The Old Hoof

This grist mill serves the needs of both local farmers and the brewery in town. Its millstones are powered by horses harnessed to the spoke spars of two gigantic driving wheels. The horses walk endlessly around and around in the straw-covered turf when the mill is grinding, working in hour-long shifts that overlap slightly, so that one wheel is up to speed before the other winds down to a stop. As mentioned before, miscreants may be sentenced to a day or a shift at the wheel, pushing or pulling as they please in their manacles. On one recent occasion, a band of brigands was caught lurking in the woods near the north field by the Lord's Men. They had no loot and hence could be convicted of no crime but failing to leave the area when ordered to do so by the Lord's Men on an earlier patrol. They were sentenced to dawn-tosundown duty at the wheel. As the brigands numbered 14, all the horses were unhitched from one wheel and the brigands alone men and women, sweating together were harnessed in their places, with cleverly knotted ropes tied about each of them and one other brigand to prevent them from pulling free of their places. Once word got around, many of the townsfolk turned out to watch and even bid for chances to switch the increasingly hot and exhausted brigands with twigs. Not one of the brigands lasted through the whole day until sundown. By eveningfeast only two warriors (who had recovered from being pulled by their fellows earlier) were left grimly plodding along, dragging the groggy, scraped, and bruised bodies of their fellows through the straw. The brigands were revived, tended overnight, and in the morning put to work at the pull wheel again to finish their shifts. It took the weakest of them most of three days to accomplish one day's worth of shifts. When the punishment was done and they were freed, they all fled and have not been seen in Battledale from that day to this.

The Old Hoof

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