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The Chance is Taken

Writers: Yvonne, Miriah
Date Posted: 23rd November 2020

Characters: Olov, Lusilk
Description: Lusilk accepts the offer of aid and escapes.
Location: Elsewhere on Pern
Date: month 7, day 17 of Turn 10
Notes: Notes: Takes place shortly after "A Murderess' Chance"

Mentioned: Byrvin


Lusilk
Lusilk

Lusilk looked down at the body of the young drudge before carefully
kicking straw over it. The young woman was close enough in size to her
that it was all that would matter. The guards had been fools to send
her down with a meal and a key, but she had to be quick. Crouching,
she pulled on the drudge's clothes and quickly picked up the tinderbox
Bryvin had left for her. The note said all it needed to. She'd have
help.

The fire was started quickly and before long, smoke began to filter
out of the straw and the dry stuff caught quickly. She hissed as
flames licked at her calf and quickly danced away. She'd been too
close! Hobbling but moving quickly, she slipped out of the bars and
darted towards the exit, only to find it barred shut. She rattled it
and cursed, looking around quickly. A small window up above her head.
Where were the guards? The fire would soon spread and Faranth knew
this rickety building wouldn't take long to go up. She didn't have
much time.

The window exploded in a shower of glass as a large rock shattered the
panes and bent the lead mullions. A moment later a dark shape
appeared; someone had jumped
and grabbed hold of the ledge to peer in. "Name?" A man's voice, dark
and rough.

Smoke began to fill the room and Lusilk choked as she ducked, covering
her head. Heat from the growing fire was spreading, making it
difficult to breath. She covered her mouth and nose with the edge of
her rough cloak and coughed out a response. "Silk. The guards are
gone. You?"

"Olov." The face at the window disappeared, and a moment later the bar
on the door was drawn back and the door opened a crack. The man
outside watched dispassionately as Lusilk slipped outside, and he
barred the door after her. "We have a mutual friend."

Lusilk favored her leg, but stood straight. Her face and body were
obviously battered, but she bore it without complaint. "I've been
told." Her eyes flicked over him, assessing quietly. "We have to
hurry. The guards will notice the smoke soon." Immediately after she
spoke, there was a cry of alarm from another building. "What is our
friend's plan for getting us away?"

He held out a small sheathed dagger on a belt and jerked his head
toward the nearest road leading from the outbuilding. It was shadowed;
both passages away from the building should have been lit with
torches. "Stick close, stay quiet." Without looking back Olov started
down the nearest road on silent feet. For an enormous man he could
move quietly when he chose.

She took the dagger and followed just as silently, bearing the pain of
her injuries without a murmur. Nor did she argue as she kept alert through
the shadows. Now that she'd seen him, his size and his movements, she
believed she'd heard of the man before. He had a vicious reputation
before going into Bryvin's service, so she recalled. She would have to
spar with him sometime and see if his skills proved to be equal to his
reputation. Perhaps she'd be able to spar with someone who would
actually challenge her.

There were shouts, holders coming out from their cots to see what was
causing the commotion. Guards, running toward the fire with buckets
and rags to put out the flames. As they approached, Olov grabbed
Lusilk's hand and turned around, holding her tight against his side as
they looked back at the jail. The walls had gone up and sparks were
flying skyward like newly born stars. Guards rushed past them without
a second look.

They reached the edge of the Hold when the canines started to bay.
Olov picked up the pace and hurried into the wood. Two equines were
tied to a tree near the edge of the clearing, both laden with bedrolls
and light packs. Olov tossed Lusilk the bay's reins and untied his own
equine, a chestnut with one white sock. "I assume you know how to
ride?" he asked.

She caught the reins of the bay easily. "I do." It was how she'd
arrived, but a two sevenday long ride to Sunstone was not going to be
pleasant. She knew at least two of her ribs were cracked and her
cheekbone broken, along with the burned calf. The jostling from the
ride would be a torment, but there was no help for it. She'd borne
worse. "I left a body where I was. Same size as me." She mounted and
settled in the saddle, jaw tight as she kept her face straight,
refusing to acknowledge the pain. "That should allow some time before
they start looking for the cause of the fire." She tucked the dagger
into her belt.

"Maybe." The chestnut grunted as Olov mounted and tugged its head
toward the road. "Don't count on it. We'll ride through the night.
Hope you got some sleep."

"I'll be fine." Her voice was brisk as she lightly kicked the bay to
move beside Olov's. She studied him. "So, will I be expected to
provide payment, or has that already been arranged?"

He eyed her back, well aware of her reputation. But she'd limped and
used only one hand to accept the knife and the reins to the equine.
Even now she was sitting stiffly, trying to mask her pain. She'd been
beaten, thank the Egg. Olov had almost refused when Bryvin had told
him who he'd be picking up, but being welcomed back into a Hold had
made him soft. "That's between you and our friend," he said.

Lusilk nodded. "Very well. " She only trusted this man as far as he'd
been paid by Bryvin; she still had value to the Lord Holder and she
doubted he'd have her killed after sending someone to assist her. It
would have been easier for the Conclave to do it for him if that had
been his goal. If her plan worked, the body of the drudge would be
mistaken for herself. She'd be considered dead and word would spread;
there would be no hunt for her. But this Olov was right. Nothing
should be left to chance. "Let's go. You lead." Her lips quirked.
"I'll watch your back."

He grinned, a bright flash of white in his tangled beard, before
wheeling his runner around and kicking it into a gallop. He didn't
trust her, but he trusted her injuries to keep her from landing a
knife between his shoulder blades.

They raced into the trees following the path that Olov had taken to
get there as bells rang behind them and the canine's bays took on a
different timber and tone. Cots whipped past, some with people
standing silhouetted in the doorways with firelight at their back.
**Let them stare,** Olov thought. They'd soon be long gone.

They went east, then slowed the sweaty equines to a walk as Beilor
began to set and the path grew darker. The noise from the Hold had
faded, although both of them were listening hard for followers. Olov
hadn't glanced back all that time but he did so now. "You holding up
all right?"

Every jostling beat of hoof, every movement Lusilk made to adjust to
the rhythm of the runner's stride, sent spasms of pain along her leg,
her side, and her shoulder. She gritted her teeth, determined out of
both necessity
and pride not to reveal how much pain she was in. But by the time
they'd left the baying of the canines behind and slowed, she was as
sweaty as her runner. With a pale face and cramping jaw that needed to
be forced to unlock, she pulled up beside him. Even she knew her
limits and when she had reached them. "We need to stop." She gripped
the reins. "My ribs need to be wrapped or I'm not going to make the
rest of the night."

Olov looked up at the sky, then sighed and reluctantly dismounted. He
rummaged around in his saddlebag, then approached Lusilk like she was
a venomous tunnelsnake. Which she was. "You going let me do it?"

Lusilk slowly dismounted, pulling her runner over to the side of the
road. Picking up the tinderbox that Bryvin had left her, she built a
small fire that would hardly be noticed, but would allow enough
necessary light. She looked up as he approached, watching him and
noting his wariness. "I'm not a threat to you, Olov. Bryvin might
have sent you, but you helped me. I owe a debt to you and him. You're
safe at least until I repay that debt. So, yes, I need your help with
my ribs. They're broken."

He handed her a small vial. "Fellis, but just a sip so you
can keep riding. You can have the rest later, once we're in a safer
place."

She nodded, understanding. Taking the small vial, she took a delicate
sip, then capped it, grimacing at the bitter taste. "Alright then."
Moving slowly, she carefully removed her tunic and with another grunt
of pain, lifted her arms. She was unbothered by her nudity, but didn't
take her eyes off of him. "Make it snug."

"Sit." Olov waited until she'd settled on the ground before kneeling
at her side. It was hard to tell in the dark, but it looked as though
dark bruises mottled the skin all up and down her back and sides.
Someone had really done a number on her. He wrapped her quickly,
avoiding touching her skin and impassive when she winced or sucked in
her breath in pain. Thankfully she didn't pass out. As soon as he was
done Olov sat back on his heels and studied her. "We have a ways to
go. I'll walk the equines, but you're better off riding."

Pale, but determined, Lusilk carefully pulled her shirt back on and
nodded. The fellis she'd taken was enough to dull her pain as well as
inhibit her ability to walk with any real steadiness, but not entirely
enough to dull all of her senses. "Thanks." It was a simple reply,
but there was some relief as she stood. "What do you think? Two
sevendays? Perhaps a bit longer? Unless our friend has something else in
mind?"

"Bit longer." Olov considered her injuries and the route he'd hoped to
take. "We'll move at night for the next few days to keep the
dragonriders off our tail, and tonight we're moving off the main roads
to go overland. Hope you remember your bushcraft."

She nodded. "You don't have to worry about that." It would be harder
since it was getting close to winter to live off of the land during
their travels, but she'd had to make do before. Lusilk rubbed at her
eye, already beginning to feel the effects of the fellis. "Look, It'll
make it easier on both of us if we just agree that until we reach our
destination, we're partners. It'll keep us both alive and honestly, I'd
rather not spend the entire journey watching for anyone pursuing us
and watching my back against you. Agreed?"

She was a tunnelsnake. But then again... so was he, and he'd been
surviving longer than she'd been alive, from the looks of her. He
nodded once, briefly, then walked over to her equine and laced his
fingers together to provide Silk with a boost. Now that the adrenaline
of their escape had worn off, mounting would be a challenge for her.
"I'll walk the equines for a bit."

With his aid, she mounted, settling back in the saddle with only a
slight grimace of discomfort; the fellis helped and she was thankful
for it. "For a big man, you're quiet." She shifted, then carefully
clipped her rough drudge's belt around a loop of tack to secure
herself, just in case she dozed or the fellis affected her more than
she expected. "Then let's get moving."

Last updated on the December 16th 2020


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All references to worlds and characters based on Anne McCaffrey's fiction are © Anne McCaffrey 1967, 2013, all rights reserved, and used by permission of the author. The Dragonriders of Pern© is registered U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, by Anne McCaffrey, used here with permission. Use or reproduction without a license is strictly prohibited.