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By Andre Norton, Mercedes Lackey

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Sorry," he spread his hands in gesture which he hoped she would take for apology. In some way he had offended, but it was through ignorance. And the woman must have understood that, for she made some explanation to the young officer, though he did not look at Simon with any great friendliness during the hours which followed. Koris, showing a deference which did not match the woman's ragged clothing, but did accord with her air of command, mounted her behind him on the big black horse. Simon rode behind one of the other guardsmen, linking his fingers in the rider's belt and clinging tight, as they headed back into the river plain at a pace which even the dark of the night did not keep from approaching a gallop.

He could not have told her age, in some ways she might have seen the first stones of Estcarp laid one upon another. But to him she seemed ageless. Her hand flashed up and she tossed a ball toward him, a ball seemingly of the same cloudy crystal as the gem she and her lieutenant wore as jewels. Simon caught it. Against his flesh it was not cold as he had expected, but warm. And as he instinctively cupped it in both hands, her own closed over her jewel, a gesture echoed by her companion. Tregarth could never afterwards explain, even to himself, what followed.

She started convulsively and Simon half arose out of his hiding place as he suddenly realized that in that grim hunt she must be the quarry. He dropped to one knee again as she jerked one other rags free from a thorn bush. The force of that impatient tug sent her skidding over the rim. Even then she did not scream, but her hands grabbed for a bush as she went forward, and its branches held. As she struggled for footing the hounds burst into view. They were thin, white animals, their lanky bodies turning with almost boneless fluidity as they came to the edge of the valley wall.

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