After several deft moves, the man she scrimmaged hit the dirt. In an accented, velvety voice she explained something Drace couldn’t quite make out to the fallen opponent. He took her offered left hand and was helped to his feet.
They repeated the last set of moves and he countered her last blow slightly different. This time he maintained his footing and made a vicious jab at her midsection. Drace gasped involuntarily as the move seemed to have deadly intent. The woman moved nimbly to the side, and backed off, lowering her sword. The woman said something to the other warrior that Drace assumed were words of praise. The man nodded to her with a slight bow. With a motion of dismissal from the woman, the man left the field, heading for the barracks.
When the woman turned to the waiting trio, Drace saw her face for the first time. “Hey, it’s her!” He put a hand on Vashti’s arm. “That’s the woman from my dream.”
The woman had the most intriguing face he had ever seen. When she came closer he could see her eyes. They were bold, slightly slanted, cat-like, and a light amber color, framed by dark blonde lashes. Her face was angular but not sharply so, with a straight nose perhaps just a touch too short. Her lips were full and at the moment curled in a disdainful smile. An image of a lioness came instantly to his mind.
A henna-like tattoo of a winged dragon rising into flight was on the bicep of her right arm, and even from a distance, he could see the incredible workmanship.
She stopped in front of Vashti. “Sorceress, I hope all is well?”
Vashti and Ka’Ril both dipped their heads in greeting. “Very well, my Lady,” Vashti replied.
The woman stuck the point of the long sword into the ground and leaned on it a bit in a nonchalant manner. “How were the plains today?”
“Very quiet my Lady. We saw not even a hare,” Ka’Ril volunteered.
“Nimbus flew today and passed over. I believe he hunted,” the woman said and turned her attention to Drace. “Is this the poor creature you were sent for? It looks like a Zakara used a mace on him.”
Drace stiffened in the saddle, causing Pride to move restlessly. “It wasn’t a mace, it was a lance,” he answered in a tight voice, “I am Drace Mac-
“Oron told me you would arrive today. We have rooms and baths ready for you. Estelle will show you to your quarters. I will join you at the evening meal.”
She turned away without another word to the three, and then shouted across to another man waiting on the side. She gave her sword a couple of swings over her head to loosen her arm muscles and went into the next match, clearly dismissing them. Drace felt somewhat insulted, but said nothing.
The three left their horses with three men at the inner stable. Drace was nervous about leaving Pride with strangers, but Vashti reassured him the stallion would receive excellent care. Pride seemed tired enough not to be bothered by it all, being led willingly away from Drace in the stable’s direction.