Friends, part three

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Neritan and Escha sat face to face, in deep concentration when Nakora arrived. Escha's dark skin contrasted to Neritan's creamy white, his black hair and her silver. Throbbing waves of power radiated from them, but not as if from two sources. They were joined as one single entity, using their gifts together.

Nakora wondered what it was like, and sometimes she wished she had the gift herself. It was taxing, she'd heard. Long use tired the body the same way a hard march did, but there was no benefit like the body learning and growing more resilient to hard wear. They'd never grow strong unless they spent time with physical training. Those who did had to work twice as hard, and she knew a lot of magehealers slept very little.

Nothing to do but wait, and wait she did until Harbend finally showed up. There was another who had to work long days.

So worn! When did he eat last?

Everyone expected him to solve their problems, or at least listen to them. A lord from Khi, their true homeland, and it was as if anyone from there had to be able to be, well, more able. She wasn't clear why. Maybe a residue from a distant feeling of failure, but that was ridiculous.

Seven hundred years had passed since her ancestors failed to return home to their lands and families. By now it was more of a legend than anything else. Only the golden had any memories, but that sufficed to remind the humans of what could have been.

She left the mages to meet Harbend.

You look so lonely. It is a strange thing I care so much. What is happening to me? Realization crashed down on her. No, it shall not be! But it was, and she had to force her racing heart to slow down before she could speak.

"They are making ready," Nakora said as she came closer.

"Good. When we have found them and brought them back I shall have a talk with Arthur about the wisdom of walking about alone in the wilderness."

Nakora grinned in response. Harbend was right. None of this would have happened at all if the outworlder had come back with the rest of the vanguard. If he didn't know, then the Khraga should have.

"We shall find them," she assured him.

"With three mages of that magnitude helping us we had better."

The comment hurt her, but she pretended it had not. He couldn't know how she hated any part of a mission she couldn't control, or at least influence.

Or because it comes from you.

"Should we go to them?"

"Yes, I think so. Escha seems to prefer us being close to him when he jumps."

Harbend was gifted with strong hands, and a handsome face. He had thrown her long looks earlier. She was surprised the thought didn't disturb her more. They walked across the patch of trampled snow, dirtied from many feet crossing it. She gave him another glance. His side knot wasn't in very good order any longer, but he hardly had any time to keep his hair properly dressed out here. Smiling she sat down beside the mages.

When Trai arrived Nakora knew they were ready, and she prepared herself for the jump. It came and went, and they arrived at another open place where days of walking had turned the snow a grayish yellow. She saw huts around her, enormous huts, and then she heard Neritan cry out behind her.

Nakora wheeled, sword already drawn, crouching to meet whatever the golden mage had seen. Nothing.

"Khraga! You never mentioned Khraga," Neritan said.

"Gring is with us," Nakora explained after making certain none of the dangerous giants were close.

"No, you idiots, this is a Khragan settlement. How did your outworlder friend get involved with them?"

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