The Lode Stone by Jane Ann McLachlan

The Lode Stone by Jane Ann McLachlan

Author:Jane Ann McLachlan [McLachlan, Jane Ann]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: medieval historical fiction
ISBN: 9781999383657
Publisher: Kay Crisp Books
Published: 2019-11-05T05:00:00+00:00

Chapter Fifteen: The Crusaders

Luc de Lyon may not have been a fighter but he was a stalwart traveler. He set a brisk pace and kept to it with few breaks. Isaac’s pride forced him to match the other man’s pace, asking for no concessions. He suspected that Luc had already shortened his regular stride. By the time they stopped for the night at an inn in Vibo Valentia, every bone in his body ached. He was sure the thieves had cracked one of his ribs, and his head pounded all across his skull from the blow above his right eye, and reached a tentacle of fire down the tight pucker of his scar. His stump was so painful he winced taking off his wooden leg. The thick padding he placed on top of the wood was so moist with sweat he had to peel it away from his stump, which continued to throb, sending waves of pain up his leg. It had not been sore like this since he first strapped on the wooden leg; but then, he had not walked all day on it before either. God willing the pain would abate before morning when he must strap the wooden torture on again.

He would not be able to walk the same distance the following day. He would tell Luc to go on without him. He was far enough from the port of Messina that none would think him a seaman deserting his ship, especially not with a wooden leg. He could afford to travel more slowly. His brother, if the boy—man, now—was still alive, would either be found or not, wherever he might be. Somewhere in France was hardly a direction.

And yet it was. It pulled at him, had done so even when he lived in Acre. He ached for France. There was nothing for him there now but still it called to him, mocking him with the false promise of home when there was no home for him there. The heart wants what it wants.

Luc had asked where he was bound as they walked. Not wanting to mention a brother he might no longer have, Isaac had mumbled the name of a town that came to his head, Saint-Gilles. He was not sure exactly where it was, but it was French and had a clean, bright feel of the sea about it, although not the feel of home. He had probably passed through it some time.

Luc had recognized the name. “Not far from Marseilles,” he had said. The man was annoying in his persistent clarity no matter how vague Isaac tried to be. Isaac had said nothing more and Luc had not pressed him. He had needed all his strength to match the man’s pace, never mind conversation.

Leaving his wooden leg on the blanket the innkeeper had offered him in return for a coin, Isaac hobbled to the table with the help of his staff and sank onto the bench. The innkeeper’s wife had set out a simple meal of bread and stew.


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