"You're as quiet as a mad bear, Vara," he replied just as quietly.
Vara, the only man he might count as a friend if he dared count any, whirled, and moonlight caught his pale green eyes.
"I probably always will," Vara replied.
"I'd heard of them as well," Vara said, following his gaze.
Vara felt a kinship with him after freeing him from the catacombs.
Vara shifted, irritated with his words.
"I'll leave you to puzzle over the walls," Vara said in a tight tone.
He'd felt a need to apologize the last two times he spoke to Vara, but never would.
Of everyone he'd known since coming to this land, Vara had been the only kind one, aside from the ancient warrior in the catacombs.
Vara freed him, paid for his weapons.
But his son, Vara, does.
Vara trusts no one, much as you do, but he trusts Taran.
Vara tugged off his own necklace, a simple strip of leather with a circular stone.
Vara was still for only a moment before he whirled and grabbed Taran, pulling him toward the forest.
"Wait, Vara!" he objected.
Vara gave a flurry of urgent words in the foreign tongue, succeeding in dragging him to the edge of the forest before Taran yanked free.
Vara grabbed his arm.
He darted after Vara, unable to shake the image of his father falling beneath a barbarian's sword.
Vara slowed their horse, halting on the other side of the city, where wooden dwellings gave way to stone hovels.
Vara took his hand and led him into the stables, hiding with him in a small tack room.
Vara shushed them as the sound of several voices drifted into the tack room.
Vara was flung to the floor of the stables.
He heard Vara shouting and looked around wildly.
The man from the beach who struck down his father strode from the stables, accompanied by another man hauling Vara by one arm. ..
The barbarian ignored Taran and snatched Vara by the scruff, only to backhand him hard.
They and Memon's son, Vara, were alone in a small room together.
"Then you killed my mother and took the kingdom," Vara muttered with a dark look at his father.
"But he speaks the truth, Taran," Vara added.
His gaze lingered on Vara, and he wondered if the rumors of the widening chasm between him and his father were true.
Vara looked away, a frown on his face.
Vara turned to leave.
Find Vara and speak to no one else.
I don't care, Vara, but you must do these two things!
He knew Vara well enough to know the man was nothing like his father.
"Why Vara?" he demanded.
"My brother's son, the cousin of Vara," Hilden said, motioning to a gangly youth with Vara's green eyes.
Send Vara to me.
"A poor brother I'd have made," Vara said with a dry chuckle.
"There's something different about you tonight, Taran," Vara said.
"You ask too much," Vara said again.
"Your anger is not at me," Vara said, amused.
Vara looked out at sea.
Vara met his gaze.
Vara, Rissa…they'd suffered as much as he did, and he'd refused to believe anyone else was suffering.
Vara, the man who'd freed him from the underground and defied his father to place the foreign-born slave in an honored scout position, who'd bought his weapons, fed and clothed him when he was too poor to do so for himself.
Of all the warriors, Vara wanted him at his side when he triumphed in his own revenge.
Vara turned away, hands on his hips and face toward the sky.
"I have few men I trust," Vara said.
"You've never stood alone, brother," Vara said without turning.
Vara asked, facing him.
He spoke, his voice quieting until Vara had to draw nearer.
When he'd finished, Vara stared at him, then said,
I'm your brother, Vara, from today onward.
Vara clapped him on the arm and retreated toward the forest.
Vara lifted his chin in greeting as she passed him, and she wiped her eyes, meeting his green gaze.
As they approached she saw that it was Memon who awaited her with one of his advisors at one side and Vara on his left.
Vara stepped away, and Taran met her gaze at last.
Vara motioned her out from under the tent and led her toward the caravan.
A third arrow drove her unconscious, and she slumped, unaware of Vara catching her.