Beyond Our Borders Chapter 4

The inn may not have been located in the safest area of the city, but it was warm, dry, had a large stable, and took Valdemarian coin, a necessity Duo had not even thought to consider. Who knew these foreign lands would have foreign currency? It wasn't as though a prince was allowed freedom to travel beyond the borders. It was deemed an unnecessary risk, though now Duo wished he had been granted a little more experience in the wider world. Stumbling into the trade city he'd witnessed not only new languages, styles, and cultures, but entire species he'd never known to exist. He also didn't like the way people kept staring at the Companions. Sure, they were very pretty, but hadn't these people seen white horses before?

:I am not a horse.: A dignified snort rang through his head. Shinigami was tucked safely away in the stables, but that didn't mean she was too far away to listen in.

:I know that, Darling, but you must admit that to someone who doesn't know of Companions . . .:

:I'm still not a horse.: Now she sounded just like a petulant child, and Duo couldn't help but laugh. Trowa chuckled as well, but quickly explained at Duo's raised eyebrow.

"Shinigami wants me to kick you since she's too far away to do it herself." Do stared at him as if he'd lost his mind. "What?"

"You can talk to Shinigami?" Trowa smiled, far too used to this response.

"Sure. I can mindspeak with any Companion. It's one of my gifts." He shrugged and turned back to the fire, watching the light play over the logs as it slowly dried their still dripping clothes.

"Huh," Duo muttered as he carefully unpacked his saddlebags. No matter how long he'd known the Herald-Bard he never seemed to stop learning about him. He frowned as the bags emptied without producing the object he was looking for. He searched again, but Sally's talisman had vanished.

:Chosen, what's wrong?: Shinigami couldn't read his mind without his consent, but his rising panic was washing along their bond.

:I've lost it!:

:Lost what, Beloved?: Her voice was calm, trying to soothe his growing agitation, but he wasn't allowing it to work.

:The talisman. Sally's talisman that she gave me to take us across the plains. It's gone. How will we get across without it? We've barely begun and I've ruined our chances.:

:Chosen, calm down.:

:How can I calm down? We can't get across the plains without that talisman, and going around will take months. We don't have the time to waste. By then Dekim and his magic beasts could have destroyed the entire country, and who's to say we'll even be able to find a mage once we find these people? Or what if the mage isn't trustworthy, and when we bring him back he decides to work with Dekim. Or-:

:Chosen!: Shinigami came as close as she ever would to shouting at her Herald, stopping his rant before it could escalate any further. :Do not try to guess the future. That is not your gift. We will find a mage, and we will return to Valdemar with aid. Dekim will not overcome our home. Do not panic. We will find a way to succeed. It may be different than we had planned, but we will succeed.: The certainty in her voice flowed over him like a cooling stream, soothing the panic and settling his mind and heart.

:You seem so certain.:

:I am, Chosen.: She knew he was still unsure, but he spoke, quietly, tentatively.

:Why?:

:Because I have faith in you, my Chosen, and in our companions. Together, we cannot help but succeed.:

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