The Warrior's Path

The Warrior's Path by Catherine M. Wilson

Book: The Warrior's Path by Catherine M. Wilson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Catherine M. Wilson
with a power she had never had before. Her eyes could see as well in darkness as in daylight. Her ears attuned themselves to every sound. She heard the wings of night birds as they pursued their prey, the scurrying feet of mice, the beating hearts of hunted animals, and their last cries.
    New smells too came to her on the air — the rotting of the forest floor, the breath of leaves, the bite of water as they passed a brook, the scent of each wolf, as distinct as the faces of the people she knew. She ran and ran until she had no memory of herself, and her waking life became a dream that shimmered at the edges of her mind.
    In the morning the girl awoke beneath the oak tree. Out of the corner of her eye, she thought she caught sight of a wolf as it vanished into the forest, but it may have been only the shadow of her dream.
    She knew her mother would be worried, so she hurried home. Before she went into the cottage, she stopped by a brook to wash her face and hands. When she leaned over the water, out of the folds of her tunic fell flowers the colors of the night — the violet of twilight, the pale silver of the moon, the rose of dawn.
    I must have scared myself with that story, or perhaps I was already afraid for my warrior, but that night I had bad dreams. I woke to see her sitting by the warm ashes of the fire.
    “Were the wolves after you?” she said.
    A little smile played around the corners of her mouth. I didn’t mind her teasing, and her smile lifted my heart.
    In the morning she left me. I was in no hurry to go home. I didn’t want the others to see the tears that came too easily. I camped that evening not far from Merin’s house. It wasn’t until the next afternoon that I felt ready to face the household.
    I tried to tell myself that I was only disappointed to be left behind, but at last I had to admit to myself how much I missed her. I had been alone in Merin’s house until my warrior needed me, and then I wasn’t lonely anymore.
    The Lady was angry with me.
    “Did you know she was going to the frontier?” she asked me.
    “Yes,” I said. “She told me she was going to join the others.”
    “But she left alone.”
    “And you didn’t think it strange?”
    “No,” I said. “She told me — ”
    “Did it never occur to you that she might be lying to you?”
    “No,” I said. “She doesn’t lie.”
    The Lady shook her head at me. “You have no idea if she has lied to you or not. From what you’ve told me about her, she says so little that it would be difficult to catch her in a lie. And sometimes the greatest lies are found in what people fail to say.”
    I was confused. “She told me she was going to join the warriors who went north with Vintel a week ago.”
    “And why did she not leave with them a week ago?”
    I couldn’t answer her. I didn’t know.
    “Did she tell you why she wouldn’t take you with her?”
    “She said I wasn’t ready.”
    “Well, that may be true enough,” she said. “Or it may have been an excuse to get rid of you, so that she could go back to wherever she came from.”
    That possibility had never occurred to me.
    “When did she leave you?” the Lady asked me.
    “Yesterday morning,” I replied.
    The Lady looked alarmed. “How far did she take you, that you were two days coming home?”
    “She didn’t take me far.”
    I wanted to reassure the Lady that my warrior hadn’t taken me into danger, but I was embarrassed to admit to her why I had stayed away so long.
    “I turned my ankle a bit on the way home,” I said. “I rested it for a day so that I wouldn’t make it worse.”
    Though it was true I’d turned my ankle, I had done it earlier that day, and it hadn’t bothered me much.
    Suddenly the Lady’s face changed. She had been impatient with me. Now she smiled and put her arm around my shoulders.
    “My dear,” she said. “You are so young. I know how she must appear to you. She is a warrior. She is strong and brave and

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