Learmouth was satisfied with the progress so far, he was back in England. The rendezvous secure, five blood-red crosses indicated five visits kept, he had arrived in time for the sixth and the final rendezvous was tomorrow at night fall. He would travel under cover of darkness, if moonlight permitted, to Netherton Keep to meet his sister the Crone Blackmorn.
Edgar the coachman arrived at the secret rendezvous as he had five times before ,expecting no one to be there, he arrived in a snow storm late in the afternoon, several inches of fresh snow covered the ground; the north wind blew the snow into swirling white drifts. He was driving a two- wheeled cart, slowly making his way against the driving snow, the horse was the first to see the shepherds hut and quickened its pace, eager to find a shelter it knew. Head down it pulled the cart straight into the lean-to stable that, though cold, was at least out of the freezing wind and snow.
Edgar, still cruel and uncaring to animals, left the horse in harness, broke the ice on the water trough and threw a little hay where it could just reach, then left the horse shivering as the fresh snow melted on its back. Edgar trudged through the thickening snow to the door of the hut and banged six times on the door, six the number of crosses, six the number of the secret rendezvous. Learmouth unbarred the door, opened it dagger in hand, and pulled Edgar roughly inside so that he
Learmouth barred the door turned to Edgar and said, “Were you followed?”
“No my Lord.”
“Then bring food and wine and take care of the horse, I don’t care when it dies, but it can do so after we get to Netherton.”
Edgar obeyed, rubbed down the horse took it out of harness and led it to a stall, and returned through the snow muttering to himself,
“Ungrateful that’s what they are, all them Blackmorns and the Learmouth’s.”
Edgar busied himself making a simple stew with the food he’d brought, Learmouth drank the wine, offering none to Edgar.