The Pool of Two Moons
so many other witches? Yet what choice did he have?
    The Banrigh had his daughter, and he could not find her unless he obeyed the Banrigh's directives. If he wanted to ever see his child again, he had to submit to her wishes, and the sooner he did so, the sooner he would have his lost daughter in his arms again.
    The decision made, Anghus felt a weight lift off his shoulders. He let his thoughts begin to dwell on the task ahead and, as always, felt the thrill of the chase begin to grip him. Once Anghus began to Search, he never gave up. Sometimes the chase was short and swift, sometimes long and terribly slow. Either way, he always found his objective. Perhaps, once the Arch-Sorceress Meghan was dead, the Banrigh would leave him and his family alone . . .
    The Threads are Spun
    Early Spring
    Schools for Fledgling Witches
    Finn huddled her arm against the old man's back, shocked at the frailty of the bones beneath his rags. They struggled through waist-high bracken, gray-gorse bushes thrusting their thorns everywhere. Clumps of trees offered brief huddles of concealment, but the ridge behind was so steep that they could only retreat a few hundred yards from the path. Jorge was shivering, though the sun had cleared the mountains and was shining warmly on their backs.
    "It's horrible to see him look so sick," Jay said.
    "Canna ye heal him?" Johanna asked.
    They all looked towards Tomas, who chewed the end of his glove anxiously. "I'd heal his eyes," he answered. "I'm no' allowed to touch him."
    Their faces fell, then Dillon said gruffly, "We could no' anyway, there's soldiers nearby and ye ken we have to shield."
    The bracken swayed as Parian emerged white-faced from his scouting trip. "The soldiers are just over the ridge," he whispered.
    "Did ye see if there was a cave there?"
    "I saw a very narrow crack which could lead to a cave . . ."
    "There's bloody well a cave there," Finn said stubbornly.
    "Did the soldiers have one o' those witch-sniffers with them?"
    Parian nodded. Dillon chewed his lip, then said, "We'd better lie low, I guess. Everyone keep your heads down. Once they're gone we'll hide in the cave."
    They heard the soldiers marching downstream. All the children concentrated very hard on bracken, and it seemed to work, for although the seeker's gaze roamed over the hillside in which they were hiding, the party did not stop and no alarm was sounded. They waited long minutes before supporting the seer's weaving steps down the hill and round the bank of the river to the cave.
    It was dark inside. For a moment all was confusion. At last a fire was lit, throwing goblin shadows over the walls. The cave was narrow with a high roof, and it smelt sharply of cat's urine near the entrance. The puppy whined and snuffled around the cave, his tail between his legs.
    Suddenly Artair gave a cry and stumbled. "I trod on something," he squeaked. "Look, Scruffy, it be a wee cat ..."
    Straightening up, he showed the body of a kitten nestled in his palm. Fresh blood matted its thick fur.
    "The puir wee thing," Johanna said. "Look, here's another!" By the flickering light of the fire they found the bodies of seven cats, five of them mere kittens. All were black as night, with tufted ears. Finn picked one up. It lay cradled in the palm of her hand, its tiny ears folded back against its skull. A fierce tide of pain welled up in her throat, and she bent her head over its body, tears dropping on its blood-soaked fur. "Poor wee kitty," she said. Suddenly there was an acute pang in her hand and she almost dropped the kitten in surprise. "It's alive!" Finn cried softly and felt a faint scrabble against her palm as the kitten kicked feebly. She had to wedge her thumb against its neck to stop the kitten biting her, even though blood oozed from a long wound on its side.
    "Tomas," she whispered, "what can we do? Ye've got to help it." Without hesitation he pulled off his glove and touched the kitten's forehead. She stopped her hissing and twisting,

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