“”My gloves!” said Creath, pointing. “There are the glove I dropped!”
Ondred walked to the prickly bush and picked them off. Then, he walked to Creath and held them forth.
Creath refused to take them.
“Here,” he said, condescendingly. “You have them back.”
Creath refused to take them. “You don’t understand. I dropped them this morning, just after the King cut through the swath.”
The gloves dangled from Ondred’s hands as if he too wished to drop them. The men looked at startled, then alarmed. For all their frivolous ways, they were experienced outdoorsmen, and the implication of Creath’s statement wasn’t lost. Perri, the falconer’s nephew, started to wail.
“Shut him up,” growled William to Garrion, “Or I will have him stripped and flayed alive when we reach Ursaulis.”
Garrion shot his nephew a warning look. Perri was his sister’s boy and he’d promised to look after him. The crying tapered off, replaced by sniveling.
“We been circling ourselves for hours,” Gerlatch stated the obvious.
“We are lost,” said Creath, stating their fears.
“How can that be?” asked Dinnisee. “We haven’t been on the same path. One of us would have noticed!”
“There are rumors of roads such as these in the Banescale near the Nevers,” began Anjhest bleakly. “They’re called Twinning Roads. It is said a man will meet himself again and again, but he will never come to an end. Nor will he ever die.”
Garrion caught his nephew’s eye and shook his head in warning.
Ondred flung down the gloves, rubbing them in the dirt with the heel of his boot. “We aren’t lost or enchanted. We’ve simply gotten ourselves onto a circle track without noticing. That is all.”
He looked to the King for confirmation, but William was staring at the gloves, his jaw popping as he worked away on a blade of grass. ‘If there is indeed enchantment, it’s slight. Fairy magic, I’ll wager. It’s well known there are fairies at Saundris Cove and some of them must have taken up abode here. We can think our way out of this.” He paused, helping himself to a generous swig of Frennin White. “We must think and think clearly.”
“In the meantime, spare us this Nevers nonsense,” said Ondred to Anjheest waspishly. “There’s no such thing as a Twinning Road.”
“We shall see,” said William, plugging the wineskin. “You,” he pointed to Perri. “Pick up the gloves and put them back on the bush. If we’ve been chasing our tails, it’s time to find out.”
Perri replaced the gloves, the men spurred their mounts, and they set off at an anxious pace. Soon enough, the bush with the gloves reappeared. Perri burst into sobs.
“Quiet!” shouted Garrion, but it was too late. The King whipped his horse about and bore down on the boy with a raised crop. But before he could strike, a raucous cry came from another bush. William twisted in his saddle. The men watched, shock still, as a three spotted Falcom emerged and rose magnificently in the air.
“By God, there it is,” shouted William, flinging aside his crop. “Quick! Net it and let’s be done with this damned sacred place!”