Chapter 11: The Journey
It was just before dawn, Tylander stood in his bedroom looking down at Ryanne. She was still sleeping. He knew he should let her sleep, but he promised her he would wake her before he left. “Ryanne love, I need to go now,” Tylander sat next to Ryanne as he gently touched her face.
“Hmm, Tylander,” Ryanne slowly opened her eyes to see that he was all dressed and ready to leave. A wave of sadness hit her chest. “I wish you didn’t have to go.” Ryanne was doing her best not to cry. Tylander gave her a chaste kiss.
“Me too.” Tylander rested his forehead against Ryanne’s. “I promise you I will come back to you. You just stay safe while I’m gone.” Tylander connected his mind to Ryanne’s . She could feel his love and his fear.
“I will be just fine. I’m protected here in the city. You on the other hand are going into battle. Don’t you dare leave me here alone in this world without you. I would not survive losing you.” Ryanne had fallen so in love with Tylander she was certain she would die of a broken heart should she lose him.
“I just got you back. Don’t worry I will do everything in my power to return to you.” Tylander wrapped his arms around Ryanne and kissed her lips one last time. “I need to leave, I love you Ryanne.”
“I love you too, Tylander. Tell Junkar that I’m expecting him to keep you safe. If you get so much as a scratch I will be taking my anger out on him.” Ryanne joked trying to lighten the mood.
“Oh great that’s all I need is a Nilactin body guard!” Tylander laughed. “He will be so thrilled.” Ryanne gave him a sad smile.
“Hurry back to me OK.” Ryanne gave Tylander one last hug.
“I will. Goodbye my love.” Tylander grabbed his gear and left. As he was leaving Ryanne could feel her connection with Tylander stretch. The blessing he received had linked him to her permanently. It was like he became a part of her existing in the background of her mind. The farther away he went, the more her soul stretched to keep him connected to her. It gave Ryanne some comfort to know that as long as she could feel that connection, she knew Tylander was alive.
* * *
Tylander met up with Othyos, Junkar and Endi at the city gate. “What kept you so long?” Junkar asked as they fell into step. “My wife, wasn’t quite ready to let me leave. I’m sure you understand.” Tylander kept pace with his companions as they walked out of the Quinetta city gates and onto the road to Asoonadye lands. “By the way Ryanne wanted me to tell you that if I get hurt she is holding you personally responsible.”
“Really,” Junkar laughed, “Well, I’ll do my best. I sure wouldn’t want to be on her bad side. I’ve seen her angry. I really don’t want to be on the receiving end of that.”
“No you don’t,” Tylander laughed. Both Endi and Othyos mumbled their agreement.
The group traveled peaceably throughout the day stopping every few hours to rest and eat. Near sundown they made camp near a small creek. They had been sitting around the camp fire when Endi decided to ask a question that had been bothering him for some time. “Othyos, I noticed back in Quinetta that you were uncomfortable with me. Why is that?”
“You notice that, did you?” Othyos seemed a little embarrassed, “Well I did witness your kind destroying my village. And I saw the damage your people have done to each village they visited. It’s hard for me to look at you without thinking about the devastation your people have inflicted on mine. Even if they are under the control of Dyvanor, I’m not sure I can ever forgive them.” Othyos looked down into his hands. “I’m sorry. I don’t blame you personally, but it’s hard to look at you and not be a little angry.” Othyos looked up at Endi.
“That’s understandable.” Endi nodded his head. “I won’t take it personally.”
“Please don’t, I’m trying hard not feel this way.” Othyos looked up at Endi. “We are going into battle together. This old Nilactin saying keeps repeating in my head. He who would go into battle with me and shed blood at my side shall be my brother for all eternity. That kinda makes you my brother.” Endi looked a little stunned.
“That would mean I have three brothers?” Endi smiled. “I’ve never had a brother before. When my mother died she was the last of my family. I’ve been alone for so long, But now I have three brothers and three kingdoms who will claim me. The Handmaiden’s arrival has given me far more than just a new ability. I’ve been blessed me with a family.”
“Yeah now that I have a brother,” Junkar laughed, “Injanari and I will be relying on Uncle Endi to watch the kids while we go out.”
“Can Ryanne and I get in on that too?” Tylander laughed. Endi was nodding his head laughing.
“Sure I didn’t know that was what uncles do, but I’m sure I can manage to fulfill that job requirement.” Endi looked to a now smiling Othyos. “Are you going to hit me up for babysitting duty as well?”
“Absolutely, I think my wife will be very happy to get some alone time with me while Uncle Endi watches the little ones.” Othyos laughed.
The men carried on like that throughout the evening. They knew they weren’t all coming back, but it was nice to pretend while it lasted.
The next day they were up a dawn, broke camp and continued traveling towards Dyvanor’s army. Much of the day passed uneventful, but as they drew near the army they started spotting scouts. Othyos was able to mask their presents with his gift of stealth, but it slowed down their progress significantly. It was very physically taxing on Othyos to keep all of them invisible. They had to stop and rest several times before Endi decided to carry Othyos. This allowed the little man to focus all his energy on keeping them hidden. By the time the sun had set they were less than fifty yards from the Endotalen camp.
Othyos knew this area fairly well and was able to lead them to a small cave. They had made it their base of operations while they rested and decided the best way to approach the Endotalen Council.
* * *
Back in Quinetta Ryanne had been missing Tylander, but she was comforted to still feel her connection with him. Last night she could even feel his laughter. He was safe and well at least for the moment, so Ryanne was in a better mood this morning than she had been yesterday. Ryanne and Gabriela were out in the market place, getting some supplies for Surietta for dinner that evening, when a voice called out to her. “Ryanne? Are you Ryanne?” She turned to the voice to find it came from a calico Nilactin.
“Yes, I’m Ryanne.”
“I’m Injanari, Junkar is my mate.” She stated as she gave a slight bow.
“Oh Injanari, Junkar told me about you. It’s wonderful to meet you. This is Gabriela.” Ryanne still was not comfortable calling Gabriela her daughter. The Nilactin gave the little girl a brief nod.
“Junkar asked that I train you a bit. He thought it would be a good Idea if you were able to defend yourself should we be invaded.”
“That is a great idea. I’m glad you waited until after the men left. Tylander is still a little too protective of me. If he knew I was training he would flip his lid. the smallest scratch and I’d never hear the end of it.” Ryanne smiled, she was really missing Tylander. “Besides it will help us keep our minds off them being so far away.” Ryanne blinked several times to keep herself from tearing up.
“Great I have some fighting gear that should work for you. Why don’t you finish up here and meet me at the practice ring my people set up just outside the city walls?”
“Sure, I shouldn’t be more than an hour.” Ryanne stated now in a hurry to get the shopping done she she could go train with her new friend. Gabriela was quite helpful in getting all they needed from the market and even helped Ryanne find her way the few times she got turned around in the market place.
“So Mommy can I watch you train?” Gabriela asked as they were putting their purchases away.
“Sure, a woman can never know too many ways to keep themselves safe. Women in my world take self defense very seriously. You never know when you might need it.” Taking Gabriela’s hand Ryanne lead her out to the practice ring.
Injanari wasted no time getting Ryanne into gear and shoving her into the ring. “I will need to know were to start with you. I’m going to come at you and I want you to defend yourself. This is just so I can get an idea of what to teach you first.” Injanari leaped towards Ryanne with startling speed, however Ryanne was able to dodge the Nilactin’s assault. As Injanari came back around Ryanne was able to land a jab to the Nilactin’s shoulder that knocked the cat of balance. Not an easy thing to do.
“Oh did I forget to tell you? I’ve had some martial arts training. I’m pretty good at it too.” Ryanne smiled. Injanari smiled as well.
“Oh this is going to be fun.” Injanari laughed as they began to spar for real. The two woman traded blows and pushes back and forth while occasionally throwing each other. It was a great workout and it was the first time since Tylander left that Ryanne was actually feeling pretty good. She and Injanari were bonding. While it looked like they were trying to hurt each other from an outside perspective, they were both pulling their punches so that they were not doing any real damage. They would feel it in the morning though. Both would be bruised and a little battered, but they would be just fine. Both women finally called it quits after about an hour of hard core sparing. They were smiling and laughing as they said their goodbyes.
Ryanne had little trouble falling asleep that night, unlike the previous night without Tylander. Her body was sore and exhausted thus allowing her to fall into a deep sleep the moment her head hit the pillow. Her dreams were filled with visions of Tylander, Othyos, Endi, and Junkar making their approach into the Endotalen encampment.
Read chapter 12