"If your horse does not remove its nose from my pack, we may find out if horsemeat of his powers can be roasted."

Cade winced as his brother cleaned one (many) shallower wounds on his head, pulling away slightly as Ryden carelessly sanitised it.

"Stop complaining – it's not that bad."

Cade glared at his brother for a moment, and then returned his attention to the red horse behind Ryden's back. Finding nothing within the depths of the pack, it abruptly straightened and nearly glared at the darker man's back.

Ryden stifled a smile as he felt Itheos' thoughts poke at his shields. "I do not speak with nosey creatures that meddle with things they don't understand." He dropped the used rag into the large pile beside him and shook of his hand slightly, reaching over to take a vial from the medical bundle he had first removed from his pack.

The horse snorted, stomping over across the hard ground to bit the back of Ryden's collar, dragging him several feet away from Cade.

Ryden stifled his startled yelp, twisting over and reaching back to hit the horse on its nose until it dropped him and stepped away. Glaring at the innocently standing horse as he picked himself up from the ground, he brushed off his clothes. "Irritating creature – I'm hardly going to poison my own brother!"

Itheos slowly turned to look at him. "You tortured him."

The horse's thoughts were smug; and Ryden grit his teeth, sending all of his annoyance with the situation back through the telepathic link.

"And may I ask what happened to 'forgive and forget'?"

"Forgiveness is a human concept. One horses have no need of."

There were many ways Ryden could describe Itheos' tone and almost-grin, and none were particularly complimentary. He groaned, stalking back to his brother. "Lie down, Cade. Unless the trees have suddenly stopped spinning?" Cade winced as he raised his voice slightly. "I thought not. Lie down."

"Stop baiting Itheos, Ryden."

"I? Bait that creature? Hardly. You were the perfect match."

Cade jerked away as Ryden dumped the vial over his head and wounds. "Ow! Fine! Itheos, stop teasing Ryden too!"

"Thank you, brother dear – but you still would have gotten doused regardless. You and that horse are one and the same as far as I'm concerned." He tilted his head to look at the many now cleaned wounds. He nodded his head once and dropped the vial back in the bundle, and then reached over to slap his brother on an uninjured spot on his head.

"Ryden! I'm injured!"

"You weren't there. The spot was feeling left out."

"I'm not that hurt."

His brother's glance over all the bandages and bruises all over his brother was pointed.

"But it's not serious – I'll live."

His brother's look was impossibly even less impressed than before. "How relieving, Cade. I feared that after you tripped over a rock, then a log, hit a tree, started and participated in a rockslide, hit several more trees, fell off a cliff, fell into a river, floated through rapids, got tangled in another tree, and nearly drowned that you might have endured something life threatening. You have put my mind at ease saying that it wasn't serious."

Cade winced.

"If it were any more not serious you would be dead."

He sighed. "It wasn't my fault, Ryden – and Itheos was right there!"

He glanced toward the red horse. "You should certainly thank him for that else I'd never have found you at all, let alone in time." He looked back to Cade. "And it wasn't your fault? Then a horde of Shirak attacked you?"

Cade didn't answer, but Itheos snorted behind them.

"No? Then a band of robbers?" He waited again for any answer. "Perhaps some rabid whild beasts? Yes? No? Ah, then it appears that – since it wasn't your fault – the rock and the log simply leapt out and knocked your legs from beneath you. Is that right?"


He slapped Cade upside the head again. "You are too young to die of stupidity, Cade!"He shook his hand out slightly. "And too busy." He shook his head, lifting the bandages across Cade's torso to ensure the bleeding had stopped. "I have no idea how you survived save by dumb luck, Cade – please. Be more careful."

"I'll -"

"Don't try – do! You are too important, Cade!"

He frowned. "There will always be another person if we weren't meant to succeed in this. I'm not that important – I'm just someone who managed to outlive his people and now has to clean up the mess he left behind."

He didn't answer for a moment, watching his brother. "Cade, I would hit you again if I were not afraid of scrambling your brains more. I'd rather not listen to any more nonsense from you."


"Yes. Nonsense. There may be another to succceed in our place – but there will not be another Cade. Not before, and not to come – you are one and only. You are important to me just because you are my brother – and for no other reason. So the next time sticks and stones challenge you to a duel? Be the better man and walk away."

He grimaced. "Yes, Mother..."

"He is right, Cade."

Cade blinked, and then pretended to have a heart attack. "Itheos? Agree with Ryden? The world's ending!"

Both horse and man rolled their eyes.

"He may be a scheming, treacherous traitor-"

Ryden sighed. "That's redundant, Itheos."

"-but we both agree that you cannot be trusted with your own safety. And that I am best suited for your care."

Ryden nearly choked. "What did we agree? I think not!"

Cade sighed, reaching over to snag his brother's pillow and pull it over his head. Those two would be at it for the rest of the night now that they had started.

AN: Inspired by complaints that Ryden doesn't like anyone hurting Cade. And sorry, I don't like Milana or Terik... They kind of just...don't exist. HidesSorry... Again, all from memory. And this, by the way, is why I'd steal Ryden: he was IMMENSELY fun to write in this. And Itheos with him, but mostly Ryden. 12-15-2015