Chapter 2

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Tier'ghan fought to get to his feet. Pain had him retching, but he had to stand. He wasn't about to get Quenoor killed because of his stupidity. He had enough energy for one last spell. Maybe. But what? The horse. He could enchant it to come to their aid.

He stumbled back toward the pen, his legs dead weights. At least no fresh blood trickled between his fingers pressed to the gaping wound in his side. The spell had accomplished that much, but there would be no healing this. The best he could hope for was to get away from them so he didn't have to die knowing he'd be sold off in chunks to the highest bidder.

"Here Mi'Lady, finest mage hair for curing your baldness, and you Lord could you use the ground bone of a young mage to sprinkle in your tea for that extra boost to your virility," he rambled as he pulled himself around the side of the pen to where the horse stood watching the fight. He needed to hurry up. He braced himself against the rough wood and reached over the top rung letting energy build in his palm. The blood on his hand warmed and took on a blue glow.

"Let my blood bind us," Tier'ghan started and had to blink away the spots swarming over his vision. "Let my will guide us. Hear me and obey. Blood to blood, will to will, all things united."

He poured the last of his energy into the spell and laid his hand on the stallion's shoulder. As soon as he touched the soft hide he knew something had gone terribly wrong. The blue glow shot outward from his hand and the last thing he saw was the stallion rearing back a scream tearing through the night.



Quenoor feinted to the left and barely escaped a blow with the shovel Narder had picked up. He did not want to kill either of them. He'd come to this town on the trail of a scholar and murdering two prominent citizens wasn't on the agenda.

He kept both blades up and backed toward the pen. Someone-or something-screamed making him flinch. Wood splintered. Something slammed into his shoulder, knocked him to the ground. By some miracle he kept hold of his stilettos. He scrambled to his feet and sprinted over to where he'd dropped his pack and cloak. The half-naked mage lay near the pen, not where Quenoor had left him. The horse screamed again, a piercing cry full of challenge. Quenoor watched it chase Narder and Loddic into the building. It then swung back around and galloped toward where he stood. It plunged to a stop next to the mage and lowered its head, nudging the mage's arm.

It was enough incentive to get Quenoor to approach it. The horse didn't move as he neared it but it did raise its head to look at him. This is stupid, he told himself, you are going to get yourself killed. The horse snorted and pawed at the ground again. Time was slipping by, he needed to either leave or do what he came to do. Daggers sheathed he gathered up the lanky mage and turned to find the horse kneeling. Had the mage done something to the horse? Even a trained warhorse wouldn't act like this. No, the mage was mostly dead. Magic was beyond him.

It only took a few moments to get the mage slung over its back and to mount. His legs protested the stretch as he clamped them around the massive ribcage. He took hold of the mage with one hand and the long white mane with the other. This seemed to be some sort of signal for the horse as it jumped directly into a trot.

None too soon. Narder and Loddic had appeared, better armed this time. Both of them had guns.

The horse sped up, headed for the main gate as Narder yelled at the top of his lungs. A gunshot rang through the yard. Then another. The horse didn't slow.

Then they were through the front gate, the pounding of hooves loud in the still night. The horse didn't stop until they'd reached the first crossroads out of town, a good two miles. Quenoor stumbled when his feet hit the ground, legs weak and shaking. He pivoted and backed away a few steps watching, incredulous, as the massive stallion eased himself to the ground. The mage still lay draped over his back like a sack. Quenoor started forward then stopped. The stallion looked at him, the strange blue eye shining in the moonlight, but didn't move.

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