Historical setting: 588 C.E. the forest north of the Loire
Now the responsibility for this war falls to Daniel who simply decides we will go back home at first light.
In the morning the embers of the fire are cold. Some of our band still sleeps, and some of the Pagan tribe are waking while most have gone off to wherever they live. We ready the horses. The count has nearly recovered, though he mumbles details of rescue by the hand of his own mother from that night terror. We offer no words of gratitude or farewell to our hosts; in fact there are no words spoken at all, as everyone is barely awake now. We mount up, and ride in the cold, drowsy silence back through the forest toward the ferry on the River.
So what is it that makes peace?
Is peace merely pieces of nothing? Or is peace something? Is it what happens when a war is won? Is this the stillness after the annihilation of everyone loosing or just the sleepy silence of a frosty morning?
The vineyards of home are a few kilometers from the ferry landing, and that is of course, adding to the travel on both sides of the river. So our near winter trudge is longer than a summer’s one would be, with a fording place nearer our home. And at the ferry landing we must wake the ferrymen who fatten their till, and flatten the count’s purse collecting the tolls for each separate crossing of the eight of us.
One-by-one each horse with its man steps with unsteady courage onto the flat deck of the ferry. The calm of the river today allows a smaller crew with no need for a line held at shore, just a pole man on the deck is needed. For horse and man this seems more tenuous, and at the mercy of the currents, as one-by-one we cross; some cross with terror, others with ease.
Daniel crosses first, then the Count, who has already paid the toll for us all. And I have crossed, and now, with the sun high, and the morning well upon us, Thole is crossing. His horse panics as the ferry nears the shore. Thole’s horse breaks the temporary stall mounted onto the deck and slides to the side of the little raft as it tips up nearly vertical to the water, sending the horse and men sliding into the froth.