“Basil’s day,” Morgan said under his breath with a grunt as he looked down at the valley below him.
He could hear the rabble from the Inn below all the way up here, two leagues away, the very edge of his domain.
“I will march down there and burn that place someday,” he said to himself. Apparently too loud as his omnipresent guards rode up behind him.
“My Lord?” the largest one asked him. They were imposing figures, fully armed and wearing black and heavy, deep purple cloaks. Two of them always lingered near Morgan.
He turned his horse away from the valley and back toward the road. A simple glance was all it took and the two guards retreated. Up the road someone else was stirring up the dust, riding hard in his direction.
Morgan turned his horse back toward the valley waiting for messenger to arrive.
“My Lord!” he said pulling his snorting horse to a stop a few feet from Morgan.
“What is it?” Morgan asked without looking away from the valley.
“We’ve captured eight more. We think they are the last,” the messenger said.
Morgan turned his horse and began to head away from the valley toward camp.
“Tell the commander to seal this road,” he said to the messenger as he road past.
Minutes later the trio was joined by another group heading toward camp.
“I believe that is all of them,” the diminutive figure said. Morgan glanced over at the halfling. He was mounted on a pony. He was small but striking with platinum blonde hair. “The last lot came as far as Blackmore.”
They rode in silence for a few minutes.
“Hang the lot of them, Splick,” Morgan said.
“My Lord,” Splick said as they continued to ride. “This is the first year of your decree. An example must be made but. . .”
Morgan turned to look at his small advisor.
“It is midsummer,” Splick said. “We’ve rounded up mostly farmers and herdsmen. Most of them probably can’t even read. We already know this year will not produce the expected results. If we hang all these plain folk. . “
Morgan considered his words as they rode into camp. Fires were beginning to burn high as the sun fell behind the mountains.
Riding over to the stockades Morgan considered the people imprisoned behind the wooden spikes. Simple men and women, all trying to get to the valley for a night a ribaldry.
“Commander!” Morgan said as he neared the gate. Splick rode close behind him, as did the ever present guards.
“Yes, my Lord!” a soldier exclaimed approaching.
“How many have you captured?” Morgan asked.
“Close to sixty my Lord.”
“There are women in there,” Morgan expressed.
“Yes, several of them,” the soldier replied.
“Separate them. Immediately.”
The commander barked orders and several soldiers opened the gates and began herding out the woman from behind the wooden walls.
“You cannot do this! Why can’t we have one night?! These are. . “One hefty man began as the women were dragged away. A guard silenced him with the shaft of his pole arm.
Once the women were all out they closed the gate again.
“Hold them, away,” Morgan said to the guards leading the women.
“As for this lot,” he continued indicating the rest of the prisoners. “Hang. . .”
Morgan looked over at Splick as his word hung in the air. Splick met his eyes and shrugged ever so slightly.
“. . . every third man. By the road,” Morgan said.
“Start with that one,” he continued indicated the large man who had spoken up.
“Let the rest of them go in the morning,” he finished, turning his horse away and heading toward his large tent in the middle of camp.