Daybreak found Kegar awaking with a start. Sleeping next to someone was still so new! As was awaking next to someone in his bedroll. He smiled into his beard, a blush spreading across his face. His eyes lingered on Lizzy, the blanket pulled up to her chin to ward off the dawn chill.
“Definitely some benefits.” He murmured crawling out from under the blanket.
A frown spread across his face. There were some negatives as well. Chief among them Lizzy’s insistence on sleeping in a tent. Kegar was used to sleeping under the stars. This was not that. He missed the breeze tickling his beard while he slept.
While he dressed he considered his options. As the leader he should present the group before the king. As a druid he chafed under the responsibility of caring for humans and the need enter a city at all. He slipped out of the tent, signaling for Cat to join him. Together they threaded the sleeping bodies to the campfire. Ellen, Katrina and Percival were making breakfast and seemed to be in an earnest debate.
“That’s it!” he murmured. He was Sir Wilbur’s representative. He could go alone! Then he could avoid the group altogether for a few hours and have some peace. At least what peace could be found in a town. It was perfect! Or nearly.
Ellen had directed a question at him. Kegar could see it on their faces, but he had missed it. He spooned some meal into his bowl and grunted in reply. It seemed to satisfy them as they turned back to their conversation.
Between one bite and the next, there was a clap of thunder from the clear sky. Clouds burst from the air and lightning charged between them. Katrina’s eyes had begun to glow white and electricity sparked across her skin.
Her voice was like the thunder crashing in the sky,
“By a knight’s command, one must go.
By a lady’s birth another.
By a man’s contract, he must go.
By my word another.
In more footsteps, distrust and unrest follow.”
The clouds above them rumbled a final time before rolling off. Katrina’s eyes cleared and she shook her head. “Well damn.”
Kegar eyed the clouds with distrust, “Aye?”
“I was not looking forward to going into the city.”
“You don’t have to if you don’t wish it.”
“I’m hardly going to disobey my goddess after I prayed for wisdom last night. I’m independent not stupid.”
“So what’s the rhyme mean?”
“Simple enough. Sir Wilbur, a knight gave Kegar the lead. Lizzy is the only lady here. Percival is sworn to her service. Katrina looked like her goddess tapped her shoulder pretty hard.”
“Why does Lizzy need to go? Why should anyone other than me?”
Percival opened his mouth to reply, looked past Kegar and then closed it into a smile. “Lizzy, what are your thoughts?”
“Kegar, I would speak with you a moment.”
The three by the fire finished their breakfast. Katrina and Percival packed up their gear before Kegar and Lizzy returned. Shame covered his face, settling over it with an angry grimace. Likewise cold fury was frozen on hers.
Ellen whispered to Katrina, “I do not envy you on the trip.”
“We are leaving right now. If you are ready, come. If you aren’t, I’m not waiting.”
Percival saluted Kegar, “Ready and willing.”
Fury clenched his jaw. In an uncomfortable silence, they stalked down the hill toward Capita.