Katrina scanned the desert as she walked, feeling a deep ache growing in her muscles. She'd walked for one day and night without rest. Using her air mystic to move faster. Eventually she reached a small town and entered the local inn. She asked for some water and a cheap room for the night. She slipped the key under her clothing after paying and sat down. She took a long gulp and watched as a stranger entered the inn. His clothing suggesting a warrior of some form. Katrina had made a point of never giving that impression. People underestimated her that way.
He spoke to the innkeeper and was given his own drink, no doubt alcoholic. He looked around for somewhere to sit and spotted Katrina on her own. The look on his face told her exactly where his thoughts were going. He sat down opposite without asking permission first and grinned.
“What's a pretty thing like you doing out here?” he asked, the perversion in his voice killed what little chance he'd had. From the looks of him he hadn't bathed in some time.
“My job, you?” she had little interest, but if this person got in her way she'd rather know now.
“Same,” he answered equally unhelpfully. His tone half giving in to the sound of curiosity.
“Have you heard of the great lizards?” he asked. Katrina considered denying it. But by now everyone would've heard the rumours of them.
“Yes,” she replied, finishing her water quickly. She glanced into his thoughts but there nothing to suggest he would get in her way.
“I should go,” she said before he had the opportunity to speak again. She left the inn, choosing to wander round the town more before night fell. Two more days and she would reach the pass and the great lizards. She brought more water and food for the trip before finding an old area of the town. Ruins from a past great lizard attack. So many towns and cities had experienced them. But what would happen when they decided to take the war to them? It might just encourage them to be even more aggressive than before.
“You move fast Azarys,” the same guy from earlier spoke behind her. She reacted quickly, closing the distance between them and holding a knife to his throat. His eyes bugged out and he held up both hands in surrender. When she looked in his mind now she saw some fear, but mostly amusement. It didn't help her mood any. How had he managed to evade her earlier?
“What makes you suspect such a thing?” she murmured darkly. The identity of the king's Azarys' remaining secret was vital for so many reasons.
“Just intuition. Any chance you want company for the great lizards?” he said. She stared at him like he was insane.
“Turn around,” she demanded. He laughed but did as asked. She disarmed him quickly. Easily finding two hidden knives. No one thought up original hiding places anymore.
“Who are you?” she asked as she double-checked.
“My name is Ghayth,” he replied, he was enjoying this too much and she withdrew. She didn't dare check his thoughts now. She needed to keep down the food she'd eaten. It took a few moment but the name eventually clicked.
“Lord Jared sent you, didn't he?” Katrina growled. Jared had to trust the fool to disclose who she was. But she certainly didn't, not if her memory had any say in it.
“Yup. Best sword fighter. Remember?” Ghyath said with a grin. She hadn't recognised him with the stubble and long lanky black hair. He'd been training alongside her in the army. But he was too reckless and arrogant and was kicked out. Back then he'd been clean-shaven with short hair, he'd been a bad flirt then too.
“But a terrible soldier. Why would Lord Jared think for a moment I would work with you?” she muttered. He laughed at the insult, his confidence unfathomable.
“He ain't interested in how well we work together. He'd offering to pay me a decent sum to protect you,” he replied. So that's what it came down too, money.
“I don't need you're help or protection. Your presence would only serve to hinder me,” Katrina said. She walked past him to go back to the inn. She was aware of him following her but ignored it. He had to be desperate if he'd accepted such a suicidal job. His only mystic was fire, he was a master of it. But that wasn't helpful when Katrina was trying to remain unseen. She spun quickly to shout at him and he held up a key. She frowned and checked her own clothes. He laughed as she snatched it from him.
“You think you're the only nimble fingered one here, girl?” he said.
“Don't call me that,” she said. She was beginning to realise this guy wasn't going to leave anytime soon. She turned quickly again, the sand grinding under her heel as she did.
“You do as I say. And when we reach the pass, you wait where I tell you too. I'll be the only one to go inside the mountains,” she commanded, not looking over her shoulder to see his reaction.
“Long as I get paid at the end of it I don't care. But if they sense you and start attacking you, I'll come running in. If you don't come back alive then I've just wasted time,” He said, his tone serious for once. He walked past her. She frowned, starring after his back. He hadn't changed in the slightest.