The priest pulled in his reign. He eyed the warriors suspiciously and turned to Feldard. “Your court this one, I think. I suspect they want to know our intentions. Hopefully with these horses we look like drovers, so they might ask us to travel in convoy.”
Either way, the priest surreptitiously curled his hand around the handle of his flail.
Miklos moved off to the left of the party to get a good field of view, and to ensure no one could get in the way of his magic should things turn sour.
The dwarven warrior, seated atop the tamest of the party’s mounts, had been arguing sourly with the beast since leaving the Ferry. Feldard snorted at the priests words—yeah, like anyone would believe an armor clad dwarf with next to no horsemen skills was a drover. Yet still, Feldard nudged his mount ahead of the party to intercept the approaching armoured horsemen. They appeared to be approaching at social trot, not a full charging gallop.
Feldard purposely kept both hands on the reins of his horse rather than reach for his weapons in readiness. But, he watched them warily as he called out in greeting as they got within earshot. “Greeting to you.”
The dwarf slowed his horse, and did his best to keep it still as they came into conversing range. As he acknowledged their return greetings, he noted their physical state and weapons. Nothing appeared amiss. This was a fairly well traveled road, and the caravan guards did not seem especially on edge.
“Where do you hail from?” asked the dwarf. “Do you travel by way of Kelvin?” Hinting in the question that Kelvin might be his groups destination. It was a bit of purposeful misdirection, just in case.
Stephan rode along with Feldard to greet the other riders. He was glad to hear Feldard’s subterfuge regarding their destination. Soon, he knew, they’d take the road west toward Riflian and thence to Threshold. No need to be verbose about who they were and where they were going.
Stephan did what he could to keep the dwarf’s horse calm. Why can’t the dwarf impart an understanding to his mount?, he thought to himself. The horse, however, was the mildest of the bunch and seemed content enough. A few minor verbal clicks by the woodsman kept the horse calm in the face of this encounter.
The woodsman merely smiled and nodded at the fellow travelers, allowing Feldard to take the parlay lead. His presence, however, along side the dwarf sent a clear message of strength and purpose that he hoped would allay whatever concerns these caravan guards may have. ‘Our party certainly does not look like a brigand of robbers’, he thought. ‘Hopefully, this will be a cordial and brief encounter.’
The previous night’s rest and Maruc’s clerical healing had worked wonders. Ludo felt fresh and energized, it was a good day to be on the road, not to hot or cold. Ludo rode towards the front of the group and kept the horses moving, which they seemed content to do without much trouble. As the caravan came to view and Feldard and Stephen trotted to the front to converse with the three armoured riders, Ludo herded the horses in his vicinity to one side of the road to allow the wagons to pass. He observed the armoured riders looked like professional caravan guards; tough able men. He wondered if he knew any of the guards but could not recognize anyone from this distance in amongst the dust kicked up by the wagons and animals of the caravan. He made sure to keep some of the Elven steeds between him and the caravan to provide an obstacle should the situation turn ugly.
Seeing that there was no threat, the guards relaxed. “Indeed, we come by way of Kelvin, bound for Specularum.”
The rest of the merchant caravan came into view. A sizeable group, there were twenty wagons in all with fortysome warriors guarding it all. It was not long before a Thyatian man dressed in garish merchant attire rode over to them on his well groomed horse.
“Well, well, what an eclectic assortment of travelers we have here!” exclaimed the man. “Greetings to you all, I am Ahiktos.”
After exchanging pleasantries, Ahiktos directed his attention to the groups’ horses. “A finer selection of white horses I have never seen. Are they for sale?” he inquired.