One might think, that with the endless buffet of the traitor’s rations Gaenlon had been feasting on, that when Micah tracked Gaenlon to the cobwebby corners of curmudgeonly cravenness that Gaenlon may not have cared, that his nihilistic apathy would have protected him from putting himself in harm’s sites again. But Micah was a gambler, and could read men’s souls. He took a chance. Once Gaenlon was renowned throughout the kingdom as the superlative protector of the realm. No scourge or revenant, seen or unseen, could match his or her dark soul to his power of light. It was unthinkable.
Daci was lying on the scratchy grass, wrapped by her cloak. The materials were strong and rare: the finest virgin wool, carded by blind ogre-wives in the hills, interwoven with savage leather reinforcements and boiled truesilver dust. The needlework displayed a pattern her mother designed, something to represent her family’s past traditions and present conditions: a lasher-flower bathed in golden light, with human hands encircling the petals. She had worked months for this cloak: her trainer tested her through a series of high-stakes war games that had deadly consequences for the losers. Fortunately, she was not one of them.
She slept so deeply. Gaenlon watched her. The breeze from sighs of the foothills tickled her cheek with her hair, broken loose from her braids, but she did not wake. Breathe in, breathe out. The ground could not have been remotely comfortable, even with her thick cloak. He admired it when he noticed it. Her gear was not the highest quality, but it was excellent. Most look handcrafted, which is not as prized as those found in epic quests, but made with a magic that elitist warriors would not find. Someone loved her, and had set her into the world as prepared as they were able. He vaguely remembered her parents, just strong, proud Draeneis who were always working. Daci’s father was a man Gaenlon would not have liked to cross. Gaenlon thought to himself that Mudpebble could take care of herself just fine. He envied her sleep. His own heavy cloak kept him warm in the damp night air, and her earnestness exhausted him. The night took him over, as well.
Micah shadow-stepped like a tomcat. Following them for the day, and watching them both fall off guard, neither seemed a threat, but they were obstacles. Micah sapped her strength so she would not rouse quickly in case she awoke. He needed Gaenlon to step up the pace a bit, and time was running short. His companion was a hindrance, baggage, to getting to his sister. He put his dagger to Gaenlon’s throat, just so.