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Stories from the Verse
For Better or Verse
Chapter 22: Slade 50
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 21: Hastings 102
"Who starts this?" Slade asked, as the man they wanted staggered out of the inn.
"I think you do," Shella answered. Slade straightened his vest, and stepped toward the man.
"Sir," he started, "could we talk for a minute?"
"My lord," the man said, with what seemed nervousness sweeping through his daze.
"It's about," Slade said, and then as he moved closer he started again, more quietly. "It's about Phasius."
"My lord, I have told you all I know; I meant no harm."
"And I mean no harm either; yet there's probably going to be harm before everything's all right. You're a man who supports Phasius. I can't say where I stand; it would compromise me. However, if there was a priest being held prisoner against his will, and he escaped,"
"Escape, my lord? I have nothing to do with anything of the sort."
"Nor should you, I expect. But the question is, if such a priest escaped, how would he find friends who could help him get out of the country?"
The man seemed considerably more sober now than he had moments before. "I could not say, sire. If any priest came to my home, he would be welcome to such as I had; but I could do little more than offer him a comfortable and secluded resting place in the barn and a decent meal for his trouble."
"Where would he find this barn, supposing he were to pass this way in the next week or so?"
The man swallowed hard, perhaps wondering whether he was speaking to friend or foe. "I can show you this barn, sire, if you can follow me to it now."
"Very good. My friends will come, in case I don't get back." He signaled Filp and Shella, and they came over.
The barn was not far; nor was it large nor comfortable. It was out of the way and partially hidden by the foothills. Marking the way in his mind and recommending the others do the same, Slade thanked the man.
"We'll need more than a place to stay long before we get here. I don't know how we'll provide for the journey, not knowing our friends from our enemies around here. But if we reach your barn, we'll avail ourselves of your kindness and leave something in thanks."
He turned to leave.
"My lord," the man said. "There is someone you might wish to see. Phasius was often in the manor of a man named Cornel, a man of no mean station. You will find his home outside the town of Charton. I cannot say he would help you; but you might at least find a sympathetic ear there."
Slade smiled. "Thank you, sir. That may improve our chances immensely."
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with ten other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #164: Versers Proceed. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: