An early scene in the book, Ketiana’s Uncle Brogis is taking her to the home of his parents, her Grandparents, because she shows promise as a “prelatess,” someone often called a “beast master” by those outside of Kholuri culture.
I am happy with the scene, though not so much with the names of the animals. Feedback would be lovely and helpful. Picture “hillcats” (again, a name I may change) as slightly larger versions of pumas.
Ketiana was awakened by a high-pitched screech. Bolting up in her tent, she immediately began mentally seeking and quickly locked in on Solly, the male of the hawk pair. Three humans approaching on foot. She was up and out of her tent in seconds, only to see Brogis already up and sitting by a newly lit fire.
“Three men are coming this way,” she said.
“I know,” he said casually. “May be a good idea for you to stay inside. I don’t know what they’ll want – it may be nothing, but best if you stay out of sight.”
She frowned but returned to her tent and focused her mind. She mentally called her cats to join her in her tent and then began seeking help, hoping to “hear” from Seriangis. Whether it was the teacher of wisdom or her own intuition, she gradually became aware of the need to gather a swarm of hornets. She began sending out mental tendrils, seeking and probing, and surprised herself by locating a nearby nest. They responded immediately, swarming and flowing over toward the campsite. She called them into her tent, quickly calming both Ma’al and Phay before they bolted from the tent. Solly and Melly circled overhead, keeping her apprised of the strangers’ location.
Brogis remained calm, standing and smiling, staff in hand, as the strangers approached. They were dressed like bandits, and probably were, but he wanted to appear as friendly and non-threatening as possible.
“Hail, travelers!” he called out to them, holding up an open hand. They made no reply as they made their way into the camp, one of them going directly over to where the horses were tied.
“We’ll be taking these horses,” the first one said. He was large with a scraggly beard and a rather large bastard sword tied to his side.
“Please…” Brogis began, but the large stranger held up his hand.
“Two horses, two tents…who travels with you?” he asked.
“I am a monk of the light trinity,” Brogis began.
“Where is your travel partner?” the man demanded. His compatriots drew their swords.
Brogis carefully laid aside his staff and held up both hands. “Please, good sirs, I am not a rich man. I am escorting my young niece, a Kholuri woman, to her people to begin her apprenticeship as a Prelatess. They are expecting us soon. We will need the horses to arrive on time.”
The leader looked at the tents. “Mondes, search those tents,” he said to the third bandit. Before Mondes could take a step, however, Ketiana emerged from her tent, her cloak on and her hood up. She stood just outside of her tent, facing the bandit leader, her face shrouded by her hood, her arms folded across her chest with both hands hidden inside her sleeves.
“You’ll not take our horses,” she said, matter-of-factly. The bandit leader gave her a look of amused interest. Brogis began to speak but a sharp look from Ketiana cut him off.
“You three should leave now, before you are hurt,” she stated.
The leader looked at his companions and they all began laughing.
“Little girl, you….” Before he could finish his sentence, the leader was surprised as two hillcats emerged from her tent and stood on either side of her. The other two brigands closed ranks, moving to stand on either side of their leader.
“You going to hurt us with a couple of kitty cats?” the leader teased.
She tilted her head and a swarm of hornets flowed out of her tent, swirling to her right, apparently waiting on her command. “Unless you leave now, these hornets will attack you. The cats will then attack you. They will not merely hurt you, they will kill you. The choice is yours. You have five seconds to decide.” As she waited, she held out her arm and Solly flew down and settled on her forearm. The bandits looked nervously at one another. Five seconds later, the hornets flew toward them and the leader pointed toward Ketiana with his dagger as they quickly backpedaled, frantically swatting at the hornets.
“This isn’t over, witch,” he growled, then turned to run.
After they had gone, she pushed her hood off of her head and looked at her uncle. He stood staring at her, his mouth slightly agape.
“What?” she asked.
He shook his head and gave a light chuckle. “I thought you were against any type of violence,” he said.
“You think sending that swarm after those men wasn’t violent?”
“I told the hornets to chase them away. There’s no violence in chasing someone away. They wanted to steal our horses, uncle. We cannot allow that to happen.”
“What if they had not run? Would you have set the cats on them too?”
“But what if they hadn’t?”
She gave him a quizzical look. “They ran, uncle. Why would I worry about what might have happened now?”
He gave her a surprised look and then chuckled again, shaking his head in wonder.