The sound of a galloping horse always meant trouble. The horse was either being directed to something in a hurry or away from something in a hurry. In Port Plain there was rarely cause for a hurried action unless there was a fire.
Quincy checked the time on his pocket watch. “Almost three hours,” he said, “I was here almost three hours before any real trouble happened.”
“Sheriff!” the expected cry came from atop the horse.
Quincy turned to see the source of so many ’emergency’ notices, Leander Bell. Leander was always the first in line to tell of a new disturbance or threat to Port Plain, which often included improperly penned cows or broken fences.
“Mr. Bell, what can I do for you today?” Quincy said, already annoyed.
“How was the city visit, Sheriff?” Leander started.
“Like watching paint dry, but the paint was trying to explain why it could not dry just yet and we would have to wait a week for the paint to make a decision,” the sheriff explained.
“That well, eh?”
“That well. What’s happening, Leander?”
“There’s something happening at the airfield. A new guy showed up while you were out. Big talker,” Leander explained.
As he spoke the roar of a plane engine flared in the sky.
“No longer at the airfield it seems. You’ve done well in telling me this. We have to get that plane out of the sky,” Quincy felt his pulse start to race. “I need to borrow your horse, Bell.”
Leander gave no objections and exchanged places with the Sheriff. “May the prairie be flat,” Leander said. The saying came about in the Prairie Wars, Leander himself a veteran. It was a phrase said to those about to traverse the prairie on horseback. During the war, goblins would dig holes or weaken the surface. Horses fell and riders were lost to the traps set by the enemy. The best thing one could have was flat ground.
“Thanks, old friend.” Quincy said as he prodded the horse to action.
He rode swift to the airfield. There was one rule for pilots since the incident, no daylight flight. Goblins were generally nocturnal and with tensions high, it was best not to wake a sleeping giant.
The horse kept its footing. The grass and rocks of the prairie whipped by in a blur.
“They’re sleeping still,” Quincy said to the horse, not expecting a response, but curious of what his reaction would be to such an oddity.
He cursed as the ground began to crack around him. Spires rose from the earth. Chunks of dirt fell and prairie dogs barked and fled from the rumbling mounds. Quincy remembered the Spires from his own battles. The flaming rocks and explosive bags that fired from them brought down scores of his comrades. Seeing them again, his pulse raced faster.
“We’d better hurry up,” he told the horse. Before he could prod, the beast sped up. Quincy raised an eyebrow and was surprised to learn how calmly he would react to a responsive mount.