After ascending one level, Fenton realized that Gray was right behind him. He whirled in sudden fury and slammed the taller man against the wall. “Gods damn you, Mage! Had you allowed me to speak to her in peace, she would have talked to me!”
“Captain, please. I had nothing to do with it!” Gray protested. “I didn’t know she was here until just before I saw you. I would never betray you to Katzn!”
“He’s your Abbot; what fool do you think I am?” Fenton growled.
“Fenton. Please. I believe you! I saw her with my own eyes, for the love of the Child. Let me help you.”
Fenton stared at him and then stepped back. He turned and started up the stairs again, not stopping until he’d reached his own quarters. He stood aside to allow Gray to enter and shut the door on a startled page, cutting the boy off midsentence.
“Fenton!” Gray protested mildly. “What is it?”
Fenton didn’t answer and strode to the window overlooking the stables and practice yard. He stared down intently, ignoring the mage behind him. Consumed by curiosity, Gray finally walked over and peered outside.
“What are we looking for?”
Fenton almost laughed. The Mage, for all of his subtlety, made an abysmal spy. “The escapee.”
Gray frowned, eyes raking the grounds and finding no one. “What are you talking about?”
Fenton saw Melunin’s nose and then head emerge from the stable, followed by the rest of him. “She’s got excellent taste in horse flesh,” he grumbled, annoyed.
“Who? Fenton, what – ”
Fenton grabbed his arm, interrupting the tirade, and pointed. “There. The rider.”
“Lords of Chaos…” Gray breathed. “Is that Kilasha?”
“Yes,” Fenton growled. “And she has my horse.”
Fenton strode over to his clothes press and rummaged. He laid out four sets of undergarments and set about collecting the rest of his supplies. Gray watched him in silence for a few moments.
“I’m coming with you,” the Mage announced.
Fenton stilled, looking over at the other man. “You’re not serious.”
“Of course I am!” he shot back indignantly.
Fenton resumed packing, a smirk twisting his lips. “Don’t be childish. You haven’t been out of the Castle in months. This is not some lark through the countryside. We’ll be in the saddle for some days, I think.”
Gray thrust out his chin stubbornly. “I wish to accompany you.”
Fenton threw his shaving kit on the bed and strode to the door, yanking it open on the startled page. “Pack a bag for Mage Gray, Bolyn. Standard kit, four days. No, make that a week. Tell Stable Master Kint that I’ll need a mount for him, and saddle Melonioc. Have it ready in thirty minutes, not a second longer.”
“Yes, Captain,” Bolyn answered, his voice deepened into manhood already.
Fenton looked at Gray. “Fine. You’ll travel as one of my men, no special accommodation. Can you do that?”
Gray nodded, looking startled at being taken at his word. He turned back to the window. “She’s gone already.”
Fenton shrugged. “I’ll find her. She’s riding my stallion; she can’t hide that from me.”
The two men slipped downstairs to the stable twenty minutes later, stopping by the kitchens on the way. Cook was berating two young pages for misplacing a cheese, some apples, and a loaf of bread. Fenton wanted to laugh. He grabbed his own provisions, showed Gray how to pack himself a travel pouch, and strode through to meet Stable Master Kint.
“Captain. Your stallion’s gone a-missing, it appears.”
“Yes, Master Kint. I’m aware. I go to fetch him now, in fact.”
Kint nodded, satisfied. “Good. Mage,” he greeted.
Gray blinked, taken aback at such a lackluster greeting. Fenton grinned at him and strode forward.
A tall gray mare stood calmly waiting. Fenton was pleased. Shellycka was sweet-tempered and fast, gentle for less-experienced riders. Gray would be in good hands. Fenton buckled his bags to the back of his own saddle and greeted Melonioc with some sugar he’d had in his pocket. When he saw Gray watching curiously, he handed some of the brown stuff over and watched as the Mage fed it to Shellycka without getting his fingers nibbled.
Once outside of the Castle, Fenton pulled into the lead. “We’ll meet up with my Lieutenant, about a day’s ride out from here. Then we’ll go the rest of the way with a small guard.”
“Guard?” Gray asked. “You expect danger?”
“Always, but particularly now. Kilasha won’t harm us, but I expect Moarven will want revenge.”
“Revenge!” Gray clucked to Shellycka, who obligingly pulled up next to Fenton. “Why? We’ve done nothing to them!”
Fenton stared at him, wondering how such an intelligent man could be so appallingly blind. “We’ve kidnapped two of the Seers, Gray. If for no other reason than that, she’ll want revenge. But one is dead. By our hand or not, we’ve kept the body.”
“She’ll want the body?” Gray asked blankly.
Fenton wondered suddenly if anything he ever said made sense to the tall mage. “Wouldn’t you? For last rights?”
Gray looked thoughtful at that. Fenton, suddenly exhausted, pulled ahead again and set his face toward his distant camp, wishing he were there already.
He hoped that Moarven would hear reason. But more than that, he hoped that Kilasha was safe. He saw her face in his mind’s eye; delicate but strong bones and those blue, blue eyes. He sighed. To get back to the Seers’ residence meant crossing four or five days’ worth of wild, untamed lands. A woman, injured and alone, would be easy prey in that time. He glanced back at the mage trailing behind him and wished devoutly he understood what they were fighting, that he could get the Abbot to see what it was that was really going on.
And that Moarven wouldn’t take revenge on Fenton or, worse, Gray. He swallowed. One thing at a time. First he had to get to camp, then find Kilasha.