“Who are you?” she asked in a weak voice.
Linvin poured her a cup of water and helped her sip. “I am Linvin. Remember I promised to free you? I am not one to break my word.”
“We are not in the prison?” Miri asked. She looked around and saw the barn. “The last thing I remember was Hugon punching me in the side.” She looked down and saw her bandages. “I see that was not a nightmare.”
“Oh that was a nightmare alright,” Linvin said as he gave her more water. “It was just a nightmare that had come to life. I killed Hugon and stole you away from the prison. We have sheltered overnight at in this barn and will be continuing our flight soon. How do you feel?”
Miri rested her head on the straw as her eyes grew wide and showed confusion. “I feel…disoriented. My side hurts. My back is on fire. Everything I see is blurry.”
“Can you hold onto a saddle if I get you upon it?” Linvin asked.
Miri clenched her hands into fists and then released them. “I…I think so.
Linvin gave her some more water and said, “I will be right back. It is time to wake my kin.” Linvin eagerly strode over to the corner where the others were sleeping.
They were huddled together in an effort to stay warm. With staff in hand, he decided to use his newfound skill. A balmy mist surrounded the sleeping elves and gently woke them.
Rander rubbed his eyes and asked, “Why are you waking us up now. It is not even light yet.”
“We must move out now,” Linvin answered. “Any farmer with livestock and crops still in the fields this far into the fall will be up at the break of day. We must not be discovered here. Furthermore, anyone running that store would find items missing when they open. In a farm community that store would open when the farmers awake. With the ground muddied by the rain there is a chance we could be tracked here. It is better to think a local thief had sought refuge here than us. Saddle your horses and leave nothing behind that links to us. When you are done I will introduce you to Miri.”
“She is awake.” Bander cried.
Linvin put his fingers to his lips and reminded him to stay quiet. “She is in pain and is confused. So do not overwhelm her right now. She says she can ride. Bander, I will assign you to aid her. Ride by her side and hold her reins if need be. See to it she does not fall from the saddle. Everyone else make sure we have all the apples we can carry and full water skins.”
“What is the plan?” Rander inquired.
“We will flee to the south,” Linvin responded. “We would be expected to head back to the east as we came but that is too obvious. It will undoubtedly be re-enforced by the time we reached the river mouth. To the west we already know the number of troops concentrated along the Silver River. A stealthy escape would prove most difficult in that direction. We will go to the Lake and find a boat. Then we will sail to the south shore and continue our journey home.” 185
“Do you think they are pursuing us?” Rander wondered.
“Most assuredly,” Linvin answered. “We damaged Mandrean’s home and his pride. He will bring all he has to bare in order to prevent our escape. Though you scattered their horses at the message depot, me must assume that the entire Empire has been put on alert and that prices will surely be placed on our heads. That means no contact with anyone. We must disappear. Anyone seeing us will bring the weight of the army down upon us. That will be enough questions for now. Be ready to leave by the time I return with Miri.” He turned and went to the injured woman’s side