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Chapter 10 and 11

Chapter 10

You woke several hours later. For a second, you panicked–where were you? What had happened?–But then the past thirty-six hours came back to you. You looked around. The cottage that you were in was well made, with a large fireplace, and laid floors. You looked at Korin’s cot. It was empty. You stood, and stretched the knots from your muscles, product of hours of fleeing. Korin was at the large table, trying to avoid drinking a cup of tea. You went to join him. The tea smelled very bitter, and you eyed it warily. He smiled, took a sip, and pulled a face. The woman who’d saved you wasn’t in the room. You looked around, curiously.
“She’s taking care of Storm.” Korin said, in response to your silent inquiry.
“Do you know her? She seemed to know you, when she picked us up.” You reported. He nodded.
“I know her. She’s provided me with shelter a couple of times. If I’m in the area, I usually stop by. Her name is--”
“Leda. That’s my name.” Leda came in through the door. Korin grinned.
“What she said. My name,” he turned to her, holding out a hand, “is Korin, thanks to Aylen.” He indicated you with a bow of his head. Leda shook his hand.
“Greetings. It is a pleasure to finally have met you, Korin. And you, Aylen, giver-of-names.” You blushed.
“I didn’t do anything special, I just—" You started, only to be interrupted.
“Gave him a name where no one else would?” Leda filled in.
“Helped me escape from a large pack of your own kind, at great personal risk?” Korin chimed in, a grin on his face. Leda looked at him reprovingly.
“If you feel well enough to butt in, you can go load more wood.” She said, looking down on him with matriarchal reprisal. He sighed, and stood. Standing, he was a good bit taller than Leda was. She was shorter than you were.
“How much do you need?” Korin asked, heading toward the door.
“As much as you can move without passing out.” She told him. Korin raised his hand, signaling that he’d heard. Leda turned to you after a few minutes, staring you down. You shifted uncomfortably.
“He thinks quite a bit of you.” She stated finally. You stayed quiet, wondering what she was coming to.
“No other hunter I know would brave this area, not if they liked blood running through their veins. Korin’s no fool. Why’d he do it?” She asked with eyes like ice. You realized who Leda really was, and your eyes widened slightly from recognition. There were stories that had reached even your ears, of a headquarters for hunters like Korin, a secret clan of only the best. Any hunter was welcome there, if they could find their way. That explained everything. Leda was short for Leeta, a famed huntress, believed dead for thirty years. Except, she wasn’t dead…just retired.
Chapter 11
“I…don’t really know. He—” You were cut off by the thud of a bundle of wood being put down on the hearth. Leda turned, far too quickly for any civilian. Korin looked up.
“Did I interupt something?” He asked innocently. You were positive he’d heard everything. Leda smiled wanly, coming to the same conclusion.
“Not…really. I was just asking…Miss Aylen…some questions as to how you two met, that’s all.” Leda’s words sounded truthful to the extreme. Korin nodded slowly, never taking his odd green eyes off of Leda’s.
“I see,” He drawled. “Well, I need to borrow her for a minute, she’s better at untying knots then I am.” You both knew he was lying; you couldn’t do a thing with knots except make them even worse, but you stood up anyway, and followed him quickly out of the house. You were rather relieved to have escaped.
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have left you alone with Leeta. She may be retired, but she still doesn’t trust your people.” He said, leaning against the barn wall. There was no point in bringing in any more firewood. Leeta had plenty and it was all damp besides, due to the rain last night.
“She lost a husband and two sons to a raid on headquarters, back when she was still very…active. I don’t think she’ll ever trust you.” He told you, arms crossed across his chest loosely. You watched him for a while. He absently rubbed his neck.
“Are you alright?” You asked quickly.
“I’m fine, don’t worry.” He saw your mildly disbelieving look. “Just kind of tired; and a little achy from the fall. That’s all.” He said with a small smile. You sighed.
“I’m sorry.” You said, head bowed. You could practically feel him staring at you. A hand lifted your chin, forcing you to look him in the eyes.
“Don’t be. I meant what I said earlier, about you saving us. You did.” You shook your head a little.
“You don’t believe me? I would far prefer you biting me; to dying, tied to a stick. Trust me.” He said, staring straight at you. After a second, you looked away. You turned to walk back into the cottage, when he called you back.
“Lass.” You turned, wondering what he wanted. He was closer to you than you expected. You blinked in surprise. He held a box out. You took it, and opened it. Inside was the knife you had always used for training. You looked at him questioningly. He just smiled, and drew his own. You smiled back, and the clearing rang with the clash of blade on blade.
Leda heard and came out, wiping her hands on a rag. What she saw stunned her. Korin was sparring with the girl, apparently teaching her the finer points of the knife arts. Leda was surprised. He would correct her patiently if she made a mistake, and she would nod with a determined look on her face. Leda remembered wearing a similar one when she and her late husband sparred.
Had Korin lost his mind? No, she thought suddenly, that wasn’t right. Korin was…falling for the girl. Leeta shook her head. She prayed he wouldn’t be hurt. He already beat himself up about not remembering his past. Leeta felt a flash of guilt. Korin was like a son to her. Why? Why hadn’t she given him a name? Why had she been so afraid of attachment that she couldn’t have done that for him? She sighed. She was a fool. Korin had finally found someone who understood, if not his pain, then at least how to help ease it; and she was jealous of it. Jealous of a girl some twenty years her junior, it was pathetic. She shook her head again and went back inside.



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