Having deposited Pierre on his horse, Rudolpho gained some altitude. It wouldn’t have been difficult in ordinary circumstances with these gigantic wings, but the pain was getting worse. He had to stop soon. He managed to gain sight of the scene below, enough to see Grumhog’s demise. When it was done, the pain became unbearable. Rudolpho chose a spot slightly in front of the group and spiraled downward. His approach was somewhat rough and he landed with a jarring thump. It was all he could do to change back and give a little characteristic smile. His right arm hung limp at his side, looking very odd at his shoulder. He had managed to dislocate it when he had slammed into the stone pillars. Exhaustion and pain overtaking him, Rudolpho collapsed.
He was off the horse before it had come to a complete stop, and by the boy’s side in seconds. A touch here, to move the boy’s sleeve, confirmed the dislocation; he could have popped the shoulder back into place, but only with great pain to Rudolpho (this Thomis knew from personal experience). “Master Keir,” he prompted, with that asking for a painkiller, and offering to allow the other to do the necessary manipulation.
Beast fought Laurelyn’s control as the horse tried to break into a full gallop – the smell of the Voel terrifying the animal. But the storyteller kept a firm rein on the horse and managed to pull the animal to a stop near where Thomis worked on Rudolpho. “How is he?” she asked.
She divided her attention between looking over at where the Oathbound knelt by the boy, and looking back to see what Brendan’s “friend” was doing.
Only too happy to be off Beast Keir slid down, nearly unhorsing Laurelyn in the process as his fingers gripped her tunic, until he was almost to the ground. He moved over to Thomis and Rudolpho on very wobbly legs and renewed his vow not to ride. It only took a second to size up the situation and Thomis’ knowing look. He took a few of the partly dried willow leaves he’d collected and placed them in Rudolpho’s good hand. “Chew these.” he said firmly, “They’ll help for… after.” His skilled fingers searched along the thief’s neck and pinched off the nerve to his shoulder. With a nod to Thomis to go ahead with the relocation he held Rudolpho steady with his other arm and body.
Daron winced in anticipation of what Rudolpho would feel, even with the willow leaves acting as a painkiller. She’d “felt” her twin brother Dillon’s pain when he’d dislocated his shoulder during one of her father’s training sessions. Rudolpho’s the latest victim of my rashness, she berated herself. I can’t watch. She tightly closed her eyes and bit her lip hard enough to draw blood.
Pierre stared over at Daron, concerned. He could almost sense the sorrow, and perhaps guilt she was feeling. He started to reach his hand over to her, to say she couldn’t be blamed, when he stopped himself. Pretty words would do nothing now. He knew anything he could say might only further increase any possible guilt she was feeling.
And if, perchance, she wasn’t feeling guilt, then he would have introduced a new concept to her, and perhaps even hurt her.
No, it was best that he stay silent.
Rudolpho dimly acknowledged the leaves that were pressed in his hand and popped them into his mouth. The leaves tasted somewhat bitter he noticed as the world began to get hazy and go dark. He knew they were going to try to set his arm but couldn’t have moved if he wanted to. He nodded at Thomis to proceed, trying to uphold his air of bravery and nonchalance.
No longer able to maintain his hold on consciousness, he slipped into oblivion.
Thomis slid one hand along the boy’s forearm to cradle the elbow, and gripped the upper arm with his other hand. A blessing for the boy to have passed out, he thought to himself as he began to lift and rotate the joint. To those gathered close, a faint sound of grating could be heard. When Thomis reached the point of greatest resistance, he did not pause, though he remembered with a vague twinge the black box of pain that would open up here. The shoulder balked, but he pressed more firmly, and with an audible crack, the shoulder slid back in place.
“Bind the arm to his body,” Thomis murmured, moving aside so that Keir could reach the boy and fashion a makeshift splint that would both support and immobilize the arm. “Our rescuer disappear again?” he asked Laurelyn.
Laurelyn had moved Beast over and taken up the reins of Thomis’s horse – she didn’t know if they’d have to move quickly and wanted to be prepared. The last several hours had proven to be very unpredictable. She winced when Rudlopho’s shoulder cracked into place.
She glanced back over her shoulder – trying to peer into the darkness to see either Brendan or the Voel – as she answered, “I’m honestly not sure.”
“Wouldn’t surprise me either way,” Daron bitterly snapped. She sensed Pierre’s concern for her feelings. Grateful, she reached her hand out to the young musician and gripped his hand tightly. A single tear coursed down her cheek.
Thomis glanced over at the artist, then back at Laurelyn with one raised eyebrow, and the slightest curl to one corner of his mouth that said, without saying it, ‘A broken heart in the making? So soon?’
Laurelyn mirrored Thomis’s raised eyebrow back to him, and gave a small shrug. Along with a tiny smile.
A pervasive gurgling noise issued from the Voel. Pondra looked over and grimaced, nudging Vels to look. Some brown gas was slowly wafting from the Voel in all directions, thick and murky, looking almost solid.
“Uh…” Pondra began…
“Time to leave,” Thomis said firmly, once Keir had finished binding Rudolpho’s arm in place. He swung back into his saddle, and indicated that the others should lift the boy up to sit before him.
Laurelyn handed Thomis back his reins once he had Rudolpho safely in front of him. As she leaned down from her saddle and held out her hand to Master Keir she saw his obvious distaste of riding, and said, “Just a little bit longer.”
Once the healer was settled behind her she again urged Beast forward, but at a more sedate pace.
The sounds of the Voel diminished slowly behind them as the horses picked their way carefully through the forest, the task made difficult by the darkness of the night. The air was still, and the sounds of night creatures were few and far between. The serenity belied that which lay behind them, almost surreal in contrast.
The party soon found themselves on a dirt road, lit dimly by the light of a wan moon and a small fire by the roadside. Brendan sat against a tree, the young woman wrapped in his arms. She was crying.
“Ah” he said, as they rode closer, and stood, extricating himself as gently as possible.
“Please,” he gestured to the fire, “take a short rest. I’m afraid you must have many questions, and I fear that I will not be able to answer them all…”
Daron slowly dismounted Falcon. “Since no one here seems to have taken the initiative, I’ll do it. Kindly remember that these questions are asked in no particular order of importance.” She walked towards Brendan and the young woman, stopping about six feet from the pair. “First, what is your connection to Grumhog and the Voel? Second, did you know what Grumhog had planned for us?” She swallowed hard, feeling the acid burn her throat again.
“Third, if you did, why by all that’s holy didn’t you stay to help us?”
She looked at the rest of her party in turn, focusing mainly on Laurelyn and Jacques, before continuing, “Fourth and fifth, who is she – and what connection does she have to all of this?” A deep sigh seemed to come from her toes. “And lastly, Brendan, just who the hell are you?” Her eyes flashed like twin fire opals: cold and hard.
Daron casually scratched the back of her neck, waiting for Brendan’s answers.
Jacques glared back at Daron, and wondered why the hell the girl had looked at him so oddly. He wasn’t that strange looking without his hat, and having been herded along with the rest of them without so much as a word of warning he wasn’t in any frame of mind to put up with that for long.
Sixth, he thought, where’s my damn hat? And seventh, where can a man get some decent lager around here?
He was about to open his mouth to voice both questions when Fiend made a slight whuffling noise and nosed at his hand.
Jacques muttered under his breath but otherwise kept his peace. For now.
Laurelyn didn’t have the energy to ponder the meaning of Daron’s intense stare at she and Jacques, but the storyteller did manage to raise an eyebrow in Thomis’s direction. She suspected that to the artist the identity of the strange woman was just as important as the other questions. Normally the storyteller would have been willing to sit back and hear out the man’s answers, but she had a pressing question of her own. She offered Keir a hand down, then swung herself clear of the saddle. Once she was down she asked, “Is the Voel a threat to villagers? Or to anyone else on the road?”
Thomis merely shrugged, slightly, as best he could with Rudolpho still sitting before him in his arms, trying not to jostle the boy too much. The girl’s manner had been a bit more vehement than Brendan’s actions seemed to merit. Especially in light of the suspicion with which their party had originally greeted the man.
She stepped forward till she stood next to Daron – and touched a hand to the artist’s shoulder. Gently, but firmly she said, “The fact that he and his ally saved us earns him the right to not to be cornered – that’s how we met and shouldn’t be how we part.”
She looked over at Brendan, and said, “We are no judge nor jury…”
Laurelyn smiled tiredly, and continued, “Nor would we be up to arguing with your friend even if we came to some judgement. And while I’ll admit to a great curiousity to what drama we nearly spilled our souls for – my main concerns now are to get my own people out of here. ...To also repay the bravery of the healer and the blacksmith. And to offer my thanks to both you and to the Voel.”
Brendan smiled weakly at the barrage of questions that he should have expected. Despite the fact that he knew these people so little, he couldn’t help but feel both indebted to them, and related somehow.
“Of all, I deserve your respect the least,” he shrugged, and glanced over at Lienna. She was sleeping, obviously tired from the events of the evening.
“Voel is no danger to anyone now,” he began, sitting himself beside the fire. “He will return to surviving off of warthogs and insects… it will probably take him decades to recover from the injuries he sustained tonight.”
He realised that he had answered Laurelyn’s question sufficiently, and decided to change topic. Unfortunately, he knew that Daron’s questions remained for him. He sighed tiredly, and looked at her – silent in the firelight – for a moment before speaking again.
“I will answer your questions in some form of order, Daron… forgive me if I place my own importance on them.
“I was a bandit – plain and simple – trying to create some measure of comfort for those who had made me their leader. Grumhog was my friend and ally, as was Voel. They were both human when this all started.” He looked around uneasily as if the memory hurt to recall.
As Brendan started his tale, Thomis managed to slide from his saddle to the ground, still cradling the unconscious Rudolpho in his arms. Such a small package, he thought, to carry so much inside. Though the same could have been said for any of the others in their group. Including Fiend.
“Voel found the circle of stones, several miles from our encampment, and knew at once the powers that it held. He was an intelligent man, I’m sure he had some innate mystical powers or something… he told me that he could feel the power of the circle. I told him to stay away from it and not to tell a soul – magic is nothing but trouble I told him.
“He ignored me, of course, as did Grumhog, who had also discovered the circle. Something took hold of Grumhog though, something evil. He began to treat the circle like a god…”
Brendan stopped, threw a branch into the fire, and looked around. When he spoke again, there was anger in his voice.
“I found them arguing one day, standing amidst the stones, shouting and screaming at each other. Voel told Grumhog to stay away from the circle, that its power was too great for him, Grumhog was yelling at Voel saying that he was a lunatic, trying to keep it to himself. Before I could move, Voel was dead, Grumhog’s knife sticking from his chest.
“They changed then, both of them. Oh, in different ways. Voel turned into what he is now… and Grumhog into what he was then – a cruel, fanatical man. I could not prevent him from convincing the others that the circle was power, was god.”
He looked up at the night sky, his eyes wet with tears.
“I think you know the rest. I left, and something happened to the others… You came along.”
Again, he looked at Daron, then quickly at Laurelyn, then at the sleeping woman on the other side of the fire.
“This is Voel’s wife… Lienna. She would not leave until now, and I could not help you until I knew that she was safe. I cannot explain it, but she feels she has to stay to somehow find a way to help her husband…”
He stood, and turned his back to the fire and the eyes of those he had nearly caused to die.
“The nearest village is that way down the road” he pointed without looking. “I think it would be best if I let you go alone.”
Pierre looked, troubled, upon the older man. “I am sorry,” he whispered. “That your friends died.” He paused. “I am especially sorry about Grumhog.” Perhaps others might not agree, but he felt that the sorrow of seeing a friend alive in form, yet so possessed by the evil it was as though he was dead, was worse than having a friend be completely dead.
“People die,” Jacques offered unkindly with a shrug. “Everything does.”
Jacques continued regardless.
“Life’s brutal and short, boy. Get used to it, ‘cause nothing on this earth is going to change that. Don’t get attached to breathin’. Or anything else.”
It was unclear whether that last was directed to Fiend, Pierre, or Brendan. Or himself.
Fiend whined again, and jumped to the ground to go exploring through some of the nearby undergrowth.
Jacques turned to where Rudolpho was and shrugged again. The lack of bells ringing was beginning to unnerve him.
Someone else needed to learn that particular lesson, he thought. Either that, or the kid was going to face even bigger problems down the road.
Although the young boy’s arm was bound he stirred a bit in Thomis’ protective embrace. He did not struggle to escape it though, as he was lost in a different realm. ”...it hurts Mother. I’m not moving it. Where are you? Where is Father? Don’t leave again. I miss you both. Yes, I am with new people and I am helping, but I want to be with you.”
He spoke in his sleep, which was just as well, as he would be quite embarrassed. With his good arm, Rudolpho clasped Thomis’ hand. “Don’t go.”
Thomis, settled in by the fire, raised one eyebrow at the jester’s glance. Without even speaking, the Oath-bound managed to show that he had little argument with the other man’s assessment of the cruelties of the world … but that perhaps something could be said for compassion.. Not a lot, necessarily, but something. “I will not,” Thomis answered the boy softly, and squeezed his hand.
On the horizon the black silhouette of a masted ship loomed…..Laurelyn shook her head, knowing that fatigue and maybe a touch of fever was making her hallucinate. But hallucination or not the image left behind it the sense that now was the time to speak of her own tale. Or maybe it was simply that Brendan’s story spoke of two more people who needed a boon. Or a desperate vision.
“We just as well rest a minute,” Laurelyn said, crouching down by the fire. She watched the dance of the flickering flames, now seemingly oblivious to her exhausted fellow-travelers, and when she spoke her tone and voice carried a deeper resonance. The storyteller never claimed to be touched by any spirit when she performed – she was no clan bard, even though she had been offered the right. Yet she had preferred to follow her curiousity out into a broader world than the windswept coves and hills of her twin heritage. Away from the clan bloodshed and oft merciless sea. But now she – almost – would have said that more than her own belief moved her to speak. She tilted her head and looked up at Brendan, who was mostly hidden by shadow, and asked, “If you had a way to save Voel – would you take it? Even if it meant following the gauze-thin thread of a dream?”
Brendan straightened as she spoke, and crossed his arms in front of his chest. Something chilled him about what she said, about the guilt that he felt when she mentioned Voel’s name. He looked over at the sleeping body of Lienna – poor Lienna whom he had known since childhood. He had been so happy when she and Voel told him of their intent to marry, had been their only witness and best friend.
Now he was offered a chance to save Voel… and Lienna.
He turned, the fire glinting in his eyes.
“How dare you try to give me false hope! You don’t think I’ve tried to find a cure for Voel? You want me to go chasing after some – some dream?!”
He was fuming, his face shaking with both anger and sadness. If he had let himself cry, he would have had no trouble. Now just was not the time…
“What else do you have to chase after?” Thomis asked simply, shifting slightly to settle Rudolpho more comfortably. “Shall the two of you stay wandering these woods, watching what he has become?” There could be compassion and loyalty and courage, and mad hope. In the smallest, most fragile packages imaginable.
The storyteller’s tone and demeanor did not change, though images of what she had seen happen at the end of the League’s swords seeped forward to haunt. Laurelyn looked straight into the shadows – at Brendan, and said, “When there is nothing else left what other hope do you have?”
The flames seemed to dance and crackle – asking the same question – over and over again. Laurelyn continued in the same resonant tone, “There is a legend of a damned ship, the Star Dreamer, that has existed in the coastal villages for centuries. It is said that the Captain of that ship was cursed by the gods to sail forever, with only the drowned for crew. But he was given one mercy – for he begged the ancient powers not to condemn his crew for his own folly – so he is able to grant a boon to whomever pleases him. In that way he is not completely without distraction, and perhaps can do some good in the world…, but those who fail to please him stay with the ship forever.”
She stood, feeling every protesting muscle as she did, and said, “The tales say that it is either the desperate or the greedy who seek him, though they don’t say who won or who stayed.” She glanced at the fire, and saw in the flames the wavering vision of a masted ship.
“I travel to seek that legend,” Laurelyn said, the soul-deep weariness in her voice leaving little doubt that she was one of the desperate ones. It was only after she finished that she realized how her declaration must sound to her companions – all except Thomis, who knew – she had to sound mad. She looked back over her shoulder at the others, and said, “The road should be safe enough now for any of you – or you can travel to Morrow’s Hold and get a ship to wherever you want to go.”
Daron felt as small as a dirt speck beneath her booted feet…and as equally insignificant.
Her father’s words rose up from memory and squarely hit the mark: //”It’s better to be silent and thought the fool than to speak up and remove all doubt!”//
“I…apologize for the interrogation, Brendan. Truly. Mistress Laurelyn is right; neither you nor Lienna deserves my anger. As Master Jacques can testify to, I’m much like Jepardi; I jump in fearlessly without thinking of the consequences of my words or actions. And I wish I could reverse the past – far more than some of my companions realize.” Memories of that day a year ago rose up to haunt her. “They say that which does not kill you makes you stronger. Right now, I’m feeling damned vulnerable – and I wish I wasn’t!” She turned to where Thomis sat with Rudolpho. Her vow to take care of the boy came to mind. “As my father would say, ‘If wishes were horses, peasants would ride’. Frankly, I think, between us all here, the strength of our wishes would give an entire city the best horses coin can buy!”
That annoying tingle in Daron’s fingertips – something she had not felt since they had first met Brendan – now was too painful to ignore. She walked to her horse and blindly rummaged in her sack for her drawing instruments. Finding them, she furiously scribbled with a charcoal stick on the paper for a few moments.
The artist carefully removed the sheet from the tablet. She walked over to Brendan and handed him the sketch of a man who she knew, without a doubt, was Voel … before the evil had changed him. “Please, give this to Lienna,” she gravely said.
Daron turned on her heel. Her shoulders shook with repressed sorrow as she strode back to Falcon. She put the tools of her trade back in the sack.
Then she turned to the group. Her decision was clear.
“I will go with Mistress Laurelyn to seek the boon of the Star Dreamer. I have nothing to lose. That is, if she wants me along…” She deferred to the storyteller’s authority. If Laurelyn refused her company, Daron would find some other way to see her brother again. Or die trying.
Again Laurelyn looked over her shoulder. “Any of you are welcome on the journey – though I can’t promise anything beyond the bite of the sea winds and the cry of solitary gulls. I have no idea if there is any basis to the legend.”
Unaware of the debate around him, Rudolpho continued his dream visit with his parents. “Why do you have to leave? ...but why? You’re here now so you don’t have to go. We can be together like before. I don’t care! I don’t care if that damned horse took the cart over the cliff and you were both on it, you can stay now!” He struggled a bit now in Thomis’s grasp as he struggled in his dream state. He reached out in front of him with his good arm as if trying to reach to someone. “Please…” With that, his eyes snapped open. It took him a moment to orient to his surroundings, then he flushed red. Noticing his arm still reaching out he knew that they had probably heard everything. Too upset to run off, he lowered his head and stared into the flames of the small fire before him.
It seemed the members of this little troupe were coming out of their emotional shells before Brendan’s eyes. His own feelings subsided into coldness, a feeling he could not prevent. The fire seemed small to him, and a chill wind swept at his back from the woods.
“I cannot go with you,” he muttered, his voice hard edged and terse.
He looked at Lienna, and sighed, taking a seat beside her on the ground near the fire. The flames reminded him much of his life as it had been – but he realised now that he had to be like the ground beneath him… strong and unchanging. If he left Lienna here by herself he did not know what would become of her.
Beyond the fire, Vels stepped forward.
“Pondra and I had best return to our village as soon as possible. They need to know of what has transpired here this night.”
He glanced up, and saw that the night sky was not so dark as it had been.
“The sun is rising…” he noted, and then to Pondra, “We should be going.”
Laurelyn did not raise any protest at either Brendan’s statement, or Vels’s. She said, without looking back at the others, “Let’s get moving.”
In many ways she was glad that she didn’t have one more following her on her own mad errand – she still wasn’t sure what had possessed her to even speak of The Star Dreamer. Possessed might even be the right word.
Though she knew that it was more likely she was possessed by guilt, by the horror that lay behind her, and by fatigue. She also knew that more often there was little one person could do to fix the wrongs of this world. She unwound the rope that Keir had used to bind her ribs and which she had left on as a crude armour, and swung to Beast’s back. “Maybe we can repay your help someday,” was all she said to Brendan.
To Vels she asked, “Is there a place we can rest in the village tonight? Or at least a safe place to camp?”
Vels nodded silently as he mounted his own horse, and looked at Brendan.
Brendan was looking at Lienna, but stood and shifted his eyes to rest on Daron.
“If you” – he meant the group – “ever need anything, I will be here…”
The offer seemed feeble to him, knowing full well that he was in no position to offer help. He meant it however, and knew that should the need arise he would provide whatever help he could. His eyes flitted across the entire group, and he nodded to Vels.
“Take care of them,” he said softly.
Vels said nothing, merely spurring his horse forward in silent acknowledgement of Brendan’s words. Pondra leaned from his saddle as he passed and whispered something to Brendan, who bent his head and nodded sadly in reply before the big blacksmith rode on.
Vels looked back, and waited for the rest of the group.
“Please hurry.” he urged.
Fools, thought Jacques. They called him a “fool” and often as not expected him to be one. But there was a difference between being and simply acting the fool. Though if he were honest with himself he wasn’t sure how often he crossed the line.
Still, he’d heard madder schemes in the past – there had been Mad King Billy who’d married his ocelot, for a start. Not that anyone had noticed, what with half the royal court being so far inbred. But it had caused some small scandal on the matter of an heir to the throne…
There were no boons he ached for – unlike the obvious desires of some. No great hope or wish worth risking his neck for. Or worse, his soul – if he still had one.
He brushed a bushy white eyebrow absently with one hand. Only what was done, but then it was just that. Done. And not worth digging up again.
Fiend whined and disentangled himself from the bushes to sit and stare up at Laurelyn and Jacques in alternate gazes.
Jacques shook his head, and cursed at the lack of bells.
“What I need,” he called over to Brendan in exasperation, “is for someone to be tellin’ me what those ba..” He glanced at Laurelyn briefly. “Bandits did with my hat!”
Fiend yipped, and trotted over to Beast where he stood gazing up at the animal’s face. Obviously, thought Jacques, one of them at least was intending to see this madness through to the end.
He continued to stare into the flames, as if he could get visions of things like Grandma used to do with her crystal ball. He almost seemed unaware of everyone elses’s actions until he realized…Thomis was holding him. It wasn’t a restraining hold in as much as it was a supporting touch. “I…I’m sorry I passed out and you had to carry me. I’ll try not to burden you anymore.” With that he stood and moved to the edge of the camp’s radius to try and compose himself.
Laurelyn looked down at the expectant Fiend, whom Beast was snuffling at. “Does anyone have a free hand?” she said, “I don’t think the youngster will want back in the backpack.”
A gentle tug on her shirt made her turn to have a quick word with Keir. When she turned back around she said, “It seems that not only Master Jacques’s hat is needed, but Master’s Keir’s staff. Could those be brought – at least to the outskirts – of the village tomorrow?” She noted Val’s worry, and added, “It seems not to be wise to wait for them tonight.”
When the boy pulled away, Thomis loosened his hold and allowed him to stand – though the Oathbound kept himself ready to catch the child if Rudolpho showed any sign of unsteadiness. While the boy stayed to one side, trying to regain a composure better suited for someone much older, Thomis stooped to scoop up the puppy. Only after he had given Rudolpho some time alone did he approach the boy again. “No apologies, though we owe you our thanks for your aid,” he said softly, “and I have carried heavier loads than you.” With a wry half-smile, he hefted the wriggling puppy in one hand. “If you would ride with me as before, perhaps you could hold on to Fiend…?”
Much as he always did, Rudolpho shook his head as if he were a puppy like Fiend, shaking off water. “I really didn’t do all that much. I can hold Fiend if you want.” At this he approached closer to Thomis as he didn’t want the others, particularly Kier, to hear him. “I could also turn into a more suitable mount for our shorter friend?”
Brendan paused a moment in thought, and gave Pondra a querying look. The blacksmith nodded, a wry smile on his face.
“I can do that for you. The staff and hat will be ready for you at the signpost just outside the city… “
With that he returned to the fire.
“Thank you,” Laurelyn called back.
Thomis nodded towards where Keir had, even if reluctantly, mounted again behind Laurelyn. “He will do well enough.” He swung up into his own saddle, cradling Fiend in one arm while reaching down to swing Rudolpho up before him. Once that had been done, and the puppy settled into the boy’s arms, Thomis turned his horse towards the village.
Rudolpho grabbed Thomis’s proffered arm and swung up before him. He couldn’t help but remember how he used to do this with papa. He had meant to try and speak with the dog he cradled gently but held firmly in his hands…but not just now.
Daron slowly mounted her horse. Fatigue and mixed emotions washed over her much like rain. She promised herself she would not look back. :::Good-bye,Brendan::: she “sent” to him, not trusting her voice to break. She was quite sure that her mental turmoil was written all over her face in bold red letters: “I LOVE BRENDAN!” The last thing she needed right now was Jacques or Laurelyn teasing her unmercifully about “crushes”. :::You’re not a coward – you’re braver than I could ever be…::: she mentally apologized.
Daron then guided Falcon to follow Laurelyn and the others along the path.
The road they followed took them to Vels’ village and rest.