The Story of Jasmine notes continue:
Thorne was suspicious. Thorne was always suspicious. What concerned her this time was Rogan, the Nôr-man whom the Armildians had contracted to escort her to UR. When he arrived from Roth, he came at precisely the correct time to help the Armildians in their plight against Melantha’s evil expansion. During their discussions, Rogan pointed something out to the Armildian Council that they had never before considered: the importance of a man on a diplomatic mission.
Thorne saw him in diplomatic action. She witnessed how well Rogan could manipulate their own royal court. So she did not express any misgivings about his impressive ability to sway the Royal court of UR. With his silver tongue, Rogan acted the part of court dandy well. He was nothing but cordial and agreeable to her this whole trip. And helpful! That’s why she was wary. Nobody acts this nicely, for this long without something up their sleeve. Convinced there was more going on with him, Thorne seldom let her guard down.
In spite of her misgivings, Thorne had actually begun to enjoy Rogan’s company. Once the two of them learned that UR had fallen, did he think their mission was now ended? They had not yet had time to discuss their next move.
“Do I return to Armildia or shall I seek the help of another King?” Thorne asked herself. Was Rogan right not to rule out Bardulf, who recently conquered UR from the inside out? Magic had to be involved, as well as bribes and tactics of persuasion. She did not believe Bardulf could place his spies very effectively in Melantha’s domain of Medrylthorn. She was also unconvinced Bardulf was capable of keeping his word.
Her thoughts returned to Rogan. She wondered what was happening now with him. Ever since he encountered this cursed mountain, he acted strangely. Involuntarily, she turned her head to look at him again. Rogan stood nearby conversing with the other men, still.
The dwarf leaned against a broken column, honing his axe, listening. She liked him. He was honest and dangerous. The black mercenary had his back to her, but always with his hand lightly resting upon his sword handle. It was so easy not to trust him. For one thing, he was no mercenary. He was so stiff of manner, could it be he was also on a diplomatic mission to UR? Why else would a Dockalfarian venture this far south?
She saw Rogan from the side. He gestured wildly with this hands while he spoke. Hoping he did not catch her glancing at him, she turned away and headed towards her horse. But really, how important was he? Her thoughts were suddenly interrupted.
“Hey,” a voice called behind her, “where are you going?”
“Priorities,” she replied. “I need to water my horse.” Her words had an immediate effect. The two men ceased talking, turned, and made for their own horses.
Thorne chuckled as she lead her horse down the main path, aiming for the nearest place she smelled water. She followed a small track someone on foot had recently made and it led to a stream. Here, her horse slurped up its fill of water. She bent down and drank as well. The men followed behind her, creating their own wide tracks.
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