Dixon patted her arm. "That's my fault. We had a bad start and it was my doing. But rest assured, the Good One knows what's best. I had no right to second-guess Him, or you. And really, you shouldn't either."
"That's right," Ted agreed.
"Well, thank you, but there's just so much to learn in the actual practice of being an Oathtaker with a charge. Where do I go from here?"
"Hold on. You said it yourself. We start at the beginning."
She nodded. Ted's presence reassured her, made her feel supported.
He sat to the front of his chair. When the house cat rubbed up against his legs, he scratched it behind its ears. "All right then, how about your attendant magic?"
She tilted her head and narrowed her eyes. "I can't say I've seen anything yet, but—"
"She hears thoughts," Dixon interrupted.
She frowned. "I don't know about that."
"Take my word for it, Ted, it's true. She's picked up on my thoughts already. It wasn't about anything particularly important. I expect the Good One granted the 'hearing' as a means of informing her of the power."
"I don't know," she repeated.
"Trust me, you did. And about something you could have had no inkling I was thinking at the time."
"Anything else you've noticed?" Ted asked.
"She might have some attendant power related to her voice."
"What do you mean?"
"Let's just say it's a good thing she didn't sing the lullaby we heard earlier tonight, or we'd all be snoring now."
"Dixon," Mara chided, wincing.
"No, really! Ted, the other night she sang to the girls and put the whole room to sleep in mere moments."
She shook her head at him.
"Is that true?" Ted asked.
"We were all so tired. It was late. I think everyone just nodded off and it happened to be when I sang."
"Well, that's one to keep in mind.
"Supposing it's true, what use could that serve?"
"Perhaps you aren't fully appreciating the value of sleep." Ted grinned.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, even if all you can do is to sing someone to sleep quickly and easily, that could prove helpful—particularly to someone in need of it for healing." He paused. "Anything else?"
"Yes. Someone who'd been in the group that pursued Rowena and me, surprised us the other night," Dixon said.
"You didn't mention that earlier." Ted sat up, clearly alarmed. "What happened?"
Dixon told his friend about Heri.
"Did you learn anything from him?"
"That's just it. Mara seemed to know just how to get him to give us the information we needed."
"What did you find out?"
"Only that before joining the group tracking Rowena, he was with the palace guard. He said someone sent them out to kill Rowena. He didn't know who."
"Hmmm. What did you do?"
"Killed him," Dixon responded without hesitation.
"Good. Better him than any of you."
"It wasn't like we could take him along."
"In any case, we'd best keep you all as far from the palace and anyone associated with it as possible," Ted suggested.
Just then, Mara jumped up. "Oh! Oh my! Oh my!" she cried, flapping her hands and stomping her feet as in a frenzied rain dance.
"What is it?" Dixon shot to his feet.
Ted followed suit.
"I don't know!" she cried. I feel this strange . . . buzzing. It's like a— Oh! Oh!" She slapped at herself and then, tentatively, reached into her pocket where earlier she'd placed the silver compact she'd found at the hut along with Rowena's scattered belongings. She touched it, flinched, then pulled her fingers back. Slowly she reached into her pocket again, grabbed the compact, then pulled it out and dropped it into her chair.
"What? What is it?" Dixon asked again.
"That thing!" she cried, pointing to the compact. "That thing buzzed or—or something! Oh, dear Good One!" she exclaimed, breathing heavily. She put her hands to her face, trembling.
He picked up the compact. It vibrated, visibly. He took Mara's hand and placed it in her palm.
It tickled. She looked at it, then back up at him.
He scrunched up his shoulders. "I don't know what's happening, Mara. I've never seen it do that before."
Ted took the trinket. It went still. "Where's this from?"
"It was Rowena's," Dixon said.
Ted placed the compact back into Mara's hand. Again, it vibrated. "Does it hurt?" he asked.
The three stood, transfixed.
Ted scratched the back of his head. "You game to opening it?"
Mara placed her fingers on the clasp. Slowly, she opened it. When she looked inside, she shrieked, then sent the compact flying.
***Thank you for taking time with Oathtaker. I sincerely appreciate your votes and welcome your comments.***
Oathtaker is an award-winner in the 2014 Readers' Favorite International Book Award contest. A completed work, it is currently available in print form at CreateSpace at createspace.com/4767727, in print and for your Kindle on Amazon (see the link) and from Barnes and Noble for your Nook.
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An Oath Sworn. A Struggle Engaged. A Sacrifice Required. When Mara, a trained Oathtaker, is drawn by the scent of the Select to battle underworld beasts summoned by powers of evil to destroy the guardians of life, she swears a life oath for the prot...