On the third day of following Horin’s bridges, it changes for us.
The plateau dwellers have needed to fight the authorities to leave their cities and towns, they have escaped slave masters, run from raiders, coped in extreme weather conditions, and have even had cavalry chasing them. All this happened while they were filled with both fear and hope.
They have also seen and lived sorcery now. The latter has saved them numerous times.
I, Mirlin, grew up accepting the talents as a natural condition, but even in the west it was not common place. I too needed to fight the authorities to leave and walked across the great plains in the hottest dry season in living memory. It nearly killed me.
Thus we know hardship and we expect the unexpected now, but we overlooked something.
The authorities tested for the talents and did so long before Damin sprung the Porlese trap. It means, if we are logical about it, they now have certain talents as theirs to command. Those caught before this march began are not with us, are they?
It does not occur to me to factor that situation in until everything changes, and then it is too late.
We are on Horin’s second bridge of the day when we hear it. The drone of insects, many insects. At first I think of a swarm of bees, perhaps even locusts, but there is nothing to be seen.
In consternation, I halt. The girl’s face drains me of all hope. I see Siri jerk her head upward and I see her lose all colour. Her jaw hangs slack and she cannot move.
With shivers of dread coursing through me, I too look up.
Shields. Blue war shields. In the air, flying, on swift approach, and atop each perches a man, bow raised, face manic.
The first arrows fly.