He was not asleep in the cave at all. He sucked in cool and smoky air and found himself still crouched down by the outcropping with only the regular footpath below him. The bridge, the slowly moving crowd, and the strange Moquel in silk robes were gone. He wondered if he had lost his mind.
The boy checked the starlit sky for familiar constellations and then glanced back down the slope at the path. Nothing seemed to have changed between one breath and the next. The vision had just interceded. Rabin blinked back the image of his mother’s sad face. The only wisdom that the boy had seemed to acquire was that, indeed, prophecies were confusing and best left to sages.
Still, he seemed to have lost any reservations about moving down the steep path towards the village. Rabin stepped out from behind the outcropping and slid down over chunks of gravel to the place where the path began. Only soft leather moccasins covered the soles of the hybrid boy’s narrow feet. Only the moonlit bowl of the black sky above and smoky fires from below lit the night.
Still, he navigated the stony footpath effortlessly and almost silently as he had done dozens of times before. As he moved, the familiar path seemed no more or less real than the bridge under the sky swirled with color. Perhaps the Raptors had already killed him. Mother is still in the Known Lands trying to find me. Rabin tried to concentrate on his breathing to quiet his mind. Did the dead breathe?
He kept descending until he hit the last stand of trees that surrounded the village. Through the ring of pine and oak and the scatter of burning cabins, he could more clearly see what looked like controlled campfires a short distance outside the ring of trees on the other side of the tiny village. Rabin knew that Del had hoped the Raptors would finish their mischief and run off with a few horses and some of Borin Drath’s good steel. They had raided before but not often, and that was how it usually turned out.
Rabin knew that Prince Ovil had grown angry when he heard about Far Point Village. Rabin’s mother, Mayor Morgana Grantree, had received messengers that warned her to pull back to the old borders that had been set half a day’s ride back to the east.
As Morgana had spoken to Captain Gerson, Rabin remembered her calling it the posturing of the powerless. There were no Rehan outposts for a day’s ride to the west from here. The old king would not trifle over this undeveloped land by the Great River, and Princess Ovilia cared for little but Reha City, the mysterious city on the shores of a lake so vast it was said to take a week to ride around on a good horse.
The prince declared that he had planned to build a keep here and claim this as the eastern stretch of Reha. But his mother had scoffed at the notion that he would do more than send some raiders to steal horses as intimidation. Captain Gerson had agreed that this was the perfect time for The HIlls to stake out this land because the political situation in Reha seemed unstable. Besides, he had told Morgana, they’ve got plenty of room in the west and no reason to come this far east.