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Chapter Forty-Three

The road to Quaysar ran almost due east from Kalatha, and the morning sun shone brightly into Kaerithas face as Cloudy trotted briskly along it two days after her appointment with Lanitha. Birds soared and dipped overhead, calling to one another against the impossibly blue sky as they rode the brawny wind gusting out of the northwest, and the endless sea of young grass rippled and hissed musically as the stiff gusts pushed waves across it. The morning was still cool, but there was a sense of life and energy wrapped up in the wind and the high, beautiful cries of the birds, and Kaeritha drew that energy deep into her lungs.

It was tempting to abandon herself to the sensual enjoyment of the new day, but the dark suspicion which had first whispered to her in Trisus library had hardened into something even darker which cast its own ominous shadow across the morning.

She still had altogether too many questions and far too few answers, she reminded herself. Yet even as she conscientiously bore that in mind, she knew which way the facts shed been able to test all pointed. What she didnt begin to know was how all this could have happened, or why Lillinara and Tomanak seemed to have agreed that it was her job to deal with it.

Not that she was tempted even for a moment to pretend it wasnt her job. This was exactly the sort of task which had attracted her to Tomanaks service in the first place. The fact that she wished with all her heart that someone like the war maids had been available to her motheror to herwhen she was a child only stiffened her resolve still further. She had no clear idea exactly what she was going to encounter at Quaysar, yet there was a stink of Darkness about this entire business. It was only too probable that she was riding directly into that Dark, but it was one of a champion of Tomanaks functions to carry Light into even the deepest Darkness.

Of course, sometimes the Light failed.

Dame Kaeritha Seldansdaughter knew that, just as she knew how few of Tomanaks champions ever died in bed. But if that was the price to hold off the Dark which had claimed fallen Kontovar, it was one she would pay. And if worse came to worst, the letter she had dispatched to Bahzell under Sword Seal contained all of her suspicions, discoveries, and deductions. If it should happen that this time she was fated to fail, she knew with absolute certainty that her brother would avenge her and complete her task as surely as she would have done that for him.

She smiled warmly at the thought, then shook off her dark musings and raised her head, turning her face more fully to the sun and luxuriating in its warmth.

* * * | Wind Rider's Oath | * * *