All that day they wandered through a maze of tunnels, some high and dank, some round and dry, sometimes through huge chambers and other times through narrow cracks. The twin ghosts led Estrith unerringly through the maze, and as they went the new ghost grew brighter and more golden, while the original grew ever fainter. At last they reached a long sloped gallery which was dimly lit from a ragged gap above.

"Daylight," said Estrith, "looks like you’ve saved me lovey."

"Not just yet," said the ghosts together.

They led her up the gallery, which was treacherous and slippery. Time and again they led her around seemingly safe ground, and she accepted their guidance though she knew no reason why they chose their path. Her legs ached with fatigue by the time the reached the top, and as they emerged from into the daylight Estrith realized they stood about a third of the way up the escarpment that surrounded the valley below. She could see the barn-like building that covered the tunnels below, and at the foot of the cliffs the corpse of her horse, half-eaten.

"Too bad about that," she said, "I didn’t think he’d get killed."

"There’s a thing down there that would’ve killed you too," said the ghosts together. "Ithos called it a wolf-bear. We don’t know what it is but we thought you wouldn’t want to meet it."

"Very true," said Estrith, "are you going to tell me why there are two of you yet?"

"Not yet," they said, "not till we’re at the top."

Estrith couldn’t see any way off the rocky shelf where she stood, but the ghosts showed her a narrow cut in the cliffside that ran steeply up like a chimney. It proved a hard climb, and more than once she nearly fell, but by the time the sun drew low in the west she stood once more atop the escarpment, looking at the accursed valley known as Sychedig Sydach. Only scrubby trees and cactus greeted her, but at least they were green.

"Come this way, mamma," the two little ghosts said. They led her through a canyon down into the very same little valley she had passed on her way in. They found water only two miles further up the dry stream bed.

"This is where we leave you, little mamma," said the ghosts. The golden ghost now looked almost solid, glowing with clear light, her features very clearly those of Kally, only more beautiful if possible. The first ghost had become a wispy shroud, scarcely to be seen in the dusk.

"Why are there two?" Estrith asked.

"There is only one, mamma," said the golden ghost, and the other faded away entirely. "I’m no ghost, little mamma. I had to stay a ghost for a while because a supernal can’t stay in the world for too long. I’m on my way to heaven now, and the Three decided you could see what I would be like so you wouldn’t worry. It’s okay mamma. You’ll see me again, and I’ll be happy even away from you, because I know you’ll be along. The blessings of heaven are on you, mamma. You were an angel for Saint Ithos but also the Three. They may make you an angel again. Keep my little brother safe and well. He’ll wear that torc someday."

Estrith put a hand on her stomach and smiled, still sad but without the bitter ache she had felt yesterday.

"Kallon will hear all about you, Kally," she said, "give my love to any of our ancestors that you meet."

"I will," said the little angel, "I love you mamma."

"I love you Kally," said Estrith. Then the golden figure grew to be even taller than Estrith, and vanished in a twinkling.

Estrith heaved a sigh and shook her head.

"This is a world where pain and joy are always mixed," she quoted in a hoarse mutter. She trudged along the dry gulch as the darkness gathered, and the warmth of the sand almost soothing despite the heat of the air. She heard a horse whinny ahead of her and immediately became alert. Large bodies crashed through the brush above into the stream-bed. She could see several horses, and a large man mounted on one of them. They were only a few yards ahead. The man wasn’t looking towards her, and it grew dark enough that he would probably miss her in the gloom if she stayed quiet. She started to take a step when he turned and saw her.

"Ho there, young lassie," said the man, "ye must be in some trouble to be out here all alone. What can Iurnan MacIon do to help?"

"There’s nothing," said Estrith, "I have water and food, and a good sword."

The man laughed and turned his horse towards her.

"Och, lass," said the man, "I’m no fiend tae harm women, no, not even in the wilds. My companions were killed in an ambush some miles back, but I got away with some of the horses. Perhaps ye’d like one of them? As a present, I ween."

"I could pay you for one of them," said Estrith, "but I won’t take charity."

"More’s the pity," said Iurnan, "there’s nothing better than tae have a pretty woman in debt. Och, weel, what’ll ye take? I’ve got a jennet and two sumpter horses, and a nice palfrey as well."

"Is the jennet trained for fighting as well as the trail?" Estrith asked.

"Aye," said Iurnan, "he’s a fine jennet, a gelding, very good-tempered, trained by the now dead Sir Ralph of Cleevest. The war-horse is in the hands of some vile bandits–a poor fate for the braw lad. There’s nought I hate more’n bandits."

"I’m with you there," said Estrith, "how did you survive?"

"I’m a braw fighter," said Iurnan, "I fought my way out when I saw the young knight and his squire were dead."

"How did you know they were dead? Not merely fallen?"

"No man lives without a head, lass," said Iurnan, "but i’faith, I cannae take all these horses back to his father. If ye hath any money, that would be easier to carry."

"I have a little," said Estrith, "how much for the jennet?"

"Fifty shillings," said Iurnan, "and I’ll let ye have one of the sumpter horses, and all his trail-kit, for another thirty. Eighty shillings is a fair price, though that’s a sight of money I know. I’d take three gold crowns instead, that being even easier tae carry."

"That’s seems a very fair price," said Estrith, "I said I’ll take no charity."

"It’s not charity, lass," said Iurnan, "three crowns is a fair price in this place. I can’t feed em all, I can’t care for em all, but I can guard three crowns tae my master’s hame."

"It just so happens," said Estrith, "that I have three crowns. It’s about all I have, actually, but I need the horses more if I’m ever to see Jedburgh again."

"Och, from Jedburgh are ye?" said Iurnan, "that’s as braw a castle as I ever saw. What clan?"

"MacBardulph," said Estrith.

"MacBardulph!" said Iurnan, "then ye’re Estrith, the lady of the clan chief slain scarce a month past? Out here? I took ye for a mere lass. Ye’re a lady then." His face fell, though it was becoming harder to see as the sun only showed a dim light along the hills behind him. "Thy daughter is lost then. Thy face is west. Ye’d not be on the way hame if ye had her."

"She’s dead," said Estrith, "but not lost. I found her, and avenged her, and saw her on the way to heaven."

"Lady," said Iurnan, "take then these horses for two crowns, I beg. As a gift, not charity. As a gift and homage tae thy courage. Lord Tibault will understand, and be angry that I took even sae much."

"Very well," said Estrith, "let me look at the horses before the darkness is complete."

She looked and found them fine beasts indeed. The jennet was gray, long-limbed and spirited, and nuzzled her gently. The sumpter horse carried a large pack, with blankets, food, water, grain, and wine all there. She had already palmed two crowns as she looked them over, and handed them up to the big man with a smile.

"Come to Jedburgh and we will welcome you," she said, "a kind and noble stranger is always welcome, and never remains a stranger long."

"I will if I can, lady," said Iurnan, "and welcome tae the horses. A word of advice, though. I think the rowdy bunch of mercenaries who camp round the oasis might not be sae kind nor noble. If ye will, I’ll ride in and make ’em merry with wine, and you can stay near enough for aid if necessary."

"Very well," said Estrith, "I know a place to go. I stayed there two or three nights ago. Ride on, Iurnan MacIon."

"Good journey tae ye, lady," said the man, and rode on up the stream-bed, leaving the two horses with her. "The jennet’s name is Ghost," he called back over his shoulder.

"Is that you name, Ghost?" she asked, "come along, then." She put her doeskin cloak over the saddle and mounted, riding a little way behind Iurnan then taking the little trail up the canyon-side. She’d found it by chance a few days earlier, and felt glad to find it still empty. It held a tiny spring that trickled down over the rocks and filled enough of a pool to keep the horses happy for one night, and enough browsing to keep them from going hungry. She made a camp, gratefully eating jerky and biscuit and drinking only a little wine. The blanket made her former bed of sagebrush even better, and the pack held some clothes of a young man–they might even fit her. She knew from sad experience that it is always best to wear breeches when riding very far. She took off her armor and gambeson and stood in the rising moonlight clad only in her tunic. She crept up a little crevice in the rocks of her little canyon, and looked down on the oasis below. It lay two miles from where she’d met Iurnan, but less than half a mile from where she now stood. The winding gulch was no easy road. She expected him to be riding into camp any minute, so she waited and watched the mercenaries drinking and singing loudly around a huge campfire.

Still he didn’t come. She watched for perhaps another half-hour, but he didn’t appear there, and wasn’t anywhere along the gulch that she could see. She shook her head.

"Where could he have gone?" She wondered aloud, though keeping her voice low. Light from the bonfire below caught the bracelet she had taken from Shayhulmi, and she blinked with wonder as she looked at it. Instead of a running horse upon it she saw a running lion: the symbol of Saint Ithos, patron saint of Travelers…and Lions.

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