A Wandering Stranger

Discussion in 'ROLEPLAY GRAVEYARD' started by Adelaide, Oct 31, 2015.

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    How many have been consumed and lost over the years on the quest for El Dorado?​

    A Man, following the trail of his missing brother, finds his way to the doorstep of a woman whose father held keys to the secrets his brother was looking for. The question was, was he given the keys or led astray? Since her father has gone missing as well, he cannot be asked and it is up to the two to find the missing people and perhaps some treasure along the way.
     
    #1 Adelaide, Oct 31, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 23, 2016
  2. “Marta!, Marta!” The little voice piped in her ear like a bright little bird, chirping and singing as if heralding in the spring. The song was not welcome, though she was pulled reluctantly from her work by it. She’d been bent over a manuscript found crumbled behind her father’s desk, darkened and discolored from neglect but filled with too much promise to dismiss. She was desperate for answers and not pleased at the interruption.

    Her father had been missing for months now and she was growing frantic with worry for him. They’d been working on a series of maps he’d purchased from a gentleman in Spain who claimed they had been purchased at auction from a distant relative of the Cortez family. She thought they were fakes, they were to clean, to pristine with wear that seemed deliberate, but her father, either out of desperate hope or some bit of information he’d deigned not to share with her, had been certain they were authentic. He’d been so consumed by them he’d neglected himself for what seemed like weeks. He ate only when she put food in his hand and slept only when he passed out over the maps.

    When the stranger came her father was living in some sort of daze, his mind consumed by possibilities and theories. He seemed to come back into himself when the man approached him with some questions. At first Marta had been pleased, hoping that a conversation with this man might remind her father that there was a world, he had a body and that things existed beyond the map. It worked, in it’s way. The man seemed to know much about her father’s work and had questions that excited her father and put light back into his eyes. She was not allowed to be present for his conversations with the man, but since her father did not trust this Silas Smith, the map was not in the room with them. It was left where she could finally, at long last, study it.

    She’d glutted herself on it, studying the lines and the markings written in code that her father had yet to decipher. But her father had not her gift for language. She took notes and made copies of parts when the stranger left, seemingly frustrated. Her father too left the conversation wanting. Whereas before he’d been distant and consumed, now he was worried and frantic. Within a day he was packing up his things and heading off for a “consult” with his brethren in Colombia. He’d kissed her cheek, told her to be good like she was a girl and not a woman who’d just turned twenty, and headed off.

    That had been months earlier. She’d been patient as long as she could and then she’d begun to send out letters to those contacts of her father’s she could find. As their replies trickled back in to her—each of them filled with regrets and no answers—she began to lose hope. Frantic, she drove herself as hard as her father had in studying the notes and everything she could find related to the city, where she suspected her father had gone.

    Reality, in the form of the people of this village, kept pulling her back, reminding her to live. She tried to be grateful and tried not to reflect on how much like her father she could be. She took off her spectacles and rubbed at eyes red and gritty. With her eyes still closed and exhaustion lacing her voice she spoke as kindly as she could manage. “What is it Luis?”

    “Someone is coming, a horse or a coach, Padre told me to tell you.”

    “Thank you Luis,” she said as she tossed him a butterscotch from the bowl on the desk. He fled, happy and accomplished leaving the door to her study open.

    The right sunlight streamed in, making her tired eyes water. It was well past time she walked around and saw to the chores of living, she thought. No one ever came to their small little town, a town that was only of note only because it was on a crossroads between here and there. If someone came, it was for a reason. She stood, stretched her back, feeling the pops and crackles from having sat too long and left the safe dark of her father’s workroom for the bright uncertainty of the day.
     
  3. William licked his lips and shifted his burning cigar over to the right side of his mouth as his horse trotted over the hilltop, and he slowed the animal down to a standstill and looked out over the medium sized town. It was a decent size, and probably had more than a hundred or so people that lived there. Silas said he stayed in this town for a few days before continuing on to finish their father's foolish search of El Dorado, the fabled city of gold, after his only solid lead refused to help him. It was pure folly to leave their lives in America to travel to some old world country in search of a myth that would get him killed. A hot wind blew from behind him, ruffling his worn and torn maroon poncho and his long brown hair. A beard had sprouted from the time he started his Journey from Texas to this little backwater Mexican town, and had grown considerably since then, making him seem at least a decade older than he was.

    His green eyes studied the town and it's surroundings, taking in all possible routes that Silas could have taken. There was a good sized river off to the left of the town, which most likely provided the residents with water, food and other necessities. There were a few pens that house a few pigs, horses, and cows in the town, and several stores, and a few taverns. William could do with a drink to wet his whistle, and with a long drag on the smouldering cigar, her adjusted his worn brown cowboy hat and spurred his horse on towards the city.

    It took him a handful of minutes to reach the beginning of the town, and already he could hear the clamoring of people along with the calls of the domesticated animals they kept in their city. William soon arrived down the main street of the town, and the clamoring stopped and everything stopped what they were doing and looked to the strange gringo that had entered their town. It was so quiet that the sound of William's guns and spurs along with the horse's steps seemed to be earth shatteringly loud in the now silenced town. William ignored it, and with another drag of his cigar he kept his eyes on the straight and narrow before catching a glimpse of a tavern off to the right. He spurred his horse on toward the tavern, feeling every eye on him.

    When he reached the tavern, he slid off the back of his horse and the soles of his worn cowboy boots hit the hard dusty ground, sending up a plume of dust into the air. He lead his horse the rest of the way and tied it up to the post outside and watched it drink for a moment before turning on his heel, climbing the steps and pushing the saloon doors open. Everyone stopped with the new arrival and stared at the cowboy, William chewed on the end of his cigar and made his way to the bar with every pair of eyes on him as he walked, his footsteps against the hardwood echoing loudly in the silenced tavern.

    He sat down on a stool in front of the bartender and ordered two drinks, a whiskey and a glass of water. William downed the water and sipped softly on the glass of whiskey, savouring the smoky and rich taste. He'd always loved whiskey, even when he was convince to try it by his older brother back a few years ago. Hell, that was the reason he was trying to find him. Silas was his only flesh and blood since his father died a few years back and before him, his mother caught pneumonia and passed away. Silas had a wife and child who were waiting for him, and they hadn't received a letter from him either and pleaded with William to go and find him. Who else would be suited better to find Silas other than his rough and tough younger brother? William wasn't someone who needed anyone to look after him, he spent most of his youth as a cavalryman in the U.S. Army and after that was a bounty hunter for a short while until becoming a Texas Ranger. He could take care of himself, and was obviously the only choice to search for him.

    William took another drink from the whiskey and sat it down softly. The room had slowly turned back to normal and conversation had slowly resumed. William was sure they were wary of a strange man who'd they'd never seen before, and rightly so. It was stupidity not to mistrust a stranger, especially out in the wilderness, but usually when you told them you were law, they seemed to trust you a little bit more. William took another drink of whiskey, and gestured for the bartender to refill his water glass, which the older Mexican man did. William thanked him, and drained the rest of it before placing several pesos on the counter, and turning on his heel to walk back outside, where he saddled his horse again and spurred it to a slow trot towards the house that Silas had mentioned in his letters.

    There it was, standing proudly just a few yards from the tavern, just as Silas said. William reached into his saddlebag on the right and pulled the letter Silas had written before leaving this town, and skipped his way to the paragraph before the end, where he described the house. After reading each word, William raised his eyes to find the single characteristic that was described in Silas's neat handwriting.

    "Rosewood door, walls painted white, circle window with that old symbol father had on all of his stuff, porch with two brown rocking chairs and a small table, and a Mexican man who looks older than he is with graying hair and a beard." William said softly, taking a drag on his cigar, before shifting his eyes as the door opened, revealing a pretty young Mexican woman. "Hmmm."

    That was not a man, causing William to shift his worn brown hat to block the sun to get a better view. William raised an eyebrow as he studied the woman, before flipping his cigar over to the other side of his mouth, taking a small drag and letting it out on the opposite side of his mouth.

    "You're too pretty to be Jorge." William said in his gruffy, bass voice. "Where's he at?"
     
  4. The bright afternoon sun blinded her for a moment as she stepped from the manuscript-preserving dimness of her father’s home out onto the porch. Her eyes blinked rapidly behind her spectacles, watering lightly as they adjusted to the brightness. Her hand rose to shield them further only to fly to her mouth to cover a gasp as a gruff voice sounded to her left. She whipped around, her glasses slipping askew to stare at the man standing just outside her door.

    She took him in quickly, her intelligent eyes sweeping over him and clearly taking in details as they did. She noted his growth of beard and the long, unwashed state of his hair. Noted too was the dust that seemed to rim his form, sinking into pores and making the lines of his face deeper than they ought to be. He’s not as old as he looks, she thought quickly as she straightened up, smoothing out skirt and dignity at once.

    His battered hat and worn poncho spoke further of a long journey and she wondered just what it was he wanted with her father. He didn’t seem the scholarly sort but he did seem strangely familiar. Her mouth tightened and her chin lifted as if to give herself a bit more height and presence. She knew she had little with which to intimidate a man, her height and physical presence were not considerable though she was told her acid tongue and temper made up for both when she got rolling. Her prodigious dignity was often all that kept both in check. His informal and slightly rude greeting put all to the test.

    “Jorge is not at home right now.” She said, reaching behind her to close the door and keep the secrets inside safe from this stranger’s eyes. She offered no more explanation than that, not even admitting to her status as his daughter. Seeing as he’d offered her no courtesy she felt she’d already given him more than was his due. She could see in his features, beyond the sun-browned skin of his face, and hear in his voice that he was not Mexican. So many of the American’s passing through their little town thought themselves better than her people and they didn’t feel courtesy or respect was required. They dismissed her people and her people’s intelligence as a matter of course. Her father had laughed about it sometimes, explaining how he had used such misconceptions to wrest a bit of information or a book from the hands of an idiot northerner who had no idea what they were selling to the little old Mexican.

    She wondered what it was he wanted, but was confident she was safe. It was broad daylight in a bustling town and he was a stranger. While their little crossroads village saw many a stranger, they were still of interest. Behind him she could see many pairs of curious eyes and knew that anything untoward would be witnessed and reported in seconds at most.

    “If you care to leave your name and a message I will see he gets it when he returns.”
     
  5. William's horse shifted his weight, and nodded his head up and down as William watched the woman with his intense green eyes. He watched as she reached behind her to shut the door, which caused him to laugh softly. It was painfully obvious that she didn't trust him, and she didn't have any reason to. William took his eyes from the woman, and glanced up at the sky, judging the amount of time he had left in the day. It was just barely after noon, he finally judged, and removed his green eyes from the sky and refocused them on the woman once again. His horse snorted, and he stooped over to pat it on the left side of it's neck, calming it, his eyes kept on the woman.

    “If you care to leave your name and a message I will see he gets it when he returns.” She said.

    William grunted and sat up, keeping both hands on the reigns. He shook his head, and reached over into a saddlebag and dug around for something before pulling out a worn photo. He looked it over, and then turned his attention to the woman again. He urged his horse forward a few feet, then stooped over to show her the photo of Silas, his wife, and two sons.

    "No need." He said, his eyes on hers. "You have the look of smarts, and you don't look the type to forget easily, there's no mistaking that. I'm looking for this man, he set off about 6 months ago in search of some old fable my father thought was real. He wrote letters, which both his wife and I received during those six months, but the letters stopped about three weeks ago. Silas isn't the type to just forget about doing something like that. My brother is a man of habit, and the only reason he would stop is if something happened to him. Now, I intend to find out what became of my brother and if you can help me in any way, shape or fashion, I'll be sure to reward you."

    He watched her for a moment, then withdrew the photo and placed it back in the saddlebag, and then sighed. William wasn't much of a talker, and once he had a job in his mind, he stopped at nothing to finish it and that sometimes meant he forgot his manners.

    "Forgive me, I've been rude." He finally said. "I'm Sheriff William Smith, I'm Silas Smith's younger brother and I've come to bring him . . . or his corpse home for this foolish crusade he's gone on. Both my grandfather and my father wasted their lives on the legend, I will not allow my only brother to do so as well. I know he was here, he described your house to a t in his letters, and my brother wasn't a liar. Now, tell me what you know and I'll be off."

    As William spoke, he lifted up his poncho to show the glint of the silver badge that was pinned on his shirt underneath. He dropped his poncho and watched the woman for what seemed like an eternity, ignoring all the stares from those who stopped to watch. He wasn't here to cause a scene, but he would sure end it if one began. He only wanted information on where Silas could have gone.

    "And for the record, I don't care about it." He said, watching her. "The City or the Order. I'm not stupid, I saw the books and the maps before you shut the door. You're either one of two things: Jorge's daughter, or a member of that Order. Maybe you're both, I don't care."
     
  6. Long years of training kept her mouth shut. She wasn’t a member of her father’s society, women weren’t welcome, but she knew about them, in many ways she’d done work for them. If this man knew about their existence, enough to pick out the symbol her father, foolishly in her mind, had made for the door then it would do little good to deny it. She swallowed and went through the motions of stepping forward to look at the photograph the man held aloft to her. She thought she knew what to expect but was surprised nevertheless at the man looking back at her.

    The man with his eyes clear and serious, not yet haunted by the dream that consumed so many was the same man she’d met. He seemed so much younger in the image than he had looked when he’d shown up on their porch with his portfolio of papers and his ravenous hopes. He and her father had hit it off well. Had he not been white, had his hunger been less material, she imagined her father would have welcomed him into the society, given time. A welcome he’d never think to extend to his daughter. She swallowed the bitterness down and stepped back as the Sheriff, for there was no mistaking the symbol of his office which he flashed to back up the tired authority in his voice.

    There was a decision to be made here, she thought as she regarded him, her dark eyes full of thoughts and worries of her own. She believed him when he told her he didn’t care about the city, no one who did could affect that flatness of tone. The city was a disease to some, infecting their imaginations and hearts until they bled greed among whoever they talked with about it. Not even the members of the society were immune. Her father had told her a few things that still occasionally invaded her dreams twisted them into something that had her wake gasping and shaking. This man, he seemed hard enough to be immune, or at least worried enough.

    “Perhaps you’d best come inside, Señor. It is cooler inside and we can have more privacy to talk.”

    It wasn’t exactly a secret in the town where her father’s interests lay. He wasn’t the sort to be wholly discreet about the matter. But it wouldn’t do to speak of how close he had come to finding it for certain or, for that matter, how close this man’s brother had come. That was why her father had vanished, after all. Something this Silas had said to him, have filled in some detail in his own knowledge and had sent him racing off, trying to beat a younger man, nearly as well informed as he, to the wonder he’d been seeking his whole life.

    She turned and moved back onto her porch and the slight shelter to be found there. She paused, turned and bobbed her head.

    “Now it was I who am rude. My name is Marta Estevez, I am Jorge’s daughter and I think we have much to talk about. You may tie and water your horse there if you like.” She pointed to the hitch and pump in the lee of the house.

    “I will fix something to eat and then we can talk about how we might help each other, Señor Smith.”

    Then she was stepping back into the cool dimness of her house, her hands shaking a little as she scrambled to think about how she should proceed. That his brother had gone silent was troubling. It made her own growing fears for her father’s safety seem more real, more plausible. Retreating to the kitchen, the one room in the house wholly hers, she left the door open so that he might find his way to her, and began putting a platter of food together.
     
  7. “Perhaps you’d best come inside, Señor. It is cooler inside and we can have more privacy to talk. Now it is I, who was rude. My name is Marta Estevez, I am Jorge’s daughter and I think we have much to talk about. You may tie and water your horse there if you like.” She pointed to the hitch and pump in the lee of the house. “I will fix something to eat and then we can talk about how we might help each other, Señor Smith.”

    William let out a relieved sigh through his nose, and after following her finger to where the hitch and the pump was located, he gave a curt nod of thanks. Then watched as the woman disappeared back into the house, his green eyes on her with every step she took. He gave another soft sigh, and pulled the reigns to the right, and guided the horse up to the hitch, where he slid off and lead it just a tad further up, and made sure the reigns where wrapped and tied good and tight around the hitch. He then grabbed the pail that was next to the water trough and made his way around to the pump, where he pumped several pails full of water, and made a few trips to fill the trough, his spurs and guns jingling with each step. After he made sure that his horse had enough water to drink, did he reach and pulled a bit of hay from the right side of the trough, not that he cared that she only gave him permission to water his horse. He made his way back to the horse, removing the saddle and the saddlebags to allow the beast to rest for however long he would stay here, and judging by the amount of time he had left in the day, it would be a while.

    William draped the saddle over the railing on the porch, and pulled his Winchester lever action rifle out of the rifle holster, and walked into the house, setting the rifle against the door frame of the front door. He then walked into the kitchen, his foorsteps and the jangling of his six shooters and his spurs giving him away. He had removed his hat, and his unwashed dark blond hair fell down to his shoulders. He watched her for a moment, before sitting down at the table off to the side.

    "Thank you for your hospitality, Marta." He said. "It's been a while since I've had a proper meal, and a bath, or a night's rest in a real bed for that matter."

    He fell silent for a moment, and looked around the kitchen. It was a nice house, he had to admit and it was much cooler in here than outside. William's stomach growled, and he laughed softly, leaning forward to place his elbows on the table.

    "So what all can you tell me about what my brother came here for?" He asked. "I've read my father's note, just as Silas had. He mentioned your father many times, it seemed that they knew each other. My father kept much of what he knew about the city or it's legends until he grew very ill, and that's when he began to speak of it. Then my brother caught the same desire and now he's disappeared off to find the city, of which has never been seen. How can it be real?"

    William let out a small sigh as he watched Marta walk across the kitchen to the table with whatever food she had made.

    "Silas has a wife and a son back home, both of which are worried sick about the fool." He said, his face still stony. "Anything you can tell me about which direction he went, or what was said. He wrote three more letters after this, but neglected to say where he was heading, only that he passed through a few towns, which names he copied down, but I don't understand."
     
  8. She rather appreciated his forthrightness. Her exhaustion and her worry made her grateful for not having to decode his words or guess at his meaning as he beat around the bush. That she appreciated his clear, concise questions did not mean she would be able to return the favor in kind. At least not yet. She knew that the secrecy of the city’s location was important to her father. For reasons of heritage as well as some other reason he’d been happy to hint at, but never reveal to her. He had never been able to resist dangling it before her and then snatching it away.

    She would respect his wishes, but not so far as to damn him by inaction. She would begin with carefully chosen words and see how far that got her. The Sheriff’s questions, direct as they were gave her a very clear path to follow.

    She slid the platter towards him and offered him a brightly colored plate made of the russet local clay.

    “Please, help yourself.” The tray was full of cheeses, meats, beans and assorted other fixings and left overs that were good cold as well as hot.

    “Your brother was here chasing the same dream that many others, including your father it seems, did. They wanted to find a legendary city and hoped my father had the answers.”

    He didn’t when they’d come, he’d been close. She was beginning to think he had the location now, something in the latest map or a clue given by this man’s brother had been the catalyst.

    “I do not know what was said, not directly. I am not often privy to my father’s meetings though I will say I know some of what he and my father spoke of because my father would fill me in as he saw fit.”

    When her guest had taken what he would of her offerings she took up a thick tortilla (she was not very good at making them) and began to fill it with white cheese and beans almost absently.

    “He stayed with us for a few days while they talked, they had much in common and I think my Padre enjoyed his company. I think your brother returned the sentiment but they did not part well. After we eat I would be happy to show you where he stayed, though I am afraid I can’t invite you to stay since my father isn’t here to protect my reputation.”

    There had been shouting that morning that Silas rode off and her father had been in a temper and in less than a day he’d left, angry, muttering and hurrying after a man half his age with only a little more knowledge to give him an edge.

    “My father followed your brother, or near enough. Both of them were headed for where they thought the legend lay.”

    She took a bite, chewed thoughtfully, the intense gaze of her dark eyes somewhat obscured by the lenses of her spectacles. She needed to find her father because she loved him and was worried, but also to prove to him that she could puzzle this out too, that her gender should not prohibit her from moving in his world.

    “I have a very good idea of which way they went, Sheriff. I would be happy tell you, provided you promise to take me with you.”
     
  9. “Please, help yourself.” The tray was full of cheeses, meats, beans and assorted other fixings and left overs that were good cold as well as hot. Your brother was here chasing the same dream that many others, including your father it seems, did. They wanted to find a legendary city and hoped my father had the answers. I do not know what was said, not directly. I am not often privy to my father’s meetings though I will say I know some of what he and my father spoke of because my father would fill me in as he saw fit.”

    William nodded softly, and began to pile a thick tortilla high with whatever he thought look good, and then took a bite. It wasn't bad at all, and after traveling so far without much to eat, William found himself scarfing down the burrito and filling another after Marta had done her's. He took a bite and chewed much more slowly this time, mulling over her words.

    “He stayed with us for a few days while they talked, they had much in common and I think my Padre enjoyed his company. I think your brother returned the sentiment but they did not part well. After we eat I would be happy to show you where he stayed, though I am afraid I can’t invite you to stay since my father isn’t here to protect my reputation. My father followed your brother, or near enough. Both of them were headed for where they thought the legend lay.”

    William stopped for a moment, his stony gaze upon Marta for a moment, listening. He scoffed at her last sentence, then took another bite of his second burrito, the gears obviously turning in his mind.

    “I have a very good idea of which way they went, Sheriff. I would be happy tell you, provided you promise to take me with you.”

    This last sentence took him by surprised, and he lowered his burrito for a moment, and straightened up and looked down at Marta.

    "What?" He asked, even though he had heard her. "Take you with me? Why would you want to go? The wilderness isn't safe for a woman, there's outlaws and highwaymen out there that wouldn't stop to think twice about raping you or some other horrible thing. I already told you I wasn't interested in the city, all I want is my brother. My brother is rash and headstrong and he'll search for this town until he dies from starvation or some other preventable cause of death."

    He gave a sigh as he studied her face. She was the only chance he had of finding Silas and bringing him or his corpse home to his wife and children. William chewed the inside of his cheek for a moment, before regarding Marta once again.

    "can you shoot a rifle or a pistol? Do you know how to hunt or clean a kill? How about starting a fire?"
     
  10. She looked at him with the exasperated expression of a student who is not using all the learning he’d been given. It was a role she played in the village and so an expression that settled naturally on her face. She let the moment hold for a moment, silence a weight in the air between them as her palpable disappointment settled. Then she blinked her eyes behind her glasses and spoke, slowly.

    “I want to go for much the same reason you do, sheriff. My family member is missing and I want to know he is well. It is a simple thing, one I think you would understand.”

    Taking a long breath through her nose and out her mouth she forced a smile on her face. She would go, it was as simple as that. But to anger him was to make for a less pleasant journey. She had no illusions that the upcoming journey would be hard, harder than she could anticipate but she was still determined to do. She had little experience in the wilds, but wasn’t going to let that stop her.

    “I know how to shoot, Señor Smith, I would be foolish not to. And as for hunting, no, I do not know how to hunt but unless things you catch in the wild have vastly different innards than a chicken I should manage well enough in clearing them. Will I be an asset? Probably not. Will traveling with me be more difficult than traveling alone? Undoubtedly. Will you be able to find him in time without me? That is what you must ask yourself.”

    She stood, picked up her plate and pushed the plater towards him. He’d eaten like he hadn’t in days and she wanted to encourage him to eat more. “Please, help yourself,” she said as she turned to wash up her plate in the basin of soapy water.
     
  11. “I want to go for much the same reason you do, sheriff. My family member is missing and I want to know he is well. It is a simple thing, one I think you would understand.”

    William couldn't beat that, and he too gave a long sigh, his green eyes watching over over Marta.

    “I know how to shoot, Señor Smith, I would be foolish not to. And as for hunting, no, I do not know how to hunt but unless things you catch in the wild have vastly different innards than a chicken I should manage well enough in clearing them. Will I be an asset? Probably not. Will traveling with me be more difficult than traveling alone? Undoubtedly. Will you be able to find him in time without me? That is what you must ask yourself.” She said, before getting up and going to wash her plate. “Please, help yourself."

    William took another bite of his burrito and stared at the wooden table. She was right, William wouldn't know the first place to look after he finished with the other three towns that Silas had mentioned. His only option was to bring this petite Mexican woman along with him, and to hunt for that damned city. It was a proposition he didn't really like, but he supposed that if he was to honor the favor Ann had asked of him, then he would no doubt need her help, and besides, it would be nice to have some company along the way. He was sure she would be better at holding a conversation than his horse was. With a sigh, he glanced up at Marta and nodded.

    "Fine, I'll take you." He said. "But you'd best be a hundred percent sure that you know where you're taking me. And when I leave and find lodging for the night, you'd best start packing, because I'll be here at dawn to collect you."

    William quickly finished his burrito and picked the plate up and placed it on the counter next to Marta. She gave him directions to where Silas had stayed, and soon he had left.

    -------

    The very next morning, William rode his horse back to Marta's home and looked around. He had bathed the night before, and just removing the dirt made him look ten years younger, and along with his clean, long dark blonde hair and beard, he was a very ruggedly handsome man. His clothes had been freshly washed as well, making him look like a new man. His horse pawed the ground a bit, before he cleared his throat to announce to Marta that he was here.

    "Marta, come on." He hollered. "Daylight's a wasting."
     
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