There was no getting round it, the boy had to be somewhat human. Exhaustion, malnutrition, and a little excitement did not mix well for so young a babyling. The only question remaining was just how human he was. Griselda ground a disappointed sigh between her teeth and suppressed the urge to snatch him from the magic-user. It would not be practical, although the weight wouldn't be a bother, the boy's ludicrous size was an ego-busting factor. Still, the boy had been her own find, and she would have much preferred him to remain her own burden as well.
At least the magic-user was not a whiny courtier. It would have been impossible to mistake her for one, but appearances often deceived. Certainly in the boy's case. Griselda grunted as she mounted the furry nuisance, gamely ignoring the pains in her feet and legs. Age was a terrible thing, unless one was a vintner. "This is no adventure game, child," she spat over her shoulder.
"I do not participate in such frivolities," the magic-user shifted PDQ to better distribute the weight, "in any case." She seemed to have little trouble carrying a young man on her back, even as she managed to lift them both onto another erehen.
Griselda thought back to the girl's actions against the pursuant guards. "No, I shouldn't think you do." She'd seen women like this, hardened fighters with the word WAR tattooed on their bloody fore'eads. Battlecaster, indeed. "Just don't fry the little babyling on your back, and we'll get on like old pub chums."
The sound that elicited forth nearly made her chuckle. Not at all lady-like. "I am due some credit," the magic-user said, in a manner that suggested an upturned nose. Griselda didn't turn around to see it. "Unless I have a reason to fry your precious 'babyling', I will not harm a hair on him."
That should have been let alone. Griselda was an old hand at many things, current situation included, but she still was unable to check the lightning-quick spin, although she stopped just before she could lunge off the beast and head for the girl's throat. "No room for such teasing, Battlecaster," she growled. The stance would have been threatening if she'd still had her axe. And if she hadn't been on a bloody erehen. She spun the creature back in line and goaded it onward, towards the forest. "As you remain ignorant, act accordingly."
Silence settled like a cumbersome coat in summer. It had been too much, she knew. The warning, the wording of it, even way she watched the others so very carefully. She'd give herself away if she didn't catch hold of her wits and at least act mysterious.
It made her nervous to be in the open. She tugged at her beard and swore vividly, then pulled even with the Battlecaster. "What're you called, anyway?"
The answer was strained, but no more so than any slightly unsociable warrior Griselda had ever known. "Mychael."
"All you humans have got odd names."
There might have been a reinstatement of the previous silence if the beast bearing Mychael and PDQ hadn't taken fright of something and made a sudden jerking turn to the left. The boy slid off too quickly for Mychael to grab hold of him, the erehen making it a fair way before it could be turned back onto the right path.
Mercifully, PDQ landed on his back. Griselda yanked her mount into a submissive position that allowed her to slide to the ground and run to the boy's side. He was breathing, and awake. She pulled him into a sitting position and patted his cheeks.
After some muttering something about his mamin and an 'it' that he didn't illuminate, he shook himself away from Griselda's hands and held his head in his hand. Mychael joined soon after, looking irritated, but not embarrassed. She checked the boy's dressing, then looked up to scowl at him.
He didn't give her a moment to explain the expression, instead falling into an immediate fit of stuttering and apologies. "I didn't mean towhat happened? Did something happen to the carriage? It's not my fault, is it? I'm sorry, I shouldn't have
" Then he turned to Griselda, holding up his wrists. "I tried to get a weapon, like you said, but it
it didn't work
She shushed him gruffly, rifling the dust from his hair. "Stop that blathering. Get astride the beast and let's be on our way." The gesture was affectionate, she knew. But it did make him smile and stop talking. Griselda looked to Mychael, mentally re-thinking her escape plan. It had gone much further than this in her early planning stages, but there had been no Mychael in them. Now she'd have to start over, and on the run no less. She sighed again. "I'll take the boy and lead, feel free to scarper whenever you feel the inclination. No one's holding you hostage."
Mychael made a sound that was awfully like a scoff. "I told you"
"This is none of yours, magic-user! If you're in for the duration, and y' can prove it, then we shall see what I tell you."