"I don't like this," was the first thing Alianor said to Branwyn the moment Cecily fell asleep. They were both sitting by the fire, Branwyn facing away so as not to let the firelight play with her night vision. She couldn't afford to miss anything on this watch. Even a mouse shouldn't be able to sneak up on her. Not with Cecily's life on the line.

"What don't you like?" Branwyn asked wryly, eyes scanning the tree line. "There are so many things I can think of." She glanced at Alianor as she spoke before returning to the trees. The fire made her oldest sister look mysterious. Her pale blonde hair fairly glowed and the wolf pelt over her shoulders flickered brown, copper, and gold. The hilts of her massive broadswords, poking up above each shoulder, gleamed silver. It wasn't parade clean, to give away their position with ill timed glistening, but true fighting metal, dull and strong, meant to blend in a forest of grey, brown, and green. Her cloak hid a tall and lean body but well muscled. That, and a padded tunic under a thick gambeson to block out the early twinges of winter. Even her breeches, black and thick over a pair of thicker hosen and stuffed into sturdy fur lined boots, was for warmth and camouflage. Branwyn was dressed much the same, only with a sword at her belt and a quiver on her back with a bow and two arrows across her knees.

"It's too quiet. If what Cecily knows is so important, we shouldn't be able to get out of the province so easily on foot. A horse could outdistance us in an hour and Lord Droet has many at his disposal. We should have had to avoid at least three traps today but there is nothing." Alianor shifted on her seat to crouch beside the fire, fingers twisting grass on the ground. "Where are the hunters? The dogs? The horsemen? Why is it so easy?"

Branwyn sighed and with a long fingered hand, pulled up the cowl of her cloak. The heavy winter fur of her first deer brushed her hair into her face and she let it be, peering through the strands into the dark. She and Alianor were almost perfect copies of each other except Alianor was taller and Branwyn longer hair. Their faces – sharp and angular, their eyes – grey and icy, their hair – paler than gold, and their bodies – tall, lean, and muscular, were all the same. The only thing they shared with Cecily, their youngest sister innocent shy Cecily with flowing wavy hair like expensive mahogany and eyes like the trees – ringed brown in the center and fading into green, was the shape of the face and body.

"I don't know," Branwyn said at last. "Has Cecily given you any hints to what is going on?"

Alianor shook her head vigorously, her eyebrows lowered in distress.

"All I know is that it has something to do with Lord Droet and that she can prove it."

Branwyn let out a huff of air. "Even if we make it to the king, we are not nobles. High ranking Knights when we pull our weight but we have no bloodlines, no ties to the Gods' Servants, no way to get an audience."

"Cecily said she could take of that too."

They sat in silence again. Then, as a log broke in the fire, Branwyn spoke.

"Face it Alianor, this journey is just beginning and the end may not be where we expect."

"I'm not sure I want to find out," Alianor said softly with a glance back at their sleeping sister.