Islinn shrugged her indifference and rubbed her hand along the stag's spotted neck. She didn't understand why The Twiceborn was yakking away at her in the first place and she felt the conversation had taken an odd turn. She cast a longing glance back towards Leomedon. She could at least understand the people there. The "how" and "why" of everyday situations.
Even though she'd been a slave, the routine had been comforting in its own perverse way. Now here she was, out on the grasslands with The Twiceborn who apparently felt a need to chit chat. She watched Alora as the woman struggled to keep Loki pointed in a straight line as they rode along.
Islinn couldn't buy in to the image of a kinder and more gentle Twiceborn no matter how hard the woman tried. Her father had always said people could "change their spots" but a lot of time spent with Behrin had taught her that some people were born with too many spots to count, let alone change. Not to mention the people who truly liked their spots and saw no real need to actually change them in any way,shape, or form. Islinn welcomed the ensuing silence as they approached the treeline.
Alora drove Loki forward in an attempt to reach the treeline quicker. The instant shade was a welcome relief and the temperature was noticeably cooler. She slowed Loki to a walk and listened to the dainty pattering of the stag's hooves as Islinn rode into the shade.
She wasn't sure if she could get used to the idea of having someone with her as she traveled. And she didn't know if she wanted to get used to it. She had just decided to settle down in her saddle, enjoy the shade, and contemplate what she should do that would be best for Islinn when she caught a glimpse of movement out of the corner of her eye.
The path through the woods curved and someone was traveling just ahead of them. Alora nudged Loki into a trot. The Cordon Woods stretched for miles and was a well-used trade road for merchants and thieves alike. It didn't matter to Alora which one it was, she was only curious to see who she was sharing the road with.
She rounded the curve and hastily pulled Loki to a halt. A small group of travelers, clad in ragged robes, were slowly walking along the path. Their heads were humbly bowed and their hands remained dutifully clasped in front of their robes. Alora felt her upper lip curl with contempt. Sentinels. She'd run across them before and her patience lessened with every encounter. They were the right hand of Brede, supposedly, and devoted their lives to going from village to village to offer atonement to others.
They were hailed as holy figures and called upon far and wide. Alora simply didn't believe that a group of people could exorcise the sins of others by beating themselves until bloodied. Of course she had her own twisted part in their tale. The villagers thought the Sentinels were extremely powerful because The Twiceborn avoided them at all costs.
They were called upon to stay in towns to keep The Twiceborn from riding through and they were requested at burials to keep the Twiceborn from swooping in like a giant gorecrow and snatching up the deceased soul. What they didn't understand was her absence wasn't due to their immense power; she avoided them of her own accord because she thought they were idiots. She dreaded the scene that was about to take place.
She would ride by and they would start wailing like a bunch of lost puppies. Several would probably strip down and throw themselves on the road in preparation to be beaten for the unforgivable transgression of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It would all be extremely chaotic within a matter of seconds. Alora turned in her saddle.
"Look…this bunch up here...just…well, ignore what's about to happen, all right?" It was the best Alora could do. Islinn nodded. Alora noticed Islinn's face had paled and she looked like she was on the verge of being sick.
"Too much sun." Alora thought. The girl would just have to suck it up though because she wasn't planning on taking a break until they had gone quite a ways down the road past the Brede fanatics.