Gaerbith once more offered his hand. “My lady?”
After a moment, she turned and took it, sliding her cool fingers into his grasp.
“Walk with me?”
She matched his stride down the slope to a tumble of stones and a half-submerged log at the edge of the water. He chose a broad, flat rock that lay at a slight tilt toward the river and turned, bracing his weight on his good leg.
She did not withdraw as he expected, but tightened her clasp. “Take me with you.”
He meant to speak, to further explain his decision and why it was best that Yanámari go to Disson, but when he faced her, all he could think of were wide, purple eyes full of that thing that squeezed his chest. He could not find breath, much less words.
She gave a choked laugh. “I am begging. I have little pride left.”
Omwendinn, is this possible?
With Me, anything is possible. And then, with almost a chuckle, All My gifts are good.
Gaerbith laughed, and Yanámari drew back, puzzlement and shame in her gaze.
“Nay, my lady, nothing like that."
“Take me with you?”
“Then I will try not to resent your oath or your god.”
“Someday, perhaps”—he rubbed his thumb across her fingers—“you will hear the Voice.”
With her free hand, she tucked a lock of hair behind her ear, and looked across the river. The hilt of the silver knife gleamed along the inside of her arm.
He remembered that knife flying down a corridor, striking the king’s wolf handler. Only two days ago, the knife had killed a Nar’ath. Lord Arien had been far-seeing when he left his sister such a gift.
“There will be more danger, my lady. We will be in a smaller company, less protected and more hunted.”
Her smile was tight, brief. “Do not try to talk me out of it.”
His chest constricted until his heart seemed too large for it, battering against ribs, pushing aside lungs. “Beyond warrior or Keeper, I am only a shepherd, my lady. If matters had been different, after the war I would have returned to my father’s house. I do not presume to count myself your equal but, if you go with me as companion, will you not also go as—as wife?”
There it was again—that look in her eyes. Her voice, warm wine: “At my father’s table in Elycia, I made my choice, and do not regret it.”
He could not speak.
“And it is I, Captain Gaerbith, who am not worthy of this honor.” She looked long at him. “If your god exists, I thank him.”
He saw truth in her gaze. Many things he longed to ask, to say, but this was not the place, not with Rubin’s family and the remnant of the Fourth Lachmil looking on.
Giving her hand a light tug—“Ro’Ar is waiting”—Gaerbith turned from the river.
c. Keanan Brand 2008