage. Hempsty sat open legged in the centre as Katherine squirmed on the floor between them. Gemevere twisted her back on her portion of the seat, cracking a few bones as she stretched. Hempsty rolled his eyes which caused Katherine to giggle. Æthelstan twisted once more.
“Enough!” Æthelstan declared. “Stop the vehicle. This is ridiculous. I would sooner walk to Nottingham than travel in such cramped style. How can you manage with such a tiny carriage?”
“We wuz doin’ just farn!” Gemevere answered, “‘Til you two stopped us. By ‘eck, weyave loadsa room in ‘ere when you arn’t ‘ere.”
“At least youse can sit sorta properly” Katherine moaned. “I’ve got four knees in me face.”
“And your garment, cousin, takes up enough space for another person.” Hempsty had to join in the collective moanfest.
“There’s nowt wrong wiv me frock, ‘Empsty.”
“It is slightly old-fashioned.” Katherine lifted some of the dense material. “It must way a tonne.”
“This, deary, is the latest fashion.” Gemevere glared frostily at the woman crouched between Hempsty’s legs. “I dunno what that is what your wearin’, but it looks bloody awful.”
“Gemevere! Please! Language! We are still in company!” Huffed Hempsty.
“The wench certainly has a unique tongue.” Æthelstan remarked.
“Oi! ‘Oo are you callin’ a wench?” Gemevere squirmed. “King er no king Ah’ll show you just ‘ow much of a wench I am as soon as ahcun move!”
“Remain calm, cousin.” Hempsty pulled on the reins to slow Sentinel a little. “We merely have to go over this bridge, around the following bend, along the road a short while, and then we will enter Skundersthorpe. We shall bid farewell to our travelling companions there.”
“Skundersthorpe?” Æthelstan questioned. “Where on Earth is Skundersthorpe?”
“It’s on the road ter Nottin’am.” Gemevere snapped. “A long walk away, but on the way.”
“I thought you wanted to help people, cousin.” Whispered Hempsty.
“Depends on the people, ‘Empst. She tried to rob us,” Gemevere nodded to Katherine, “An’ ‘e could be a town vagabond fer all we know.”
“Vagabond!” Æthelstan repeated slowly and extremely loud.
“That’s done it!” Katherine giggled. “His face ‘as gone a bright shade of red.”
“Stop right now!” Æthelstan demanded once again.
“Verily you cannot expect me to stop whilst traversing a bend, Æthelstan?” Hempsty pointed out of the open window ahead of him. “This road is littered with chancers and peasants.”
“An’ we’ve met the same one twice!” Gemevere wasn’t letting Katherine off lightly, “and more’n likely a new ‘un an’ all.”.
“Now cousin. We shall be bidding farewell to these people shortly. Don’t you think we can do it fondly?” Hempsty really wanted to restore a little tranquillity to the cramped conditions.
“Ah’ll fondly bid farewell to ’em, Empst. Glad to. Sooner the better.”
Hempsty pulled the carriage over to the side of the road, where it joined a small gravel pathway that led through a small wood. “I shall let thee walk into to Skundersthorpe from here. It is much quicker along this path than following the main highway which takes us around the entire town before entering it for some reason. And there is no toll on the path either, so you can enter without paying.”
“Paying?” Katherine asked. “I’ve never paid to get into town ever.”
“I doorn’t doubt that.” Gemevere opened her door and stepped out of her side of the carriage. Hempsty moved himself around on the chair slightly so Katherine could slide herself along the floor and then leave the carriage herself. Æthelstan waited for someone to open his door for him, but soon realised that wasn’t going to happen, so stepped out through his door himself.
“Looks like we’ve picked up a stowaway.” Katherine commented as she noticed a woman sleeping on the roof of the carriage. Gemevere looked up and saw the curly-haired woman wrapped in a tattered blanket.
Hempsty stepped out of the carriage. “It’s no wonder Sentinel struggled, pulling the calash and five of us all by himself. Verily cousin, I think we too shall visit Skundersthorpe to enable Sentinel to receive a thoroughly good rest.”
“Saw we’re spendin’ more time wi’ these two, then?” Gemevere’s face filled with dread.
“Not if you don’t want to, deary.” Katherine smirked. “Oi! Missus. What do you want up there?”
The woman stirred upon the roof, and looked at the three faces looking back at her. She made a move to jump off the carriage the other side, and saw the bearded man looking at her from that side. She muttered something which none of the four travellers could understand, before becoming cloaked in a swirling black cloud. The cloud faded, and the woman was gone, replaced by a raven that flew into the direction of Skundersthorpe.
“Well, that’s summat yer doorn’t see every day.” Gemevere remarked, totally puzzled.
Hempsty tethered Sentinel to a resting station and water trough at the side of the path, and then ran to join the other three who walked together towards the new town… somehow putting their differences behind them.
This is the fifth part in the Reverence storyline. The previous four parts can be found in my Storylines menu.