Heavy hearted, they traipsed down the side of the hill out of the view of the Ariding, though they knew they could not outrun them. Between them and the next village was a vast plain of patchy grassland that, despite the frequent water fall, never seemed to get enough for rich grass to grow. They rode in a line, no one making a sound for all were too wrapped up in their personal grief.
"What's that?" Novia broke the silence, her voice as normal as if they would be returning home within the hour.
Her companions squinted at the horizon to see a misty black shape.
"Could be anything." Ash shrugged.
They came upon the disturbance quickly and realised it was another traveller on a horse. Aidian sped up, making to join with the stranger.
"No!" Novia warned, "We do not know who they are. Approach with caution."
The beast in front of them walked slowly as if it carried a heavy load. It's passenger swayed weakly in the saddle, a silver cloak draped around it though it was far too hot to merit such an item. In the breeze, when the friends were ten meters away, the cloak slipped, revealing am arm with a slight blue glow.
"A Lunar Essence!" Aidian hissed and they dropped their pace, "They side with Anthiard!" He trembled.
"Are we being ambushed?" Ash whispered.
"There is no place where they can attack us from." Novia's eyes swept across the landscape.
"It is our duty to kill it, for the sake of our parents." Aidian sped up the group and reached for his bow.
Before he could even grasp the wood, the figure on the horse in front had grabbed theirs, knocked three arrows at one time and loosed them. One pierced the shirt of Ash, another of Novia and the third of both Aidian and Novia and they were toppled from their horses and pinned to the ground.
"Who are you?" The figure leapt form the horse, showing no signs of the previous fatigue they had portrayed earlier. With bold steps, they walked towards the fallen comrades.
"Murderer! You killed our parents!"
"Aidian, you do not know they are dead!" Novia protested.
"Don't be so blind! They're dead, and it is her fault!" After groping helplessly at the arrow beside his head, he pointed an accusing finger at the figure, "Fiend!"
"Ah," They sighed and their position relaxed, "So you believe I am like my kin. In that case, I cannot blame you for trying to kill me, I only wish you could succeed." Lifting their arm, the arrows withdrew themselves from the earth and flew back into the quiver, "I am Amina and I am none like my kin."
Aidian was up on his feet immediately with his sword in his hand, "Liar!"
"You dare to call me names, you filthy human?" She spat, spinning on her heels and towering over the young man with her eyes blaring. Aidian could feel the painful heat almost blistering against his skin that radiated out from her, "You believe me to have strayed from battle? Look, there is no blood on my weapon, no tear in my clothes, my horse is not skittish. I am alone! Are these things not enough to prove to you that I shall not, as long as I shall exist, side with Anthirad?" He did not lower his blade, "Fine! Then kill me, young one for this shame is insufferable!" She flung her head backwards, exposing her vulnerable neck.
"No, Aidian," Novia rested her hand on his shoulder, "She must speak the truth,"
"Novia, our parents lay dead by our homes because of what she has done!"
"She had no part in this. You do not know the stories, nay, the legends about Amina." Her eyes warned him of her truth of her words.
"I was exiled from my homeland. I am no more a Lunar Essence than you are." She paced back to her white horse.
After a while, Aidian sheather his sword and pulled Honora into a hug against his side.
"Where are you heading?" Novia stepped towards the stranger and Aidian stepped with her, keeping her behind himself in his distrust.
Amina snorted a laugh, "Away, as you are. What other choice do I have? My own kin have gone against all our values and there is nothing I can do to sway the Queen's mind. None will side with me."
"Then join us." Novia suggested.
"Novia." Aidian growled deeply.
"You need not fear me. I am swifter than you humans, if I wanted you dead I could have done it by now and have you all down before the first one had hit the floor." She intended it to be a joke, but the anxious faces that looked back at her made her apologize.