Islinn watched Alora walk away, her hand still stroking the stag's velvety nose. The thank you had come hard but there had never been a question in her mind of not saying it. Many things had been taken from her, luck and love to name a few, but she had managed to retain her grace.
Was she truly thankful? Hardly. Thank you Behrin for turning me into a slave. Thank you Brede for allowing me to live another day and suffer in your name. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am blessed.
Islinn wondered if she was going mad. "Did my father know?" She mused. Her hand shook slightly as she continued to pet the 'stag. Did he somehow sense some wall of dark indifference slowly being erected between himself and the rest of the world?
Did he try to hang on in some way but found nothing to grab onto, all of his thoughts and emotions slowly ticking down into nothingness until he finally just turned and began to walk a road leading away from everyone and everything he'd ever loved? She didn't know. What she did know was she didn't want to walk that same road with him. But she wasn't quite sure how to stop that from happening.
Duran quickly saddled Loki and tried to ignore Alora's meditative stare. It was obvious she was stewing over something .
"You know…it might be nice to have the company out on the road. She seems like a bright girl." Duran ventured, as he tightened Loki's cinch. Alora gave a non-committal shrug.
""You just need to have patience with her, is all. Everything would go a lot easier if you weren't so…" Duran abruptly stopped.
"So…what,Duran?" Alora raised an eloquent brow.
"Difficult." He finished lamely. Alora laughed.
"Difficult huh? I bet there were a few other words you passed over before you chose that one. Difficult." Alora repeated the word for emphasis and snorted derisively.
Duran winced as he went and got Loki's bridle. He was quiet for a few moments as he slipped the leather behind Loki's ears and positioned the bit in the dark horse's mouth.
"It wouldn't hurt for you to be kind to her." He said, his voice stiff. Alora grinned at him.
"How do you know? It might hurt me a great deal. Go on and get the stag ready,I'll finish Loki." Alora, said, amused.
She was surprised he'd even had a conversation with her. Usually he just stared at her, smitten, and could barely say his own name whenever he came near her. Now here he was, making an assessment of her character or lack thereof. She didn't know what had gotten in to him.
She turned and idly studied Islinn as the girl helped Duran bridle the spotted stag. Alora took in the sun-browned legs, the white-blond hair, and the amazingly sweet smile she gave Duran as he said something to her to make her laugh. Alora shook her head slightly and laughed to herself. Or maybe she did know.
Love was fickle. At least she wouldn't have to worry about Loki being adorned with bows next time she came through town. IF she came through town again. She had a feeling Leomedon would not be so grudgingly accepting of her the next time she stopped by.
Alora led Loki out of the stall and went and got her saddlebags. She lifted them up and dubiously weighed them as Loki dropped his head and eyed her approach.
"You're carrying them. It's mostly your crap anyway." She murmured as she tied them down behind her saddle. She watched Duran lead the stag out of its stall. The little beast danced about and tossed its head a few times and squealed. Duran gentled her with a few tugs on the bridle and a hand on her neck. He fell in behind Alora as she led Loki outside to mount.
The sun was bright and unmerciful as it beat down and Alora squinted in the glare. The morning breeze had died down and the air was already becoming heavy with heat. She mounted and settled herself in the saddle.
"Do you need a leg up?" Duran asked Islinn but she shook her head. Grasping the mane with her left hand, she deftly swung her leg over and gathered up the reins. The stag immediately darted sideways but yielded to Islinn's outside leg pressure and stood nervously, tossing its antlered head. Duran reached up and grasped the reins and appeared to be giving Islinn some sort of riding instructions. Alora cleared her throat loudly.
"If you two are done, I'd like to get on with my day."
Duran gave the stag a final pat and surprised Alora by stepping up alongside Loki. He patted the black horse and gave him some peppermint leaves.
"Your sarcasm doesn't become you." He said in a stuffy tone. Alora beamed at him.
"Yes,well not much does. Come on Islinn, try and keep up."