In Castle Crow’s bailey, Black Hudig and his guest Garamaine exchanged laconic farewells. The beastmaster had called in the previous night on his way north for some reason best known to himself. Hudig had co-opted his services.
“So… the bandits: maybe they drifted west, maybe east. Be grateful for firm news.”
“Yup. Usual price.”
“Surely. They’ll be delivered to you, ‘less you want to pick ‘em up on your way back?”
“Delivery’s part of the price.”
“Fare you well then.”
Above: Sir Anled stretched his arms and braced his back as he exited the andron of Crow Castle onto the parapet. Catching sight of Vidica he smiled fondly. Even after these eight years of marriage his wife was lovely. At present she was talking to Werhema as they waited the fog’s lifting. Being a local girl his dear wife had no idea there were entire realms where fog was unknown, and high summer involved noble ladies staying indoors behind thick earthen walls. Below in the bailey children’s laughter mingled with more prosaic sounds of harness readying as a patrol made ready to leave with their latest guest.
Sagitus, having completed sanding the last document, followed Anled out. He too smiled fondly as he directed his gaze the same way.
“Are we fools, my lord?”
“Love, though in the fall of life, is still love, Sagitus. I think you told me that.”
“We are lucky men: that is certain.”
“Speaking of luck, we didn’t discuss how you may have fared seeking what the Damsons were looking for.”
“It is strange, my lord. Last night, the stars denoted a change: a falling of some great project. My Werhema’s dreams were troubled, too: she is a gifted seer and ill dreams are part of that price. This morning I attempted to learn something of this. And lo! Where before she had not been able to see young Edric’s path, as though a veil had lifted, she perceived him and his companions, struggling out of a deep valley to the east amid the mountains. Vivo and the adventuress Cala Atenoel, the merchant Pras Rooduir and some few others are with them.”
“So before, she could not see them: now, she can. Odd. I suppose the same might apply to the Damsons’ own searches?”
“Oh yes, I’ve always assumed the master hospitaller has some such arcane craft.”
“Pity then, that their fighting brothers have already headed off south. Now there’ll be very little chance for word to get to them.”
“A direction I believe you sent them, my lord.”
“What, was I supposed to lie? They really did go south! And you know, I have high hopes of Tarquin. He’s a sensible fellow for an Aquilonian. Keeps his own counsel. I would imagine that when a couple dozen fanatics ride up proclaiming their pursuit of a rival order he’ll keep out of it. It’s very likely that those interfering Damsons will just keep going all the way around to Gunderland. Ha ha ha!”
At their father’s deep guffaw, little Wedriga and Greta paused in their game and looked up, laughing too. Vidica waved to him, smiling. Werhema looked up at Sagitus: she tried to smile, but her eyes remained anxious.