"Why are you following me?" She asked. He hesitated. "Answer me!"
"Why are you holding a sword to my chest?" He countered.
"Because you are following me and I don't like being followed," She said. He remained silent. "I am going to ask you one more time: why are you following me?"
He didn't answer.
"Is it for the money?" She asked. "I hear there's a very generous reward for my head,"
Still he didn't answer.
"You may think your being wise by remaining silent, but it's actually quite annoying" She said. "So I suggest you start talking."
The horse neighed loudly. Deanna glanced at the horse to see what had startled him. The singer swatted the sword away and leaped at her, knocking her to the ground and pinning her.
"Why are you so desperate to hide?" He asked.
"Get off of me!" She said, struggling.
"Not until I get an explanation," He said.
"No!" She said, trying to move out from under him.
"Why is there an arrest warrant for you? Aside from that temper of yours, you don't seem like much of a fugitive," He said.
"I said get off!" Deanna screamed, trying to throw him.
"If I do, will you promise not to try and kill me or run away?" He asked, watching her closely. She had beautiful eyes, he noticed. A very deep green.
She stopped struggling, looking at him for the longest time, and then she spit in his face. "Nothing personal," She said, the faintest hint of a smile on her lips. He frowned, confused, but then was knocked over by something from behind. He looked behind him to see her horse had come to protect its mistress.
Deanna stood and got a small coil of rope from her horse's saddle, turned to him and brought him to his feet, tying his hands to his ankles and then led him, hopping and bound together, over to a tree where she tied the rope to a thick branch, and then she pushed him.
He landed heavily on a root, hissing in pain and trying to move to an angle that it didn't dig into him. He looked up and saw her just as she mounted and rode out of the small clearing.
He cursed and struggled against his bonds uselessly, the knots tied tight, and the branch too thick to break.
* * *
Deanna rode off to the west, deciding that it was unlikely that his companians had gone the same route as he had, and she assumed that he hadn't parted ways with the other two at the camp the other day.
She urged Krennan into a gallop and rode off. She would pick up Herndon's trail again soon, but for now, she needed to put as much distance between her and her pursuers as possible.
She briefly wondered why they had been chasing her, and she thought back to what the singer had said when he had been questioning her. She frowned.
She didn't remember being wanted for any crime. She shook her head.
Those were questions for another time, for now, she needed to focus on driving Krennan on, and not running into any trees, not that Krennan would allow that. He was too smart a horse to be led point blank into a tree.
* * *
Cayle sat there beneath the tree glowering, partly at his inability to capture the girl, but mostly because the root still dug into his buttocks, and no matter how many times he would move and shift his weight, it always found a way to dig into him. And he was not looking forward to the jokes that he would be the butt of, so to speak, when he was found by Cadman and Finn, for he knew they would come looking for him when he didn't show up at the meeting point.
He looked up towards the sky, and was just able to make out a small blue patch from between the tree branches. He couldn't exactly tell how long he had been sitting there, but he didn't think it had been long enough to arouse suspicion as to his whereabouts.
He sighed; he had a long wait ahead of him.
* * *
Cadman dropped from his saddle to examine the ground. No new footprints. He frowned.
"She must have went towards the west," He muttered, getting to his feet.
"Should we head up there? Maybe Cayle found something," Finn said. Cadman nodded as he swung into the saddle again.
"Let's go check on him," He said, turning his mount to head west.
After a few minutes, they found Cayle's footprints. Cadman dropped to the ground again and studied the scene there.
"Well?" Finn asked after a few moments.
"Looks like he'd seen or heard something," Cadman said, just loud enough for Finn to hear. "He moved off into the trees, and then another horse came galloping out, but I don't think it was Cayle's horse,"
"Do you think it was her?" Finn asked. Cadman glanced up at him.
"More than likely," He said. "Cayle probably stumbled onto her hiding place; let's check deeper in the trees,"
He led his horse into the woods. Finn dismounted and followed suit.
* * *
Cayle had been dozing when he heard the horses. He opened his eyes, not sure if he had dreamt it or if he had really heard it. He lifted his head.
He could still hear the horses, and now he could also hear voices. He was tempted to scream for help, but hesitated, he didn't know if the person was a friend or not, so he remained silent, eyes fixed on the spot where he imagined the horses would show.
He waited, and waited, and waited, but didn't see any horse. He frowned; he could still hear them, he just couldn't see them.
"Maybe whoever it is hasn't seen this clearing," He said to himself, and then suddenly, there were two horses that came charging out of the forest right next to him.
The rider's reined in and dismounted, one of them pulling out a map.
The other one pointed at an area and said something in a language Cayle didn't understand, and he found himself wondering what they were doing so far from home and what it was they were after.
After they had agreed on a route, they re-mounted and rode off and a few minutes later, Cadman and Finn came running into the clearing, the former with his sword drawn.
* * *
Deanna reined in at the nearest Inn and dismounted. She glanced up at the sky, it looked as though it would rain tonight. She shrugged and walked inside.
There was a fire in the corner where several people were huddled, eating their evening meals.
She walked over to the counter and waited for the owner to arrive; when he didn't she knocked on the wood.
The sounded echoed around the room, drawing curious eyes towards her direction.
A woman peeked out from a door in the back of the room and frowned before disappearing back inside the room, only to reappear a moment later, wiping her flour coated hands on her apron.
"May I help you, mam?" She asked.
"I was wondering where the owner was," Deanna said. The woman shrugged, and nodded towards the ceiling.
"I believe he is upstairs," She said. "He usually goes up there at this time to sort through some things and get the tax in order,"
"May I go up?" Deanna asked. The woman thought for a moment, and then shrugged.
"Alright, just don't be too long," She said before turning on her heel and walking back towards the room where she had appeared from.
Deanna turned and walked towards the staircase and began climbing.