Riar roused from the sudden jerk of a pothole, wincing as his head hit hard the cart’s front side.
“Are those pots all right, lad?” the cart driver asked, leaning back worriedly. “Damn those soldiers! They have ruined the whole way!”
Riar threw a quick glace to his companions – the earthen pots clattered like crickets back in response. A shudder like that would have crumbled many of it, but the pots were seemed to be as stubborn as the cart driver. “Yes, your precious pots are all right.” “Look again. I don’t want to deliver any shards of sand. Believe me, lad, Celberth’s merchants will not pay a coin if they find any of it misshapen.”
Riar sneered and muttered something not polite ...view middle of the document...
“Hey, lad, are you awake?”
Riar grunted in response. Can’t this man remain silent?
“What were you doing at this time over Bellatora’s outskirts? Have you ran away from your home or eh...” The driver coughed as if he didn’t want to mention further.
“Or are you a thief?”
Riar mused for a while what to say. He could not simply trust anyone, but this man had picked him and offered a lift till crossroads. Could he tell him? “I can assure you I am not a thief. And I have not ran away from my home, too. Actually it’s a bit complicated. How should I put it? I am banished from my village.”
The driver abruptly halted the cart. “Banished! What in the name of The Lady have you done? Did you kill someone?”
“No.” Riar looked up and found the driver’s face looming over him, his curious eyes boring right through him. “What makes you think I had killed someone? I am still sixteen!”
“Laws.” The driver went back to his seat, whistling in relief. With one sharp beat of his rein the cart lurched and continued on its way. “Laws say only children, not adults, are banished from their home forever if they are found guilty in killing someone. But you do not look like one. Are you?”
“No.” Riar said sharply. “What they do to the adults if they are proved criminal?”
“They cut their head in front of the whole village.” The cart-driver said gravely. “In front of their family. I had witnessed this brutal proceeding once and the memory still haunts me.” The driver remained silent for a while, lost in thoughts. “It’s a grim talk for nights strange like this. I don’t want to speak more about it.”
Riar rubbed his throat, swallowing a lump formed because of fear. Finally his voice found its way. “Thanks for believing me.”
The cart-driver laughed. “Don’t worry, lad. The moment my eyes fell upon you I understood you are kind-hearted. Why you are banished if I may ask?”
Riar again found himself in dilemma either to speak truth or to remain silent. He preferred the second option.
Hearing nothing from his passenger the driver said, “Its okay, lad, everyone has their own secrets. You have your own and I do have mine. Now, rest and don’t ask questions.”
Guilty, Riar felt in hiding truth from this kind man, but what could he do? He just could not tell anyone and broke his promise. A promise that compelled him to leave his home forever. Clutching his cloak tightly he stared at the myriad stars. The creaking of wheels drifted at a snail's pace to faint sound, and the twinkling of stars blurred, finally blended to blackness.
Riar ignored the hiss.
“Easy, lad!” The potter almost yelled when Riar tried to twist. “You are about to crack some of it. Careful!”
Riar jolted upright, rubbing his eyes. He had no idea when sleep had overwhelmed his wakefulness. He drew back his left leg slowly and carefully which almost touched the side pots. “Why did we stop?”
“Because we are at cross-roads.” The potter grinned. “And come on, there is...