Author's Note: Hear is the next chapter, hope you enjoy it.
EquestrianBabe: thank-you, I hope you like this chapter as well.
PsychoLioness: lol, not a big cliff hanger, but I still managed to squeeze one in there.
Laurashrub: well, you'll soon find out.
Roherwen: Yeah, you guessed it. Most people thought Ozorne.
heather-marie: thank-you, I hate writing those transition chapters.
fell4adeadguy: wow, straight on! Crap you're good.
Maglenan Princess: you'll have to see, you won't have to wait long. Both of your questions should be answered in this chappy.
Goddess Of The Moon: good guess, keep reading to confirm your suspicions.
Lady Knight 1512: Yeah, good guess on the scales.
GSCer: yes she could have, and maybe she does. The encounter with the bandits isn't over yet.
Dragon and the Wild Mage: Haha, I laughed at your review, I get the feeling that you were excited at the time.
jollyrancher-j2k: hehe, this is the element I wanted to add in! You'll figure it out by the end of the chapter.
Luna y sol: Hmm, I dunno how to answer some of those questions, I guess I'll have to tweak what Tamora Pierce has laid down a bit.
wild-wizard-women: hehe, thanks. I'm glad that it was well received.
Goddess of Muffins: well here's that update you wanted.
Green Inkblot: sick of cookies? Never!
jamie lynn: lol, alright.
Kit49: or could it? I guess you are going to have to keep reading to find out.
A Travelling Mord-Sith: the cliffhangers won't be the end of you, it will be the fairy god father!
"Tristan?" Numair asked groggily.
Tristan laughed, "It has been a long time Arram."
"It has" Numair muttered in agreement.
Tristan turned his attention to Daine, looking her up and down. "Who's the girl"
Daine shifted her weight until she was able to sit upright, which she found difficult with both her arms and legs bound. "The girl is Daine," she answered for Numair.
"Ah, your lover…" Tristan nodded. "I didn't think you would choose someone who was so strong spirited. Usually your way is to prey on the weak."
Numair was trembling with anger. That wasn't true! At least it wasn't true now. "You are just angry because Varice didn't love you," he retorted. Numair knew that Tristan always had feelings for Varice. That woman always divided them as youths. Ozorne would usually act as a mediator.
Tristan went red with a hidden fury that he hadn't shown since they were school mates. Tristan pulled his fist back then punched Numair hard in the gut. Daine winced at his cries of pain. "Your mouth always did get you into a world of trouble" Tristan shouted, while throwing another punch.
Daine now grew worried. She wished there was some way out of her bounds. She opened herself to her magic seeking whatever aid she could but the only animal already in the cave was a mouse, picking at the crumbs left behind by the bandits.
'Can you help me?' Daine asked the tiny creature through mind speech.
The mouse crept closer until it inches away from Daine. 'What do you want me to do?' the mouse replied.
'Chew through the ropes that tie my hands together' Daine instructed, 'Can you do that for me?'
'I can, but it might take a while.'
Daine sighed; she needed to be free now. She didn't think that Tristan would get tired anytime soon. She felt the furry little creature crawl up onto her forearm. The mouse would try anyway.
"Stop it!" Daine cried in attempts to draw Tristan's attention towards her.
Tristan stopped punching Numair, leaving him with a black eye and a bloody lip as he turned towards Daine. "Well what do we have here?" Tristan said, smiling mischievously.
Daine spat at Tristan, getting him in the eye. Daine smiled proudly, while Tristan wiped his face on his sleeve. "You are just as troublesome as Draper you know, and look what I did to him for his loose mouth."
"Of course you had to do it when he was half conscious and bound. You couldn't beat him any other way." Daine said while looking at the ground. She wanted to appear uninterested.
Angered, Tristan slapped Daine. Tears came to her eyes from the sting of his hand on her face. Surprised, Daine toppled over and a brown leather pouch fell from her breast pocket. Tristan's menacing smile turned to a look of curiosity as he reached down to take hold of the pouch.
"What is it?" Tristan asked Daine.
"It's none of your business, now give it back!" Daine ordered.
Tristan laughed, Daine knew that she was not in a position to be ordering around this lunatic with a quick temper. At least it gave Numair a chance to recuperate. Tristan poured the shiny scales into his palm, and his eyes went wide.
"Do you know that you carried the equivalent to the wealth of Carthak in your breast pocket?" Tristan asked.
Daine kept her eyes staring downward and shook her head.
"What you carried with you are dragon scales, they're priceless!" Tristan said baffled.
"I'll give them to you if you let me and Numair be on our way."
"Numair? Is that what he's going by now?" Tristan laughed, "And I already have the dragon scales in my hand, why would I need to bargain for them?"
Daine tried to think of another way to distract him; she needed just a little more time for the mouse to undo the ropes. "What are you doing up here in the mountains anyway?" Daine asked, trying to feign interest.
"We're a group who grew tired of Ozorne's rule and are attempting to build up a force to overthrow him." Tristan said loudly, enough for the men gathered at the mouth of the cave to hear. Daine could see them nodding and cheering at the cave's entrance. Tristan bent down to whisper something to Daine. "Of course I know that it is a useless attempt, but Ozorne commanded me to infiltrate this puny threat and eliminate them."
Daine felt the ropes fraying as the mouse finished his work. She had to wait for the right moment…Tristan turned away from her briefly to get a good look at the black mage, who lay injured on the floor. This was her chance. Daine pulled her hands apart, tearing the rope. She pounced on Tristan.
Taken by surprise, Tristan dropped belly first on the ground; the wind was knocked out of him. Daine and the former friend of Numair wrestled on the floor, each trying to gain the upper hand. Men quickly came bustling from the cave entrance, trying to grab at Daine.
"He's working for Ozorne!" Daine shouted when she was finally pulled off of Tristan by some of his lackeys.
The men who took a hold of Daine dropped her to the floor. Daine hadn't realized that her legs were still tied.
"Is this true?" A man asked who Daine recognized as the one who carried her to the caves.
Tristan looked shocked, "I can't believe you would think that of me. Who are you going to trust, me, or some troublesome northerner?"
Numair finally came up with the energy to say something, "It's true, Tristan, Ozorne and I were school mates. Tristan still associates with the emperor."
The men turned to Tristan who still lay disheveled on the floor. Looking lost, Tristan blast a pulse of yellow magic, momentarily blinding everyone in the cave. When their eyes adjusted back to the lighting of the dim cavern Tristan had already left. Daine was glad to see that he had dropped something. The dragon scales. Daine scooped them up and slipped them into a more secure place, the pouch on her belt.
"After him!" someone commanded, urging everyone to chase Tristan. Only Daine and Numair stayed behind, out of the hunt. Daine wanted to go, but realized that her feet were still tied; all she could do was hop.
Daine sat down and started working at the knots tangling her feet, and Numair tried to wrestle out of his.
"Mind explaining who that was?" Daine asked.
Numair sighed, "He was a friend of mine back in Carthak."
"Was?" Daine speculated.
"Well he isn't anymore for obvious reasons," Numair said.
Daine finally managed to get her feet free, stretching them she continued with conversation, "I never saw him in Carthak, you couldn't have been friends then. You purposely failed to mention him."
Numair winced; why did he have to fall in love with the only one who could keep him on his toes. "Well there was an incident with Varice; we both desired her affections and her undivided attention…"
"I assume that you got those affections, and Tristan was left to witness a happy young couple; the love of his life and his best friend." Daine speculated.
Daine approached Numair and began helping him with the ropes on his hands. She was gentle with her movements; it relaxed Numair. "Well it sounds almost horrible when you put it that way," Numair joked.
Daine rolled her eyes, finally managing to untie Numair. She tried to pull back her hands, but Numair took a hold of them. "I'm glad to see that you're alright," Numair said.
Daine looked at Numair, his face bruised and bleeding. "I wish I could say the same about you." Numair wiped the blood from his lip on his sleeve, hoping that would make it look better.
"Better?" Numair asked.
Daine planted a gentle kiss on Numair's mouth, "A little" she admitted.
Numair smiled, and began kissing Daine along her neck, her cheeks, and her mouth. He found his lip was bruised slightly, and it hurt to kiss her but it felt so right. Daine did nothing to stop him, and soon she was kissing him back. Numair worked his hands up her back, rubbing her gently.
"Am I interrupting anything?" Someone asked.
Numair stopped abruptly, and realized that he almost got carried away. Daine didn't seem to care; in fact she looked disappointed that they were interrupted.
"No, we were just…" Numair said blushing.
The man laughed, "Never mind that. The name's Klyde and I just wanted to apologize on behalf of the crew," Klyde said offering a hand to Numair, who accepted. The man had a firm handshake, Numair liked that.
"Klyde, what are you and a bunch of grown men doing living up in the mountains like this?" Daine inquired.
"Starting a revolution!" he exclaimed as if Daine was daft.
Numair sighed, seeing how hopeless their attempt was. "You aren't going to get far; you are just a band of ruffians who will be in big trouble if Tristan manages to go tell Ozorne about you."
"Well at least we're trying. And what are you two doing up here in the mountains anyways?" Klyde asked.
Numair began blushing, realizing that he would sound like a hypocrite with his answer. Daine piped up in his stead, "The two of us are going to start a revolution!"
Klyde laughed merrily at her sarcasm, "You cannot possibly be a Nobel!"
Daine grinned, "Nope, commoner by birth, and a commoner at heart."
"Well I think I have come up with a brilliant idea. We both have the same goal, to get rid of Ozorne. We are one the same side…" Klyde began.
"Are you suggesting a partnership?" Numair asked.
"Exactly!" Klyde affirmed.
"We could certainly use all the help we can get," Daine mentioned, trying to persuade her teacher.
"How could I say no?" Numair responded shrugging. Klyde slapped Numair in the back, laughing all the while, while Numair tried to hide his grunts from the hard hits.
Klyde looked them both up and down, "Well let's go tell the boys!"
Author's Note: Sorry if updates come a little slower. Hard semester.