After two hours Kay tells me the trail vanishes behind us we go forward. He says he cannot catch anyone doing so, not even a shadow seen peripherally. It appears the ghostly host is with us. And they want no one to follow us.
I say not a word, for Siri’s sake. For mine as well, I admit.
Around sunset we enter a narrow defile. Rock is sheer on either side, and we are forced into single file. I like it not. This is the perfect place for an ambush. Kay whistles under his breath behind me, but it isn’t a comforting sound. The man is clearly as unhappy as I am. Ahead, Horin lifts his left arm into the air, with his thumb on display.
He tells us we are fine in that gesture, not to worry.
I bloody hope so.
The defile widens after half an hour and I breathe easier. Amber light summons us into a small meadow surrounded by the same sheer rock. There is no way out, other than going back.
Kay reins in beside me. “Not liking this.”
Neither do I. We remain unmoving with the defile at our backs, using eyes and senses to investigate every rock and shadow. There seems to be no threat. Horin casually dismounting and allowing his horse to graze proves it even more.
To the right, nestled under giant trees, I notice a stone cottage. It is cleverly camouflaged in the shifting shadows of moving foliage.
Kay draws his sword.
Right. Best be prepared. I reach for my dagger …
“Horin!” a woman’s voice shouts out, her tone filled with joy.
“Lyra!” Horin shouts in response, and moves across the meadow as a woman leaves the shadows of the trees to run towards him. They meet and clasp together, laughing and crying.
By the stars. Lyra. Never has my heart thundered this hard.