The trudge to Keiranna’s cave hideaway was steep and treacherous to the inexperienced. While she had no difficulty making her way back toward her mountain home, Keiranna’s captive and the two horses found steady footing sparse along the craggy landscape. Several times she reached out to steady Edwin as he grappled with the lame steed and each time he stiffened at her touch. Outwardly she appeared aloof to his reactions, but inwardly she began to wish he would not shy away from her so violently. Was this what feeling emotion was like? If so, she decided she would rather be numb.
“How much further?” Edwin asked.
“Just beyond that ridge up there,” Keiranna replied before continuing her relentless reconnoiter the area.
The sickeningly fresh-wind scent of a full banshee crossed her nose. Keiranna checked their flank again and signaled for Edwin to halt. Banshees flew along the upper reaches of these mountains and only descended when they needed to feed. They were of little threat unless one looked directly in the scavengers’ eyes, but the fact that a banshee was so close meant that something else far worse was likely hunting them as well. Keiranna sniffed and waited.
As the banshee gave its first moaning wail, the sheerie’s nose prickled with the new scent of dried blood on fur. The lame horse’s blood smelled sweet compared to this sanguine stench. Now that they had stopped, Keiranna could feel the steady rhythm of magic different from the sapphire’s hum in the rock beneath her.
She drew her bow taught and whispered for Edwin to draw a weapon of his own.
“What monster besides a banshee stalks us?” he asked.
She swallowed. “A Gwyllgi grim.”
“Grim?” Edwin’s eyes went wide and he drew a stiletto concealed in his riding boot.
“When the time comes, aim for its heart,” she said.
“Before the fae hound finds mine, that is,” he replied.
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