The Amulet Saga
Volume Two: The Traveler
Other stories in this series:
Jyn urged her horse to go faster. Where was Taurin? She was sure his horse had fled this direction, but there was no telling how far he’d gone since then, or whether he’d changed direction.
These rocks looked small from a distance, but they were big enough to hide a man.
Or a body.
The ground was too hard-packed and dry to reveal much of a trail, but Jyn thought she saw part of a hoof mark. She turned her horse and guided it up between the rocks.
There! Was that blood?
It was. A distinct trail, growing more pronounced the further it went.
The blood trail meandered through the rocks and then down toward the lowlands and eventually into the desert.
This was not good. At least if he’d been in the rocks, he might’ve had some shade and protection from scavengers.
Jyn spurred her horse to a trot and followed the blood spatter in to the desert.
It went too long. He couldn’t survive that much blood loss, not to mention that many hours baking in the sun.
As if in answer to her thoughts, a circle of buzzards formed in the sky overhead.
“No, no, no!” She would spare him that, at least.
She raced forward. In the distance, a mound on the desert floor began to distinguish itself as more than a shadow. A few more moments and she reigned her horse in and jumped from his back.
Taurin’s chest moved, ever so slightly. He was alive!
Jyn grabbed her canteen and poured little dribbles of water into Taurin’s mouth. Then she tore his shirt away to inspect his wound.
He’d yanked the spear right out, taking chunks of flesh with it and leaving a wide, festering wound that seeped into the cracked ground beneath him.
Overhead, the buzzards called to one another, their cries echoing across the valley.
Jyn tore a strip from her shirt and wound it around Taurin’s bleeding shoulder. She tightened it securely and knelt to lift him.
He was heavier than she’d thought. His lean physique had never seemed intimidating, but trying to lift his dead weight took more effort than she’d imagined. She crouched to a squat and pulled him by his good arm up over her shoulder, then held on to her horse’s saddle for leverage as she stood. Her horse seemed to understand her urgency and stood still as she heaved Taurin’s body over the saddle.
Jyn whistled, hoping Taurin’s horse was still nearby, but it didn’t appear and she didn’t have time to look for it. It might already be too late. She mounted the horse and wedged herself behind and slightly under Taurin, then urged her horse back toward the road that led to Nynthavin.
Normally, she’d treat field wounds herself. She had enough experience to do a tolerable job with healing, but if Taurin could be saved, it would take more skill than she had. She had to go to the one place she was least welcome. The palace from where the soldiers who had vomited from the caravan originated. The royal palace where lived the king of Sunnland.
The gates to the city would stay open for another hour or so, until sundown. Jyn urged the horse to his limits. If they were locked out in the desert overnight, they’d both be dead.
The sun sank lower in the sky, and Jyn’s horse was nearly depleted of energy when the city walls came into sight. Jyn pressed on, and they arrived just as the first warning bells tolled.
The horse seemed to sense that the end was near and managed to find another well of energy.
The palace was situated at the center of the city, surrounded by a second wall. Built into the wall were a series of small homes. Servants of the king who were required to be nearby in case they were needed, but were not important enough to receive an apartment within the castle proper. It was to one of these that Jyn fled.
She leapt from the back of the horse and pounded on the door.
“Who is it?” a gruff voice called out.
“It’s Jyn. Please, it’s an emergency.” She pounded again.
A moment later, the door was opened by a sultry maid wearing a blanket.
Jyn looked past her to where Gorym emerged from his bedchamber, tucking his shirt into his trousers.
“I need help. Quickly.” Jyn didn’t wait for him to respond before turning around and going back to Taurin.
“Nyn’s backside, Jyn, what happened?” Gorym demanded as he joined her.
He didn’t really expect an answer, though. At least not out here. Without another word, he hoisted Taurin onto his shoulders, carried him inside, and set him on the high table behind a curtain on the far side of the room.
Gorym’s lady friend had apparently had the sense to put some clothes on. She emerged wearing a simple dress and having the grace to look embarrassed.
Gorym pressed a silver bantar into her hand and kissed her cheek. “Go to the temple and offer a prayer to Nyn for healing for the king’s faithful soldier.”
The girl left, closing the door behind her, and Gorym turned immediately to Taurin. He ripped away the makeshift bandage Jyn had wrapped around Taurin’s shoulder. He sucked in his breath and shook his head in a manner that did not inspire much confidence.
“Is he alive?” Jyn asked.
Gorym nodded. “Barely. It’s good you brought him as soon as you did. Hand me that bottle, the big blue one on the end.”
Jyn turned to his apothecary shelves behind her and located the bottle. Gorym poured the liquid liberally into the wound. He cleaned the hole with a fresh cloth and the liquid from the bottle, carefully digging out bits of splinters from the spear and dirt from the desert.
“This doesn’t look good, Jyn,” he muttered. “I can sew it closed, but the chance of infection is huge with a wound like this one. Even if he survives the infection, he might never get the use of this arm back. Not to mention the amount of blood he’s lost.”
Tears stung Jyn’s eyes. “Please, Gorym. Isn’t there anything else you can do?”
“I wish I could, but I’m already being watched on suspicion of sorcery. They confiscated most of my herbs. Anything that even looked like it might have magical properties.”
A tear rolled down Jyn’s cheek. “I can’t lose him.”
Gorym took a deep breath. “Hold on.” He disappeared into his bedchamber and returned a moment later with a small amulet and a small pouch. From the pouch, he took a pinch of powder and mixed it with something from another vial on his shelves and rubbed it on the amulet. He then put the amulet against Taurin’s wound and muttered something unintelligible.
“That’s the best I can do.” He hid the pouch and the amulet back in his bedchamber and began stitching closed Taurin’s wound.
Just as he was finishing, the door burst open and the king’s soldiers flooded into the room.
“Well, well. What do we have here?” the one at the front, a man wearing general’s stripes, said.
Jyn pulled a knife and flung it at the general. He dodged just at the last moment and the knife sank into the arm of the soldier behind him.
Gorym sank to his knees. “Please, General, I had no choice. She forced me to help her.”
Jyn gritted her teeth, but she couldn’t blame him. Being caught helping an outlaw would lead to consequences she couldn’t ask him to face.
The general eyed her. “We’ve been looking for you for a long time. You’re lucky the king wants you alive.”
Jyn blinked. The king wanted her? Alive?
That could not be good. She glanced at Taurin, still lying nearly lifeless on the table.
“Don’t worry. If you behave, you’ll see him again. Assuming this one knows what he’s doing. Come on, then. With me.”
Jyn glanced at Gorym. He nodded, ever so slightly. Not that it mattered. She didn’t have much choice. She squared her shoulders and nodded to the general. “Take me to the king.”
To purchase Volume One: The Heir, click here.