In the early hours of the morning Rothan returned to Durbar under the keep, long beforeWarrenfound his way home. It was late enough that everyone except the guards were asleep, and even they were not very alert. He brought with him a bag filled with clothes for his friend. First he ordered the guard to hand over the keys to Durbar’s chains, then dismissed him to wait outside, explaining that he wanted to talk to the prisoner privately. The guard did not dare to disobey. Rothan then unbound the man and Durbar collapsed to the floor. The prince helped the bowman up and covered him gently with some clothes. Durbar winced when he placed a shirt on his back. After waiting for Durbar to gain the strength to move Rothan handed him a small jug with water. Durbar slowly drank, not fully able to quench his thirst.

Though Durbar was still not completely aware of what was happening, he was compliant. Rothan pushed away some crates that were gathered in a corner revealing a small door. With a few labored pulls he managed to open the door which reluctantly gave up its struggle to remain closed with a groan and a puff of dirty air. Rothan gathered up his friend Durbar, careful not to aggravate the wounds on his body, and together they limped through the narrow corridor pushing through cobwebs and leaving a trail through the thick dust on the stone floor. It was a short journey, but seemed to take ages for the badly beaten Durbar. At last they reached another forgotten door which was already forced open against the resistance of thick brush and weeds.

Waiting in the shadows was a small group of cloaked men, which appeared merely as shadows in the night. Rothan helped his friend to them. Durbar could scarcely hear what they were saying, but he gathered that they were going to take him into their care.

Rothan explained the scenario to Durbar. “These people are going to get you out of the city and away from my father. It is too dangerous for you to stay here. This is the best I could do. They have your things. I brought them from Stena, your bow too.” He began to weep once more, with tears rolling off of his cheeks.

Durbar could not do the same. He was bereft of tears. They were left on the floor of the keep. He did manage to smile. “Shhh.” He comforted. “It is all right.”

“No!” Rothan exclaimed. “It is not all right. It is all my fault. I got you into this. It was my ambition and drive that brought you here, and now your life in is danger.” Rothan was desperate to prove his loyalty to his friend, but Durbar did not blame Rothan, but instead was thankful for him.

“You gave me something that I never had before. You gave me a chance to be loved by people. You helped me to make something of myself. And you also have been a friend, which is something that I have never had before.”

“But it was because of me that it was all taken from you. You would have been better off staying in the forest, away from this city, and away from my father.”

“Perhaps not,” said Durbar, “the days since I arrived here have been the best in my life.”

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