Chapter 8: Missions
Bloody Rocks, Lorness
Caileagh arrived at the sanctuary to prepare vessels for the evening’s sacrifices. She took the torch from her escort. As she stepped into the silent cave, her gut knotted. Her head throbbed. The pain in her chest was so sharp, she looked for blood.
Dropping the torch, she fell on her face.. “Master, Ruler of the Earth, what’ve I done wrong? Tell me how to serve you.”
The screeches of her lesser spirits filled her mind.
A follower of J’shua has polluted this sanctuary. We cannot remain. Find the perpetrator. Reconsecrate this place with their blood.
“Master, how can I find him?” she pleaded. She heard nothing. “How can I do as you ask?” Still no reply.
She fled the cave, panic in her throat. The silence was a painful void. Never had she been without the guidance of her spirits. Never had she been alone. It was as if the sun was extinguished, leaving her cold to the bone.
Caileagh mounted and galloped away, ignoring her escorts that followed.
She had to find the perpetrator. Their blood would flow and she’d kill them slowly.
The heavy oak doors burst open. Gaelib sat straight up in the bed, taking in his frenzied wife. “Why’re you back so soon?”
“Get out! Out, all of you!” Her eyes blazed.
Five little blonde girls popped up from under the bedcovers wide-eyed and trembling. Wriggling to the floor, each hooked their clothes and sprinted for the door.
Gaelib sighed loudly, frowning. “Was that necessary? It’s taken so long to get them to this point.”
“I don’t care! They’ve left me. I’m naked.”
“Who’s left you?” Gaelib brightened, cocking his head. He inspected her like a new puzzle, no longer thinking of his young playthings. “You’re not naked…yet.”
“My spirits.” She glared.
His eyebrows came together, almost touching. “Is that possible? Has it happened before? How does it—”
“Don’t treat me like one of your experiments.”
He stood, pulling on a robe. Trying to sound conciliatory, he said, “How’ll I learn without asking questions?”
“Yes, my love.” He encircled her with his arms. “If they’re gone, they’ll return.”
“How’d you get them in the beginning?”
“Can you go to a grave to get them back?”
“No, mine are lesser spirits. They’re not like the Warrior who guides you.”
She rubbed her temples. “My mother took me…somewhere. A big man painted symbols on my body.” She pulled up her shift to look at the scars on her torso. They were indecipherable, overwritten many times. I think it was a rite of…Tammuz?” She fell to her knees. Clutching her hair, she rocked forward and back, babbling, “I was a child. He raped me…my mother held me down. She was smiling.”
“You were always good to your spirits,” he said as if to a child, while lifting her up. “You observed every ceremony, nurtured them, celebrated them. They will return. Tell me what happened.” He stroked her hair and held her close as she babbled. Facts, impressions, and sheer nonsense spouted forth from her. One thing was clear, though: she was terrified.
“Many years of careful preparation consecrated that sanctuary long before I was born,” she moaned. “I’ve failed them. Let their sacred place be…be…tainted.” She clung to him as if she was drowning. “I can’t be without them! I can’t!” she gasped, eyes glassy and unblinking.
“We must return to Farr Castle. There, I can search the scrolls and tablets. Perhaps they hold the answer.”
“Very well. We’ll return to Farr.” Gaelib held her tighter and her body relaxed. “Now, let me help you.” His hands traversed her body.
The following morning, Gaelib sent out two black robes, each with two soldiers.
“Don’t return without Caileagh’s mother or the wizard. Find them both!”
Amidst the Atmosphere of Lorness
Despite the ghastly discovery, Owakar smiled, making entries into the luach.
As the foul spirits screamed, blown helplessly to and fro, Owakar’s chuckles became roars of laughter. "Farewell, tainted ones. Enjoy your journey into the darkness.”
Without the sanctuary she’d kept for them, they lost their hold on Caileagh.
Owakar made sure they could never see who had ruined their obscene temple.
That Rebekah could hinder the God of this Age brought pure mirth. So he called Alocrin, “Come celebrate! That woman has destroyed a work of the Serpent."
Joyously, he picked up his luach again and added this incident to the Book as a passage glowed brighter.
[Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain.]
Then he whistled as he stepped out of a coach and sauntered into The Lion and Tiger Inn. This time he wore a velvet cloak and rings on his fingers. He ordered a pitcher and took a table to wait for his friend.
What’s on the menu?
Outside River Town
The rain poured down hard and cold.
Jonathan had kept moving since departing from River Town and his encounter with George Rosewud. Uncertainty gnawed at his gut. He and his horse were long since soaked to the bone. He prayed for Rebekah and Sarah and David, picturing them all together again in comfort and safety. And he meditated on the Writings to still his fears, thanking Lord J’shua for leading him.
In the distance, two gray figures on horseback appeared, nearing at a walk.
Jonathan loosed his sword in its scabbard and checked his dagger.
The two men separated to pass him on either side.
He let them come close and then abruptly reined his stallion to the left, blocking the larger man. Jon’s horse snorted.
“What’cha think you’re doin’, old man?” its rider snapped. “If ya can’t control ya horse, ya should’na be ridin.’”
“I am in control.” Jonathan kept his hand on the sword hidden beneath his cloak. “That is why I did not let you pass me. Perhaps that is why I am still alive.”
“If ya wanna stay that way, get off’a ya horse. We’ll tell Rosie y’ar dead. He don’t need know…if ya give us ya baden too,” the brute chuckled.
His young companion smiled menacingly, a narrow-bladed dagger in hand.
Jonathan spurred his horse, ramming the older man, whose squealing mount reared. The startled rider was vulnerable. With one slash, the highwayman fell from his horse, blood running down his arm.
Jonathan kneed his horse and galloped away. After a few miles with no sign of pursuit, he breathed a sigh as he reined in the horse.
Rosie? Could my attacker be referring to the supposed farmer that questioned me at the inn? Rosewud?
Quorin watched the knight race away. “Rosey didn’a tell me ‘e was armed.” He raised his bloody arm, dropping the accent. “Don’t follow him.”
“But it’s so much money.” Rhaylth, the fuzzy-bearded youth, turned back.
“Living is more important. Especially since I’ve been reduced to…this.” He grabbed a thong and began tying it above the gash. “Well, don’t just gawp, Rhay-Rhay. Help me. I’d rather not lose any more blood.”
Nodding, Rhaylth dismounted and helped his cousin down. “It’s more money than I’ve ever seen. Couldn’t we—”
“No. That was a Knight of J’shua. Had I known that beforehand, I’d have charged triple. But as it is, Rosewud thinks he hired a fool named Caydin.” He grinned, “A bit uv a no-hop’r, ya know?”
“That’s why I spoke to Rosewud without you. You’ve no talent for doing voices. It’s also why…” he slapped a saddlebag that jingled pleasantly, “I insisted on half up front. Now, you and I’ll meet up with the family. Hopefully, they’ve been doing better than we have.”
“Stop saying that and bandage my arm. I can’t keep this tourniquet tight for long.”
The beating rain became a drizzle.
Outside Fairness Crossing
Rebekah headed straight toward Shining Mountain.
First, I must return to the Frei, change my appearance, and tell everyone they can go home.
Soon she would recover Sarah. As she rode, thread by thread, a plan formed—a way to root out this evil corruption.
She’d always told people she met in town that she had a cabin in the foothills of the mountain, so they wouldn’t think anything of her heading that way. Despite the urgency, she wouldn’t risk someone following her. Once sure she wasn’t pursued, she disappeared into Frei Forest and doubled back.
Thick underbrush slapped against her as she continued toward the colony. A branch snapped. Someone moved parallel to her. She urged Justice behind taller cover and readied her bow, placing three arrows in her bow hand. Pinpointing the next sound, she drew.
A young buck bounded across her path. It sported bulbous buttons where his antlers would soon sprout. It paused for the slightest moment, then leaped away.
With a sigh, she continued on.
When she finally entered the small clearing, children bounded toward her as she dismounted.
“Mother Otual,” one girl exclaimed, reaching out small hands. “Did you bring us a sweet?”
“How’d you know?” she smiled broadly and pulled a bag of oranges from her horse. “Remember to share,” she yelled as the girl ran off.
“Rebekah, did you find him?” Vincent asked.
She nodded. “And much more. I’ll explain later.”
A chorus of “hallos” followed as others surrounded her.
She smiled again, giving each a hug. It surprised her how draining it was to pose as a man. Here she could relax.
“You’re back. We’ve been praying for your safe return.” Teress squeezed her tighter.
Rebekah gazed at the group surrounding her and announced, “The king has proclaimed the debt collections unlawful. You can go home!”
Shouts and laughter erupted. Tears of joy ran down cheeks as one hugged another.
“Praise the God of Truth!”
Later, as all sat around a small crackling fire, Rebekah shared details of the king’s proclamation. Then, she told of the cave and the child’s hand she’d found there.
Tears streamed down many faces. Anger showed on others. “We must do something,” one said, followed by sounds of agreement.
Rebekah stood and told of J’shua’s inspiration about opposing such evil. Her hood dropped, revealing her hair tied plainly in a man’s fashion. Her manly clothing reminded her she must spy. “We no longer need to hide here. You can go home, reclaim your lives. But…if we’re to combat this pestilence, we must cover every town in Freislicht in prayer, every suspicious place anointed for J’shua.”
She told them the five-fold plan: training, spying, praying, anointing, and adopting.
“We lost our freedom because we felt no need to defend ourselves. We were too safe, too happy. This has been growing for generations. We all must pray in the spirit without ceasing to guard our hearts and receive direction.”
A pinecone in the fire popped, sending embers into the heavens.
Mister Frink brushed a stringy lock of hair behind his ear. “We’ve no training. It’s too dangerous.”
Others bobbed their heads in agreement, worry plain on their faces.
“Yes, it’s dangerous,” Rebekah said. “Think of the victim, terrified. No one prevented the child’s abuse, torture, and death. Sacrificed to a demon, leaving only a hand to mark the babe’s passing. You’re afraid. I am too. But I’m sure this is a divine assignment. The God of Truth will be with us, just as he was with me in the cave.”
She gazed at each face.
Frink glared back. “That’s fine for you. You’ve a knight for a husband. He’ll have taught you skills to survive. We’ve no such guidance.”
“J’shua will guide us. Anything we need, we can learn. If the skills are not amongst us, we can seek them out. Would you rather stand by and do nothing?”
“I’d rather not end up in Melazera’s dungeons.” Frink crossed his arms.
Rebekah continued, “There’ll be no condemnation if you return to your old life—”
“Count me out!” Frink stalked off.
When he was out of sight, Rebekah warned, “You all have children to consider. This is a grave commitment not all can accept. Yet, I ask you to pray. Give me your answers tomorrow. Do you wish to return to your old lives and forget all this, anoint evil places, or become a spy? All we need do is walk by the spirit.”
Everyone was quiet. She watched them leave, one by one, as the sparks from the fire rose into the night sky with her prayers.
Waning Crescent Moon, Early Summer
Waking with the dawn, Rebekah felt torn. The cluster of tiny huts made by tying saplings together wasn’t much of a settlement. Yet, the Frei had been home for three moons, ever since she’d lost Sarah and her parents.
The deafening blaze that consumed her mother and father was still vivid when she closed her eyes. And that smiling soldier holding her daughter. She woke many times each night in a panic. Rebekah shook off her daze. It left her numb.
Today, the community would depart for separate locations. Frink and his family had left the morning after their discussion. Everyone else wanted to help in some capacity. They had worked together to survive, each offering a shoulder for the other to cry on. There were tears and laughter as they packed their things into bundles.
Each couple made tokens to exchange.
When they sat around the circle for the last time, Charles Dugan read a poem he’d written.
“In the crisp and quiet rangings of the heart upon the wood,
“The singing of the sparrow to the mouse amidst the leaves,
“Tend thou in the spirit so the weary traveler could
“Find rest in strong arms bending, and happy graceful eaves.”
Rebekah thanked him for his heartwarming words. Then she bowed her head, and all became quiet. “Father, give us wisdom, grant us insight and peace as we oppose evil in the name of J’shua Ha Mashiach.”
“So it shall be,” they all replied.
Rebekah nodded. “To combat this evil, we have agreed on our strategy. We will train with weapons. We must be as crafty as these perpetrators, uncover their dark secrets, and identify those serving the Serpent.” Her eyes landed on each of them. “Evil people seek dominion through violence, perversion, lies, and slander.”
She leaned in. “We all sin, but those serving darkness become masters of these.”
She looked up. “We’ve been protected by these tall trees, just as we will be by J’shua’s guardians. We shall pray in the spirit for both the good and the evil. The good shall be bolstered in their faith, strengthened in times of trial, and aided in their most desperate hours. Our prayers for the evil may cause them to displease their masters and allow J’shua to undermine their foul practices. And, if they hear J’shua, he will lead them to the God of Truth. But before we can cleanse those places used by the Serpent, we must find them.” She unrolled a map of Freislicht.
Eugene pointed. “We’ve no one here. My family will move to Dunis Glen.”
Rebekah nodded. “Now we have at least one family in each major town. We must save the orphans. Rescuing children will slow the spread of corruption. Rebuilding the Circles will open the way to the God of Truth. Teaching our neighbors will increase our numbers, and J’shua will bless the work.”
“We will spy,” Vincent Donitoro said.
“As will I,” Rebekah added.
Teress Donitoro stood, tucking a wild curl back under her green headscarf. She’d proven to be a skillful mediator. “I’ll visit each family, posing as a kinswoman, keeping us linked.”
“We’ll pray for all,” Rebekah said, “and learn our enemies’ weaknesses. We fight a mighty spiritual foe—one with no scruples. We must keep our fellowship free. Praying in the spirit will strengthen us.”
“Agreed,” they all responded.
The Road to Farr Castle
During the carriage ride to Farr, terrible impressions washed over Caileagh. She twitched, lost in nightmares.
Watching unspeakable acts.
A wizard performing bizarre ceremonies.
Unwanted hands touching my childish body.
My mother, Farina, bewitching me to forget.
Countless memories resurfaced, brought back by Gaelib’s lazy hand stroking her head while humming a melody. Her mother had sung it whenever she brushed Caileagh’s hair.
Anguish flooded through Caileagh in visceral waves. She buried her face into Gaelib’s chest as whispers from the past materialized.
Her mother, Farina, had poisoned the earl’s wife to make room to wed him. And her stepfather, Gaelib’s father, died the same way.
“My guiding spirit has led us to a boy,” her mother had said when they first came to Freislict. “You’ll teach him the ways of the Warrior and marry him. Together, you will rule all.”
Soon after, her mother made her drink a potion and climb upon the stone altar. In a daze she stared as the wizard approached, leering.
How could I have forgotten such things?
Her mind recoiled. It fled into the deepest recesses of her earliest childhood, seeking safety in a time before her abuse.
Gaelib held Caileagh in the rocking coach. That she was so undone worried him. At least she was no longer whining about her vision of the golden bride’s sword.
Caileagh was the inspiration for his dream. She’d shown him his destiny. If she could no longer aid him or became a hindrance, it could rip asunder delicate strands of the web he’d woven. It could delay operations.
Worse, finding a suitable new wife could take moons. Then, distracted by the tedious process of wooing some noble wench and getting the king’s approval for the marriage, his plan might suffer. The latter was little more than a formality, but all of it would be time-consuming.
Plus, Caileagh would have to be removed so that he, Gaelib, was the innocent victim of whatever outrage took her life.
Still, a new wife would also mean a new dowry, potentially a sizeable one. It could also cement alliances that, to date, were not as strong as he’d like them to be.
Most important of all, it could provide him with a legitimate heir. Caileagh was barren. It did not matter why—her age, some womanly complaint, or the potions she used—but she would never give him the son he required.
Throughout the five-day journey, Caileagh vacillated between convulsive sobbing and catatonic stupor. He stroked her hair absentmindedly, eventually deciding it would be better if she recovered—he would be adrift without her. He loved her more than anything.
Once through Farr Castle’s private gates, the Earl of Lorness helped his wife from the coach. Servants took her to his bedchamber, where he drugged her so she would sleep.
She meekly lay down with no protest.
Who is this? Her entire demeanor has changed.
Gaelib left her and went to the small, abandoned graveyard on the outskirts of the castle, where he and Caileagh had spent much time when they first met. He hoped the Warrior would show him how to get her spirits back.
As he crossed below the stone arch, he remembered how she had taken his hand and led him here. The now barely discernible inscription over the entrance read, “Banish the souls that do unspeakable deeds.” It was a place no one else in the world had a reason to go. There, they had done anything they wanted.
That day was Gaelib’s thirteenth name day.
Caileagh was now his stepsister. Again, she reminded him he would one day become the most powerful man in the world.
A smile grew upon his lips as he stroked a jeweled dagger, a gift from his father that proved he was now a man. He knew it would be so.
Then she said, “To achieve your destiny, you must gain the strength of a great warrior.” She pointed to a grave. “Lie face down there so you may receive his power.”
Every grave bore smooth rocks to keep their spirits from roaming, each painted white so no one would accidentally walk over them.
He gave her a sideways glance but humored her. She was his best friend in the entire world. He lay down on the grave.
“Stretch out your arms and say, I receive you, Master of the World.”
He sighed, thinking it a silly game, for he was a man.
“I have a present for you afterward,” she coaxed. “It is your name day, after all.”
And so he said the words. He didn’t feel like he had received anything.
But then Cailleach turned him over and lay upon him. Her warm body smelled like jasmine as she kissed him and caressed him. No one had ever touched him like she did. Not even his mother, who had always made him feel safe—until she abandoned him.
He knew he should stop Caileagh, but something made him stay under her love. It was the Warrior, leading him from that first moment. Leading him to take what he wanted.
Now, he knelt before that grave. “Warrior, tell me how to help Caileagh, whom you’ve given to me.” Gaelib waited. His mood was dark.
The Warrior whispered, “Sacrifices will bring new spirits. Her mother and the wizard will show the way.”
As Gaelib left the hidden graveyard, an acolyte approached.
“My lord, we have the dowager countess. She awaits her fate in the dungeon.”
“That is good to hear. Inform her we seek Caileagh’s tormentor. Leave her in the dark and give her water only once a day until she talks. Then send for me.”
Many days later, Gaelib was in his hall when the acolyte returned.
Bowing low, the disciple spoke. “My lord, the hunt for the wizard was quick. They found him praying over a bloody altar in a shack filled with potions and dead animals. The soldiers instantly beat him unconscious to avoid his curses. Special locks prevent either prisoner from manipulating any guard while they are your guests.” He placed the only key in Gaelib’s hand.
“Keep them alive. For now.”
Rebekah dismounted from the wagon in front of the commandant’s office. She smoothed the flattering blue shift she’d borrowed and ran her fingers through her hair. She entered with her head high, her quiet rage dampening her fear.
“I am here to see Commandant Greysun.” She forced herself to speak quietly and politely to the militet on duty.
“He is out, ma’am.”
“Bring the lady back, Brett,” a gruff voice said from a room behind.
As she entered his office, Greysun stood and buckled his royal red brigandine. With a lecherous smile, he bowed. He was tall. “How can I help you, ma’am?” His too-confident tone was as unpleasant as his expression. He caressed his brown beard as he ogled her up and down.
“I’m Rebekah Otual, here to retrieve my daughter, sold to you three moons ago.”
“Otual…?” The commandant stiffened. “Many children…passed through here. We only kept boys.”
“I was assured that all the cage carts that came to your garrison left empty. She is six and has very blonde hair.”
His frown deepened. “I sold the girls to Madam Bonaforte’s brothel. She may know what became of her.” The officer pointed west. “Go to the one with the green door on the main street. It’s on the right.” Then his eyes dropped to his papers.
Rebekah smacked the desk. “It is my understanding, sir, that you must actively assist in the return of all children unlawfully seized. Have someone escort me.”
Greysun scowled and motioned for a boy to attend her. He was no more than ten, a conscript probably sold by his parents.
The young militet stepped forward and bowed, his small hand resting on the head of an axe in his belt.
Rebekah entered the brothel, the militet trailing behind. She looked with compassion at the feather-framed faces and scantily clad bodies of exploited children.
She glanced back at the wide-eyed militet, also just a child, whose mouth was agape. Touching his shoulder, she said, “Close it, son.”
The decorated ladies glowered at her with calculating eyes. Some snickered, only to be silenced as their matron stepped forward.
Rebekah’s hard gaze locked onto the madame. “According to Commandant Greysun,” she growled, “three moons ago, someone brought my daughter to you with other girls.”
The old woman stiffened and sputtered. “Why don’t you look around for her?” Her eyes narrowed as she smiled.
Terror and hope stole through Rebekah at the same time. She went from room to room, the wide-eyed boy following. Thankfully, it was midday, and most were empty. She didn’t find Sarah.
J’shua, where is she?
She wanted to cry but couldn’t.
“Are you satisfied?” The madame’s words were cold, flat.
“No…nor is your obligation to assist me complete. Either Greysun or you are lying. Which is it?”
The madame glared back. “You’ve seen for yourself. But…there were discrepancies. That drecksa Greysun demanded payment for a girl I didn’t receive.”
“What happened to her?”
“How would I know?”
Rebekah knew she’d get no more from the old hag. She turned and left, the boy reluctantly following her out.
Where are you, Sarah?
She looked frantically up and down the street.
I don’t know what to do. I expected to find you and save you—hold you tight in my arms.
Someone must have helped you escape. I must find that young soldier. He is the last one to have you.
Jonathan rode hard. In part to share the king’s joyous proclamation with his friends, in part to assuage fears he could not shake.
Could those brigands have killed the other courier?
He entered Lorness at a gallop; the horse lathered in sweat.
Please, Lord J’shua, protect me from evil men.
The streets were full of people when he reached the herald station, slid from his horse, and marched inside.
The herald, grinning, held out a hand to take the offered parchment. “You were successful?”
Jonathan smiled back, holding up a parchment.
Calling his men in from the barn, the herald told them, “We have an important proclamation from the king. Look lively.” He ushered Jonathan outside to the waiting crowd. “Hear ye, hear ye, a proclamation by King Edal, Ruler of the Kingdom of Freislicht. Whereas: We have taken into Our Royal Consideration recent grievances…”
Jonathan’s heart lifted as he watched the people while the herald read the proclamation. It was better than they’d hoped. Whoever had their loved ones must return them.
Afterward, the men who’d signed the petition slapped Jonathan’s back and thanked him.
He was happy for them, but could only wonder who held his daughter. And where was Rebekah? The only reason his wife would have stolen a horse would be to give chase. Joy was short-lived for him. And what delayed the other courier?
Who would be so bold as to intercept a rider from the king?
Jonathan pushed aside his suspicion of Gaelib. The proclamation would also trouble other nobles and rich men. Any of them could have sent men to bribe or kill the courier. Jonathan must deliver the proclamation to the last and most northern town, Dunis Glen.
The Circuit from River Town
Rebekah was led to stalk George Rosewud, for he might lead her to another significant find. However, she couldn’t do so as a farmer. After receiving instruction from a merchant she’d met at the Sapphire, she arranged for a sales charter to pose as a plow merchant for Franklin and Sons. They had created a wheeled plow. She would show prospects a detailed drawing and, if they were amenable, take their deposit back to Franklin and Sons in Lexandria.
Even with her new disguise, she could not pursue the weasel immediately. She had to establish her new cover, and so began her first circuit.
As she passed through each town, she stayed at the inns used by traveling salesmen. Most were clean and drew no attention, which was more important. She was shocked to make two sales in the first town.
Her travels also permitted regular contact with the families that had left the Frei. She visited each in her guise as a plow merchant, expecting nothing more than a brief few hours amongst friends. She told them of the inn she’d be using in the town nearest them. They introduced her to their neighbors, and again, she made more sales.
First Half-Moon, Summer
As Rebekah’s second circuit began, four orders were waiting for her at the inn, and two sightings of Rosewud. He attacked her home almost three moons ago.
With what seemed to her a vast number of baden, she opened an account with the Lockes. Despite Melazera’s moneychangers being prominent at every market, she didn’t trust them. She also made her first major purchase, a mare with a burled coat. It was the color of the old hickory table her ma had cherished so much. She named it Marly and planned to return Justice.
Filling a saddle bag with enough baden to rent the horse three times over for three moons, she tied the mare to Marly and left for Wooster.
When she rode up to the house, smoke rose lazily from the chimney. The open barn door reminded her of the day she’d stolen the horse. She thought she’d be jittery but only felt a buzz of excitement.
She hopped down and approached the door. “Hallo, is anyone home?”
A dark-haired woman appeared in the doorway, wiping her hands on her apron. “Hallo, can I help you, sir?” She craned her neck, looking at the two horses.
“Yes, ma’am. My name is Tomas Bekh. I sell plows. But that’s not why I’m here. I recently gained a horse that was said to belong to you.”
The woman ran to Justice and threw her arms around the mare’s neck. “Friska!” Then, looking back, she asked, “Where’d you find her?” She walked all around the horse, patting her. “She looks well cared for.”
“Well, ma’am, a woman gave her to me and asked me to return her to you. She’s…was very sorry she stole her and wanted to repay you. She filled these saddlebags with what she hoped was recompense enough for your loss.”
“I heard what happened that day. We’re thankful to J’shua to be on the Duke of Wooster’s lands. Melazera is a…” she paused. “I hope that poor woman found her daughter.”
Rebekah wasn’t expecting sympathy and nodded, fearing she’d cry. Taking a deep breath, she said, “Do you have a Circle?”