Note: This is Part Two of the story. Part One can be found here.
A wise man is good. A wise teacher is better. A wise student is best. --Davin Swiftfist
Naomi grit her teeth and winced as a particularly sharp pain moved through her head, as if a shard of glass was slowly pushing it's way through her brain. The reins fell from her hand as she reached up to grasp her forehead, a slight gasp of pain escaping from her lips.
"Whoa," she heard Quarian say to his horse, before she felt his reassuring palm on her shoulder. "Are you all right, Naomi?" he asked, the concern evident in his voice.
Quarian Moonbreeze was one of those people that couldn't just leave something be. The elf looked at all the problems in the world as personal affairs, wrongs that he had to personally set right, like an old hero from one of the songs he sang so often. Often, his sense of pure, unadulterated goodness was endearing, and his exuberance sometimes made her feel as if maybe the five of them really were heroes, righting wrongs in a world desperately seeking saviors. Other times, like now, after a night of little sleep and with the knowledge that there was absolutely nothing he could do to help (and he should know it), it was merely annoying.
"I'm fine," she said, opening her eyes to meet his concerned gaze. "It's just a headache."
He nodded, a pure, honest sympathy in his eyes, and she sighed, feeling ashamed at her annoyance. "Let's get going, Quar. I'll be all right." She took the reins again and clicked at her horse, urging him forward once more.
They rode on at a leisurely pace, giving their horses a break. They'd been on the road for well over two weeks, and they hadn't seen any Imperial Wardens in a period well longer than that. If trouble were to break out in the rocky wilderness they rode through, it would certainly be best if the mounts weren't already exhausted.
"How much longer to a town, Quar?" Zedar, asked, urging his steed even with the party leader.
"I'm not sure," the elf replied, twisting in the saddle to pull a map case out of his pack. He unrolled it and stared at it for a few moments. "We're nearing Sindesta. Elven town."
"The forest proper is at least a day's ride away," Zedar said, shading his eyes with the palm of his hand and peering at the landscape. "Looks more like two."
"I'd say it's maybe a day's ride once we're inside. So that leave's us two to four days until we see civilization again."
"I don't know how civilized it's going to be. We're in the middle of nowhere."
"I, for one, have had quite enough of what you consider civilization, Zedar," Sev'tai said from behind Naomi. She twisted around to see a sneer on his well-tanned face. "Prostitutes. Gambling. Stone and smoke and not even the slightest hint of respect for the natural, real world."
"Yeah...." Zedar said, wistfully, "Sounds good, doesn't it?"
"No, it doesn't sound good, you--"
"Okay, okay," Quarian said, raising his hands in the air, the map waving in the wind like the flag to some strange country. "First of all, it's a proper Elven city. Elven. As in, I hate to disappoint, but I daresay you'll see few prostitutes, and even less stone."
"Much more sensible."
"Second of all, I haven't had a proper bathing in over a week, so at this point I'd consider a deep well and a bale of soft hay to sleep in civilization." He rolled up the map and shoved it back in it's case before stuffing it back in his bag. He began to twist the guitar firmly strapped on his back around, asking, "Anyone have a request?"
"Not now," Naomi hissed, her face alert. The road they were riding on led through the lush green hills of the region, avoiding the large rocky deposits that populated the landscape. Her eyes darted back and forth, taking in the lay of the land, the small herd of cows that could barely be seen to the far East of the road, the single hawk soaring high in the air. Then, she slowly and quietly slid her rapier free from her sheath. "We're not alone."