To Thaelan, though, she was inconsequential; he would kill her if she got in his way. And yet, ... he hadn't hit her with his hammer that evening in the cave when she'd placed herself in its path in order to protect Gethen. And he'd kept from killing her so far. And he had told her things--secrets he bequeathed to no one else.
Was she his conscience? Was she, in some way, a reminder to him of what he was fighting to protect?
She sighed and turned her head, looking about the tent for a moment, her eyes falling to rest on the open music box she'd set on the wooden crate which had become a makeshift desk for her. Resting beside it was the small pouch Sylbor had made for her in which she carried several things which were precious to her.
There was the book her father had given to her--a book that hadn't seen anything written in it since her father's funeral until recently. It had become her own solace when the muse came to her, and a means whereby she could remember the people who came and went from her life--the things they'd told her. But even then, she kept things from it--secrets of her own heart.
Avellia's taunt returned to mock her for a moment, but she pushed it aside. The words would come when they wished to be seen.
There was a magick'd writing quill her mother had gotten for her when she'd gone to join the Cathedral, and there was the other quill that she'd had magick'd that Sylbor had given her one night in camp. It changed ink colors based upon the color of the feathers she touched--though she hadn't used it often. And last, but not least, there was the jade cat pendant which Teach had given her the night before--before Thaelan had found her and the world had become a seemingly endless stream of things that turned her stomach and made it nearly impossible for her to sleep.
He had reminded her so much of Talad--that charming and witty banter that escaped his lips, even when all the world seemed turned against him. But then, Talad hadn't been a thief--at least not of objects. He was a thief of hearts, and whenever he came to visit her parents and stay with them, she would often find him wooing someone--be it a noble's daughter or a simple kitchen maid. He had told her once, when he was far less sober than he should have been, that women were a music all their own, and that when he had learned them all, he would cease being a bard forever. Llyr, in her naivette had commented that it would take him a very long time to know every woman, and she recalled with a faint smile that he had laughed, ruffled her hair, and told her that she was far too intelligent for her own good.
He had sent her away shortly thereafter, of course.
The last time she'd seen him, he was heading out of the city. Her father and his knights were preparing to head north to aid Southshore against the forsaken along with Prince Galen, and Llyr had been left to her own devices--Talgar's knowledge sought with regard to Sylvannas' tactics and methods.
Talad was in the courtyard, checking over his horse when she'd found him, and she had watched him for a short few moments before he finally turned and caught her there.
"So I guess you caught me," he offered with a smile, looking a little sad around the eyes.
"Trying to sneak off without saying goodbye again," she returned, grinning as she moved forward to give him a hug.
And he had obliged her, gathering her up in his arms and twirling her about--making her laugh, as he always did. When he set her back down, he'd sighed, the smile slipping away from his face.
He turned back to his horse, checking it over one last time as he spoke, "I never have liked goodbyes, you know."
And there was something in his voice that was more serious this time--more final. "I know," she'd replied solemnly, not understanding then what she understood now: he wasn't ever coming back.
"But we'll see you again soon; won't we?" she had asked, that hopeful light coming to her face as it always did.
He hadn't looked back at her. "Soon enough," he'd replied.
She'd nodded and smiled, then, in that not understanding way. "Be safe, then."
And he'd looked back at her with that same sadness, a smile finding its way to his lips as he regarded her. "Always."