IT WASN'T DIFFICULT for Grimbert to find the bandits again. It was hard to conceal the dust of five horses galloping at full speed.
That morning when he left Tyre, he raced down the road, desperate to catch up with the escaping bandits. But when he finally stopped to rest his horse, it dawned on him that he had gotten it all wrong. The men he had listened to the night before had said they would leave for Tripoli in the morning. They had been up late drinking and being merry. There was not a note of worry in any of their voices, so, what reason would they have to rise early? Their heads probably pounded with the same intensity as Grimbert's was right then. A smile spread across his lips—he had gotten a head start!
The road was wide and barren, but several boulders and small rock formations stood along the way, and the nearby foothills were dotted with small caves. The landscape was also punctuated with small patches of shrubbery and the occasional squat tree. There were plenty of places to hide. Grimbert had pulled his steed over to one of these trees for some shade, prepared a small meal, got comfortable, and waited. And in a few short hours' time he saw the billowing cloud of dust on the horizon. A group of riders was approaching.
He stayed concealed as they rode past, but from his hiding spot he could clearly recognize the riders as the bandits from the tavern. As soon as they passed, he quickly packed up his saddlebags and got ready to ride. He followed them as close as he dared. The hilly terrain made it easy to keep out of sight. As the sky turned from blue to orange their pace decreased to a trot and soon after they found a place to make camp. Grimbert had gotten off the road as well, tied his horse up behind some craggy rocks, and then crept towards the bandits, watching them from what he hoped was a safe distance.
Now he was hiding behind a stand of trees as the bandits made beds directly on the ground, not bothering to raise any type of shelter. They made no fire; the moon was bright enough to see by, and they only ate a cold meal for supper. They seemed to chat amicably as they ate, but they were too far away to be heard clearly.
Grimbert knew he was outnumbered, but as he watched them closely he tried to come up with a plan. He wasn't sure which of the men had killed Richart, but he blamed the man who had distracted him. The one who had led him away from protecting Richart's back. The man with the hooked nose and caterpillar eyebrows slept on a bedroll in between two of the other men. It would be difficult to reach him during the night. As four of the men lay down to sleep, the fifth man kept watch. Grimbert could wait until the man he aimed for was sitting alone. Could sneak up on him and get him from behind while his companions slept.
Grimbert inched his way toward a short shrubby tree that was closer to the bandits' camp. The man who kept watch sat slumped against his saddlebags with a sword across his lap. He wore only riding pants and a linen shirt, no armor of any kind. He was sipping something from a leather canteen and gazing up at the stars for long stretches of time. Soon he was rolling his neck, and yawning frequently. Grimbert understood the man's boredom. Minutes passed with no sounds. Not even the scurrying of small animals or a wisp of wind. It was utterly quiet.
Maybe he should kill them all. Just sneak up on the one guy, cover his mouth from behind and slash his throat. And just murder the rest of them in their sleep. The thought made him almost giddy. Yes, it held no honor to kill defenseless men, but what did that matter now? What did he care of honor? He wanted revenge! He fantasized about what it would feel like. The warmth of the blood spilling over his hands. The justice he would feel standing over their dead bodies. Lost in thought he let out a short chuckle.
Grimbert covered his mouth in shock at the offending sound.
The man immediately jumped to his feet.
Grimbert pressed himself against his hiding place, but didn't dare close his eyes. If the man started walking towards him, he would run. He wasn't a coward, but he knew he couldn't take them all on his own, so it was better to live to fight another day.
The man listened hard. He cocked his head, squinted his eyes. But there were no more sounds. He walked over to his sleeping companions and inspected them. They were all sound asleep. He shook the man at the edge. "I think I have had too much wine. It is your turn to watch." Grimbert overheard him say. The other man groggily agreed and stood up to shake the sleep from his bones before taking up guard duty.
Shaken and his confidence gone, Grimbert shuffled silently back to where his horse was sleeping. He curled up on the ground and prayed for guidance.
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Journey to JosephHistorical Fiction
A transgender medieval adventure: Abandoned while disguised as a boy, Hildegund's journey home will lead to unexpected destinations. Twice Featured: - Wattpad Editor's Choice February - March 2020 - Official #Wattpride Reading List, June 2020 ...