“I’m Ritt.” The girl said, “Who’r you?”
“I’m Callindra. Go get your blade and come meet my friends. Bring anyone you think you need to.” She said, as she gestured for Reed to follow her and walked past Ritt to leave the trees. “Get any food we can spare ready.” She said quietly to her friends.
Alanna tried to fuss over Reed’s injuries but he brushed her off. “Later. We gotta look strong for the damn kids.”
She looked up as the group of ragged urchins hesitantly emerged from the trees clutching weapons and giving them suspicious glares. Something changed in her demeanor and she stood away from him with determination in her expression.
“I am Callindra Sol’Estin. It is no small feat to lead a group through the last few years Ritt.” She nodded in respect. “I have more experience with this than I want to. We have all lost friends and family.”
“She’s the strongest person I’ve ever met.” Alanna interrupted, stepping forward with her hands open.
“So what?” Ritt asked, “You wanna take over? You wanna take us out? What you got to make us?”
“I don’t want to take over.” Callindra said, trying to keep her voice from betraying her discomfort at the thought. “I have things of my own to accomplish and I can’t have an entire village with me. Staying here will eventually mean you’ll all die Ritt. I think your talents could be put to use somewhere else. Just a few days away is an entire city of people who could use your unique ability to set traps.”
“I’ll take you there.” Alanna said, giving Callindra a look challenging her to say no.
“Are you sure you can handle it?” Callindra asked, arching an eyebrow. “This is a huge responsibility.”
“We just went through that area. The presence of the Taken should be much diminished and we’re only a fortnight out.” Alanna said. “I can do this.”
“Very well.” Callindra said, carefully concealing her relief. “I charge you with this quest. Bring these children to safety.”
“I will prove that I am worthy!” Alanna said with a defiant look.
“I trust that you will.” She said. “In fact I’m relying on it. These kids are as well, and that should be your main focus.”
“Hey. We ain’t agreed to nothing.” Ritt said, interrupting their conversation. “Who says I’m goin with this bint?”
“You will go.” Callindra said calmly, “You will go because you don’t want to die and you want to eat hot meals every day.”
She turned and walked past Ritt. The girl’s eyes followed her as she strode away. “They gonna give us food?”
“We need to supply Alanna with as much as we can spare.” Callindra told the others, “She’s going to have enough trouble as it is.” Within a quarter candlemark they had gathered the supplies they were able to spare for Alanna and the children who had agreed to accompany her.
“You have my respect for taking this on Alanna.” Callindra said, giving her a firm handshake. “You’ve grown from the person you were when you first joined us. I think you have the potential to be a great leader if you rise to the challenge.”
“I will do my best.” She said simply, “When I see you again I will be ready to fight.” Her eyes were focused over Callindra’s shoulder and she knew without looking that Reed was standing there.
“Good. We will need you.” Callindra said, releasing her hand and turning to go without a backward glance.