Festuscato and Mirowen, with Mousden holding on, rode side by side over the many days it took to get to Londugnum, as the Brits called it. Luckless on his pony and Seamus on horseback followed. Bran rode beside Dibs and said almost less than he said when they first met. Julius and his men, along with the four horsemen, agreed to stay and defend the Pendragon; but Dibs’ men felt obliged to follow their commander now that he came back from his special assignment in Ireland, and Dibs was technically still guarding that Imperial rogue, Festuscato Cassius Agitus, Vir Ilistrus and Comes Britannia. Dibs could not be sure if the imperial governor remained under house arrest, but if he was, Dibs understood that concept needed to be liberally interpreted to let Festuscato do his job.
Once in town, Festuscato rented out an inn by the port. The men slept downstairs in the common room. Dibs and the travelers got rooms upstairs. The first thing Festuscato did was find a young woman who kept him happy in the night. The second thing he did was run into a man he did not expect to see.
“Gregor,” The man reintroduced himself. He stood a big blond Saxon, almost Bran size, but older, and he had and eye-patch over his missing eye. “I heard about your errand, and I waited your return from Ireland. Patience does not fit my temperament, you know, but here you are at last, and here I am.”
“Aye. I got the Dane on a short leash and can fetch him on short notice, then we get a ship and take him home, no?”
Festuscato only thought for one second before he took Gregor outside for some private conversation. When he came back into the inn, Mirowen met him at the door.
“I don’t like the plan,” she said bluntly, but they had a bigger interruption to deal with. Festuscato, Dibs and Gaius ran into their long-lost childhood friend, Felix. Last they heard, he started selling silk in Rome. Apparently, he ran afoul of some rich patron and had to run. He made it all the way to Frankish territory where he bought a ship, most likely with the lady’s money, and he had now been reduced to dealing in wool. Reduced was how he described it.
“A long way from silk,” he admitted over a tankard of ale, but the others encouraged him, and Gaius even suggested he talk to the church. If his stuff was any good, the church was always interested in quality cloth, even better if he still had some contact with the silk merchants. Felix thought that might be possible.
One week later, a big British belly boat slipped out of Londugnum on the evening tide. Dibs found a note that said, “Sorry. Not this time. I’ll be in Tournai in a few years. Meet me there. First I have a side trip, another delivery, then a good look around. Blessings on Gaius and keep Felix honest with the church. From Tournai, I plan to return to Rome, so be prepared.” Festuscato just reviewed some fond memories of his childhood friends when he got interrupted.
“Common sense says we should turn around,” Mirowen said, when she stepped up to the tiller. The three sailors they hired to help them sail the ship took the longboat and deserted in the estuary. Festuscato kept the ship headed toward the deep water.
“I assume they could not handle the company,” Festuscato said.
Mirowen nodded. “An elf, a dwarf and a pixie do make a strange crew.”
“No.” Festuscato shook his head. “I was taking about Seamus, the Priest.” Mirowen scoffed, but Festuscato had not finished. “Honestly, at sea there is not much to do, as long as we keep the wind pointed in the right direction to keep the sails full. I may ask for a little elf magic if things go contrary, but otherwise, what is there to worry about?”
“How about docking the ship without crashing it into the dock?”
“We will build that bridge when we come to it. Meanwhile, Bran, Gregor, and Hrugen all claim to know about sailing. You and Seamus can tend the cargo, the important thing being the horses. Luckless can repair about anything, and Mousden can keep his eyes open up top. Trust me. I can follow the stars and the sun well enough. We will be in Copenhagen before you know it, isn’t that right Hrugen?”
The Dane coiled a rope nearby and listened in.
“We must make for Heorot, hall of Hrothgar, King of the Danes. Did I tell you about the monster?”
“Figures,” Mirowen said before Mousden screamed from above. Apparently, he was listening in, too.
Tomorrow: A preview of Greta’s continuing saga: To Grandfather’s House We Go.