A twig snapped behind her. Jerking her
dagger out of the loose soil, Geyth leaped to her feet and faced two approaching
men. They were nearly upon her. Both wore rough and dirty clothing, and their
hair was long and unkempt. She knew their kind well.
The nearer flinched back a step and regarded her cautiously.
took comfort in that small motion--he had not counted on the dagger. But his
hesitation did not last long. She saw his eyes flit from her well-made tunic, to
the broken amulet around her neck, to the bracelet around her wrist. He grinned,
revealing yellow, broken teeth.
Yellow Teeth spoke, "Working the flowers, I see."
The other man snickered and began to hit his thigh with a short
club--a rhythmic slap, slap, slap. He stepped to one side, cutting her
off from her horse grazing several paces away. Banishing her dagger, she pointed
it from one man to the other, clutching it tightly, and feeling the grit and the
sweat on her hand. She took a wary step backwards, brushing against the bushes
whose soil she had been tending. They were itha bushes... from her
Geyth cursed her foolishness. She should have known better than
to have taken off her travel cloak with the symbol of her trade. That
protection lay draped over the saddle of her horse, facedown and unseen. The
delight of smelling itha bushes -- even finding them! -- had overridden
her usual caution. Surely, she had told herself, there would be no harm in
stopping for a moment. The clump of bushes grew concealed in the center of a
large forest clearing. She had located them by scent alone! What could possibly
go wrong on such a fine day....