Careful so the guard wouldn’t notice, he tossed his handkerchief over the side of the cart. Someone would find it.
Jasen had not been told who. Not when Kynbessne and Jennika explained the plan to him, all three of them gathered around the expertly drawn, delightedly stolen house map. Not a few minutes later when he had asked. Explicitly. Someone would watch the manse while they were inside, and someone would have a way to signal Jennika if the mistress of the house returned while they were still scouting inside.
Kynbessne had looked resolute and patient when he questioned her, perhaps protecting an associate who she’d rather he didn’t arrest. It wouldn’t have been the first time. Jennika, however, had cocked her head slyly, her constant smile tilting her mouth. Like she might just be enjoying the spectacle of leaving him in the dark.
Deorsa called for Tiernan shortly after noon the next day. She sent one of her folk by his tent, and he idly pushed aside Tiernan’s tent flap on his way to the lunch fires. Tiernan finished his own meal before finding Deorsa at the back of the camp.
She sat with two women in the shadow of the mountain, a small fire between them, and a cook stand swinging emptily over it. Tiernan was almost beside them before he recognized Revca by the thick, braided loop of hair pinned to the back of her head. Jessik was beside her, hood up over her close-cut, red curls and both of them kept their faces turned down quietly.
Deorsa smiled up at Tiernan and kicked the log next to her to invite him down to their level. “You took your time,” she murmured.
“You didn’t tell me to hurry,” Tiernan returned.
“We thought the camp might already be a bit riled,” Jessik said. “We came in quiet.”
Tiernan would have liked to pretend that he had just heard a joke. He knew how to react to a joke. He could just give his brother a dry smile and sigh, as if he was put out to be leaving home as well. He could make a joke of his own, slide along the easy, old line about how the world just didn’t seem capable of turning without him. Then Callix would slap him on the back of the head like he always did. Unless Tiernan got his arm up in time.
But Tiernan knew what he had heard, knew how subtly his brother could lay a serious tone under a question when he was hesitant to say anything at all.
Turning slowly, Tiernan abandoned the view to give his brother his full attention. “What are you asking?”
Callix didn’t look at him, absorbed in perfecting his thoughts before he carefully spoke them out loud, head bent. “I’m asking if you’re sure that now is the time to leave again.”