Quirin peered at the small Templar encampment, hidden by the mottled shadow cast by a tree against a gray-brown boulder. The horses were tethered, and looked cared for with only a couple with burdens. Could one be Minaeve’s horse? Recovered recently? He wouldn’t know unless he asked.
Quirin went to bear weight on his left arm and regretted it. He groaned, bundling his arm close to his side, and waited for the worst of the sharpness to dissipate. The back of his shoulder was still torn, covered by a bloody bandage that peeped through the rip in his shirt.
He hesitated. It was a normal Templar encampment, and he couldn’t identify its purpose. Quirin wiggled his gauze back down over his eyes – dirty and stained by a day’s old blood. With luck (what small measure he might possess) the Templars would ask too many prying questions. Perhaps they would administer aid for his shoulder, since it remained unstitched and largely uncared for due to a lack of supplies.
A wheeze punctuated the end of his heavy sigh. The inevitable cough was muted by closed lips, which twisted in pain. He wouldn’t know unless he asked, and he hated the thought of a bear claw wound being untended. Quirin’s one simple hope was, if he was detained, Minaeve would know to take his things and abandon their campsite.
Decision made, nose blown, and before attempting to stand again, he switched knees and braced his right arm while standing. A small grimace impressed his lips and faded. The dying bush crackled as his leg brushed it. He emerged into full sunlight
Those by the fireplace, sitting on rucksacks or stumps, noticed him and grabbed their swords. “Ho,”
Quirin rumbled, with a single pathetic cough after the sound. He held up both his arms and turned palms outward. “No trouble. My sword stays in its sheath. I hope yours does, too.”
They eased their hilt grip. “What do you want?”“To know if you found a horse recently. And if you would provide medical aid. And to warn you there are bears about.”
Slow and careful, Quirin lowered his hands. “No recovered horses. Sorry,”
was the curt reply from a man with a sharp nose and cheekbones. Glinting, suspicious eyes passed over him. “What medical aid?” “I was attacked by a bear yesterday. His claws caught my shoulder,”
Quirin explained. He sensed movement by one of the tents and tilted his head to account for the added man. “So I hoped to have it stitched.“
The Templars shared a glance before the sharp-faced man said, “I think our surgeon would have strong words if we turned you away.”
Quirin sighed relief before the man called, “Faulkner!”
Quirin's heart dropped into his stomach.