Set a few weeks after the discovery of the Chamber of Ultimate Punishment, Dannyl was never contacted by the High Lord and was thus able to complete his ambassadorial duties before heading back to Capia. It is on this return journey that we join the two companions.
Dannyl revelled in the strength of the beast beneath him, its thunderous hoof beats and the slower lurching of its shoulders created a hypnotic rhythm that he had lost himself in for most of the day. Yet he was always aware of Tayend riding parallel to him. The young scholar had abandoned his fine court clothing for the duration of their homeward journey, now he wore tight leather riding gear under deep blue cloak that snapped in the wind. Dannyl smiled inwardly as he remembered their departure from the dem this morning. Their kind host had offered Dannyl his pick of any of the largest horses in his stables and while they were discussing this the dem's daughter had taken it upon herself to find a blushing Tayend some clothes more –though not much more- suitable for hard riding.
Their travels had brought about a new, rough vitality in Tayend. Though still erratic and excitable, on some occasions he acted stronger, more mysterious. Their trip had taken three weeks, yet Dannyl regretted how little time he and his friend had had to discuss the events at Armje. Wherever they went there had always been servants tending to them or curious dems to placate, making private conversation impossible. Still, they had shared more than one silent toast over the packed dinner tables and sly smiles when nobody was looking...
The magician's musing was interrupted by the sight of a lone rider on the road ahead, coming rapidly closer. After only a few minutes he recognised the man in the saddle but could not recall where he had seen him before.
"Mayrie's stable hand?" Tayend wondered out loud. "Looks like it's us he's been looking for" He frowned as the hand slowed his horse and gestured that they do the same.
"Ambassador Dannyl, Tayend of Tremmelin," The man bowed his head respectfully, "A message from Mayrie of Porreni." From inside his tunic he produced a folded square of paper and handed it to the lady's brother.
Tayend read the note quickly and found himself caught somewhere between relief and annoyance. He let his exasperated expression show as he looked up at Dannyl. "My sister," He started dramatically, "requests― demands that we hasten to her residence." At Dannyl's bemused expression he explained, referring to the note for theatrical effect, "She and the full body of her household staff are leaving for a horse show today. They'll be gone for a week and she refuses to leave her home empty for that long for fear that 'some bandit or Ichani may take it for himself.' Where do we fit in, you may ask? Well, we are to go there, right this instant, and watch her house." He snapped his chin into the air in mock incredulity.
Dannyl lifted his eyebrows at the scholar and received a grave, knowing nod in reply. Tayend knew that Dannyl knew that being afraid of bandits sounded nothing like the down-to-earth Mayrie that they knew. Tayend brooded; his sister was brewing up something secretive and most likely sinister for him to finish off his journey with. Her home was pleasant enough and they didn't really rely on servants to survive...
A surge of apprehension and excitement left the young man's appendages numb as realisation dawned. He and his tall friend would be completely alone, for a whole week, in the sprawling mansion that was his sister's home. He glanced at his companion, but Dannyl either hadn't made the connection or he was exceptionally good at keeping a straight face. A straight face, his shoulder-length hair combed back, coupled with his height and upright posture made the magician look so intimidating, so tantalizingly fierce...
Suddenly Dannyl turned to Tayend, smiled, nodded. What? Tayend flailed around for something to say while simultaneously berating himself for getting lost in such thoughts. "We accept," He answered the messenger in as dignified a tone as he could muster given that his heart was fluttering and he could feel heat radiating from his cheeks.