The Lords of Anavar
have grown up as a Mage?" asked Deah Vole.
    "It's all I know."
    "I see. You have done well thus far in your traveling. Your horse is well cared for and you have not run out of food. You would be surprised how many travelers I have rescued over the years. Careless and nearly dead."
    Artus said nothing and smiled briefly.
    Deah Vole found an overgrown trail leading up toward the highest peaks. Most of the ground was rock and did not leave much evidence of passage. He pointed to a discarded apple core. Artus nodded and followed his guide. They passed the tree line just before the sun dipped below the mountains. They camped in a rocky shelter off the trail. They would see anyone approach them and there was enough cover to hide from rocks if someone reached the high places surrounding them. They ate a cold meal and wrapped extra blankets around them.
    "At least the wind won't get to us much," said Artus.
    "That is good. However, the wind will make it difficult to hear anyone approach."
    "They won't hear us either."
    "Agreed. It wouldn't matter if they knew we were here."
    "Cheery thought, Deah. Can you think of more?"
    "Trolls are rumored to live in these mountains."
    "I was kidding for angel's breath! Don't say anymore."
    "You are not a mountain man, eh Artus? You should get out into the wild more. Breathe the air and sleep under the stars."
    "What do you think I am doing?"
    "I mean as part of your life, not a once in a lifetime event. Every week you should sleep under the stars and walk in the hills breathing the fresh air. There is nothing like it. I cannot imagine spending all your time in a workroom learning spells and the like. I could never convince Techna to join me. Do not make his mistake. Confining yourself to city life chokes your imagination. It lengthens the end of your nose."
    "You don't see beyond your nose - the world around you is ignored even in the city. The bustle of the market is only noise; the town crier is a nuisance. You need to reach beyond the walls and feel the grass under your feet."
    "Are you a philosopher, or a soldier?"
    Deah Vole grinned. "I guess Techna is more an influence upon me than I thought."
    "Well, in that case…"
    Deah Vole slapped his hand over Artus' mouth and pulled him deeper into the cover of their shelter.
    Artus strained his ears to hear the sounds that alerted Deah Vole. The wind howled and frustrated the Mage. Then he used his eyes and stiffened. Dark shapes entered the shelter of the rocks. He heard Deah Vole draw his sword. They moved a few steps apart.
    With shrieks, the attackers rushed forward. Deah Vole leapt out sweeping his sword before him. A soldier tried to block his blade but Deah Vole slapped the flat edge against the man's hand, and then stabbed him. He barely pulled his sword free to defend against another attacker.
    Artus watched the frenzy of swords, backing away from the fighting. No one came for him immediately, but as more attackers joined the fight, he found himself surrounded. At first, his mind was blank, and then he remembered the anger when Richard Brox attacked Faeya Ryr and he tried to recall the feeling. There was a dull buzzing in his ears. Artus felt his fingertips tingle as he unleashed raw power into the figures, blasting them backward.
    "Good one, Artus!" cried Deah Vole. He sliced the sword hand of his opponent and the sword dropped to the ground. Then Vole drove the blade into the man's neck. He stepped away, reaching a hand for Artus.
    "Stay close. Don't let them get behind you."
    He and Vole stood back to back watching for more shadows. Figures darted through the shadows and they could not tell how many still threatened them. Then they heard the voice float in the air above them.
    "Very good. Ha, ha, ha. Such determination, such courage. Alas, it will not avail you in the long run." The voice swirled out of the darkness fading and flowing as if it were a living thing. Artus twisted his head back and forth trying to determine

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