"This is where the scouts were seen yesterday," Rissa, tenth Warlord of Tiyan, murmured as she calculated the distance between the city and her destination.
Rissa, this was your decision.
Rissa shuddered and released her breath.
"Sirian, I'm not well," Rissa continued.
Sirian and Rissa led him back to the impressive hold at the center of the city and up a set of stairs to the second level and down a wide hallway.
Rissa was dressed in clean men's clothing, her hair braided once more.
Rissa looked down self-consciously and clasped her arms behind her back.
Rissa slung the door closed and moved toward a small table where her sword waited.
Sirian waited, his dark eyes going from Rissa to Taran, where they settled.
Several burly guards bowed to Sirian and Rissa and trailed them into the street.
Rissa, Sirian, and the guards headed toward the sparring men.
Sirian partnered with Rissa while the guards fanned out around them, one alert while the other four paired up to spar.
He looked in time to see Sirian fling Rissa over his shoulder.
Sirian and Rissa glared at each other with animosity that bespoke a brittle relationship.
Rissa looked at him hard.
Rissa bristled but straightened.
When Rissa merely nodded, accepting the insult, he felt the urge to shake sense into the oblivious woman.
Aside from the dark moods of Rissa and Sirian, Taran sensed nervousness in the guards.
Rissa was braced in the saddle as if expecting attackers at any moment.
He spoke loudly enough for even those in the back row to hear.
Rissa turned to look at him, then Sirian.
"The route is safe, Rissa," Sirian said firmly.
He caught a glimpse of Rissa through the melee and wrestled the horse for control.
Three guards surrounded Rissa, whose writhing, squealing horse was as much of a menace to her as the attackers flooding from the forest.
He reached Rissa and threw himself from his horse, keeping a hold of the reins as he smashed blows into one of the three facing her.
Rissa blocked the blow of the second and dropped, rolling as an axe split the ground near her head.
Rissa arced a blow toward him.
Relieved, he pulled the blowing horse to a halt and grabbed Rissa by the scruff of her tunic, unceremoniously hauling her up and dumping her on the ground.
Rissa grunted at the impact of his weight and squirmed.
You're not going anywhere, Rissa, he told her firmly.
Rissa searched his gaze, calming.
Rissa said nothing, waiting.
Rissa closed her eyes and sighed.
Rissa drew herself up to her full height and looked around.
Rissa looked up at him, face flushed.
Rissa tensed, but his arms closed around her to prevent her from jumping off.
Not wishing to see the dark Rissa from the morning return, he did not pursue.
Guards drew arrows back at their approach, and Rissa roused herself.
Taran released Rissa, and she hopped down, awaiting him.
Rissa, I am grateful you are well!
Sirian and Rissa wound through the fortress before disappearing into a door guarded by two men.
By their edgy exchanges, he could tell Rissa knew her advisor posed some danger.
Rissa leaned both hands on the table before her.
"You're wrong, Rissa," he managed.
"I do not fear him as you do, Rissa," he snapped.
Rissa waited until she was out of sight of the two guards before breaking into a trot.
Rissa felt his eyes on her and perched on the edge of a trunk.
Rissa, will you go to Dierdirien?
Rissa said nothing, unable to tell him her father was driven too mad by the demon his last ten years to know his daughter.
He joined Lean and Allin as they dined, listening with forced indifference as they told him that Rissa had left alone with her guard at dusk.