The WindRunner used his magic to capture the wind and raced across the land. The landscape blurred with speed as he ran. The cold wind of his passage fled past Owen’s face, chilling cheeks, nose, and hands. His thoughts centered on the certainty in his mind that evil lurked in the halls of limestone that men had used when quarrying building blocks for the fortified manor of Aos Si.
They had left the Darkened Forest just after dawn. The sun tracked their progress as it approached mid-day.
Navar, could you slow down. I need to rest. Owen sent the hesitant thought to his companion. I need to warm up.
Navar loosed the wind and settled into a slow canter, then trot, and finally into a walk. He stopped, blowing lightly. Owen slid from the saddle, weariness evident in every line of his body. He had ridden away from the Rift as soon as Aeden had left with the elves and his father’s two soldiers to return to the Citadel. He was sure it was too soon. He knew he had needed more time to recover from the spear thrust that had almost killed him.
He leaned against Navar’s warm side. Can you light a fire? he asked.
Navar snorted with contempt. No. WindRunners have no need of fire. There is a herder’s dwelling over this rise. Can you walk that far?
I think so. I’ll hold on to the stirrup. Maybe walking will warm me up.
They set off at a slow pace. Owen was very weak. The soup they’d made before leaving hadn’t made up for his use of magic or the healing that was still taking place in his body.
I can make fire, HeartStriker said in a small voice.
Owen’s answering chuckle was weak. I’d forgotten, he told his Sword of Light. Not thinking very clearly.
They topped the rise and looked down on a circular tent surrounded by a herd of sheep and goats. A small fire burned in front of the opening to the tent, tended by a man weathered by sun and wind to the color of dark bronze. His clothing looked worn, the top layer showing holes on elbows, collar and waist. Two herding dogs started to bark as Navar and Owen made their way down the gentle slope, scattering sheep as they went. The dogs wagged their tails but kept barking as they backed away.
The man stood. He bowed deeply. “Welcome Gaothsiuloir. You honor my home. How may I serve?”
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