Banner of the Hawk 25

Caul sat by Beshu’s side, but not for long. Khadil would be coming out to see what was going on. He managed to get Beshu’s greaves and mail off, took his knife and his few coins, and stuffed them all in the saddlebags. Beshu’s sword was still in its scabbard on the saddle, and the saddle was still in place.

Caul had never ridden a kakai before, but he knew how it was done. He looked down from that perch at the body of the old warrior. It was wrong to just leave him, but Khadil would be here any moment, so he had no choice. He turned the kakai up toward the higher hills. The beast was tired, but he could rest tomorrow.

# # #

Argat said, “He was only a child.”

“A child of exceptional maturity.”

“Not Caul. You knew what I meant. Beshu. He thought of himself as an old man, but the blood of Poinaith ran in his veins. He had centuries of life before him.”

“You said you had no interest in Beshu,” Lyré replied. “What would you have had me do?”

“We should have saved him. We could easily have healed his wound.”

“And told him who he was?”

Argat paused, then admitted, “I don’t know about that.”

Lyré placed her hand on his shoulder and said, “I have studied Beshu since I first began to scry. He had to die here and now. In every other future, he is the key to utter destruction.”

Argat scowled, “I wish you had not brought me here. What was the point, when there was nothing we could do?”

Lyré’s face soured and she snapped, “Damn you. If I were a man I would kick you. I brought you here to show you that Hea does not know everything, and that the soldier’s coldness you learned from Argella has little place in the world of real, human suffering. Think for yourself, for once! Look, and consider, and make some decisions. The Great Warrior of Whitethorn; ha! You won’t pee unless Argella tells you you can. For once, look at what is right in front of you with both eyes open and act like a man!”

She walked away through the brittle grass and snow, and leaned against a tree. He remained standing for a while, then went to her and put his hand on her shoulder. She said, “Would you like me to send you back to Whitethorn?”

“Someday soon, you must teach me how to do that for myself.”

“I, teach you? Not Hea or Argella?”

“No, Mother. You.”

“It would be my pleasure.”

“For now, though, I want to wander away from them — and you.”

“Port Cantor is the nearest town. I could put you on the outskirts. You could make up a story as you go, to cover your identity.”

“Aye. Port Cantor is as good a place as any.”

# # #

She sent him on his way, with the motherly word that he need only say her name and she would hear, and transport him back to Whitethorn.

Lyré crossed to stand above the body. There would be no enreithment for him; that was the usual case for the ragged wanderers of Lyré’s world. Beshu, of the third generation out of Poinaith. A cousin, of sorts, and the only other member of her generation.

Argat had reacted well. In those brief hours he had grown more than in years among the elder dames. And now he was on the way to Port Cantor to fulfill a destiny. But that tale is for another telling. more tomorrow

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