No ones pov

Evumeimei Dingazi laughed at her teacher's expression. Briar Moss stood holding one kitten, another in his other hand, soaking wet from the river he had just climbed out of, and a camel drooling on his face. He held this pose for a moment, and then moved out from underneath the camels head. He placed the kittens back in the basket with their mother; the kittens immediately scampered off to play with their litter mates.

"You'd think they would have some gratitude." Briar grumbled. "Bleaters."

Dedicate Initiate Rosethorn, who stood on the other side of their campfire, replied, "They are kittens, Briar. Their minds are like that of infants. Unless you're their mother or sibling, they forget you."

Evvy knew better than to say anything to Briar right now. In fact, she decided that it was best to stay out of this situation all together.

Even if it was funny.

Evvy still had to say something, "thanks for saving my cats from drowning."

The kittens, whom Evvy had let out for a moment, had fallen into the river when she had looked away to secure her suddenly falling stone alphabet. Briar had dived into the river after the kittens before Evvy could have, and had gotten no apparent thanks.

Rosethorn finished cooking whatever was in the pot over the campfire. Soon all three of the mages had settled around in various places to eat.

Evvy watched as Briar sat beside a small plant to eat. He absentmindedly stroked it, as if it were a cat begging for attention. His tall, lean form and stance even when sitting testified to his having quick reflexes and ready for trouble most of the time. His jade-green eyes stared out into the desert. His skin was on the golden side, close to Evvy's own skin. Ink vines with flowers blooming covered his hands, showing when he had tried to put a vine tattoo on his hands to cover the two xs showing that he had been a thief. Two xs meant that you had been caught twice, and the next time you were arrested, you got sentenced to hard labor for the rest of your life. Briar had escaped this fate through a mage from Winding Circle Temple, who saw the magic in him. Briar was a plant mage. He was also the person who had found Evvy's magic, who had helped her, and now who had taken her as a student.

The only problem in their relationship was that Evvy wasn't a plant mage. No, Evumeimei was a rock mage. Rock mages were usually a dime a dozen, but in Chammur, not so much.

One mage, whom Evvy referred to as 'Jooba-Hooba' had chased all the stone mages out of town. He had almost become her teacher, but was a real jerk, and would have beaten her.

Briar and Rosethorn had taken her though, magic and all. She wasn't beaten, and if she got a tongue-lashing it was because she deserved it, or because Rosethorn was in a particularly cross mood and Evvy was in the way.

Rosethorn couldn't teach her either, because, like briar, she was a plant mage. Rosethorn was also a great mage, which meant that her name and power were well known. She spoke slowly because of an accident that had occurred before Evvy met her. Rosethorn had almost died because of a plague, and only survived because of Briar and his three foster-sisters. Part of her brain had died, and she had had to learn how to speak again. Now her hands were a bit trembly, and she spoke with a slight slur.

Briars three foster-sisters. Evvy had heard about them so much that she doubted that she wouldn't recognize them, even in a crowd. There was Sandrilene fa Toren, or Sandry, who was the Duke of Emelan's great niece. She was a thread mage, had blond hair, and a small nose. Whenever someone threatened her or her family, Sandry became the noble she was, often getting her and her siblings out of several sticky situations. Then there was Tris, who was apparently 'the crotchety one'. She had red curls chopped short, and was a weather mage. Besides having been a merchant's daughter, she often had her nose stuck in a book, and wore spectacles. Briar called her 'coppercurls'. Daja, she was the smith mage. She had been a trader until her family's ship sank and she was the only survivor. She had become Trangshi for a while, then regained Trader status when she had saved a caravan from a forest fire. Always carried around a Trader's staff. Evvy found it odd that she knew so much about these people, but had never met them.

She was interrupted in her musings by Briar, who, stretching, asked, "how far till we reach Gyongxe?"

"we should reach it tomorrow, provided that there are no more random excursions into rivers, or bandits." Rosethorn replied.

Briar acknowledged this, then turned to Evvy. Before he could say anything, Evvy raced off to grab her slate and stone alphabet. Since Evvy had been a street rat, or guttersnipe, she had never learned to read or write. Briar, who had been a street rat himself, was teaching her how. Both Rosethorn and Briar agreed that it was imperative for Evvy to learn to read, and soon.

Once Evvy had retrieved her slate and stone alphabet, which was a roll of cloth with many pockets containing different stones from A-Z, the lesson began. She had reached the letter S, for which she had a sapphire, and was describing it back to Briar when suddenly quite a few people charged out of the darkness to attack Evvy, Briar, and Rosethorn!

The mages didn't even look at their attackers, except for Evvy, who glanced at them to aim. The attackers where suddenly covered with vines and ropes, with quite a few of them pelted with stones. Soon enough the attackers were subdued, and then Rosethorn walked over to them.

"it might be a better idea for you to consider why three people would be traveling alone with no apparent weapons before you go charging in. this will be a good lesson for you, don't go attacking passing people." She said slowly.

One of the attackers spit on the ground, "mages" he said.

Another looked right at Rosethorn. "are you slow or sometin? Speaking all slow, we aint idiots." Then, he laughed to his friends. "a slow mage, that's something you don't see every day. Its just another reason why mages aint all that. Well, if these mages are slow like their friend here, someone else has got to be around. And I bet we can get some cash even for slow mages."

There was not a response, because the vines and ropes tightened so much that they couldn't breathe.

"I am not slow, simple, or stupid. If you wish to make that mistake and insult us farther, than I will not be held responsible for my actions." She said it quietly and quickly.

Those bleaters are lucky its not Briar holding them now. Evvy thought. She could see that her teacher was very angry, his expression was dark. Briar was fiercely protective of Rosethorn, as was Evvy.

Soon, after a few more displays of magic and anger, the attackers were released to flee into the desert.

The rest of the night passed without incident, and in the morning, the three mages continued on their journey.

By the end of the day, they sighted Gyongxe.

None of them could have dreamed of what awaited inside those walls.