FELIX

I watched in numb fear as the coins landed in Lorenzo's greedy paw, one by one, the clink of each coin was like the clink of a chain binding me to my new master.

I caught sight of Vincent looking out at me from one of the side rooms. We both knew full well that this was likely the last time we'd ever see each other again. I felt, well, fear, but also and overwhelming loneliness, at least with Vincent I'd had one companion.

The last coin exchanged and Malkar had my upper arm in a grip so tight and painful I was panting by the time we reached the door of the Shining Tiger, in fear, pain, and arousal. Just as Lorenzo opened the door for Malkar, there was a huge commotion outside and the door burst open. Before anyone could blink I found myself flung first over a broad shoulder for a quick and jarring trip, then flung again, this time into a saddle, my ass, which had seen some rather rough treatment, an understatement to say the least, sent shockwaves of pain up my spine as it met the hard leather of the saddle and was abruptly in motion with barely time to desperately grasp the first the saddle horn, and then as the terror of falling gripped me, the horses flowing white mane.

VINCENT

I could only stare in shock and no small amount of horrified fear, for both Felix and myself as the man snatched him straight out the door, my shock multiplied when even as Felix was being tossed out the door, another man was in front of me, snatching me up in much the same way and then out the door like a sack of potatoes, both Lorenzo and Malkar stood frozen like statues, then starting to move as I was dumped unceremoniously into a saddle and by chance looked up to see Felix's mount swiftly vanishing into the distance, and then my own horse was abruptly in motion.

I leaned forward, clutching the mane in my fingers, and the barrel of the horse with my thighs and ankles and praying again to whatever god was listening that I wouldn't fall.

MILDMAY

I sitting in Zephyr's kitchen, watching him grind up some herbs to make a poultice for my head, which I'd cracked open a bit jumping wrong off a roof and whackin' it good on the windowsill on the opposite house.

Zephyr was nice and so when it happened, I figured it was better to run to him, who might have me do a few chores for payment later, than Keeper, who'd bawl me out and might just let me bleed to death if she thought I was too stupid to live.

So Zephyr won easy, and he'd just finished packin' the mess against my head and wrapping it when the door popped open and standing in the doorway was the biggest man I'd ever seen, his face shadowed by a hood.

The man looked at Zephyr, like he was studying him, and then said, "Herald am I, he is chosen, to Valdemar, and there do I take him."

I swear Zephyr's eyes near popped out of his head and he went to the door, whatever he saw out there convinced him because he scooped me up before I could make heads or tails of the situation, hugged me tight and then out the door we went, I was confused and getting worried, and edging on being terrified. What and where was Valdemar? What did it mean when he said I was chosen?

I was just about to start fussing when I saw it, the horse was huge, well, both of them were but the one that held my attention was even bigger than the other and it was to that one Zephyr carried me. Before I could collect my wits and make a break for it, the horse turned his head and its clear blue eyes met mine.

All at once the bits of me, quite a few, that had been empty and cracked, dusty from neglect, filled with overwhelming love and joy. I laughed and stretched my arms out for the horse, no; companion and he leaned forward obligingly.

As I hugged him, I heard a loving voice in my head.

'Hello Mildmay, I am Kerxe, you will never be alone or without friends again, I choose you.'