Delrayna Ap Nud did not eat supper that night. Choosing instead to sit cross legged a little way from the fire. She closed her eyes and tried to imagine herself in a quiet spot. Like the garden her mother had kept outside the little hut they lived in. She had always enjoyed the garden, after the day's lessons were done. She briefly wondered if it was still as pretty and peaceful as she had always found it, but harshly dismissed that thought. The thought not the garden, an image of which she created in her mind. The "happy spot" she would need to go to if she was to attain her Khu.
Delrayna imagined the Ankh symbol hovering over the center of the garden and focussed on that. When she felt she had reached her little oasis, she slowly rose to her feet and walked over to her pack. From them, she tool a black marker, a strip of white linen, a strip of black linen, a small bottle of oil and a small oil lamp. These she carried back to her original position.
Aleric watched her from where he sat beside the fire. His mother had been a waise woman, though connected to no Temple. It was she who had first alerted him to the world of magic that existed along side the world of man and had shown him the signs of a woman deeply immersed in ritual. Delrayna exibited such signs and his mother had warned him that it was best to not disturb a witch when she was about her business. Sio he had eaten her share of the supper, after she had refused, ad sat in silence watching. Magic made him uncomfortable.
Delrayna Ap Nud would have liked to have immersed herself in warm water, but that was not possible so he made do by pouring a cup of warm water over herself, using a cloth to spread it around as best she could. Picking up the black marker, she drew the image of Thoth on the white linen. She also wrote down the request, that the god show her anything of importance that should happen to her or to those she loved, adding Aleric to the list, supposing that a slave should love her master. That done, she poured oil into the lamp, and rolled up the linen to be used as a wick. Again she took up the marker and drew the image of Thoth on her left palm. She then lit the lamp with an ember she carried from the fire in a metal bowl.
Delrayna knelt before the lamp and re-entered her garden with the ankh and this time the symbol of Thoth. She began to speak, silently, barely above a whisper.
"Thoth, I invoke, blessed power of dreams divine,
Angel of future fates, swift wings are thine,
Great source of oracles to human kind,
When stealing soft, and whispering to the mind,
Through sleep's sweet silence and the gloom of night,
Thy power awake the sight,
To silent souls the will of heaven relates,
And silently reveals their future fates. "
Satisfied that she had spoken the words of the invocation correctly and respectfully, Delrayna put out the lamp, letting the small plume of smoke waft up past her face and to the skies above. She then took up the black strip of linen, which was to represent the Eye of Black Isis, and wrapped it around her left palm. Having done all she could do, Delrayna stretched out upon the ground preparing for sleep.
Aleric sat beside the fire, his blade accross his knees.
"You know how to use those?" Aleric had woken up the next morning to see Delrayna sliding daggers into sheathes she had strapped around her thighs.
"Papa trained me," Delrayna said, clearly distraught.
"You think you need them now?"
"Apep is going for Sarah."
"Who is Sarah?"
"She is my sister, the one apprenticed to the Temple of Amun in Vernon."
"The one that said you were an embarrassment?"
"The one who would not suffer you to live?"
"The one who sent Apep to kill you."
"You want to go back to Vernon to save her from the wrath of the god she sent to kill you?"
"She is my sister." Delrayna spoke in a tone that indicated that that should be obvious. Having gathered up all her belongings, she climbed up upon her mule and glared at Aleric, who hadn't moved from his bedroll. "You coming?"
"Fine," she spat., prodding the mule to a trot. "I'll go alone."
Aleric rolled over in his blankets.
Three hours later and cursing himself for a fool, Aleric was in the saddle and racing towards Vernon. They were already two days out, and he'd be hard pressed to make any acceptable time without pushing his horse to a gallop. Something he was unwilling to do. Not being willing to lose a horse for a recalcitrant slave.
Delrayna Ap Nud struggled against the ropes that bound her hands to the sides of the cage. She had barely reached Vernon, galloping her poor mule all the way, when she'd been waylaid by two massive brutes, and knocked unconscious. She'd woken to find herself stripped and tied in a cage meant for a waterstealer. Black haired Sarah, her sister, sitting just outside.
"You should have let Apep take you," Sarah said when she saw her sister moving. "It would have been so much easier and faster."
"I thought Apep was coming after you," Delrayna shouted at her sister. "That''s why I came back. To save you."
"Just like I knew you would," Sarah smiled. "You were always so predictable, and Mama's pet."
"What do you mean you knew I would?"
"How do you think? Do you really think that the gods indulge in petty revenge? . Nor do they answer the inane babblings of the untrained."
Delrayna stared at Sarah. Sarah laughed.
"I knew that you would try scrying."
"But how? The dream it was so clear."
"The gods do not send dreams," Sarah looked scornful. "They speak in words of power."
"I would slit your throat myself," Sarah snarled, turning spiteful eyes on Delrayna. "If it did not mean forfeiting my position here at the Temple. I am the High Priest's favourite." She cocked an eybrow. "I don't suppose If I slipped you a knife you would do it for me?"
Delrayna shook her head.
"Pity. Well I can sentence you to a waterstealer's fate. You'll be given just enough water to keep yourself alive. Maybe tomorrow you'll accept my offer. I hear it's going to be hot."
Aleric slipped into Vernon under the cover of darkness. Where Delrayna was he had no idea, but he had found her mule running free at the outskirts, it's pack still in place. It didn't bode well, and he decided to act as if she were captured. He figured the best place to start looking would be around the Temple. He stepped onto the cracked remnants of a sidewalk, and jerked up the sheath of his sword, making sure that it did not drag.
There were not that many people about this time of night, and for that Aleric was pleased. Except for the odd girl peddling her wares he met almost no one, and those he did kept well away, some even crossing the street to keep away from the uncouth barbarian. A sentiment that he welcomed.
As he approached the Temple of Amun, he noted the solitary cage seperated from the rest, and surrounded by fire. Four fires, placed far enough away to avoid major damage to the girl tied inside but close enough to cause discomfort and keep her from falling asleep. There were also two guards.
There was no time like the present.
Keeping to the shadows, Aleric crept as close as he dared. He did not dream that the guards wouldn't spot the moving shadow, but fortunately for him guarding a caged prisoner while tending fires was boring work, and both were more than half asleep. He palmed a throwing blade.
Aleric was no more than ten feet away, and behind the guards, when he made the first throw. Years of hunting practice made his aim true and the blade slid in at the base of the man's skull. He dropped like someone had cut his strings.
This, of course, alerted the other guard, and he was swift to check the first, finding the knife and realizing what had happened. He also realized what direction the knife must have come from, but by the time he looked Aleric had slipped back into the shadows, and was circling around just out of reach of the light. He lobbed another knife.
This one landed by the feet of the guard with a clatter that made him look around in surprise. "Coward," he shouted into the darkness. "Get out here and fight like a man."
Aleric grinned. So far the noise had been minimal and the shout could be anyone, a bar fight gone wrong. But sword play. The sound of that would be sure to alert the Temple Guards and as good as Aleric liked to think he was, that was something he would avoid if possible.
Aleric's next throw took the guard in the leg. He shrieked as he went down, but before he could do anything more, Aleric was all over him, and his throat was slit.
Aleric wasted little time seeing if Delrayna was okay. Quickly he retrieved his knives and replaced them in his belt. It would not do to leave them behind so magic could be tried on them. Then he moved towards the cage, and almost laughed to see that the cage door was tied shut with rope. He supposed that as Delrayna was tied well away from the door, she didn't need anything more elasborate.
First, Aleric circled the cage, slashing the ropes that tied Delrayna's hands to the bars. Then he cut the rope, keeping the door shut, and reached in for her. Grasping an arm he didn't wait on ceremony, just dragged her out, and down the street. He wanted to put as much distance as possible between them and the Temple before the dead guards were discovered.
Delrayna objected loudly and vociferously to being dragged, naked, down the street.
Finally they reached their mounts, and Aleric released Delrayna's wrist. She immediately stomped over to her mule and opened her pack. Aleric grabbed her, swung her up, and sat her on the back of the mule. "Stay," he commanded.
"I'm not dressed," Delrayna said indignantly, starting to slide down.
"You can ride that mule," Aleric snapped mounting his own horse. "Or run after it." A bell tolled and Aleric looked back to see a flood of torches entering the street. "Either way we are going now."