The woman nodded at each, face not changing expression. Altman cleared his throat. “Erm, well, thank you … We might never have known that boar was there.”
“Oh, you’d have found out quick enough, I think. Another minute ‘r two and it would’ve made sure of that.” She examined them critically. “What’re city folk like you doin’ this far out in the wilderness? It’s clear you sure aren’t hunting.”
“As a matter of fact we are hunting for my uncle’s home.” Altman looked her over more carefully; her cloak was worn and rough at the hem and stained from travel. She used it often and well, and had likely been out for an extended time on this particular trip. “You live in this area then?”
“Not far. Where does this uncle of yours live? I don’t know of anyone else in these parts.” She maintained her expression; Altman was starting to find it a little unnerving.
“He doesn’t live around here, we’re still on the way. He described a valley. We’re looking for a creek that should lead us to the hills around it.”
Finally her expression changed; she looked thoughtful. “You must know Mr. Tremaine.”
“Yes! Eldrid Tremaine. He’s my uncle. Well, my great-uncle, actually. You know him? You know where he lives?”
“Yeah, I know him and where you can find him. Might be willing to show you the way, if you can help me out.”
Deman had been silent the whole time, watching Altman and his reaction to Kaylene. With a smile and not a look at his friend, he chipped in, “Certainly! But what can we city folk do out here for someone as experienced as you?”
She dragged the spear point out of the boar and prodded it. “I wasn’t out here to hunt, but suddenly I find myself with quite a haul. You have horses, and I won’t be getting this guy very far without one. Help me get ‘im home and I’ll help you get where you’re goin’. It’s not out of your way. In fact, it’ll get you closer.”
“Deal.” Deman once again spoke before Altman had a chance. But it was Altman she was looking at when the smile finally broke over her face. A shock ran through him as her eyes became warm and seemed to bore into him for just a fleeting moment.
* * *
Continue to The Price of Independence - Rough - Day 7