Llara moved quickly, but not nearly as quickly as she would have liked. The soft, untrained city dweller she had following her made sure of that. And although she made almost no noise as she moved through the undergrowth, he made more than enough noise for the both of them. It was a wonder that the orcs had not found them yet.
She glanced back at the man, and sighed. Honestly, he was not doing all that bad. He was no hunter, but he moved much quieter than most cityfolk. It seemed he did have some experience in traveling in the forest, and he was keeping up with her rather well. He was breathing heavily, obviously pushing himself, but they were moving quickly. Not as quickly as she would have liked, but faster than she had expected a city dweller to manage.
On the other hand, she did not have much experience with people from the cities. She was making assumptions, something her uncle always warned her about. Conclusions based on assumed facts made for foolish decisions, as he said.
Llara studied the man for a moment as he followed her through the woods. He was tall, but not excessively so, and had an average build. He was fairly well muscled, but they were soft, like he had gotten them from sport, not work.
He had dark brown hair, cut somewhat short. He barely had a beard, just some stubble. He had clearly shaved recently, no more than two or three days. His skin was clear, with no scars or marks, and darker than hers. Darker than most everyone in the north. She had heard that men from the south had darker skin, so perhaps he was from there.
His clothes were very fine, although they were somewhat torn and durtied now, and that alone placed him as coming from the wealthy cities to the south. In fact, the cloth his clothes were made of was so fine that she guessed he was a noble of some kind. They were very strangely styled, nothing like she had seen before, but of course her exposure had been limited. She had seen a few officials of the Queen in New Rinsdale, a very few, and many merchants over the years, although only a few truly wealthy ones. None of them dressed like this man. He must be from farther south, she thought.
She was thankful for the differences, of course. The rich city folk she had seen had all dressed in bright colors, and the wealthier or more important they were, the brighter. This one was dressed in greens and browns, and although the greens and browns were brighter and clearer than any she had seen, at least they blended in with the forest.
She wondered what his story was. She still did not know why he had been on Broken Hill, miles from any road or town, alone and unarmed. And so clearly confused. He had looked more puzzled at seeing her than she had at seeing him.
Well, both of their questions would have to wait. For the moment they were running for their lives.
She glanced back at him again. He was obviously tiring quickly. It was clear he could not keep this pace up for much longer.
“Listen,” Llara said. He looked up at her, panting. “I know a place near here where we can rest. We’ll talk then. Okay?”
He was panting heavily, but he nodded, and managed to say “Okay.”