Phoebe's Journey Part 4

Chapter 5: Surrounded by Death

I still felt somewhat dazed, still had visions of fire flickering behind my eyes. I know we mounted the horses and headed back to the house. I was near the back of the line, Mehli riding sweep behind me.

I saw Lady Miyara ride through the gate, then Tony. There was traffic and everything stopped for a few breaths. We stayed in place, and then suddenly traffic moved. I could see a circle, with Tony and a stranger standing looking at each other. Mehli came up next to me.

Movement, and the stranger was down on the ground. I started to ride forward to him, but Mehli caught my horse's bridle and held me in place. She said something about duels and honor, but her words were obscured by the buzzing in my ears. She was right though, and I subsided.

The other man climbed to his feet again, and again he and Tony stood and stared at each other, for just a moment this time. Then, a flurry of limbs, armor, cloth, and cold metal glinting in the cold sun.

The man ended on the ground, and Tony took his head off, then collapsed himself. This time, Mehli let me forward, and came up with me. Peter and I met at Tony's body in the street. He was still alive, and wounded, but certainly not to the extent of the other man. Even before Tony's final blow.

I closed my eyes for a second and tried to find that quiet place inside, and called for Arati.

Nothing. Not completely nothing; I felt a flicker of her, but then a sharp denial, sharp enough to wound.

I opened my eyes, suddenly tired. I asked Peter to ask Shalya to restore me before I tried again. I felt I needed all my strength to reach Arati and convince her to heal Tony.

I closed my eyes and reached for Arati again. There was a wordless exchange, and I just -- and I mean just -- persuaded her to heal Tony. I gave her everything she asked for and more: I wanted Tony fully healed. In case of further violence.

I was left reeling. Peter and Shalya restored my strength, but there was residual physical damage Arati had used to heal Tony. I simply didn't feel like trying to get Arati to heal me, so I wearily got to my feet to mount my horse again. I looked for Mehli, but before she reached me, Tony helped me up.

The rest of the journey to the house was quiet, and we changed into comfortable house clothes. I rested for a short while, but then Lady Miyara called us all together.

Eyebrows was coming to the house in a little bit, and Peter was to question him. So we all sat around and came up with questions we wanted answers to, and Peter wrote them all down so he'd remember everything.

I had nothing to add. I sat there, tired and hurting, listening to the unending buzz in my ears. Tony asked if True Word had grabbed anything of the attackers, a piece of cloth or something. That perked me up a little: if there were something like that, and if we could find it, it might tell me a great deal.

But in the end, Eyebrows pretty much just confirmed the reports. We did find out that it was probably just one person who used a spear against Ashidaka in the carriage. Lady Miyara and Tony looked particularly grim about that. I couldn't see it made much difference in the horror, like hitting a few thorny bushes while bouncing down a rocky mountainside to your death.

Now what? I don't know. I hope that resting tonight will restore my equilibrium.