It was a bumpy ride. The wagon jolted as it rolled out of one rut into another but at least the sun shone and it was much warmer today. Fluffy white clouds drifted casually across a blue sky, little wind blew and the heat from the still rising sun felt pleasant on my skin. Crow snapped loose reins and whistled quietly to himself. Wasp dozed in the back of the wagon, small snores issuing forth, buzzing like a tired bee. I sat next to Crow and stared at the lush greenery of England. It was not what I had been led to expect by my Master, Llwyd ap Crachan Llwyd. I suppose it was because we thought the English were so evil and dark that their country would be also. But this was a beautiful place to behold indeed. Rolling hills and lush forests reminded me of Wales and for a moment I found my mind drifting back to my homeland.

“A good day to journey, Crach?” Crow stopped whistling, smiling at me as he continued.  “We will camp for two nights before our next show.”

“Where are we going?” I mimed, scratching my chin while pointing into the distance and trying to look quizzical.

“Worcester!” He answered, cracking the reins again.

I had never heard of this place. Mind you, I had never heard of Shrewsbury either until my Master sent me on this journey. “Is it a big place?” I gesticulated, spreading my arms and again appearing quizzical by raising first one eyebrow and then the other, hoping this would aid my ‘dumb’ question to be understood. Crow seemed to understand my every expression. Oh, what joy I now felt! I was getting so used to pretending speechlessness that it felt quite natural and my friends appeared to have no difficulty in grasping meanings encapsulated by my actions.

“Bigger than Shrewsbury, more people too, thus probably a much bigger audience than last night. We always earn more there but it can be a bit dangerous at times.” Crow replied.

His words rang in my ears. Well one word to be precise, the word ‘dangerous’. I did not like the sound of that. I did not like it at all. ‘Dangerous in what way?’ I wondered. Crow must have seen fear in my face as he continued.

“Don’t worry, Crach, Master always protects us. As there are a lot more people in Worcester than in Shrewsbury, it means more opportunity for us to encounter folk that may not be too nice, especially to dwarves!”

I remembered how I had been shunned and verbally attacked when entering Shrewsbury, not to forget my close encounters with buckets of slops hewn from windows, accompanied by abuse, before shutters were instantly slammed shut by an unknown assailant. I knew we were either revered for our magical abilities or hated due to tales of curses becoming true when issued by dwarves. Well, there is always some truth associated with rumour but man could often demonstrate more evil intent than any dwarf was born to even consider. Men were vicious, unkind and many times acted without thought. Dwarves never acted without thinking first, it’s in our blood to be naturally cautious. Quick to thought and slow to act gives us time to consider a correct response. We do not like violence, and that has nothing to do with our size. I had always thought of brutality as being needless and futile. Although I was yet to learn that in some situations there may be no other choice. Crow started to whistle again, Wasp snored in the wagon, whilst I leant back against a sack and began to daydream with the warmth from the sun aiding my drifting mind.

Ch 10 Vol I




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