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Cry for the Wolf, Chapter 5. by Richard WalkerThe countryside was empty of humanity. Or any other race for that matter. The ceaseless winds tugged gently at the two weary men, alone on the damp! dirty track that followed the coast from Castle Neville, in the Scarborough Wall far to the west, along the north coast of the Grand Duchy of Entwhistle and Knight's Bay to Squire Straits and fair far Fallon. Side by side they rode, one astride a fine palfrey of immortal vintage, a hearty roan, the other upon a broad, dark, shaggy pony far from its home in the Highland mountains many leagues to the north. On the palfrey a pale young man with flowing chestnut hair sat stiffly, the still depths in his emerald eyes giving the lie to his youthful appearance. There was definitely some elfin blood in that one's lineage. Upon the shaggy pony slouched a crag-faced dwarf with dark hair the color of Sodma'ali coffee and a mustache reminiscent of the walruses of the icy northlands where the frost elfs do dwell. His bare cheeks and chin bespoke a striking defiance of the traditions of his race. Road-dust caked their clothes, hiding the cunning embroidery and dimming the bright colors of the fair one's lustrous satins, masking the depth of color of the dwarf's fine woolen cloak and filling in the intricate embosserie of his handsome riding leathers.
On they rode in silence, perhaps even a companionable silence, the sun slowly falling behind their backs. The fair one on the fine palfrey made no move towards the sweet-voiced elfin harp tied in its oiled leather sack to the saddle behind him. The end of another long, hard day approached and the both of them had long since run out of stories to tell, songs to sing. The fair one needed to rest his hands and voice yet, but he still felt the need to break the silence. He cleared his throat and took a short pull from the boda bag hanging by his knee.
"Hey, Coris," he asked, voice gruff and still a bit hoarse. "How much farther is it to Fallond, yet?" He paused a moment. "Dog-ape."
"Two days, maybe less." He paused a moment in turn. "About a score of leagues, my singing gnat." The mind-numbing sounds of the road enveloped them again, accented only by the hypnotic and syncopated pounding of their mounts' hooves.
"... Threadbare juggler."
"Threadbare? Hmmph. Jackanapes in scarves."
"Scarves, Hah! Flattering rascal."
"Schoolboy?! You stuffed cloak bag of guts."
Mallos gave Coris a sidelong look.
"Mad ... mustachioed ... melon-hued ... kitchen-malkin."
Coris burst out laughing and Mallos joined in. It was a game that had kept the two of them amused off and on for many months now, and had become something of a habit between them. It was much more difficult these days to come up with something truly creative.
Coris bowed in the saddle to him, conceding for the moment.
The two eased their pace somewhat as the sun gradually settled towards the horizon behind them.
Yet another of many ceaseless days of riding was coming to a close.