Kallin’s face was white in the pre-dawn, and dark circles under his eyes told Arriani that he hadn’t gotten more than an hour or two’s sleep in the last two days.
“You need to rest,” the teenager told him, as sternly as she could. Kallin was her leader, and she took orders from him, not the other way ‘round.
The big man shook his head.
“No. I’m fine, Mageling. Is the spell still working?”
“I’m the healer, Master Warrior. You’re no good to her if you’re dead on your feet.”
“No, you’re not.” Sir Kilona laid a large hand on her friends shoulder. “Kallie, anyone can see, healer or no, that you need rest. Please. Just for an hour, there’s a place where we can shelter close by, I know this land.”
It was truly a sign of how weary and preoccupied Kallin the warrior was that he didn’t snap at the Lady Knight for her use of the nickname.
“We’ll find her. Arriani’s got the tracking spell going, she’s stopped moving, which means that they’ve stopped, probably for the night. It’s nearly dawn. The horses are exhausted, even with Arri’s magic. We have to rest, just for-”
“But she could be hurt!” And Kallin’s shoulders began to shake.
Arriani had never seen him cry.
The horses slowed to a walk, then stopped, and no one urged them on.
Arriani shook her head, tugging on cord, from which hung a small crystal with a lock of hair in it. “This would have told me if she was, like I told you five minutes ago. “
Rasime, a dark shadow on darkness, pulled up, returning from scouting.
“Youngling, how far off did you say they were?”
Arriani called on her magic, touching the crystal at her throat. Her eyes snapped open.
“Close. A few miles. I can’t say more than that. I’m strong, but they must have a mage with them.”
Rasime grinned. “Then we’ve found them. There’s a run down mansion three miles up. I saw light in one window.”
“Then what are we waiting for?” Kallin asked, urging his mare forward. His betrothed, his Zara- for two days they’d chased her kidnappers, and finally- finally-
It was an old white, two story building, with pillars just like the Vernaluna bank. Trees, black in the misty light, stood around it, leafless, and the wall was crumbling. Arriani touched her Sight pendant.
“Wait. There are wards.” She began to prod with her magic at the yellow light that surrounded the grounds. Kilona swore.
“I know this place. It belongs to Lord Tristan- of fief Lairclen. Goddess. Oh, Goddess.”
“What?” Kallin looked at the blond woman.
“This isn’t on Lairclen ground, but near to it, that’s where they’ll be headed. I think- Curse it. Curse them. Oh, Tristan.” She shook her head. “If I ever see that man again, it will not be pretty.”
“Lona, what is it?” Kallin had to fight to keep his voice down.
“They meant to take me. Lord Tristan, according to Da, last time we spoke, wants to marry me. Moon alone knows why, I’m no catch.” Rasime made a small noise at that. “I’m sure this is what it’s about. Zara was wearing my cloak when they took her.”
Arriani spoke up. “The wards are down. What say we teach this Lordling’s men a thing or two about messing with our band?”
She took a small bottle from her saddlebag, and handed it to Kallin, then removed more for the others. “It’s a restorative. I’ve been saving it.” she took a small drink, grimacing at the strong taste of lavender, sage, and bay. The others followed suit, then Kallin raised his sword.
For more of Arriani and Kallin's band, check out Celebration