After father, son and owl had left the valley, the big man who'd
approached Brad that afternoon, carried on drinking with his companions, who by now were quite inebriated and getting louder
and louder with their banter.
The big man's name was Bracus, he stood tall and muscular, with a shabby unkempt look about him. He came from a long line of seafaring people. Sometimes he felt he'd been on land far too long, he just couldn't connect with the earth and longed to be out on the ocean
The companions and himself, had come North to search for workers, for the families down South.
Bracus had been told, that they would be paid well, if they came up with the goods. The farmer he had spoken too, said he would give Bracus as much wood as he needed to build his own ship, with enough help from his own workers as he needed, to get the job done quick.
It would be a dream come true for Bracus.
Their afternoon of drinking, had left them all feeling incapable of doing much else, but sleeping.
A storm seemed to be brewing, so the men decided they should turn in for the night, there was always another day tomorrow.
As they finished up the last of their drink, Bracus wondered who the stranger was, with the boy and the owl, he had never seen a tame bird before, certainly not one that would come and sit on your shoulder.
Seafaring birds were wild scavengers, that only came near you if there was food to be had.
People were now starting to pack up their wears and head for home. Bracus and the other men, staggered back to their wagons, singing to themselves.
It was late afternoon, the sky began to darken, as the rain threatened. Clouds turned an evil black, the atmosphere was becoming charged, it wouldn't be long before the storm came, and how it did. Lightening flashed, booms of thunder shook the earth, but the men in the wagons, were so drunk they slept through the storm.
Daylight didn't come early the next day. The ground was sodden, but the air was fresh. A mist had lifted from out of the valley, leaving a cloudy day. As the men rose from their drunken sleep, stretching and
yawning, they stepped from out of their wagons a bit the worse for wear.
Two brothers Jason and Varg, stepped out first, ready to relieve themselves. They were seafaring men too, but unlike Bracus, they never minded being on land.
“Time to get a fire going...what do you think brother?” enquired Jason.
Varg thought it was a good idea and went to fetch some water from a nearby stream, that ran through the valley.
Upon his return, he checked out the location they had been drinking at the day before, there were stalls already being set up for the day's bartering. Some children were already playing near to their parents, who were laying out their wares.
Varg arrived back with the water, only to find the fire had not been lit.
He was really annoyed, when he heard snoring coming from the wagon.
Opening the cover, his brother lay snoring on his back. Irritated, Varg climbed in and shook his brother. “Jason! Jason! Get up you lazy good for nothing slob.”
“Yeah! Yeah! Just thought I'd have a few more minutes, me head's killing me.”
“Come on brother...I've got the water, if you want a hot drink, we gotta get a fire going.”
Jason sat up and crawled over to the entrance, feeling like hell, his head just wouldn't stop throbbing.
Jason was younger than Varg, he wasn't able to take his beer, like his brother. He jumped down onto the ground, took the flints from his pocket, then began to collect some twigs to burn. Once he'd collected enough, he got a spark going and blew a flame to catch the twigs alight.
Out of the two brothers, Jason was the slim, good looking one, he always managed to charm the women when he sang to them, they would be under his spell. He would sing songs of the ocean, with his blonde hair and blue eyes, he would tell the women of his great adventures on the high seas.
Varg was more of a man's man, he thought women were a waste of time, as far as he was concerned, they sapped a man's energy.
“Have you got that fire going yet?” called Bracus, scratching his head and jumping down from his wagon.
“Yeah! Won't be long now.” shouted Jason.
Bracus came over with their stone mortar, ready to put on the embers to boil some water. It was a large basin shape stone container.
Varg brought the wooden mugs over and set them down near the fire. Bracus had some dried herbs, which he tipped into each of their mugs.
Finally the water was hot enough.
They sat around the fire, contemplating their next move. “I say we hide in the bushes, wait for some children to wander close.” Bracus fisted his hand and shook it in the air, as he said. “Then we nab em...
what do you think guys?”
Jason and Varg thought it was a great idea. Another two men in the party, Gillian and Kraver, had been up for quite a while, hunting. They came back with two rabbits and lay them down by the fire. Gillian and Kraver were sons of two of the farmers down South, they had come along to keep an eye on the other men.
Gillian was dark haired with a full beard, he was tall and stocky with great muscular arms, from working the land and chopping down trees. He stood for no nonsense.
Kraver too was tall and muscular, with a full beard, but he was more of a gentler man, except when pushed to his limits.
Gillian thought Bracus was al right, but he didn't much like Jason and Varg, he thought they were idiots and didn't trust them.
“So!” said Bracus. “We have food for the fire.” Then he said to Jason and Varg, “prepare the meat, it's about time you did some work around here.”
The two brothers started to argue with Bracus. “We do our fair share of the work, don't know what you mean.”
Kraver told them to just get on with preparing the food. Once everything was ready, they sat around eating, telling Gillian and Kraver of their plan.
“We need to have the horses and wagons ready to leave, as soon as we
nab the children,” replied Gillian in a low whispered voice, just in case
anyone was listening. “Then we will get onto the path that leads back onto the ridge way, then we can be away.” He chewed some more meat off the bone, before taking a gulp of his drink.”
By the time they were ready to put their plans into action, the people were starting to arrive, to barter their wares.
Bracus noticed two boys hiding from a girl, in some bushes, the girl had her hands over her eyes and was counting.
“Quickly!” said Bracus, “This is our chance...look over there...two boys hiding.”
The other men looked in the direction Bracus was pointing and caught sight of them.
Kraver and Gillian quickly packed everything up and loaded the wagons, ready to go.
Meanwhile there was no time to think, it was strike now, or loose their chance.
Jason and Varg ran around the back of where the two boys hid behind the bush. Creeping and treading as carefully as they could, the two men sneaked up from behind.
Varg pointed to the boy on the left, telling Jason he would go for the one on the right.
Suddenly pouncing like cats, they grabbed the two boys, covering their mouths with their hands.
The boys not knowing what was happening, kicked their legs trying to escape, but to no avail.
Quickly the brothers carried the boys back to the wagon and tied them up, gagging their mouths.
Meanwhile Bracus crept up behind the girl, who had her hands over her closed eyes. He was so quiet, the poor child never heard a sound.
Now she too was captured. Kraver and Gillian were ready for the off, just waiting for the signal.
The child opened her eyes, not quite knowing what was happening, she tried to scream out, but a large hand covered her mouth. She tried to kick out and fight, but it was no good, the strangers grip was to tight.
The girl was tied and gagged too. Now the men could make their escape. Jumping into the other wagon, they gave the signal to go.
The girl sat staring at the boys, she wanted to talk, but all that came out was a low mumbling sound. She started to cry, the tears running down her cheeks, as the two boys were in a state of shock.