Blondel 11

They reached the road as the sun was rising. There had been no pursuit, and Grat asked, “Do you think they found the brooch you left?”

“I have no doubt of it.”

Grat looked uneasily over his shoulder, for the road was no haven of safety and they would be two days afoot before they reached the Faire. “How long before they find out what you have done?”

“I will keep the illusion up as long as I am able,” Blondel said, but he looked uneasy.

They made good time despite Sylvia. She walked at Grat’s side, leaning on him perhaps a bit more than was strictly necessary, and Blondel plodded wearily along behind. At first Grat wondered at his loss of vigor; then he decided that Blondel was still trying to hold the spell of illusion. He tried clumsily to express his gratitude, but Blondel only shrugged it off.

Grat left Sylvia to walk with Blondel for awhile. She did not drop back to join them, but continued doggedly ahead, looking back from time to time toward Grat. He seemed oblivious to the invitation, but Blondel was not so sure.

Throughout the afternoon they talked, and Blondel found Grat a boon companion, and a strange one. His years as a guard had not made him cynical and his rough demeanor had sloughed off now that he considered Blondel a friend.

Grat had been on his own since he was very young and even now his stature was belied by the youth in his eyes and the wonder in his speech. He was the stuff knights should be made of, but rarely were, and Blondel stopped regretting the efforts he had made. Grat, at least, was worth rescuing.

Blondel tried to warn him of what lay ahead, saying, “Not all things are as they seem.”

Grat mistook the meaning of his words and replied, “I know that Sylvia has been harsh, but she is alone and frightened.” When Blondel would have spoken more plainly, Sylvia dropped back to lead Grat’s thoughts astray with gay chatter and a hidden, cutting glance for Blondel.

Blondel fell back again, chewing on the future, for Grat’s open friendliness had touched him deeply.

They spent the night at an inn. The innkeeper’s wife took pity on Sylvia‘s condition, helped her to bathe and provided her with simple but untattered clothing. Grat dozed in the corner, giving his wounds a rest, and Blondel played bones with the innkeeper and hostler. When they left the following morning, Grat found that Blondel had won a small purse and a saddled horse.

“Blondel,” Grat said, “you are shot through with luck.“

Blondel scowled. “I augmented my luck last night.”

Grat was shocked. “You spelled the bones! After the innkeeper took us in from pity!” more tomorrow

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