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Old 10-24-2003, 07:34 AM   #185
Ealasaide
Shadow of Tyrn Gorthad
 
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Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: The Fencing Lyst
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Sting

As Sigrid trudged up the road toward the inn, she raised a hand to push a stray strand of ash blond hair away from her face. She had noticed a thick cloud of smoke rising from some distance away, but, now, as she drew closer to the White Horse Inn, she saw that the smoke came from one of the innís outbuildings. The stable, perhaps. People crowded the innís yard, some running back and forth with water buckets, while others did their best to calm the panicked horses. Sigrid glanced over her shoulder at her dog, a black and white border collie. The dog stood very still, her blue eyes staring in the direction of the fire, her ears cocked attentively forward. Sigrid gave a low whistle. The dogís plumy tail waved twice then stopped as her nose continued to sniff intently at the breeze that blew toward them from the fire, carrying with it the pungent odors of smoke and horses.

Sigrid stopped walking and shifted her small bundle of clothing from one hand to the other. This was bad luck, indeed. She had hoped to find work at the inn, something perhaps in the kitchen, but, if the place burned down... what would she do for work, then? She couldnít go back to the farm. And, even if she could find work at the inn, with the stable burned down, where would she sleep? What would she do with the dog? She glanced again at the dog, Kajsa, and sighed. She hadnít meant to bring the dog at all, but by the time Sigrid had noticed her trotting along at her heels, it was too late to send her back. She had walked too far. If she turned back, there would be no getting away again. So, the dog stayed.

As it turned out, Sigrid had been grateful for the company, as the journey down from the hills had been a long one. She turned her attention back in the direction of the fire. If there was no work at the inn, perhaps she could find work in the town. That would probably be better for her, anyway. After all, she wasnít without skills. Anxiously, she touched the pocket where she carried her purse. She could afford a room at the inn only for a short while unless a job materialized rather quickly, but it was worth the gamble. She couldnít very well sleep in the meadow and expect to have any luck applying for a respectable position in town with muddy hems and grass in her hair. But, for the moment, she would see what she could do to help the people of the inn extinguish their fire. Clutching her small bundle to her chest, she began to jog in the direction of the inn.

Just then, three horses broke from the confines of the inn yard, taking off across the adjacent field at a full gallop. The dog, Kajsa, dropped to a half crouch and emitted a low whine. She glanced anxiously between Sigrid and the horses.

Hearing the whine, Sigrid looked back. Then, guessing at the dog's instincts, she gave a short, sharp whistle and pointed at the oncoming horses. The dog took off like an arrow across the open meadow on a trajectory that would carry her right across the path of the frightened horses. Sigrid stopped to watch as the small black and white body of the dog hurtled directly in front of the lead horse, almost under its hooves. The horse, a large bay, stopped and reared, its hooves beating the air. The other two, following the first horse's lead, shied as well. Sigrid bit her lip, watching as the dog darted back and forth between the three horses, nipping at heels and barking, until finally the three horses stood shoulder to shoulder in a nervous bunch. Slowly, Sigrid approached them, cooing softly as she came. The dog crouched in the grass nearby.

"Shhh....that's a good boy," Sigrid whispered, holding out her hand to the bay stallion. "That's a good boy..." The horses eyed her nervously. They all wore halters and one, a small gray, even had a fairly long lead rope attached. Sigrid decided that if she could lead the three horses back to the inn, at least she would have an opening through which she could approach the stable master. She was sure, in his position at the inn, he would know most of the townspeople. Perhaps he would be able to tell her where in town a good position could be had. She had great skill as a spinner and weaver, having been taught the skills at her motherís knee from a very young age. Maybe the townís weaver could use her.

Gently, she stroked the nose of the bay. Still speaking soothingly to the frightened animals, she reached over and detached the lead rope from the halter of the gray horse, reattaching it to the bay. She knew the other two horses would follow their leader, especially with Kajsa trotting along behind. Clucking softly to the horses, Sigrid gave the rope a firm tug and began to walk toward the inn. To her relief, the horses followed. Sigrid smiled to herself. She had difficulty understanding people sometimes, but animals? With animals, she was just fine.
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