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Chapter Five

"Sidhe planned her next move carefully,

knowing that she needed to spread the teachings further.

So, reluctantly, she asked for repayment—

from Llyne …"

—The Pasegean Scrolls

Llyne danced around her room, holding a long, light-blue velvet dress over her other clothes. "Why thankyou, Mrs. Lseiand. My mother made this dress for me last autumn, for my debutante." She fluttered her eyelashes as she responded to the imagined compliment. A blissful look overtook her face as she fell back onto the bed. Her mother’s voice echoed inside her head. "This is more than just a journey, Llyne. A beau only ever wishes for you to meet his family formally if he wishes for something more than an idle fling … Marriage, Llyne! Think of it! Who knows what kind of family Garvin has? Lseiand certainly doesn’t sound as if it’s the name of a peasant, my dear, does it?"

At the remembrance of her mother’s words, Llyne gave herself a mental reminder to ask about Garvin’s family as soon as she had the chance. She would see him later that evening, as he was visiting to speak with her parents about the arrangements which had to be made for the journey. It was expected that Mr. Penwhite and Killian would remain behind to handle the store while Mrs. Penwhite would travel with Llyne and Garvin to Chail.

Llyne was thinking of these things while a chill crept into the air around her. She shivered and sat up on her bed, and the dress which she’d been holding fell to the floor. Unwillingly she dropped to the wood below her, jarring her knee in the process, and hastily murmured. "Mistress Sidhe, in whatever way you wish for me to aid you I will do so to the utmost of my ability!" At the end of these words, Llyne began to cough from the loss of breath, making Sidhe roll her eyes.

Sidhe waited impatiently for Llyne to catch her breath and pour herself a glass of water from the pitcher which stood on the night table. Finally, Sidhe spoke. "Llyne, I have decided to claim your debt to me."

Llyne, who was drinking at the time, fell into another bout of coughing from her surprise. Sidhe tried to maintain her weak smile, which despite her attempts, shifted into a snarl. After several minutes the coughing subsided, and Llyne lifted her head and spoke: "Why me? Why so soon? I—" Sidhe shushed her, and Llyne continued in a loud whisper, "I don’t even understand everything which is going on here!"

Sidhe pursed her lips. "Llyne, please, hear me out."

She reluctantly nodded, and Sidhe continued. "Llyne, I need you to bring three of us with you to Chail."

Llyne blinked. "What do you mean? Three of who? Three spirits?"

Exasperated, Sidhe shook her head. "No! Three of the coven!" Then, another idea sprung into her head. "Samandia, Catalina and Tierna."

"What about Kessah?"

"I have work for Kessah here in Fernan. Believe me, Llyne, you’ll feel much more at ease if you have three of your friends with you, rather than just your mother and Garvin to keep you company. Besides, this will help me help you, Llyne. Anytime you want me to help you in Chail, I will do so." Sidhe paused. "However, because I have bound myself to all of you, wherever most of you are I must be. It is painful for me to appear anywhere else for any amount of time." A small part of Sidhe felt guilty for her lie, but she remembered that she was doing this for herself and for Keori, god of all Arsinuae. Besides, Sidhe thought, this shall help me gain revenge on the nobility of Arsinuae, and all the pain they have caused me. They refuse to believe in gods and goddesses, and control the world with their superstition. Oh, how I loathe the nobility! And how I shudder to think that I used to be a pawn in their game … no more! Sidhe’s mind was wild with fury, and she looked at Llyne with eyes full of rage. "Do it!" she screamed, and flung herself into Llyne’s body.

Several days later, as the sun was just beginning to rise over the Bion Mountains to the north-east, a small wagon sat in front of the Fernan stables, and Camryn Montage, wearing a long brown cloak around his shoulders was trying to coax a brown horse nearer to the cart. Eventually, after some help from the stablemaster, Camryn led the horse and cart several spans down the road to the middle of town, near the well, and began to fill the large barrels in the wagon with water.

As the sun was just over the horizon, a pair of hands covered his eyes and Camryn dropped the bucket he was carrying, splashing water all over his pants. He heard a squeal from behind him, and a slight giggle. Struggling to free himself from the woman’s grasp, and laughing a bit himself, Camryn turned to see—

Kessah Darvosten.

Camryn sighed. "Hello, Kessah." he muttered under his breath, and took up his bucket again and returned to the well, staring at the cobblestones of the square. A pair of feet stood in front of him, half-covered with a dark-blue dress.

"Hello, Camryn."

His heart skipped a beat at the sound, and he raised his eyes to the speaker’s face and gasped. Every day was made complete by simply a glimpse of her perfect face, with its chestnut eyes, creamy complexion all framed by long, straight hair the colour of midnight. "S-Samandia," he stuttered, then, ashamed at himself, straightened his back and gazed into Samandia’s eyes. She stared back for a moment, then looked to the ground and began to play with a loose thread on her dress. "Samandia, are you here to farewell Llyne, Garvin and Mrs. Penwhite on their journey?" Despite the hard look on his face, his hands trembled at being so close to the woman he was in love with. Camryn shoved his hands in his pockets and waited for an answer.

She looked up from the ground. "No. Actually," she paused. Her eyes made his knees weak as they pierced through his soul. "Actually, Camryn, Llyne has asked Catalina, Tierna and myself to accompany her and her mother to Chail."

Camryn nearly choked. What?! His legs turned to mush and he tripped over nothing, causing his pail to fly towards Samandia and hit her in the shin. She shrieked in pain, and she also began to fall, eventually landing on Camryn with a thud.

Kessah watched this scene with glee, then, as Samandia started to whimper from the pain, burst out laughing. Garvin and Llyne came running at the scream then, when they saw what had happened, darted over to help Samandia and Camryn up from their positions on the ground. Samandia, once she had regain her composure, walked over to Kessah and stood in front of her, glaring at her until the younger girl quietened.

Eventually Catalina and Tierna arrived, with their respective families, even Catalina’s father, which upset Mrs. Penwhite immensely. She had been against Llyne’s ideas of allowing her friends to accompany them to Chail, but Garvin had decided that travelling in a larger group could be safer, which Bronwen Penwhite agreed with, fortunately.

After all the provisions and luggage had been loaded onto the wagon and covered with a large sheet, everyone said goodbye. Mrs. Darvosten wished them all luck, but Kessah stood back and did not farewell Llyne, sulking over the fact that Llyne had not invited her to go to Chail with all the others; Mrs. Penwhite cried, even though she was going on the journey; and Killian Penwhite tried to put a lizard into Llyne’s hair, and was scolded for it.

Finally, nearly an hour later than they had wished to depart, Camryn climbed into his spot at the front of the cart, Mrs. Penwhite sat with him and the other five huddled in the back of the wagon, and like this they rode away to the north, not knowing how long it could take for them to reach Tuqsan.

But, in Chail, a young mage of the house of Jovan in Zarenn knew. And she dreaded their coming.


Copyright 2000 M. Lees

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