Jeanne: Stranger from Over-Sea

It was not hard to spot the boy, even amid the bustle of preparation; the sun shone off his white bandages and his crooked arms gave him an unwieldy, unmistakable look. Half out of curiosity, half out of amusement, Druce moved to the lad's side and leaned down to speak in a confidential tone. "I see you have not left off your charge yet," he said, arching an eyebrow. "How goes the task of watching our stranger from Over-Sea?"

As he spoke he glanced behind them at the approaching women and the great dog at the newcomer's side. They looked very different side-by-side, did the Guttersnipe and the other: the Guttersnipe was all wild, girlish grace and laughter, not so different from the child Druce had grown up with; the stranger, in comparison, seemed tired despite the straightness with which she held herself. But then, she was older than the Guttersnipe - or so Druce guessed. He narrowed his eyes and listened for snatches of the conversation that passed between the women, reflecting in the meanwhile that he would stake all his possessions on her being neither spy nor witch. A difficult woman, perhaps, but she was not cut out of enemy cloth, and at least there was honesty in her face. So, he reflected; she would be no trouble in the battle to come, and he could rid himself of all worry concerning her and merely watch her progress with interest.

"Eh?" he said in a less quiet voice, turning back to the lad and nudging him.

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