TITLE: Spirit Weaver
The most unusual thing about the figure standing alone on Orac’s pass this late in winter wasn’t that she was a woman. It wasn’t even that she carried a curved saber sheathed at her back, mottled bronze hilt engraved with the swan of the king, reflecting the sun with a dull gleam. The most unusual thing about her wasn’t a thing that could be seen at all.
Lora thrust her ski poles into the knee-deep snow, raising a mittened hand to shade the bright sun that failed to warm the air. With ice-blue eyes she stared out past the wolverine ruff of her parka hood, down the snow-laden slopes to the evergreen forests rolling out like the gray-green garb of the king’s Honor Guard.
Now that she was here, she was afraid of what she might find in the valley below—even more afraid of what she almost certainly would not find. Yet she had to know what had become of Gaern. She could feel the empty place at her core where the fastbond had once burned with the steady warmth of a sheltered candle flame. Gaern was the only other person who even knew that place could be filled. But now…
That’s why I’m here, Lora thought.
She looked out, searching for the smoke-haze of Elendir rising up through the crowns of the distant conifers, though she knew all signs of her village would be hidden beyond the bend in the valley.