The horse will not survive the ledge, even with careful leading. As Artur and the others slip away through the small door, I eye Forest. Forest eyes me.
Fine, it may be stupidity, but I am not leaving him behind.
“You and Horin go with the others,” I tell Siri. “I will meet you outside.”
“No, Damin. Please, don’t leave me again.”
Siri’s tone is quietly desperate and afraid. Her long fair hair is filthy and knotted, her face and hands dark with dirt, but her blue eyes shine like lamps in the gloom. They beg me to stay. While she is a young woman now, I want to enfold her as I would a child. I glance at Horin. The lad is stoic, if as dirty as Siri. His dark hair is a mat of filth. I am beyond happy neither received the black mark of a slave.
“You need the horse,” he says, his childish tones sounding hoarse with thirst. “We need the horse to help us get to Lyra.”
His insight is remarkable. Horin and I need to talk before long. “Yes.”
He nods and takes Siri’s hand. “We will meet Damin outside, Siri. Damin looks like a master on his horse. He will be fine.”
That is my hope, indeed. “Go, girl. I promise I will be with you soon.”
Horin gives me a look and then tugs Siri with him firmly. She follows, but not without a final convulsive glance over her shoulder.
As they vanish beyond the door, I pray I may expect safe passage. I eye Forest anew. The horse dips his head as if in understanding and, swallowing a laugh, I clamber into the saddle.
“Best behaviour now, hear? You and me, we must seem regal. We are untouchable, Forest, get that?”
I nudge him onward.