It would be good to get out of the city for a few days. The sun was rising slowly over the horizon as she and Ember trotted out of the gates toward the designated meeting place. Her shirt sleeves were rolled back, hair neatly braided and pinned up and off her neck as it promised to be a warm day. If an Ashan rain was going to fall, it was likely to be light showers, more refreshing than drenching. The smell of earth rose up from the ground and she rose up in the stirrups to catch a glimpse of Odean’s party. It was then that Ember, sensing something was wrong, slowed to a walk.
It wasn’t Odean’s group. She couldn’t see Captain Odean anywhere. How was this even possible? As Ember approached she counted the faces of the crew she knew too well. Kathryn approached with a smile and a wave, “good fortune,” the woman said and Elyna forced herself to smile in reply.
“Where is Captain Odean?” She asked, still hopeful, and twisted in the saddle to look back the way she’d come. There were no more hoofbeats on the road.
“Captain Odean sustained an injury last evening, we’re picking up the run to Venora. You must be our Skyrider?”
Elyna pulled in her top lip and nodded, “it seems that way,” she replied with a nod. Kathryn turned back to the party and led the way.
Elyna realised that she could turn back and simply ride away. She could say she was ill, or faint or injured. She knew that she’d certainly lost weight since over the past series of Trials and that her clothes hung a little looser. She could refuse the mission, but there would be too many questions. Instead she offered a brief nod to Heath and Benjamin as she passed them and approached Captain Krom. She forced her shoulders back and steeled herself to sit up straight.
This was not how she had wanted to encounter him again. She swallowed, sure that everyone was watching, even if they weren’t.
“Good morning, Ser” she greeted him formally, fingers tight on Ember’s reins. She scrambled for something else to say, and failed. Her heart thudded hard in her chest. There was so much she wanted to say.
"I-" she stumbled, "I'm assigned to map the landscape as we pass."