The defeated appeared at dawn as we gathered up our gear for the day’s travel. They arrived in a cloud of dust white with sleepy sunlight. The healer plowed into the fray seeking wounded.
The leader rode straight to Irvaine. Not bothering to dismount, he inclined his head. “My lord, Quaren has deserted.”
“After sending Kuylan ahead, he ordered us to find you. He took only a water skin and three day’s rations. Last we saw him, he was moving south.”
“Wise man,” Irvaine muttered. “He intends to intercept the supply caravan. Someone needed to do it. I wouldn’t have chosen Quaren to accomplish it, but he most likely needs a task to occupy his mind.”
“Nothing of consequence, Ryon. You have been granted a temporary promotion until Quaren returns. Go see to your men.”
Ryon bit down on a protest and saluted with two fingers to his left brow. He then prodded his horse back to his company.
Irvaine resumed his interrupted task, lifting me onto my horse.
“You don’t consider Quaren’s action desertion, do you?”
“Going up.” He hoisted me up into the saddle.
I settled myself. He handed me the reins.
Once mounted himself, he guided his horse to my side.
“No, Brielle, I don’t consider Quaren a deserter. He saw to it that his men were safe. Once accomplishing his duty, he turned his energy to his more important duty of protecting his daughter and our resources. We don’t want our rations and loved ones riding straight into the enemy’s waiting arms. I hope he reaches them in time.” The distant focus of his gaze planted a revelation in my mind.
“You have someone in that caravan too.” My tone accused more than I intended. His back tightened and his shoulders came up. He didn’t meet my gaze.
Who do you think is traveling with the caravan?
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