With a short jerk the carriage came to a standstill at a slight clearing in the woods. Kea’na gave Demorus a quizzical look and peered out her window and took in the surrounding landscape. The clearing revealed nothing alarming, tree tops teetered to a high wind that occasionally blew down upon the group.
“Why have we stopped Demorus? Mylor is expecting us to meet him promptly. I don’t see why you must defy him so. Driver! Continue!!”
The carriage did not move.
“Driver, did you not hear me, continue on!!”
The carriage remained still, however from above Kea’na could here the snickering one that mocked her orders.
“Demorus, I demand to know the meaning of this. Why are we still sitting here surrounded by nothing but forest, we must be on our way. Now!”
“Nothing but forest? You see only trees and an occasion rodent or two?”
Demorus reached his arm outside the coach and tightened his hand to form fist.
“Look again princess”, hissed Demorus. “You may be suprised by what the forest has the ability to conceal.”
Kea’na looked outside the calash once more and was quick to recognize the outline of mounted men emerging from the treeline all around. She estimated at least five hundred men were visible and many more were still hidden from behind. Kea’na could only guess where these men came from and how the king the men that escorted him pass through this same site and not detect such a large count of men. The mass poured from the edge of the forest and made their way closer to the center of the treeless area. A small group detached itself from the crowd and rode up to where Demorus and Kea’na sat. Kea’na recognized the emblem two of the men wore upon their chests. The golden dragon and spouting crimson flame was unmistakable. The banner raised above her home bore the exact standard. These were men from her home land. Men sworn to defend and serve those that live beneath the Kasmar pennant.
“Treason.”, Kea’na said towards renegades.
“Treason you say Kea’na?”, answered Demorus, “You mistake these men. They are quite loyal, quite loyal indeed. Shall I demonstrate the extent of their loyalty? I want very much for you to understand.”
Demorus motioned for one of the men to come closer to the carriage. The bulk of man and horse created snapping twigs with each step. Both man and beast breathed the woodland air through flaring nostrils and each had a wildness in their eyes that only madmen owned. Kea’na thought the man could be capable of anything and for the first time truly feared what Demorus had in mind.
“Show the Princess what sentiment you have from which you came.”
At Darnel’s command the mercenary revealed his bare arm. Kea’na could see the scarred flesh where attackers was laid their blade. Scars that came from defending her land and her people. The man presented his naked arm before the carriage. His other hand swept past his waist and quickly presented a pointed object. At first Kea’na did not recognize the object for what it was, the blade of the dagger was encrusted with dried blood, from human or not she could not tell. She turned her gaze to the other men who all sat with an uncovered arm as the one before her.