"I think these robes are infested with fleas, M'Lord. As are these poor bag of bones horses we traded for."
"I agree, Squire. But wear them, and ride them, we must. We cannot be seen as anything other than itinerant traders until we get to Antioch. Once there we can resume our garb and travel undisguised."
"But they itch me so, M'Lord. I'll be raw as bull meat by then."
It was dangerous territory they had to cross. Antioch was at least a week away, and only that close if they could find a boat in Tripoli to take them up the coast. Tripoli was in friendly hands, but it was on the sea and the land around it controlled by Saladin's army. And worse. In lawless lands, thieves and scoundrels abound, and bands of robbers roamed almost at will, although when caught they were treated as harshly by Saladin's army as they would be by Christian forces. But Saladin and King Guy were at each other's throats and they had little time for maintaining order beyond the discipline of their armies. The Holy Lands of Christian, Jew, and Moslem, once the province of pilgrimage and prayer, were becoming ever more dangerous with each passing day.
"How much further is it, M'Lord, to this 'Tripoli'?"
"Four days, I reckon. Perhaps five. And then Antioch would be another four days if overland we must travel. Otherwise, if we can find a boat headed there, we can reduce the time from Tripoli to a mere two days."
Squire looked back, over his shoulder. A long look back. He wasn't sure whether the heat and shimmer were playing tricks on his eyes or not. The sand seemed to dance and apparitions would seem to come and go with each wave in the shimmer.
"I know, Squire. We've been followed almost since we set out."
I think that's what they call a 'tease'. Something to keep you interested.
You ARE interested, right?
The music in my ear? "The Gates of Istanbul" by Loreena McKinnitt. Album: An Ancient Muse.