The Space Between (a Cervantean Interlude)
A hot and windless day; the most canine of Summer’s Dog Days. Two figures are slowly approaching through the heat haze, both so covered in dust they are almost indistinguishable from the dirt road they traverse. One is a tall warrior, judging by the sword at his side and shield on his back; the other has a staff and the remains of conical hat, now drooping like its wearer's shoulders. Perhaps he is a wizard, or a scholar. The general demeaner and lack lustre appearance of the two men suggests that the Fates have not been kind, and they are still a good few miles from their destination, the Inn known as The Oaken Heart in the village of Mournstead. The plodding footsteps of the travellers, and the cicadas interminable scratching are all that disturb the arid afternoon air.
A distant thundering of hooves brings the pair out of their silent meditations. Languidly they move off the road and wait in the sparse shade offered by a thorny treelet. A vast cloud of dust approaches them, and from it appears an aged knight with prodigious moustaches riding a skinny grey mare. He is followed by a stout yokel on a mule; he (the man not the mule) could be the knight’s servant or possibly a farmer caught up in someone else’s quest. The knight stares straight ahead, his bloodshot eyes focusing on who knows what fantastical phantasms and doesn’t register the two onlookers. As his servant passes he turns, holding onto his battered hat, and shouts a greeting of sorts in some incomprehensible tongue, whilst pointing at the fast-disappearing knight and attempting to stay aboard his mount.
The riders hurtle on, soon vanishing over a rise in the road. The two men continue to stand and stare, trance-like.
“What did the last fellow say?” asks the warrior, sometime later as the dust begins to settle and the cicadas search for middle C before embarking on their next performance.
“I’m not sure” Ildore replies absent-mindedly, “but I think his donkey’s ok, though I can’t imagine why that’s worth shouting about”.
“Well that’s nice” says Krud, without conviction. “Come on, I need a drink. Got any money?”