“I’m bored”, exclaimed Peter, dropping to his bunk beside Arthur. “Let’s go for a ride” he added when he saw Arthur remained silent.
“It’s pouring” Arthur motioned to the window, which was barely holding back the rain for the last few days.
Standing up back again, Peter decided to head for the inn which had a conjoining door to their small cabin, where they lived with Gwen and Cathy in the adjacent room.
After the door shut, Arthur returned to reading a small parchment he received from his old friend glen the traveling blacksmith.
He was about to write a replay when Peter burst back through the door.
“A Pegasus” Peter shouted, the excitement clear in his voice.
“Hughhh….” Confused, Arthur wasn’t sure what to say.
“Bandits on Pegasus” Peter explained, grabbing Arthur by the hand, pulling him through the door into the inn’s kitchen where Merry was working on supper for the costumers who stayed in the inn for the last few days, not able to leave.
Gwen, a twelve years old skinny brunette girl, was running around between the tables taking orders, while Cathy, the taller thirty year old blond, was serving the plates from the kitchen with a lot of skill. They both noticed Arthur and waved when he entered.
“What’s going on?” he finally asked Peter.
“You have to hear him” Peter was pointing to a drenched man near the hot fire place.
The inn was half full.
John, the inn owner, was walking around the big inn helping the girls and chatting with the costumers. The place was roomy with a large fire place in the far wall and the big stairwell to the second floor which contained the slipping rooms.
The room was buzzing with conversations which Arthur could pick up while passing by,
mainly complaints about the weather and some new taxation set by the new king who Arthur and his friends helped keep his throne.
“Sir” Peter tapped the man on his shoulder when they reached him.
“This is the one you called? A boy?” the man shook his head, “you’ll need an army of knights.”
“Please just tell him your story” rolling his eyes, Peter turned to the closest chair.
Taking a seat as well, the man explained he was part of a small convoy from London which was attacked while making camp in the middle of the night by warriors riding on Pegasus.
He wasn’t sure if anyone else survived. He ran for his life, arriving in the village after almost a day of wandering pointlessly in the woods.
“We have to find them” Peter almost didn’t allow the man to finish.
“Do you know where did you camp when you were attacked?” Arthur asked, humoring Peter.
“Less than a half a day’s ride”.
“What do you think?” coming from behind, Cathy joined the conversation.
“I heard a few others talk about it as well” Gwen added, joining them as well.
“There is no Pegasus, it’s a mythical creature” Arthur was still trying to reason.
“You said the same thing about the Silver Moon last summer” Cathy pointed out their previous adventure.
“Besides you said we will be there if someone needed us.”
“I’m bored” Peter reminded him.
“Fine, we’ll join a convoy going east when the rain stops” said Arthur, thinking it will give them a couple of days to forget it.
Seeming satisfied, the girls returned to the costumers while the boys waited at the table for them to join for supper. In the meantime Arthur brought a folded map, using the still drenched man to locate the place where they maid camp.
Supper past quickly while talking about their planned adventure. Even Arthur joined the excitement around the table.
A clear sky greeted Peter when he woke up with first light, still excited from the day before.
It took him only a few moments to ready himself and wake up his friends, who in turn readied themselves for the travel.
The fire in the kitchen’s stoves was already lit while Merry and John were drinking a cup of tea before another hard day’s work.
“Morning kids, you’re up early” Merry greeted them.
“Morning, do you know about someone going east?” Peter jumped, not able to control his excitement.
“East? Are you leaving?” a fear crept into Merry’s voice who had already considered the four as her own.
“We heard talks about bandits riding Pegasus attacking travelers, and we’d like to see it with our own eyes” Arthur calmly explained.
“John, I don’t want them to go, they’ll get hurt” Tears were forming in her eyes.
Quickly putting his arm around her to sooth her “I trust they’ll be fine, they can take care of themselves” John assured her, “You remember Glen’s stories”
“Do you want some food for the road?” Understanding there is nothing she can do, she changed the subject. Without waiting for an answer she gathered a few loaves of bread and cheese which they divided into two backpacks that Arthur and Cathy were carrying.
“So have you heard about someone heading east?” Cathy tried John again when they left Merry in the kitchen, heading into the main hall.
“Actually almost everyone is leaving today but I think you are looking for the one in the corner” he said, pointing to the far corner.
The girls lead the way with Peter on their heels. “You are coming back, right?” John held Arthur back.
“We’ll be back in a couple of days” Arthur assured him. John patted him on the back and headed for the tables.
“Why are you so eager to get to London on your own?” The man in the corner table asked when Arthur reached them.
“We are visiting a friend” Arthur lied.
He was about forty years old with a brown bushy beard and a big belly he didn’t seem to care. He raised his shoulders and pointed outside. “We’re leaving after I finish here, do you have horses? We don’t have anything to spare”
“We do, sir” Peter said, meaning the ones they got as a present from the queen herself.
“Than by all means join us” he said, returning to his breakfast.
It took them only a short while to gather their gear, hiding their weapons in blankets, and to head for the stables where their horses were taken care of by Peter, who never allowed the stable boy that replaced him to touch them. Two brown mares for the girls, a black stead with a white spot on his forehead for Arthur and a white stead with brown spots for Peter.
The convoy consisted of a few dozen merchants, half a dozen guards and the commander who they already met inside.
Sitting on his horse already at 5 feet 10’, skinny with a blond curly hair, Peter looked a lot like one of the guards, While brown haired Arthur still looked his age.
Although they were ready to go, part of the merchant’s wagons were not fully loaded. The sun was at the middle of the sky when they finally left the village.
Arthur thought it would be best if they trailed behind the convoy, waiting for their chance to leave and break off on their own when they reached their destination.
The convoy moved slowly, making him realize they will be reaching their destination at about sunset, which was exactly what happened.
The convoy camped in an open clearing on the side of the road. The four decided they will pass the night with the convoy and slip away before dusk. Unpacking their covered weapons from their saddles, they prepared for a night sleep at a small distance from the convoy, tying their horses to a nearby tree.
A man was making his way towards them, followed by another two a few steps behind him. The commander was holding sword in his hand. “We’ve come to collect your travel fare” He said, reaching them.
“You never said anything about a fare” Cathy snapped.
From the corner of his eye Arthur could see Peter reaching for his hidden sword. “We’ll pay” he said, quickly reaching for a small pouch on his belt throwing it to the commander who caught it in midair.
“Smart move, lad” the commander said turning away. The other guards turned and from behind the trees appeared the other four guards joining their friends back to the camp.
“Arthur, wake up” Gwen whispered.
Sitting up into an upright position Arthur was trying to adjust his eyes to the darkness. “Something’s wrong” Gwen whispered.
A loud whip like sound filled the air while a figure passed overhead, looking left and right Arthur could see Peter and Cathy waking up from the noise.
“It’s the Pegasus” a cry sounded from the camp followed by a loud commission.
“We’ve found them” Peter’s laugh was followed by a harsh look from Cathy. “What do we …” He stopped to look up when another winged horse passed overhead with a loud noise, followed by three more figures.
Fighting sounds were heard from the camp. “Peter, take Cathy and try to escort as many merchants as you can” Arthur said, unsheathing his sword from his package, also revealing a short bow, throwing it on his back as well. Quickly following his lead, the rest took out their weapons as well while only Gwen had a dagger instead of a sword.
Peter and Cathy took off in a half circle while Gwen followed Arthur straight into the camp. A few wagons were set ablaze. Three guards and half a dozen merchants were lying on the ground. They could see the riders were attacking the remaining guards. At a distance the commander was running away on his horse at full gallop.
“Wait here” he whispered to Gwen, leaving her behind a tree.
Seeing a terrified woman in the bushes, Gwen signaled for her to run away when she heard Arthur yell at one of the riders. The gallop got louder, a curse followed by a thump and metal meeting metal noises. When Gwen dared to look, Arthur loosed his foothold and was about to get punched.
Aching on the ground, his sword a foot away, Arthur saw the bandit raising his sword. The blow never came. Looking up, Arthur could see Gwen standing over him while the bandit was lying face down on the ground.
“Thank you” He mouthed, when Gwen helped him up. She gave him a hug “What now?” She whispered, looking around franticly. “The rest will be here soon.”
“I only need a moment.” looking around, Arthur spotted his target.
The Pegasus was grazing grass not far away. “I’ve never seen a Pegasus” Gwen whispered, patting him.
“You still haven’t” Arthur said. He raises his sword and with a swift blow took off one of the wings to Gwen’s loud cry.
Not even stopping to graze the grass the Pegasus seemed unhurt.
“It’s only wood covered with silk” Arthur showed Gwen, interrupted by a load shout.
The two ran as fast as they could, cutting between the trees until they couldn’t hear the hooves behind them anymore.
“What are they?” Gwen asked when they stopped.
“Regular horses with wooden wings attached to their saddles, put there for the freighting impression, I guess.”
“So how did they fly?” appearing from behind a tree Peter startled the two, followed by Cathy.
“This is what we need to find out” Arthur pondered out loud. “What about the merchants?” he asked.
“We managed to send a dozen on the road back to the village, they were running as fast as they could.” Cathy updated them.
“What about our horses?” Gwen wondered in fear.
“I’ve cut them loss when it all began” Peter assured her. “They’ll be fine.”
“”We’ll need to find a high point” Arthur said. His friends knew he had an idea. “They are coming from above, they must have a way coming down.”
“I saw a hill looking over the clearing” Cathy said, pointing in its direction.
First light was already showing above the tree tops when the four made their way quickly up the hill. Not before long they spotted a cave entrance at the top of the hill, making it their new destination, reaching it when the sun came up.
With a clear view into the clearing, they now understood what was going on. A saddle was hooked with ropes to four ropes above them. One end was tied to a huge tree beside the cave entrance while the other was well below them in the clearing.
A quick look inside the cave gave the clear impression of the bandits hide out that was still empty to their relief. Horse claps were heard from outside and without a word the four hid in the shadows waiting for the rider.
A lone bandit entered the cave. Waiting for him to take a few more steps, the group jumped him quickly, submitting him.
Cathy tied the bandit with rope that was lying on the ground. “We need to cut the rope” Arthur said and led them outside.
Peter took a position above the path, leading to the cave with his favorite weapon in hand – the bow and arrow, while the rest were cutting the ropes.
“They are coming” Peter called, seeing the rest of the riders making their way up the narrow path, one after the other. Hearing the commotion ahead, the riders picked up their pace to a trot.
“Gwen, help him out, shoot the two in the back” Arthur called out instructions they got used to trust. “We’ll hold back the other two” He called to Cathy who drew her sword.
Peter shot his first arrow, missing by an inch. Gwen on the other hand hit her target on the thigh, dropping the last rider to the ground. Arthur threw a rock at the first rider coming at him, making him dodge to his right, leaving his left open to a strong blow from Cathy’s blunt side of the sword, dropping him to the ground.
Peter made his second shot, leaving only one rider standing. Trying to turn and run, the rider noticed his path was blocked. He quickly dropped his sword noticing Peter and Gwen aiming their bows at him while Arthur and Cathy were holding their swords at the ready.
After tying the four bandits and making sure their wounds were shallow, they made their way back down the path to the main road. A large group of soldiers were heading their way on the road to the village. Pointing them towards the hill, the four parted from soldiers and made their way back to the village, reaching it by nightfall only to meet their beloved horses already there waiting for them.
“Should we tell folks it wasn’t Pegasus?” Cathy wondered when they sat to the table for supper.
“Let them believe” Arthur smiled, “Maybe we’ll find a real one, someday.” He continued smiling again to Peter.