So if I made that promise to him, why did I fight him? I could’ve easily listened to Cordy and just talk with him. No, I had to learn a lesson and one that didn’t sink in until the aftermath of Kellas’s action. And it was simple, I was good enough. It was the points that I felt inadequate due to my own illogical fears.
Kiao had expected bumps along the way, however she never imagined Oeric being accused of murder. She could only follow using the time to assess their situation. She was glad that Oeric didn’t seem worried. He was sandwiched between four soldiers, whip canes taken away, and had the air of someone going on a mid-afternoon stroll. She wasn’t sure how he remained composed given the wiry elf, who had identified him as the murderer, kept buzzing around him like a midge.
“You thought you could slink away but, I got you,” he said jabbing a finger at him. “They’re going to hang you good.”
Oeric kept his head forward but gave him a quick side glance and looked forward. His shackled hands relaxed. What made matters worse, Kiao felt as if they were being paraded around. People along the streets stopped to watch their procession pass as they made their way to the mayor’s house cutting through all the traffic stopped. Kiao trailed behind them, ignored as if she didn’t exist. However, once she got to the steps going to the nicest looking building in the entire town, the two soldier’s guarding it, crossed their glaives in front of her face.
“Only those who are part of this official investigation are allowed through,” said one of them whose topknot exposed a very broad gleaming forehead. The procession paused and he continued speaking. “You are advised not to leave town until the Mayor sees to this case.”
“And when is that,” asked Kiao.
“His trial will be a week from today.”
“Excuse me,” said Oeric. “I’m a little confused. You’ve no proof save the word of another that I’ve done anything and I’m arrested with a trail already set.”
“It is law written by the Seat,” said the soldier who had taken him into custody and another tried to push him forward. He then planted his left foot in front of him pushing the soldier back.
“I’m sorry, I’m not moving until I’m given a decent explanation. Law states that I’ve a hearing within a day’s time of my arrest. You don’t jump straight to trial.”
The soldier who grabbed him by the collar of his shirt. “Curs like you shouldn’t be seen let only heard. Keep your trap shut. When I get through with you, you’re going to be wearing a new scar on your face in the shape of my fist.”
“Don’t you lay hands on him,” Kiao shouted.
The soldier who threatened Oeric glared down the steps at her. “Listen here priest, leave or I bring you in here too.”
Kiao pushed the glaives down that crossed in front of her and stood on her toes. “I don’t give a rat’s tit about what you will do. I want to speak to your commanding officer.”
“Kiao,” spoke Oeric sharply. She regarded him. He then said in his measured voice. “Go back to the room, in my bag there is a velvet pouch, find another soldier, and ask them to take you to their captain, and give the pouch to him.”
The soldier then slapped him across the face
Kiao started to find a way to squeeze though.
“Kiao,” he barked and jerked his head signaling for her to go. She backed away keeping an eye on him slowly and turned his back to walk off but not before she heard the soldier whisper to another.
“Follow him and if he does something you don’t like, bring him immediately. I’ll get the captain later.”
Kiao looked back to see one of the soldiers walking quickly to follow her. She sped up walking as quickly as she could through the throng of people. There was little room to run but she weaved between people and throwing out apologizes all the entire way to the inn. She squeezed by the latest group asking for a room and jogged upstairs.
The packs that Oeric carried contained very little save a change of shirt, flint, and a knife. She went to the other pack and found a water skin and there she found what he wanted, there was a velvet pouch what was inside felt like a medal but she didn’t waste time looking at it. As she hurried downstairs, she came face to face with the soldier who followed her.
He had his hand on his sword, “I’m going to-”
“Take me to your commanding officer immediately,” she said forcing her voice at him with a softer touch than usual.
The soldier paused. His hand dropping from his sword and he stared blankly at her.
Kiao’s eyes warmed becoming violet as she spoke encouragingly. “Better to have him deal with me correctly. A good soldier follows his captain’s orders.”
The soldier frowned looking as if he might be breaking her control. “I’m a good solider.”
“Of course you are,” she said keeping with the soft firm tone of her voice and then reinforced. “Now take me to your captain.”
She saw the innkeeper gapping at her with his jaws opened. The rag in his hand has stopped mid-wipe.
“Don’t worry, I am following a very capable soldier to his commanding officer,” she told him, glad that he was the only in the room paying attention. He bobbed his head and continued cleaning.
The Brotherhood went way out of their way telling others that chanters were incapable of mind control. Most chanters were in capable of persuasion. She was capable of a bit more than that. However, she couldn’t make anyone do something that wasn’t within reason. T It was reasonable to tell the soldier to take her to his commanding officer. And it was reasonable to make the innkeeper believe that everything was okay when a soldier was present. It was a reasonable thing to do when she was short on time.
She was taken into the heart of where the solders gathered. They were searching under a cart when she walked up. At the side, watching it all stood a tall elf wearing a scarlet military jacket covered in badges and white pants. His topknot was adorned with a clasp made from gold. He stood with his arms crossed and tapping his polished boots in annoyance. His hooked nose was familiar.
The soldier that was in front of her pounded his fist in his chest in salute. “Captain Gyrfalcon,” he greeted. “I brought you this young man in connection to the murder Sergeant Swallow is assigned to.”
Kiao inclined her head. “Captain Gyrfalcon, are you in close relation to a Lord Kharis’Gyrfalcon?”
The man became intrigued. “He is my younger brother. How goes the Brotherhood?”
“Fine but your men took my escort into custody for murder. He told me to give you this.”
The captain took the purple velvet sack and opened it. He lifted up a regent silver medallion with a metal feather charm connected to it. The series of gemmed beads going up the length of the chain the connected to it was purple and gray. Kiao didn’t have to see the emblem on it was for Sheldmartin.
The captain’s brow pulled together as Lord Kharis’s did when he was told something that didn’t please him. Except when the Captain did it, he didn’t look mildly miffed. He was akin to an angry barbarian looking for a skull to crack.
“Corporal,” he snapped.
Kiao watched the man’s smugness vanish and he straightened to attention. “Yes Sir!”
“Tell me, do you know how to tell if someone is in the Brotherhood?”
“Yes Sir. He wasn’t wearing a Brotherhood uniform and his face was scarred like the wolf elf we’ve been looking for.”
The corporal faltered. “It was just scarred sir, clearly a fighting cur at some point. He had knife work across his face.”
“Where is he?”
“The Mayor’s House, they should have him in the holding cells.”
“Come with me, now,” ordered Lord Kharis’s brother as he started down the road with long hasted strides. The confused corporal turned to Kiao who had already lengthened her stride to keep up with the captain. She was glad for his haste and prayed that no one laid a hand on Oeric yet. When they arrived to the back of the Mayor’s house, they headed straight for what she imagined where the holding cells were. The entrance was on the side of the house and went below it. She expected the sound of fists meeting flesh. However, when the pulled open the holding cell door, she heard someone letting out a chain of explicit that cause the captain’s face to get tighter with rage.
When Kiao descended the stairs, sure enough she found a disheveled Oeric sitting with his feet propped up on a desk, tossing a knife in the air idly. The manacles around his wrist rattled as it did. The cuff where his other hand should be was empty. His free hand was resting on the desk red and cut. He gave the captain a wolf’s grin.
“Greetings Captain Gyrfalcon, what happened to Lieutenant Raven?”
She and the Captain gazes swung to the right. The soldiers and including the man were all tossed in a single cell. The worse of them had a bloody nose but they all looked like they got into a scuffle in a tavern and the tavern owner took a frying pan to them before throwing them under a horse.
The Captain’s brow dropped further to a deeper frown. “Sheldmartin, it’s always a pleasure to have you drop in. And Raven was promoted and sent away.”
Oeric gestured to the cell. “That’s a shame. He took all your good men and left you with pickings, didn’t he.”
“There’s been a lot of shifts and I’ve a unit made of a bunch of numbskulls. I thought mindless searching would teach them the way of things, while the better ones actually did something useful. I see I was mistaken.”
The sergeant that brought Oeric in come to the bars with a swollen eye. “Sir, this Cur-,”
“Shut up! I want you and every fool in there to take a good look at this face and remember it. This is Arch Monk Solgard’Sheldmartin’s son. Not only does he pass through these lands uninhibited but, when dealing with Brotherhood, you take them immediately to me.”
“How am I to tell he’s Brotherhood without a uniform, Sir,” said the sergeant, appearing to be feeling particularly stupid that day.
“He’s a damn chanter, you moron,” shouted the Captain.
Oeric then cut in, “Captain, watch your language, you’re in the presence of a priestess.”
The Captain’s head swung around to get a good look at Kiao.
“Greetings,” she said folding her hands in front of her like a good lady. “I’m Sister Kiao’Meadowlark.”
The sergeant sneered at her. “What kind of priestess goes running around like a young man.”
“The kind that needs to,” she retorted.
The Captain focused on his men. “Instead of asking stupid questions, how about ask yourselves how you all got tossed into a cell by a single monk?”
Kiao was curious about that as well. The men all looked away from their captain in shame.
“You should train them to protect their belt knives better,” said Oeric showing the one he had been tossing. “Also, convince the Seat to invest in better wrist wear.”
“Don’t you act all haughty-totty you murdering bastard,” said the father.
The Captain attention fixed on Oeric for answers.
“I was arrested by these men for murdering a woman I’ve never met. I thought it better to obeyed and they, in turn, would be reasonable,” he said and then the wolf’s grin came back. “However, they hit me with a truncheon. And you know I’m a very delicate soul with a lot of reflexes.”
“Sir, “My actions were justified,” said the Sergeant. “He’s one of the animal shifting elves. Titmouse himself saw him walking along the road shifting back. And look at his scarred face and sandy hair. Tell me this man isn’t the cur we want.”
“Such assumptions, I’ve a very common hair color,” returned Oeric.
Gyrfalcon then added, “You claimed the culprit’s eyes were green and that he was young.”
Titmouse then stammered, “He’s still young. ‘sides it was getting dark and he always huddled in the shadow of the barn. I could easily get the color wrong. He’s just a cur anyway, they all need to die!”
The Captain regarded Oeric with a glance. “First Warden Oeric has always been tamed in front of me for what he is.”
Kiao then heard a solider mutter. “You didn’t see that fiend fight.”
Oeric then put his legs down and leaned forward on the desk. “If I was feral, I would be struggling to continue this fine conversation with you fellows. Like being twitchy, unable to keep focus, sick looking, and sweating.”
The father rattled the cell door and pointed a finger at him. “On the road, he shifted out looking pale and sweating.”
Oeric gave him a dismissive wave and said nothing.
Gryfalcon cleared his throat. “I think the best way to show if Sheldmartin isn’t he, erm, the wolf we are looking for, is for him to shift in and out of form. A feral can’t do that can they?”
Kiao watched Oeric’s lips become flat. He leaned back and rubbed his wrist.
“Yes, that’s true. An elf with no control over that form won’t be able to.”
Kiao knew he didn’t have true ease of controlling the ability.
“Well then prove us wrong and change to a wolf and back again,” said the man.
Oeric held his hand out. “I need this removed. It’s just easier.” He held out his wrist and the Captain removed the manacle. Oeric then stood in the center of the room and called forth Lykkon. The wolf with a silver coated and a crescent moon mark on his shoulder materialized. Oeric breathed in and exhaled. Kiao held her breath. And then what was once elf was a muscular sandy furred wolf with gray markings between his eyes and on his back. He looked large occupying such a small space. One soldier cursed while the other ones warded themselves with a sign.
“Nigma’s teeth, they let you in the Brotherhood,” exclaimed the father.
“They are the ones who trained me to use this form,” said Oeric and then he shifted back to an elf fluidly. “Being a wolf has its advantages but a lot of disadvantages. It encourages people to accuse me of all sort of thing such as killing sheep, raping women, and stealing pastries from little children.”
“And you’ve probably done all of that and more!”
“I’ll admit to the latter but to be fair, the child thought I was a dog and wanted to give me a treat.”
The father turned to Kiao. “How safe do you feel around the likes of him? It won’t be long before he’s knocking you senseless and on top of you.”
“I trust the First Warden with my life,” she said without hesitation. “It’s everyone else I’m worried about.”
“And I’ve never seen you until this day,” returned Oeric. “This young priestess has been traveling with me since—”
“What priestess travels alone with a man,” exclaimed the father. “I bet there is some tryst going on here.”
Before Kiao could fire off a response, Oeric growled and bared his teeth at the man looking more wolf than elf again. “You insult her again, and you’re eating your tongue.”
“First Warden,” said Kiao softly and touched his arm.
The man leapt up and down with his arm thrusting out to Oeric. “See look, he’s getting wild and feral!”
Oeric squeezed his eyes closed. He had one hand balled up, the other rubbing the bridge of his nose. “I’m tired of you and you’re foolishness. I’ve never seen you before in my life. I’ve not set foot in this town for years. However, I was often patrolling these roads for decades.”
“True, he’s not done so in the last several though.”
That fact didn’t sway the father. “He could’ve left the order. He’s not in uniform.”
They were interrupted by the sound of jingling and clapping footsteps coming down the stairs. A well-dressed elf appeared wearing riding boots stopped midway down the stairs.
“Ah there you are, Captain, been trying to find your sergeant…” he trailed off and his gaze fell on the cells. “Above and below, why are you in that cell, Sergeant?”
“I’ve caught the feral one, Mayor, and Captain Gyrfalcon ready to let him go.”
The mayor’s face twisted in confusion. “Nonsense. I have him. Had a hard time catching him too. We got him cornered not before biting one of your men. I sent him to off to be mended.”
Oeric looked at the captain. “Can I see him?”
The Captain shrugged and deferred to the Mayor who’s face brightened in surprise.
“Is that you Oeric? Well this is unexpected but well-timed. Though I doubt you can do much. Off his mind he is,” he said signaling for them to come.
When they walked back outside, she saw them dragging a man across the ground towards them. He was tugging at the ropes that bound his wrist together. When they stopped, he started gnawing on them as if he were an animal.
Kiao wrinkled her nose at the smell coming off him. Oeric muttered something unintelligible.
“Nothing but an animal that one is,” said the Mayor.
Oeric crouched right outside of the reach of the elf. He stopped chewing on the rope and instead growled at him causing spittle to trail down his mouth. His hair was indeed sandy but it was matted and probably covered in lice. The clothing he wore was dirt covered shirt and trousers like Oeric wore. They were also the same height but the first warden was a fattened pig compared to him.
“He’s nothing but ribs and bone,” said Kiao and then to the father who joined them. “How in the name of all did you think the First Warden was him?”
He ignored her. “What are you waiting for, hang him!”
“He’s knows how to use a consort,” said the Mayor. “I thought he might be one of the Brotherhood’s.”
The father got up into the Mayor’s face. “I don’t give a rat’s tit who he belongs too. He needs to be strung up. All curs are messed up in the head and the feral ones are the worse of them.”
Kiao’s heart went out to the man in front of her. Somewhere in there, was an elf who needed help.
Oeric then talked to the elf as if he were sane. “You can’t keep doing this you know. The world is simpler in the mind of a wolf, but you can’t run forever.” The man kept chewing the rope around his hands. Oeric reached out and grabbed the elf by his hair. “Stop pretending you can’t hear me,” he shouted. “You’re choosing not to be elf right now.”
“Damn you,” croaked the man.
“If you can curse me then you can tell me your name,” said Oeric.
Kiao walked forward. “You’re hurting him.”
“I need him to focus and physical pain is about the only thing that ensures it. He can’t ignore it like everything else. I want to know why he killed her.”
The man looked away.
“Didn’t mean to do it, did you? Probably wanted to be around her because she was pretty.”
The man’s shoulders sagged.
“That was very stupid of you. Instinct replaces thoughts and reason. What did she do, smell like another male and jealousy threw you in a rage?”
The man muttered and he started struggling and pulling away. “You know nothing!”
“Can’t you tell we are of the same cut, Brother? If not for Dias’s grace, I would’ve lost all good sense like you.”
“We are nothing alike,” he said and then started thrashing. Oeric yanked hard and pinned his head to the ground.
Kiao intervened and stepped in his line of sight. “Stop, you’re hurting yourself. Let us help or you’re going to die.”
“Then let me die,” begged the man.
Oeric put more weight on him. “I don’t recognize your face but, as far as I know, the only way you learned to use a consort is the Brotherhood. That makes you one of ours and that gives us the right to intervene.”
The father jumped forward. “You can’t do that.” He then plead with the captain. “Tell him he can’t do that.”
“Actually he can,” said Captain Gyrfalcon, holding up a medallion. “This is a house sigil. This man is Oeric’Sheldmartin. He speaks for Arch Monk Solgard’Sheldmartin and my brother Patriarch Lord Kharis’Gyrfalcon. They are custodians of this province. They still have to follow laws of the Seat, however, when something involves their members, I have to defer to them.”
“You’re saying this man will dodge justice because he’s Brotherhood?”
“No he will be given a chance to make amends according to our rules. He has to want to do it and if he doesn’t, I give him back to the Seat to deal with,” said Oeric.
The young man snarled surprising Oeric and shifted back into wolf so quickly, he had no time to react other than grabbing him by his tail as the ropes didn’t hold him anymore. He turned, flashing his teeth at the first warden’s hands, and was free. Instead of going back to the street, he threw himself toward Kiao. She ducked out of the way forcing her voice at him to stop but an arrow buried itself in his head. It was followed in quick succession by two more.
A blizzard’s chill blossom inside of Kiao and her heart went into palpitations when the man’s heart stopped. She was unable to pull in air. She groped around for something to hold on too as the edge of her vision blackened and the world became dull.
She struggled forward away from the body but her legs wilted. Oeric caught her and cooped her up. On their retreat, she saw the body of the wolf morph back to a man with an arrow sticking out of the back of his head. The other two other found their mark in his neck and shoulder. When they rounded around the corner of the building, the strangling tendrils of death loosened its hold on her and she gulped in air.
Oeric lowered her on the ground and she clung to his shirt hyperventilating. He pried her right hand free and uncurled her fingers before laying her hand flat on his chest. She could feel his heart beat and pressed her ear to her chest. She needed to hear life. Feel something warm.
A shadow fell on top of her and she saw the Mayor’s face. It looked familiar but the face above her was mild compared to what she was used too.
“How is she,” said the mayor.
Kiao let out a few dry heaves.
“Bring her in my office,” he said.
Oeric lifted her up and brought her into the Mayor’s hall. She was taken down a hallway to a bright spacious room with a waxed light wooden floor. She was lowered down on a couch where she was covered in a throw and a pillow placed under her head.
“She’s not a combat chanter is she,” guessed the Mayor.
“No, a healing chanter,” answered Oeric.
“So she’s never had anyone killed in front of her?”
“No,” said he settling at her side and laying a hand on her forehead. “She feels like ice.”
The mayor started pouring something in a cup and then handed it to Oeric over the back of the couch. “Just water. I’ve liquor that could warm her up but she’s green.”
Kiao took the water she was given. It nearly shook out of the cup as the tilted her head back and gulped it.
“I’ll take the liquor,” she rasped.
The Mayor looked intrigued. “Where did you find her, the mountains?”
“Actually, she’s one of ours,” said Oeric.
The mayor let out a gasp of disbelief.
“She’s an exception to the rule.”
“The Patriarch’s doing,” guessed the Mayor with his voice getting closer again.
“Yes,” answered Oeric reaching for the short shot glass. “She has the Arch Priest’s blessing.”
Kiao took the thick crystal glass in her hands.
“Now dear, you might want to sip.”
Kiao drained the glass in one gulp and held it up. The Mayor wordlessly took the glass. Kiao felt the warmth in her belly spread. She coughed once and sank down on the cushion under her head.
“I suppose if you let her travel with you, she has to be something. Which I have to ask, why are you here without a band and without visiting me?”
“I’m in a hurry, Halvus. You would have me here feasting for a three day span,” said Oeric and then looked at Kiao. “You okay?”
“I’ve been better,” said Kiao trying to scratch out the image of the arrow resting in the back of the man’s head.
Oeric took hold of her hand cupping it and then started rubbing it.
“Does Cordea know where you are,” said the Mayor who was now standing behind her. Kiao watch annoyance pull at Oeric’s brow.
“Don’t give me that look. That woman of yours will turn the world upside down looking for you. I’m just making sure I don’t need to send messages about your location.”
“She knows what I’m doing.”
“And where are you going?”
“Escorting the sister on a mission as well as finding my son.”
The door to the room then opened. The Mayor then walked from behind the couch towards Captain Gyrfalcon.
“That man of yours was looking for any excuse to shoot that elf from the moment we found him. They need better training!”
“Perhaps he shouldn’t’ve been so hasty for an end,” snapped the Captain and then marched up to Oeric and Kiao. “I apologize for that scene. No lady should’ve seen that.”
Kiao waved a hand at him. “No worse than seeing a severed arm and disembowelment. However, chanters such as me don’t like it when people are hasty for an end.”
The Captain then handed Oeric his medallion. “I apologize for the idiocy of my men. You really should be in a uniform. Your presence is poorly timed. It’s beginning.”
Oeric’s brow rose up. “Really?”
“Yes and every mercenary up and down the branch has been employed to help.”
“What’s beginning,” asked Kiao.
The first warden held his index finger to her. “I was planning on being on four legs. I should be safe enough.”
“I’ll trust your judgement but I want you to get different lodging in town.”
“He can stay with me,” said the Mayor. “No one will bother him if they don’t see him.”
“Good,” said the captain. “If there is anything I can do to make up for this, tell me.”
“Well, if you don’t want to worry about my face, let me across that river. I’m escorting the sister and as well as find my son.”
“If you’re on a rescue mission, then what is your excuse for not having a band or in uniform?”
“We were only required each other and this is more personal than official. You know how a parent in high places can be.”
The Captain bobbed his head. “Done, I’ll talk to the ferryman to get you over as early as possible. Mayor Shrike, I need to speak with you.”
“Thank you,” said Oeric.
He them a curt nod and then vanished with the mayor in tow.
Oeric let go of her first hand and then reached for the other one. She settled back allowing him to melt the iciness away.
“So what’s going on,” she asked.
“They are in taking down the blood sport culture, starting with a ring north along the river. If all goes well, they’ll scare them to go back into hiding in a single place. Once there, they plan to clean it out.”
“And that makes it have for you to travel because…”
“The scars are a dead giveaway for a cur.”
She watched him for a moment and then asked, “Were you like him when you returned home?”
“No. My mind righted itself before then. Still plenty affected by what happened.”
“Was that before or after you met Maelyra?”
“Before. I just regained myself when she showed up. Unlike him I was smart enough not to get too close to her.”
“And when you were a wolf, what did you do?”
“I spent a year or two on a leash. Clincher liked to use me as his personal bodyguard.”
“You allowed yourself to be treated like a dog. What happened for you to become like that?”
Oeric stopped rubbing her hand and held it loosely. “The same way Mien became the way he did, experiencing things that an elf shouldn’t.”
Just with the mentioning of his name, the bond flared up and a desire to have Mien there descended on her. She curled the other hand into a fist waiting for her mind to slip and cut her off from the present.
The bond dove into searching for him and there was nothing. Disappointment filled her heart. She didn’t know why the expectation to fine him was there. They had just begun their journey. There was nothing to do other than find her anchor and leave. It then occurred to her that she didn’t set one however, Oeric made himself one and held her hand tight and was speaking.
“Come on, slip in and slip out. Don’t stay in there, don’t panic,” he said and she could feel him holding her hand in his uncomfortable tight.
It was like walking out of a room this time. Her eyes focused and Oeric was at her side.
“I guess you didn’t happen to feel Mien,” he asked.
Kiao swayed her head and wanted something else to focus on. She tugged her hand from his and took ahold of his forearm to examine his writ. She started pressing her thumb along the joint.
“You seem like your gaining control over it as you didn’t sit in that state for long time. Oww, what are you doing?”
She turned it in her hands. “That raw skin needs to be cleaned. One shouldn’t force their hand out of a shackle.”
“There is a bit of a trick to it. Especially with the type they used,” he said wincing. “You know my thumb would be fine if you stopped touching it.”
“I just wanted to make sure it was well enough for you to be walking on four legs tomorrow. I still think we need to take a days’ rest at least for your hip.”
“That’s fine. My hand is fine,” he said with a growl and tried to tug his hand free. “We really don’t have a lot of time.”
Kiao held on to him. “Stop being a child. Let me at least treat your wrist. It’ll make me feel better being able to heal something,” she said quietly.
She had seen dead before. She had seen maimed bodies before. What she hadn’t seen was someone killing themselves in front of her. He didn’t want to be helped. Not like Mien or the man in front of her. The urge to mend a terrible wound or hold a baby grew inside her.
“You’re going to need your satchel for that,” he told her. “If you let me go, I promise I won’t run off.”
Kiao released his arm, asking. “Have you seen someone kill themselves before?”
“Yes. It’s common among curs when they are freed,” he told her. “The often find out the world isn’t friendly towards former curs. They can’t cope and often times choose death.”
Kiao didn’t know that. In fact, she knew very little about the lives of fighting curs. Her only source of knowledge was the former one before her.
He pushed himself from the floor and stood. “I’ll be back shortly,” he said and retreated. He wasn’t so fast that she didn’t catch a glimpse of the rueful look on his face.