Feathers and Flame

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Chapter 11

Faye woke up shivering and sweating. Someone she didn’t know held her by the shoulders, trying to calm her. No, wait. She did know them. It was the old man with one eye. He was still alive? Had he killed Tadhg?

Lorcan was behind the old man, peering over his shoulder. What was he doing here? Faye glanced around. All of the people who had left through the tunnel appeared to have returned. Colm was standing nearby, talking to his sister.

“It’s fine,” said the old man, pushing her back down. Faye shook him off and sat up.

Her hawk screeched and swooped down, landing gracefully next to her. Faye reached out a hand and stroked the creature, who didn’t even try to eat one of her fingers.

“That’s some bird you have there,” said Colm, “It led me and Lorcan to a small camp of Roamers, who agreed to help me in exchange for the Slavers and what they had. Turns out, Tadhg’s group had sold some of their people before. While we were gone, Sorcha found the people coming out of the tunnel.”

“What happened to Tadhg?” asked Faye.

Lorcan pointed to something by the wall. Faye got up to examine it. The face being so scratched, and the eyes missing, made it hard for her to be confident that it was Tadhg.

“Some of us came through the hole in the wall,” said Colm, “While some of us came back through the tunnel. Lorcan led that group. We came out of it just in time to see Tadhg coming at you with a knife. Before we could do anything though, that hawk of yours flew passed us and went for his face. I’ve never seen anything like it. It had his eyes out before I even crossed the room. Lorcan finished him off, but it was as much a mercy as anything else. He was screaming something awful.”

Faye turned to Lorcan, who shrugged.

“You have a good bird,” he said absently.

Faye bent down and lightly scratched under the bird’s bent beak.

“Spite,” she said, “Her name is Spite.”

Spite seemed to like her new name, and nuzzled Faye’s arm. Faye had a feeling this affection the hawk was showing her would be very temporary.

Sorcha sat down next to Faye and held something out. A small, wooden bead lay in her palm.

“We wouldn’t have a village without you,” she said. Faye shook her head. Sorcha took Faye’s hand and put the bead into it.

“Look at it and tell me it doesn’t suit you.”

Faye held up the bead and examined it. The bird craved into it wasn’t a small bird like she had originally thought. It was a bird of prey, swooping in for a kill. Faye smiled and made a small braid in her hair for the bead.

“My pack?” she asked Lorcan. He walked away to get it for her.

“You should rest,” said the old man, “The Council Warden should be here any day now. Surely they will want to know about your bravery.”

“No, I have to go,” said Faye, “I have a duty to preform. I can’t do that here.”

The old man sighed.

“You saved this town. You shouldn’t be just a Scout. At least tell me your name so I can give them a good report of you.”

“It’s Aoife,” lied Faye. Then she took her pack from Lorcan and left the town as quickly as she could. Outside she ran into the Roamers, one of them holding the broken hilt of the fake sword. She let them keep it, and after a short exchange of pleasenties, she walked on.

Back in a forest, she made sure to clear her trail so no one could follow her. She checked her pack, pleased to find that her ash bottles and the beads were still inside it. She would have to make more paste soon. It would be easier to buy, but that would mean Faye would have to go into another town or village. Satisfied with her pack, Faye sat down and leaned against a tree. Spite flew up and rested in the branches above her. Within minutes, Faye was asleep.

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