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When the sun dipped behind the western hills to paint the mire red, the lord called for a halt. Some men made camp and set up a perimeter, for these wild lands held more dangers than just Trow. Others prepared some of the simple fare they had taken when they rode out from the village in haste, and several skins of mead and cider were passed around.

There was little merry-making, nor were there any songs of great battles, tall tales of maidens conquered, or crude jests at the expense of the younger ones such as Herre. Instead, the men ate their fare without complaint, measly though it was, and laid themselves to rest on their mantles and skins, while those assigned watch duty set about patrolling the perimeter, yawning as they went.

Herre had no trouble warding off sleep; the excitement at his secret plan kept him awake. When the sound of snoring men waxed to a point where Herre was certain nearly all slept, he quickly gathered his shield, scabbard with sword, and javelins. He placed his casque atop his head and slinked off into the shadows.

Getting past the guard was easy: Herre told him that he needed to answer nature’s call. The man did not even stop to ask Herre why he needed his shield and javelins for that mundane and non-martial task. Herre smiled as he disappeared into the shadows. He had always found that lying worked best when done boldly, hiding naught but the truth.

The trail of the Trow, he knew, led further north, and Herre had no trouble picking it up. He was quick, and he hailed from the swamplands to the southwest; these mires were not much different so Herre felt right at home. In fact, there were fewer trees here, which made it easier to get around. It also helped that he didn’t go about bumbling in a shining dress of iron rings. The lord was a great man, but in these unfortunate choices (and others--who brings horses to traverse a mire?) Herre recognized that he was a general in the field: a commander in situations where two forces would stand in neat, opposed rows, ready to thwart the flight of arrow or javelin with a well-placed face, until ordered forward to die horribly under the strokes of the blunt, rusted axe of a yeoman who had rather been at home to bed his sow of a wife (or just his sow) and drink himself into a stupor afterwards. . .

No, Herre stalking a mire at night on his own would be a lot quicker, a lot more silent, and a lot deadlier than a parade of the lord’s finest riders with no suitable ground on which to deploy for their impressive charge.

He made good time tracking his foe by the moonlight, and as he went, Herre could already imagine how grateful the lord would be when he would return. He would be the hero of Enkelby!


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