BFF 200: Milestones
We three staggered along, ever forward. Ragged and tattered we trudged homeward. Keeping to the less traveled paths. Staying out of the ever watchful eye of the marauders.
Only the tallest of us, Kevin, actually appeared who we truly are, the last of our brigade. We had not been able to find him suitable alternate clothing when we determined go home. We are the only survivors. We were at the head of the onslaught, first in and then first out through the opposite site of the city.
The carnage of this latest campaign has turned me against the very thought of another raid or war. I long for the soft comfort of my own home. The attentions of my sweet buxom wife, Meg. I pine for the high pitch wail of the little ones demanding attention or food. I loathe being caught up again by the “enlistment” officers. I do not want to travel by ship. I do not want to leave these green hills to flounder through ankle deep, hot, blowing sands.
For the last campaign, we had been rounded while out working the fields in spring. That was two years ago. Every able man in the city was taken. We were shackled and made to march to the military encampment.
We, the “enlisted”, were not given tent to sleep in. We created a woven tarp to hoist into the trees to keep the weather off our faces. As we left the forested areas we dragged the tarps with us as long as they held together. All too quickly, we were subject to the blowing sands of the desert. All too quickly, we learned to watch the sky and bury ourselves as shield from the very grounds we were at war over.
Douglas has a bad foot. I don’t know if he was bitten or stepped on something which made the appendage swell like a bloated toad. It weeps and he sometimes whimpers as we walk. Kevin applies a new poultice each time we stop, which is often, to try to alleviate some of the pain and infection. We three look like vagabonds. More beggars to join the city.
The baby would have been born, named and begun to walk. If Meg was able to finish planting and work through the harvest, we would have been owners of our parcel. This would have marked our tenth year of tenancy. Our papers would have been handed over this season. My own Meg. How I miss her.
Meg’s red hair and freckled nose is the first thing you notice about her face. Once you get past her small waist and ample breast. Poorly shaped teeth are what kept her from being picked as a lady in waiting for the Lady Jessica. All the better for me. I have Meg’s attention for more than just a few months per year. I yearn to see that crooked smile. I long to hear that stern voice with a hint of humor, chastising me for staying too long at the pub and spending too much on the cups.
Rounding a bend in the road, we spot it. Hurray! Our first milestone! The first of the mile stones marks five miles to the great city. Five miles from my home and family. Five miles. I will be home by sunset.
The stones are set up to let travelers know they are now within the patrol of the city officers. They let marauders know, too, they are now within the patrol of the city officers. The first is merely an upright slab with the number V engraved on it, surrounded by boulders to ensure no one gets the idea to move the slab thereby deceiving weary travelers. The mile stones become more ornate the closer to the city. More patrolling officers, less vandalism. I am both relieved and wary. For we three know what treasures we carry.
First into the raided city. I don’t even recall the name of the city. It was merely the King's Folly , as we we “enlisted” men called it. First into the city. Holding our torches in one hand and our swords in the other, we lit fires everywhere we went. We three created a triangle of fury, no one could fell us. First to raid the city. First to see any valuables. First to take what we would come to call “our pay”.
Now with swords hidden in our bunk rolls we travel together to our own great city. Slowly we stagger in our tattered clothing. Little do the onlookers know, rather than beggars….we come laden with treasures.