Alora is known as The Twiceborn, cast adrift from her long-dead clan and feared by townsfolk around the countryside for the dark power she commands. Yet some, through desperation,will pay for her services.In return,they get exactly what they pay for. Alora is tormented by her legacy and is forced to confront it head on when she meets Aislinn, her exact opposite when it comes to the struggle between right and wrong,
The men moved away from her horse, and turned away from her dark eyes with a fear she'd come to know well. She rode light and tense in the saddle. She trusted no one. Especially those claiming to need her help. The dark horse jangled his bit, champing the silver, as it tightened in his mouth. He halted and pawed the ground so Alora could study the men, her black eyes impatient.
She sighed inwardly and waited for someone to step forward and speak. It didn't matter what anyone said, terror was more contagious than lung rot, sweeping from man to man like a brush fire and robbing their voices of sound. A light breeze rustled through the nearby hemlocks, a delicate scythe sweeping dust and the scent of heatherblossoms before it. She tilted her face, feeling its whisper through her dark hair.
For a brief moment Alora forgot who she was and thought of galloping across the grasses, wind in her face as she knelt low over her horse's sweated withers. No where to be, no where to go, the responsibilities of her Clan resting on shoulders other than her own and when the sun set, the night was just the night. A moment of togetherness and not something alive, something that needed to be worked and tended....
"You're the Twiceborn?"
The man had the reluctant look of losing the coin toss as to who should be the speaker. Her eyes swept over him, and took in the thick leathers, and the war helmet crooked beneath a heavily muscled arm. His face wore the hang-dog look of exhaustion.
"Yes. I'm the Twiceborn. Word reached me through Wulfgar you needed me. My services aren't free."
The man studied her through hollowed eyes. She was nothing like what he'd expected, the tales he'd heard told ingrained on his memory like the passage of a well-loved book. He found her slight build unsettling. He'd pictured her more like a warrior woman built like Garth the blacksmith. Or a wild,screaming crone with hair as white as the moon. Legends consisted mostly of strong brew and fanciful tongues but there had to be more than this....girl. His daughters were tucked firmly away in his root cellar and this little slip could well have joined them, a thought he didn't find comforting in the least.
"I'm Sar and this is my a...army." The quick stutter brought a childish flush to his face. "Tomorrow we defend the people of Gandoura against those pillaging bastards in Lese."
Alora cocked one leathered leg around the horn of her saddle, her expression one of barely concealed boredom. The movement wasn't lost on Sar, who blushed...paused...then stammered on.
"We can't afford much, we're not rich. Many of my men lack weapons and mounts. We're not warriors. We're husbands and fathers."
He decided her black eyes were the most discomfiting. They stared at him, through him, and he squirmed uncomfortably.
"Surely you can find some compassion..even you..to help me and my men." He plunged on as one word tumbled over the next. "We have 20 pieces of silver. I k..know it's not much but there isn't much left, they've taken everything and its all..."
Alora held up her hand. It was an old story, trotted out and dipped in desperation. She knew the words by heart.