Chapter 3
Secret Flight

Caer Pendragon, Pendragon

Though it was a journey of some three weeks by convoy to their domains in the East and the West, the brothers of the King did not abide in Caer Pendragon more than a day or two whenever it was time for the annual council. Prince Cain in particular was always quick to leave, uncharacteristic though it was for a man of his notoriously slothful nature to strike out at dawn the following morning. However, even if he was quick to leave, it took time for all of his baggage train to follow. The entire convoy would be stretched out over the course of three days. Some wains had only just arrived and would only have time enough to rest their horses before turning right back around. Certainly the Prince did not need such a retinue, but his pride as the firstborn son of the late King would permit no less a display.
Each wain had its master every ten wain masters had an overseer, every three overseers reported to a steward, and the three steward reported to the chief steward. The chief steward was first to arrive and the last to leave. While some people in his position would leave his subordinates to their work, he insisted on personally supervising the loading and unloading of the baggage and keeping everyone on schedule. Any delays in the caravan's arrival at the castle or its return to the tower would prove to be an inconvenience and an annoyance to the chief steward's master and he would have none of it.
"It is already an hour after dawn and still you have not departed," he complained to the steward charged with this day's segment of the baggage train. "If you are late in your return to the Tower, you will be answerable for it."
"One of the wains needed a new wheel," the lesser steward replied, "and a mule was lamed fighting with another. This would not happen if we used geldings."
"No gelding will convey His Highness' property," the chief steward insisted, "especially not here. You know this."
"It is foolishness," the lesser steward said. "What is to be proved by such a thing?"
"Watch your tongue," the chief steward warned, "or you will be made to answer well before you reach the Tower."
Though the threat gave him pause, the lesser steward's exasperation outweighed his fear as he said, "My team will be out the gate shortly and you will find us waiting for you at the Tower."
"I would certainly hope so," the chief steward replied, "for your sake."
The chief steward walked away to continue his inspection of the wains before their departure. The lesser steward was then approached by a woman in a grey hooded cloak. Indeed, she was well concealed, but from her height and carriage there could be no doubt that under the cloak was a woman.
"Yes?" the lesser steward asked. "What? Can I help you? What do you want?"
The woman did not reply in words. Instead she extended a pale hand and pointed at one of the wains.
"What about it?"
She pointed again, this time a little more forcefully.
"Are you telling me you want a ride? Is that it?"
The woman nodded and the steward immediately balked at the suggestion.
"These are the wains of His Highness Prince Cain's baggage train," he said. Perhaps realizing the excess of rhymes in what he had said, he found himself tongue-tied for a moment before stammering, "Un-unless you are the property of His Highness, you have no place on these wains."
The woman responded by gripping the steward's wrist. Before he could protest, she placed a small coin purse in his hand. As soon as he felt the weight of it in his palm, his objections promptly melted away.
"I, I suppose I could take you as far as Uwncaster, but no farther."
The woman nodded in agreement.
"You will stay out of the way," the steward told her. "You will talk to no one--I suppose that will not be a problem. It will be as if you were not even here because you are not here. Understood?"
The woman nodded again.
"Well then, hurry up and get under cover before the chief steward returns."
While the woman went to her wain of choice, the steward went to the wain master of that particular wain and quietly slipped him a coin, saying, "So long as our guest keeps quiet, leave her be. If she becomes a problem, kick her out by the side of the road."
"Wote'er ye say, sir," the wain master replied, tucking away the coin under his belt.
If only the steward knew who he was transporting, he may not have been so quick to let a little gold cloud his vision.