Prince of Exile, 3

Satyr noticed him first and gestured. Base line human, I would have said. The horse was more interesting than the rider, though its only visible modifications were a mane and tail that shifted colors from blue to white to yellow to red, like the last flames that flicker about the embers of a dying fire.

I decided that the horse was chosen to divert attention from the rider, although it was hardly necessary. You’ve never seen a more nondescript Everyman. Even now, I can’t recall the color of his hair or eyes.

He halted in the road before us, doffed his hat – bland gray, of course – and addressed himself to the Prince, saying, “Felicitations. Are you en route to Gleian Ellerick?”

The Prince smiled back and said, “We are. And yourself?”

“The same.”

“Then join us. Here, ride beside me.”

Satyr raised one hair-winged eyebrow at me and I shrugged. Nondescript to the point of invisibility – a thief, no doubt. Perhaps a warning was in order, but he had chosen his profession.

Satyr prodded his dark mount and the creature bounded away. It could not keep the same pace as a horse and they were relieved when it raced ahead. The thief remained, speaking ingratiatingly to the Prince.

*****

What a crew we were! Satyr I will not describe for you.  His name tells you how we saw him, but I could never be sure that it was not merely a mediant shape he chose; a half-demon sufficiently fearsome that it would keep us from pressing him for sight of the greater horror within.

Rollan, Arhe, and Darian were human to the eye and hid the inhumanities of their souls. Or maybe they were merely human – but if so, why were they among us? Myrcryr wore a human body, but his eyes gave him away, and Greyleaf was a cold wind that blew through my soul.

*****

Greyleaf nudged her horse up to walk beside mine, and I wondered if that last, vagrant thought had summoned her. I would never know. She sat straight in the high saddle and her eyes were on the Prince and his new companion. Her skin was tight against the bones of her face. Her age was indeterminate. Her hair was brown, swept back from her high forehead and held there with a band of russet silk that passed behind her ears. Her tunic was of faded saffron, and her fringed skirt was of deerskin. Her eyes were gray, and I had learned early not to look into them. She had been with the Prince nearly as long as I had.

I did not dislike her, but I feared her.

“Another thief,” she observed.

“Another fool,” I agreed.

She looked sideways at me and smiled. Her eyes asked silently when I had become wise enough to judge another man’s foolishness. She could crush a man with that smile.

We rode on in weary silence toward the valley and toward an inn I hoped would be at least somewhat congruent with my memories. more tomorrow

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