"Send who?" Tander asked.
"You and the other men must return. Whoever we hunt can kill the husbands, instantly. I knew but I didn't appreciate until now how powerless we are to protect you. You must go."
Tander glanced behind him as if to see whom she was addressing. "To whom are you speaking?"
"Tander, this is not funny."
"You're damned right, it's not."
"You have to go. For your own protection."
Tander raised an eyebrow at his wife, his jaw jutting stubbornly. "Be damned if I do. I'm staying."
"Just who do you think you're talking to? I'm not a water boy, no squire to be sent from harm's way. I'm Tander, damn it, a warrior, and I don't make a habit of running out on my wife when danger comes calling."
"This is not the time for pride."
"By Bastor's black heart, it's precisely the time for pride."
"Tander, do not argue with me on this. I could not bear to see you as I see Carent."
"I am no familiar to take orders either, Layla. I promised Glendana that I would watch your back. I cannot see it from the camp.
Tander has an overabundance of kitten familiars (six):
"Weren't you just telling me how magically endowed, or whatever, I was?"
"You have a great deal of magical power. However, there are people with talent, people with education, and people with both. The more you have of each, the better a sorcerer you are. Which category you fit into determines what you can do, and to some extent, how well you can do it."
"So, I'm one of the first and you're one of the second?"
Weird, curled up on Saldomar's lap, reared up and hissed. Saldomar closed his eyes and schooled his expression before answering carefully. "Actually, I like to think I'm one of the third, but essentially, you have the idea. You have a great deal of talent, but no training, no mindset, no experience. Actually, you have a stunning amount of talent, and now that I'm sensitized to it, it amazes me that I did not see it at once."
But we saw it, remarked Solace.
"So, why can't you give me some education, put me on the road to being one of the third? We have more than a week remaining; surely you could teach me something."
Magic is not something one learns in an instant, warned Stealth.
It's a skill, added Speed
It takes practice, said Serenity
And patience, piped in Solace
And you don't have the mind for it, concluded Silence. You think like a sword.
"Thank you very much!" Tander shouted, shaking a finger at the intrusive flock of kittens. "Bastor knows you know every damned thing, but I was hoping to get some of Saldomar's wisdom for a change. Now do you think you could keep your comments to yourselves so I can hear what he has to say without a running litany of my shortcomings?" Tander expelled a calming breath. "Sorry about that, Saldomar. Can we try again? What were you saying?"
"Layla is my mate. There should be no life risked but mine. The rest of you, go and ensure everyone else is safe. Each of you has someone to live for. Everything I have to live for is clutched in that creature's arms. Do not throw those lives away needlessly."
"Is that what you would tell me, Tander?" asked Riko, from behind Cristo. "What argument will you have for me to send me from the kill? Kena is not here, not below, which can only mean she is no more. What do I have to live for, Tander?"
Tander's eyes closed at that. "Riko, I'm sorry, but you should not throw your life away. She wouldn't want that."
"What life could I live if her death is not avenged? Do not think to try to send me away, Tander. I shall not rest until her murderer has paid with his life. Trust me when I say I have nothing better to do."
Denra nodded. "And, as for me, Tander, I do not seek to supersede your claims of rescue for Layla. But she is not the only Jenri who must escape, for you, Cristo and Riko are as Jenri as she is. If you think your arguments will sway me, your brain must have been frozen in the cold. I will leave no brother or sister to face such peril to save my own skin, so be content that I stay. After all, you have no choice."
"Damn it, Denra, I wanted to say that. Now, I don't have anything clever to add, except I ain't going anywhere either," Cristo complained.
"You're all a bunch of stubborn idiots and will likely pay for your obstinacy with your lives. And for no point since I can guarantee there will be vengeance for Bromden and company."
"At the cost of your life?" Denra asked sweetly.
"Possibly, though I don't count myself dead just yet. I'm too stubborn to die."
"Well, if you plan to live through it, I don't see why we can't," said Cristo.
"Actually, I probably won't live through it, but I'm an optimist," Tander said, with a tired chuckle.
"I don't see any reason why we can't be just as foolishly unrealistic as you. Now, what's going on?" said Denra, considering the matter closed.