Go to Chapter 10
Saturday, November 28, 2015
Yalera the Brave - Chapter 9
The journey to Yalera's Nandian estate was only about a day and a half. It was out of their way in that it was straight east from the palace, but not too much out of their way since it placed them more or less directly north of their estate in Rubidium. From what Yalera could see, it was a small but rich jewel that would have been perfect for a Princess to bring her children to in the summers.
The steward patiently went through her holdings with her and helped her understand the household accounts. That took almost a week, but once she felt she understood what it was that she owned, she felt much better about basically handing it over to her husband's women. It would be plenty to sustain them for the rest of their lives and their children would grow up happy.
The steward promised to send her regular status reports and defer to her for all major decisions, but otherwise understood that he now had four new mistresses to advise him and make decisions if necessary. Yalera left her estate feeling confident that she would always have a home if she ever needed it.
Her party got back on the road a little before midmorning the next day. Yalera still yawned sleepily and stretched as she rode Yuna's back. Ando shook his head and decided to just ask her his most pressing question.
“And... why don't you have a horse to ride?”
Yalera laughed. “I did! But after we started getting harassed by Prince Hugh, it was just easier to ride my beloved smilodon. She keeps me far safer than a horse could. I figured that since I have to bring her home with me anyway, why bother bringing an extra horse?”
Besides, her horse was now being used by Marlena. While the horse Rohan had started with was now being used by his wife. Hannah trusted that Rohan wouldn't let his cat hurt her, but even so, she wasn't quite brave enough to ride it with him.
That night when they made camp, Yalera lay in her tent feeling strange. Her tent was still the bigger one she'd had during their journey to the Nandian palace, but to save space in their luggage, she didn't have the bed – that her mother insisted on keeping for her journey back home. Thus, she was laying on a thick pad that could be rolled up for easy travel. Both Yuna and Rune sprawled out on either side of her, snoring.
Normally, she'd probably just go right to sleep. Or she might lay there listening to Rohan breathe for a bit before she went to sleep. This night – however – was probably the first time in her life that she was sleeping completely alone. She didn't count the nights when she slept in her husband's bed because his women were in the apartment and could come running if she needed anything.
On the way to her Nandian estate, the women had shared her tent, thus she hadn't been alone then either. Even though she was in a camp full of people – her brothers, their wives, Baethan, and the soldiers under Yemry's command – she couldn't really just ask any of them to share her tent. The one that felt almost painful was Rohan. Her entire life, he had been pretty much right there next to her, and now he was in his own tent with his wife.
She rolled over and pulled her thin pillow over her head. It didn't help in the slightest because what she was hearing wasn't actual sound... it was more like the echo of her twin's emotions. At the moment, his thoughts and emotions were definitely private, but she was close enough to him that she picked up on them without wanting to.
“Argh!” She growled softly as she tossed her pillow back onto the pad under her head.
Something wrong? Rohan asked her mentally.
Yalera held her breath for a moment because she hadn't realized that he was picking up on her emotions too. No... Just can't sleep.
Even as she was thinking this to her brother, Ando stepped into her tent. “Is something wrong, my Princess?”
“No,” she growled a bit defensively. “I just... I'm not used to sleeping alone.”
Ando sent a wry look to each of her cats. “You're not alone.”
Yalera snorted a soft laugh. “No, I suppose not.”
“And just remember, if you need anything, I'm right outside,” Ando stated. As her bodyguard, he had placed his bedroll directly in front of her tent. She found it silly, but in a way, it was reassuring to know that he was near enough that she could whisper to if she had to.
“Thank you,” she murmured. “Good night.”
“Sweet dreams, Princess,” Ando bade her before exiting her tent.
She tried to sleep, she really did, but when Ando's soft snoring alerted her to the fact that she was still staring at nothing in the dark about an hour later, she decided that she'd had enough of trying. She ruffled Yuna's fur and gently bit the smilodon's ear.
“You want to go for a run?” She whispered. Both Yuna and Rune perked up.
Even though the two of them were up during the day most of the time, they were still technically predators with excellent night vision for hunting. She had no doubt that the two of them could find her and bring her back to camp even if she got miserably lost.
“Don't step on Ando,” she commanded them in a whisper. A few seconds later, she peered through the door of her tent, trying to figure out how to step over Ando without waking him. His snoring stopped abruptly.
“Going somewhere, Princess?” He asked, sounding as wide awake as if it were noon.
“Just to... you know...” She blushed, though he couldn't see it. “P-p-pee...” This wasn't technically a lie because she really did have to go. However, she also planned to go running with her cats, and she didn't think that he'd approve.
“No problem,” he stated, throwing back his bedding and getting to his feet.
“You don't have to go,” Yalera protested softly.
“A bodyguard must stay with his charge at all times,” Ando insisted.
“Very well,” Yalera accepted with a reluctant sigh. She led the way into the forest.
Baethan was one of the soldiers on watch. He saw her coming, and even though she had a bodyguard, he got to his feet. Yalera groaned when she saw this.
Baethan chuckled. “Sorry but Yemry gave orders that if you wanted to leave camp for any reason during the night, one of us should accompany you.”
“But I have a bodyguard!” Yalera cried out softly so that she didn't wake anyone.
Baethan shrugged. “Two sets of eyes is better than one.”
Yalera sighed, tempted to have Yuna attack him. Without a word, she walked into the forest until she located a thick bush to give her some privacy. To her great relief, both men let her maintain her privacy rather than insisting that they couldn't let her out of their sight. A soft sound even let her know that they were emptying their bladders too. She was seriously tempted to sneak away while they were occupied, but she knew that they would see her cats follow her, so it would be a useless attempt.
A thought occurred to her that made her grin. So far, no one had tried to stop her or dissuade her. This made her wonder if she really was in charge. If she was, they couldn't stop her.
“How are you at running?” She asked them a few moments later when she had finished her task and smoothed out her thick, warm, night outfit. Unlike when she was at home, here, she was wearing a functional pair of pants and a shirt. She would be able to run no problem.
Baethan groaned but Ando merely shrugged. “I am proficient, my Princess.”
“As am I,” Baethan added, obviously reluctant. “But it's the middle of the night! My shift is almost over and I'd like to get some sleep.”
“So would I,” Yalera informed him haughtily. “But I can't, so I'm going to run. You can feel free to return to camp!”
He groaned again but shook his head. “Not a chance! Yemry would kill me!”
Impressed that neither of them tried to tell her no, she looked around. Most of the forest was dark, but that made it strangely easier to see a path. It seemed like the moon itself was leading her. She pointed out the path to the smilodons. Each licked her once before taking off.
Running between them, Yalera easily kept up with their pace. They weren't going slow, but they weren't running at top speed either. This was the type of speed one used when they wanted to get somewhere quickly, but didn't want to be exhausted in the process.
Yalera kept following the path for a long time. She wasn't keeping track, but if she had to guess, at least a quarter hour passed before they burst into a clearing. By this time, Yalera was starting to feel a little winded, so she slowed down and then came to a full stop. Her cats kept on going until they reached the large lake.
“Oh wow...” Yalera exhaled reverently. With the moon shining on the lake and a small waterfall off to the side, the place looked magical. She walked up behind Yuna, petting her as the cats got a drink.
“Tell me that you're not about to declare that you want a bath!” Baethan muttered insistently.
Yalera giggled. “I was actually thinking that it would be nice to go for a swim... except that the water's probably far too chilly.”
She bent over to scoop water out of the lake to drink for about half a minute, and then straightened up again. “I was right, the water's very cold. On the plus side, it tastes really good!”
Before she could decide what she wanted to do next, something thick shot out from the water and wrapped itself around her right calf. She almost didn't have time to squeak in surprise as she was pulled toward the lake, but Yuna struck out as fast as lightning. Just as Yalera landed on her butt on the sandy shore, Yuna pulled an astonishingly long and thick snake out of the lake.
The snake let her go abruptly so that it could fight for its life, but it was no match for the two cats that tore it to bits in a matter of minutes. Yalera stared at it in shock for a long moment – her two guards also in shock and not sure how or if they should help the cats. Unexpectedly, she started to giggle.
“Well! That would have been a dire and tragic way to get some sleep!” She joked.
“Permanent sleep!” Baethan blurted out, unable to believe that she was joking at a time like this.
“I guess bathing in this lake is out of the question!” Yalera added, still laughing.
She got up to hug her cats in thanks, only to fall abruptly to the ground again. Sharp pain made her inhale a soft gasp, but her hands were already investigating the cause. “Oh dear... Looks like I've sprained my ankle.”
Baethan scoffed. “You say that as if you've just spilled tea on your dress! 'Oh dear, now I'll have to change...'” He did a fairly good impression of Rolanna as he said that. “If you're in pain, it's not bad to cry about it.”
Yalera shrugged. “This is nothing compared to the time I fell out of a tree and broke a rib. I decided back then that so long as breathing didn't hurt, I'd never complain about pain again.”
“That's not normal for a girl,” Baethan stated with a confused frown.
“You got me!” Yalera confessed with a laugh. “I'm actually a boy like my twin!”
“Not funny,” Baethan grumbled.
“Do you need me to carry you back to camp, my Princess?” Ando asked. A suspicious look made Yalera wonder if he suddenly didn't trust Baethan.
“No,” Yalera denied with a shake of her head. “If I need to, I'll just ride Yuna.”
Yuna growled at her.
“After you've finished eating, of course!” Yalera assured her.
Yuna huffed, and then returned her attention to the snake the two of them were still eating. Yalera ran a hand along Yuna's rump.
“Does it taste good?” Yalera asked.
Both Yuna and Rune meowed in a way that sounded like they were saying: Oh... so so...
“I should bring some back for breakfast,” Yalera told herself, a hand covering her stomach, which chose just them to growl hungrily.
“I wouldn't,” Ando stated flatly. “Snake is an acquired taste.”
Yalera shrugged. “If it's anything like the snakes I've eaten before, then I'll probably like it.”
“Blech!” Baethan blurted out. “Give me a good leg of lamb any day!”
The smilodons suddenly leapt to their feet in a defensive position between Yalera and the forest. Both growled threateningly at something Yalera couldn't see. She carefully got to her feet, and then stood on the one that wasn't injured as her guards prepared to defend her from whatever was upsetting the smilodons.
Slowly, a third smilodon stepped into the clearing. It was growling at them, obviously torn between driving them away and coming closer. Yalera almost laughed because it looked tiny in comparison to her cats, even though it was still about seven feet long and a good three and a half feet tall from its shoulders to the ground. The head added nearly another foot, or would when it stopped crouching it toward the ground.
In a slow and steady way, the new smilodon showed that it didn't intend them harm even as it got ever closer to them. Rune and Yuna continued to growl, but it was a soft growl that was more of a warning to behave than actual dislike. Rune stepped forward and angled her body so that the new cat would have to be creative in order to get to Yalera, if that was its intent.
“It's a boy!” Yalera gasped in sudden understanding.
The new smilodon seemed to confirm this when he arrived next to Rune and gently tried to bite her neck. Yalera was tempted to jump for joy. Her ankle hurt too much for that, so she clapped instead.
“It's a boy! Rune! Yuna! You can have babies!”
Yuna looked at her as if taken aback by this suggestion. Meanwhile, Rune was definitely warming up to the idea. She nudged the newcomer with her head, growling in a way that almost seemed flirty.
“Oh don't give me that look, girl,” Yalera laughed, patting Yuna's rump. “Go on, I know you want to!”
Yuna swiveled around to give Yalera a quick kiss, and then nearly jumped on the male smilodon before running off. He chased her, Rune running after them. Yalera would swear that they were all giggling like little kids during a game of chase.
“Was that wise?” Ando asked, not sure whether to be relieved that they were gone, or dismayed that they wouldn't be around to defend Yalera if anything else dangerous showed up.
“Definitely!” Yalera cheered with a grin. “Besides, that was the first male they'd ever met. I probably couldn't have stopped them if I wanted to!”
Suddenly, a yawn so deep overcame her that she felt moisture sting her eyes. She wiped the moisture away; giggling even as she muttered derisively at herself.
“Now I wish I'd had one of them bring me back to camp first...”
Ando sheathed his sword since the potential threat was gone. “As I said, I can carry you, Princess.”
Yalera laughed. “Is it wise for my bodyguard to have his hands full?”
Ando turned his back on her and knelt. “My hands won't be full.”
“Oh...” Yalera murmured, blushing as she took the hint and climbed onto his back.
Baethan looked decidedly grumpy as he sheathed his sword, but when he saw Yalera looking at him curiously, he shook his head. A moment later, he shrugged and blurted out the first excuse he could come up with. “I was just wondering... Don't cats have to be in heat in order to have babies?”
Yalera chuckled. “You wouldn't ask that if you'd seen my tent. It looks like they murdered something in there!”
“That's probably what attracted the male smilodon,” Ando murmured as he adjusted his grip on her and straightened up.
“Thank the Gods he did show up to our camp!” Baethan blurted out.
“No kidding!” Yalera exclaimed with a tiny giggle. “Although... that might have been fun to watch... Guards panicking and running amok!”
Baethan snorted. “That's not called fun, that's called sadistic!”
Yalera simply shrugged. Ando started the trip back to camp, Baethan following.
“Let's just hope that there aren't any other male smilodons around!” Baethan muttered
Ando nodded in agreement. “I could see that being a big problem.”
“I'd be surprised if there were,” Yalera murmured sleepily. She rested her head against Ando's shoulder.
The trip back to camp took a little more than twice as long as their jog away from camp had been. Yemry was now on duty and took Baethan aside to interrogate him. This left Ando alone with Yalera as he carried her into her tent. It took him a bit of careful jostling, but he was soon able to lay her down gently on her bedroll.
“Rohan...” she mumbled in her sleep, her arms wrapping around Ando's neck and holding him tightly.
“I'm not Rohan,” Ando stated softly as he tried to pry her arms loose.
“Rohan,” she repeated almost insistently.
“No,” Ando replied, finally managing to remove her arms from his neck. She pouted in her sleep and rolled over, which made it slightly easier for him to cover her with her blanket. “Goodnight Princess.”
In a state of profound relief, Ando exited her tent and crawled back into his own bedroll. As he closed his eyes, he couldn't help but think: She's lucky I take my duty seriously! I could have taken advantage of her very easily just now! Somewhere deep down, he hoped that after her year of mourning was up, he'd have proven his trustworthiness to her so that she would choose him as her next husband. In that way, he could continue to protect the wife of his best friend for the rest of her life.
“Someone wake Yalera so we can get moving already!” Yemry called out, looking significantly at Rohan, who looked mildly worn out rather than chipper like he normally did in the morning.
“You wake her,” Rohan grumbled. “I actually wouldn't mind going back to sleep for a bit.”
Yemry looked surprised at this. “You wouldn't?”
Rohan blushed and looked away as he rubbed a hand on the back of his neck. “Yeah, well I kept waking up during the night for some reason.”
Yemry laughed, put an arm around Rohan's shoulders and murmured in his ear. “So did I, but that's no reason to lag about.” Louder he added: “We should get going as soon as possible.”
“We can't,” Yalera stated firmly as she emerged from her tent – which Ando took this as his cue to get up and start putting away his bedding. She smiled at a drowsy looking Marlena – who was holding out a cup of tea for her. A few limping steps carried Yalera over to the tea, which she drank gratefully.
“What do you mean we can't?” Yemry asked with a frown even as his wife asked: “What happened to you?”
Yalera smiled at Marlena again. “Nothing too bad, I simply sprained my ankle when a snake tried to drag me into the lake and eat me.”
“What?!” Marlena and Hannah blurted out incredulously.
“When was this?” Rohan wondered with a concerned frown.
“Last night...” Yalera answered, turning to smirk at her twin. “Just before a male smilodon wandered over to us and started courting Rune and Yuna.” She turned to Yemry even as Rohan blurted out: A male! “Which is why we can't leave. They're not back yet.”
“They aren't?” Both Rohan and Yemry asked in surprise. Yemry had heard what happened from Baethan, but he had figured that the smilodons would have returned within a couple of hours.
Yalera shrugged. “They were in heat, so they'll probably focus on mating for the next couple of days, and then they'll come back.”
“A couple of days?!” Yemry protested. “We can't wait that long!”
“Why not?” Yalera wondered with a frown. “The whole point of me having my own entourage was so that I could take my time.”
Yemry groaned as he took a calming breath. “I just really want to get home before winter sets in.”
“We will,” Yalera stated confidently, although she had no idea if she was telling the truth.
Rohan noticed his sister grimace slightly, and since she was now sitting in front of the morning campfire, he shifted until he was sitting in front of her. He seemed to gaze at nothing for a moment as he used his ability to read her mind. With a nod of satisfaction that he was right, he pushed up her right pant leg just enough to show a copious amount of bruising.
Without much sympathy, he poked and prodded her calf and ankle. This made her inhale a soft hiss of pain, but she didn't protest. He huffed in a knowing tone of voice.
“This looks like it was pretty badly swollen last night, but it's gone down. It's almost normal, but I wouldn't blame you if you wanted me to make you a crutch. That must have hurt a lot! I'm surprised I didn't feel it,” Rohan remarked, biting his lip in thought.
“Well,” Yalera responded with a shrug. “We were at a lake a good 15 or 20 minutes jog from here, so I bet I was too far away. And it didn't hurt nearly as bad as when I broke my rib, so I could bear it.”
“Maybe, but that's stupid!” Rohan chided her, lightly pounding on her head with a fist. “You're always doing things like that. I bet you walked back on it rather than let on that you were hurt!”
“Well I would have,” Yalera muttered defensively. “But I didn't have a chance. Baethan and Ando found out about the sprain when I did, so Ando carried me back after Rune and Yuna took off.”
“Baethan was there?” Rohan ground out angrily, glaring at the man in question.
“Hey!” Baethan protested, holding up his hands. “I was just acting as a guard.”
“So you say, but I think you must be bad luck or something. A troublemaker!” Rohan growled as he got up and rummaged through their supplies.
Yemry and a few of his soldiers laughed at that. Yemry pounded his best friend on the back. “I think he might have you there!”
“Whose side are you on?” Baethan grumbled unappreciatively.
Yemry didn't have a chance to respond though, because Yalera interjected her opinion. “I thought you were a capable guard. It certainly wasn't your fault that there was a giant snake swimming around just waiting to eat me.”
“There you go being too nice to him again,” Rohan complained as he sat back down and wrapped Yalera's leg up tightly in a thick bandage.
Yalera stuck her tongue out at him. “I'm not being too anything! He did an excellent job despite a snake attack and a wild smilodon showing up. And do you have to wrap that so tightly?”
“Oh you won't whine about the actual pain, but you'll whine about this little discomfort?” Rohan asked with a look like she was being silly again.
Yalera rolled her eyes before dropping the argument. She removed her foot from Rohan's lap, and then pointed at Hannah. “Is one of those plates for me?”
Hannah blushed and looked away. “Actually, I made up a plate for me and a plate for Rohan.”
“Hand it over then!” Yalera demanded with an impish grin. She held a hand out expectantly.
“I don't think so!” Rohan exclaimed, snatching his plate before Hannah could give it to Yalera. The twins stuck their tongues out at each other.
Hannah wasn't the only one who was laughing. Most everyone was chuckling at this childish display. Except Baethan, who seemed to be sending up a prayer of thanks that he was an only child.
“You two are so funny!” Hannah exclaimed. “Here, take my plate Princess, I'll make another.”
“Thanks,” Yalera murmured sincerely. “But don't call me Princess. You're more of a Princess than I am, and besides, we're sisters now.”
Hannah reached over to take one of Yalera's hands. “And we're going to be the very best of friends I just know it!”
“Don't forget me,” Marlena insisted, taking hold of Yalera's other hand.
Both Yemry and Rohan smiled to see that their wives got along with their sister so well. Everyone ate at their own pace, but when they were all done, Yemry ordered his soldiers to spar. Rohan joined in, enjoying the chance to use his sword skills.
The day passed slowly. The night was every bit as awkward for Yalera as the previous one, but she resisted the urge to leave camp. Eventually, she fell into a deeply restful sleep. The next day, Yemry took a peek into Yalera's tent before even suggesting that someone wake her. Seeing that the smilodons were still absent, he simply sighed.
“I suppose that if we're not going anywhere again today, we might as well spar until we drop!” Yemry announced. Everyone but Rohan groaned.
“Yes!” Rohan hissed softly.
Ando, having gotten more sleep than Yalera, took the opportunity to spar with the soldiers before breakfast. The longer he was with this group, the more he truly liked Yalera and her family. They were a generally carefree lot that enjoyed life.
Yalera emerged from her tent when the smell of breakfast was too delicious to ignore. She yawned hugely and stretched. Never a morning person, she was grumpy from lack of sleep.
“If I can't sleep tonight, will someone please knock me out!” She begged in a grumble.
“I couldn't allow that to happen, Princess,” Ando informed her smoothly.
“Figures,” she muttered unappreciatively.
After she had eaten her fill – and made a quick trip to the bushes – she sat looking through her sketchbook as she contemplated going back to the lake to sketch the waterfall.
“I see your ankle is doing better today,” Rohan remarked, leaning on a pair of staves that he'd been sparring with until his partner asked to take a quick break to find a tree to water.
“Yep, good as new,” Yalera agreed, stretching the leg in question and wiggling her foot.
“Excellent!” Rohan cheered, a bit darkly. He tossed a staff at her, barely waiting for her to catch it before he attacked her.
She rolled to the side, leapt to her feet, and then backed away slightly as she held her staff at the ready. Rohan attacked and she defended herself pretty well. She never was quite as good as him with the staff and especially not with a sword, but she could probably save her life if she had to.
“It's been ages since I've had a good fight!” Yalera announced with a giggle.
“I can tell!” Rohan teased her. “You're so bad that I could probably bash your skull in without even trying!”
“Am not!” Yalera protested. Her steady defense, even though she kept backing away from him, proved her right.
Ando watched her in utter shock. “Rubidium women learn how to use weapons?!”
Yemry shrugged, subtly pointing out that his soldiers were also stunned. This made Ando feel a little better. Even so, he was genuinely gobsmacked that Yalera knew how to use a staff.
“It's not forbidden for women to learn how to fight,” Yemry informed him. “It's just not encouraged either. That said, there have been quite a few famous female soldiers throughout history.”
“I thought those were just myths...” Ando murmured, letting Yemry know that he had heard of those famous soldiers. He shook his head. “I would feel all sorts of shame if I was such a weak soldier that my sister had to learn how to defend herself.”
Because Ando was so focused on Yemry as he said that, the twins silently agreed to punish him for his bad attitude. Without any indication that Yalera wasn't paying full attention to the fight, she winked at Rohan. Together, they both stuck their staves behind Ando and swept his feet out from under him. Then they pressed the hard, metal capped ends into his chest.
“You don't seem to understand,” Yalera growled menacingly. “We are twins, that means that we are one person that the Gods decided to split into two. We do everything together. Our father could no more stop me from learning how to fight than he could stop Rohan from learning how to –”
“Yalera!” Rohan cut her off hastily. “He doesn't need to know that!”
Yalera cast an impish glance at her twin. Why not?
It's a little embarrassing!
So you know how to sew; it's not like that isn't a useful skill, Yalera pointed out.
Even so, no need to tell this stranger all our embarrassing secrets, Rohan insisted.
Yalera sighed. “If you say so.” She set her staff next to her and leaned on it slightly as she held out her hand for Ando. “Anyway, before you say anything else in the future that is degrading to women, you might want to think twice and hold your tongue.”
“Yes... my Princess...” Ando murmured contritely. As much as he was embarrassed to be taken down by his charge during an unguarded moment, he was even more intrigued as to what was said silently between them.
Yemry was also curious, but knew better than to ask. If Rohan was going to confess to anything, it would be later on when the two of them were alone. He changed the subject with a sigh.
“Well, if we're going to be here much longer, we're going to have to hunt,” he said. “Do you want to try to hunt as a group, or should we send out just two or three small teams?”
“I think that sending all 12 of your soldiers out at once would probably just scare the prey away,” Yalera stated. “So... Why don't Rohan and I form one team, you and Baethan can form another, and everyone else can remain in camp.”
“That's not fair!” Baethan protested. “That makes it sound like a contest, and if that's the case, there's no way we can win it!”
Yalera giggled. Yemry scowled at his best friend. “Are you saying that I don't know how to hunt?”
“Not at all,” Baethan assured him hastily, waving his hands. “All I'm saying is that I've seen your sister shoot her bow, and...” He looked away and left the rest unsaid.
Rohan was tempted to heckle Baethan, but a glance at the flirty expression on his wife's face changed his mind. About hunting anyway. “And I've seen you use a bow! I don't think you could win a contest against my sister if she helped you! But it doesn't matter to me, I'm not going hunting today.”
“Why not?” Baethan asked solely to stop himself from grumbling over Rohan's heckling.
“I am so terrible with a bow that I don't think I've ever shot anything in my life,” Rohan stated with a shrug.
“Of course you have!” Baethan protested. “I've seen you!”
“Have you?” Rohan asked with a smirk.
“Well yes, I... wait...” Baethan frowned and bit his lip in thought. “Haven't I?” Even now, he didn't want to come out and say that he had once claimed one of Rohan's kills as his own to get into the King's good graces.
“Nope! I never even bother carrying a bow,” Rohan informed him. “I'll carry a quiver or two so that Yalera has extras, but I leave the shooting to her.”
“If it's going to be a contest,” Yemry murmured in thought. “Then we should send out four teams, one in every direction. Yalera, which direction do you want?”
“I'll take that direction,” Yalera stated, pointing in the direction of the lake. “That way, after I've won the contest, I can keep and eye out for Yuna and Rune and sketch the waterfall before I send for a group of soldiers to come carry back my winning kill.”
Yemry laughed. “So you think you're that good, do you?”
Yalera kissed her older brother on the cheek. “I know I am!” She looked over at Rohan – who had grabbed her bow for her and tossed it at her.
“If you find a boar, that's what I'd like for dinner!” Rohan informed her with a smirk.
“Will do!” Yalera promised with a cheeky grin.
Ando paled in fear on her behalf. “Are you crazy! Taking down a boar is extremely dangerous!”
“I know that,” Yalera replied in a deadpan voice. She didn't want to get mad at her bodyguard when he was simply concerned for her safety, but she was starting to lose patience with him. Sighing, she beckoned to him. “Come on, let's go.”
With a small nod of acceptance, Ando followed his charge while Yemry chose the other teams and sent them out.
Go to Chapter 10
Go to Chapter 10