Renegade, part one

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Gring sniffed in the air.

"Something wrong?" Arthur asked.

Gring didn't answer, and it wasn't until he identified the lack of tingling around his temples he remembered that she needed to cast her magic to understand him. He rubbed his temples to make her do so, but she just kept on looking ahead. Something had caught her attention. Behind him he heard a horse coming up. Chaijrild. Her continuous presence was becoming unnerving, and he pretended interest in whatever Gring was watching. She had to be watching something, or by the look of her face, smelling something.

"What is it?" he asked. Again there was no answer.

He squinted to see what she had already noticed, and not for the first time he regretted not having asked Harbend to lend him the binoculars. Without them Arthur only saw an endless blanket of white stretching out on all sides of him with only the distant, bluish mountains to their southwest breaking the monotony. In theory anything should stand out as dark blots against the snow, but irregularities made it difficult to see anything as small as a human from far away.

There was nothing more for him to do but wait until Gring agreed to tell him whatever she had sensed. In the meanwhile he might as well lecture Chaijrild about the dangers of riding alone. He retraced his steps and faced her.

"Damn you idiot!" He searched for the right words. "This place... too dangerous for... be alone."

"I know how to... a horse," she answered sullenly.

"If horse falls it... be hours before you found, if ever."


He stared at her. Ah, hell. "Measurement, Terran standard unit time." He had to stop mixing De Vhatic and English. Well, he hoped the message had come through anyway.

Gring was still staring out into the whiteness, and no matter how hard he tried he couldn't see what she saw. Then he felt the tingling telling him Gring intended to speak.

"Problems. Big problems."

"What do you see?"

"Riders. I smell them. Hundreds of riders coming."

Something cold crawled up Arthur's spine. "Dangerous?" he asked.

"Very. I can smell their tension. They will attack soon."

The caravan would have no head warning. "Hell, we need to warn them!" Arthur shot out.

"No. We hide. We can do nothing. The wagons are too far away."

Arthur knew her to be right, but he hated being helpless when something bad was going to happen.

"Are you sure there isn't anything we can do?" he asked in desperation.

"I am certain. We can do nothing appropriate. I only know Captain Laiden well enough to send him a warning, but he's from Keen so there is much dishonor in forcing the gift on him."

Arthur looked at her in surprise. What did honor have to do with their companions being in danger? Beside him Chaijrild stood silently watching Gring. The girl had paled as Gring told what was about to happen.

"They're in danger. You must warn them!"

"No. Captain Laiden would never forgive me, and he's displayed more honor than I'd expect from a halfman. He'd hate you and me both if I did."

Arthur gulped down an angry retort as he reluctantly accepted what Gring was saying. He turned to Chaijrild. "I'm sorry, but you know Gring would never lie to us."

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