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INSHIRA

“Hahaha. That was a good one. You have a wonderful sense of humor my friend” observed Julian.

“You praise me too much my friend. I definitely can’t beat the jesters from the east mountains”

They thumped their empty ale mugs down hard on the wooden counter and wiped their wet mouths smiling. This was an indication for a refill. The heavy footed tavern keeper refilled the mugs instantly.

“So Andrew, what is this all about? Is it really what I hear?” frowned Julian, surprised that such days had already arrived.

Andrew nodded in reply. His face all turned into one similar to that of Julian, all his humorous vein lost.

“They have started moving their troops from the north. We must make pace and surprise them at the hills. We have no chance down here in the plains. I need not tell you about their swordsmen and riders.”

Their voices were muffled, hardly audible to the tavern keeper walking close by. The heavy guy made all attempts to catch some of the words but in vain. The men looked like from some other place, definitely not from around here, he thought. And they were secretive about something. What is that they were talking about? Innkeepers and tavern holders had the habit of overhearing matters and news. It was an integral part of their profession. They knew everything and anything. They were the knowledge repositories and cauldrons of first hand information. More reliable than anybody else.

The men paid up and started walking towards the door. The tavern keeper was sad that he could collect nothing other than money. He watched them step out of the inn.

Andrew whistled with two fingers in his mouth. After a few moments, a magnificent white horse started towards him from the dark neighing and snorting. Andrew raised his eyebrows at Julian and laughed.

“I haven’t trained mine to be a doggy yet Andrew” retorted Julian walking towards the stable at the back of the tavern.

“You stop being jealous now! I can train yours for you, if you would like it! But I wonder whether it would respond to you then!”

They rode together in the night stopping nowhere.

“How far is Inshira from here?” inquired Julian.

“About ten leagues. We should make it by day break.”

The horses kept galloping at a constant pace beside each other. They were so much in unison that their gallop sounded more like one and that of a much larger horse. Andrew and Julian had a kind of a focused look on their faces. Their objective right now was to reach Inshira at the earliest and ready the troops. They had very little time on hand.

Their warrior blood sought war but their hearts were instilled with fear. Even the greatest of warriors face fear but they are courageous enough to overcome it.

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