"She is," Kev said. "Why shouldn't she be?"

"Because one should choose a wife using the ears, not the eyes."


Kev smiled slightly. "Very wise." He glanced down at Cam again, thinking he was starting to look worse. "If they need help making the sling to carry him-"

"No, my men are fast. They'll be finished soon. But it must be made well, and strong, to carry a man of his size."

Cam 's hands were twitching, his long fingers plucking fitfully at the blanket they had put over him. Kev took the cold hand and gripped it firmly, trying to warm and reassure him.

The rom phuro stared at the visible tattoo on Cam 's forearm, the striking lines of the winged black horse.

"When did you meet Rohan?" he asked quietly.

Kev gave him a startled glance, his protective grasp tightening on Cam 's hand. "How do you know his name?"

The tribe leader smiled, his eyes warm. "I know other things as well. You and your brother were separated for a long time." He touched the tattoo with his forefinger. "And this mark… you have one, too."

Kev stared at him without blinking.

The sounds of a minor to-do filtered in from outside, and someone came pushing through the doorway. A woman. With surprise and concern, Kev saw the gleam of white-blond hair. "Win!" he exclaimed, carefully setting Cam 's hand down and coming to his feet. Unfortunately, he couldn't stand fully upright in the low-ceilinged vehicle. "Tell me you didn't come here alone. It's not safe. Why are you-"

-- Advertisement --

"I'm trying to help." The skirts of Win's riding habit rustled stiffly as she hurried into the vardo. One of her hands was ungloved, and she was holding something in it. She didn't spare a glance for the rom phuro, she was so intent on reaching Kev. "Here. Here." She was breathing hard from riding to the camp at a breakneck pace, her cheeks flushed.

"What is it?" Kev murmured, gently taking the object from her, his free hand coming to rub her back. He looked down at a small vial filled with powder.

"The antidote," she said. "Give it to him quickly."

"How do you know it's the right medicine?"

"I made Dr. Harrow tell me."

"He might have been lying."

"No. I'm sure he wasn't, because at that moment he was nearly on f-I mean, he was under duress."

Kev's fingers closed around the vial. There wasn't much choice. They could wait until they consulted a trustworthy doctor, but from the look of it, Cam didn't have much time to spare. And doing nothing was not an option, either.

Kev proceeded to dissolve ten grains in a small quantity of water, reasoning that it was better to start with a weak solution rather than overdose Cam with yet another poison. He eased Cam to a sitting position, supporting him against his chest. Delirious and unsteady, Cam made a protesting noise as the movement sent new pain through his cramping muscles.

Although Kev couldn't see Cam's face, he saw Win's compassionate expression as she reached out to grip Cam 's jaw. She rubbed the frozen muscles and pried his mouth open. After tilting the liquid from a spoon into his mouth, she massaged his cheeks and throat, coaxing him to swallow. Cam downed the medicine and shuddered, and rested heavily against Kev.

"Thank you," Win whispered, stroking back Cam 's damp hair, flattening her palm against the side of his cold face. "You'll be better now. Lie easy, and let it take effect." Kev thought she had never looked as lovely as she did at that moment, her face soft with tender gravity. After a few minutes Win said quietly, "His color is improving."

And so was his breathing, the jagged rhythm lengthening and slowing. Kev felt Cam 's body relax, the clenched muscles softening as the active principles of the digitalis were neutralized.

Cam stirred as if he were waking from a long sleep. "Amelia," he said in an opium-slurred voice.

Win took one of his hands in hers. "She's quite well, and waiting for you at home, dear."

"Home," he repeated with an exhausted nod.

Kev lowered Cam carefully to the berth and looked over him in sharp assessment. The masklike pallor was vanishing second by second, healthy color returning to his face. The rapidity of the transformation was no less than astonishing.

The amber eyes cracked open, and Cam focused on Kev. "Merripen," Cam said in a tone so lucid that Kev was overcome with relief.

"Yes, phralT

"Am I dead?"


"I must be."

"Why?" Kev asked, amused.

"Because…" Cam paused to moisten his dry lips. "Because you're smiling… and I just saw my cousin Noah over there."

Chapter Twenty-two

The rom phuro came forward and knelt beside the berth. "Hello, Camlo," he murmured.

Cam regarded him with puzzled wonder. "Noah. You're older."

His cousin chuckled. "Indeed. The last time I saw you, you barely came up to my chest. And now you look as if you could be nearly a head taller than me."

"You never came back for me."

Kev broke in tautly. "And you never told him he had a brother."

Noah's smile turned regretful as he regarded them both. "I couldn't do either of those things. For your own protection." His gaze swerved in Kev's direction. "We were told you were dead, Kev. I'm glad to find out we were wrong. How did you survive? Where have you been living?"