Jenny: Between the Ladies

"Today, if you like," replied Ambrosius. "Come, walk with me."

He moved past the young man to the doorway. Champion returned to his shoulder and watched Cathair walk from under the soft black feathered rings over his eyes as beneath him, between the two men, Ambrosius' back was exposed.

Champion screamed, wings beating in a confused flurry. Ambrosius dropped and pivoted as a dart of light flashed by his shoulder, burying itself deep into the wood of Lord Alan's chair. There was a din of shouting: "Who threw it? Where did he go? Catch him! catch him! Vortigern - where is Vortigern? Ambrosius! By all the saints, what just happened?"

"I am well, I am well," Ambrosius insisted, brushing off the clinging hands that moved to help him. The hands all snapped away as if the men had touched a holy thing, and the young man shook himself like a swimmer breaking the surface, wholly composed. But Champion, returned to the man's shoulder, could hear the smoulder in the man's soul. It had been a close call. When things had settled a little more, Ambrosius turned and whispered thanks to his White Bird, stroking the white crest feathers. The Eyes of the White Isle met and exchanged a loving, companionable look.

The War-lord led Cathair into the silvery-white of his bedchamber and crossed to the window. Beckoning still, he pointed up at the southwest hills where the stream was tumbling down white in the rain. The tawny hills were darkned into the colour of warm spilt wine, shadowed by the rain and clouds, but pricked silvery on their crests where the tors, wet, caught the faded light and shone. "The herding starts there," Ambrosius said, "between Buddugoliaeth and Inghean, the two narrow tors at the top of the hill. Beyond them is the grazing land. A house built in the lee of that wood just over the rise would the out of the wind and near your work. You may begin today, if you like," he added, turning back to Cathair. "Tools are in the room at the back of the Long Barn, and you can probably find at least one boy, or even one of the Companions, willing to chip in some digging. We keep our coppice at the foot of the stream near the pool. Feel free to borrow a pony to help you haul wood."

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