The young woman hoisted her pack higher up on her shoulders and she looked further down the road. She would have to leave it soon, or risk being seen. Glancing at the sky, she shielded her eyes and tried to gauge how long it would be before sunset. She knew there was a town nearby and that would be her first chance to get food, but only if she waited until after sunset. It looked like it would be a while, so she ducked off the road and started moving into the woods. Tegwen kept her ears and eyes open, moving as quietly as she could. Every snapping twig was one of the hunters, a village child, one of the soldiers. She heard a rustle and froze, ears straining. There was another, and a snap. She had two choices, run or hide. Then a large hand came down on her shoulder. She was out of options. They turned her around and she found herself staring at the last thing she wanted to see: a quartered tabard over maille in the colors of her uncle’s house.
“So, Lady Tegwen, we’ve finally found you.”
She gulped, trying to swallow past the lump in her throat as fear took hold of her. Slowly, she raised her eyes to his face, afraid of who she would see. His craggy features were so familiar, the scar down his cheek answered all her questions.
“Sir Ryder!”
She gasped his name and he covered her hand with one leather-gloved hand.
“Quiet, My Lady. The others are in the wood searching for you as well. And it isn’t my intention to let them find you.”
She nodded and tried again, speaking at a bare whisper.
“My parents? Are they alright?”
He was already shaking his head sadly.
“Captured. Duke Garrett executed your father and he’s holding your mother. We have to get you to the capital, to have an audience with the king. It’s the only way.”
She took a deep breath, trying to keep from shaking or crying. She couldn’t afford to mourn yet. Fists clenched tightly, her back stiffened and she nodded once.
“Then we go.”


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