Friday, February 20, 2015

Thunderlord snippet - Caring For Horses

Please remember that this is a work in progress and drafts have a habit of changing drastically from inception to finished book.

From Thunderlord, Chapter 5

Francisco chuckled. “You seem to have some skill in healing, my friend. Can I presume upon you further to make sure none of our horses has taken hurt from hard travel in the snow? One of them was moving stiffly for some hours, although the rider can find nothing amiss with its hooves.” Here, as throughout Darkover, men tended to the needs of their beasts before seeing to their own comfort.

Edric answered that he would be glad to help. He pulled on his jacket and thick woolen cloak from where they hung on pegs beside the door. Geraldo, a silent man who took charge of the animals, had found a lantern, and the two of them went out to the lean-to. The body heat of the animals had already warmed the air, and the place smelled of the grain that had been stored there as fodder. The guards had already performed the basic, essential care of picking out hooves and rubbing salve on withers rubbed bare.

After a few minutes, Edric relaxed his laran barriers. He had no special empathy with animals, as the Ridenow and MacArans were said to possess, but his early training as a monitor allowed him to sense disruptions in the energy flow of living things. When he bent to inspect the legs and feet of the horse that Francisco indicated, he reached out with his psychic senses as well, probing for deeper injuries that might not yet manifest, even to a trained horseman. One of the horses, better suited to pack work than carrying a grown man, which it clearly had, and over long distances, flinched very slightly when he pressed hard along its back. If he had been alone or with a group of leroni, trained in Tower ways, Edric would have used his starstone to sharpen his senses and amplify the power of his mind. But he didn’t know these people or their purposes. While trail truce might hold while they were snowbound, that did not compel their silence. A single, ordinary traveler might pass with little remark, but a trained telepath, wielding a matrix with skill…no, he dared not draw that kind of attention to himself. Aldaran was still a long way off.

“I think this fellow’s a bit saddle-sore,” Edric remarked, giving the horse a pat on the neck. The horse swung its bony head around, regarding him with a dark, liquid eye, as if to say, You can’t fool me. I know what you are.

“There’s a supply of herbs in the shelter,” Edric went on. “I’ll make up a heating mixture.” When Francisco raised an eyebrow skeptically, as if to ask how a poultice was going to remain on the horse’s back for any length of time, Edric elaborated, “I’ll massage it in every couple of hours.”

“Surely one of my men can do that…sir.”

“I’ll move my gear out here and sleep above the hay rick. It’ll be warm enough.” Edric kept his tone light.  The unspoken fact hung between them, that Dom Ruyven would be more comfortable without his presence.  As for himself, the less time he spent in the company of strangers, the less chance he would be remarked upon and his identity revealed.

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