After Grey had finished recounting what had happened in the cave he began to feel tired again. He tried to keep his eyes open but they were being stubborn and kept closing. His master laughed and said, "Stop fighting it boy. Well come back when you wake up again. Don't worry. There's nothing that can enter here that I won't know about. Sleep well."

Against his will, his eyes closed again. Soon he was asleep and dreaming the dreamless sleep of unconsciousness.

"He'll awake in a couple more hours." Wolfsong said. "He expended a lot of energy back in the cave." Hawkeye nodded.

"The thing I don't understand is why Marian has reappeared now? And those children… how come they already have their soul-names? She didn't…" He went quiet.

"I'm afraid she might have." Wolfsong finished for him. "I'm afraid she might have forced the bond."

-------

When Grey awoke again the sky was tainted pink, and the sun was barely peeking over the horizon. He groaned. "Did I sleep all day and night? Exactly how much Talent did I use anyway?" He mumbled uselessly. He glanced around. The room was bare except for his clothes, which were lain out neatly on a nearby chair. He looked at them in puzzlement. Then he peeked under the covers and blushed from embarrassment. He hoped that the healer hadn't been female. He had enough problems without adding the fact that he was buck-naked under his covers.

As if to prove he couldn't control fate, the healer walked in. The fact that she looked like she was old enough to be his mother did not ease his discomfort.

"Well let's see how you're doing today. I hear you've slept plenty so how about we judge your energy reserve." The matronly woman said. All healers had a minimum amount of Talent, not much more than Prince Ash had. It allowed them to test the physical properties of their patients. She placed a hand on his forehead and began the meditative breathing that he had been teaching the crown prince.

Taking her hand away, she said, "Well you seem to be fine. Your energy levels are no longer dangerously low. I'd suggest you take it easy for a few days, but I see no reason why you can't go out. Now, why don't you get dressed and I'll take you down to the kitchen for some food." She finished after hearing a protest rumble from his belly. Grey's face turned red and he just clutched at the blankets, determined not to move until she'd at least turned around.

"Oh my, do you have a fever? Your face is bright red." She replaced her hand under his dark bangs. "No temperature…" She looked at him for a minute before cackling. "Oh boy, there is nothing to be ashamed about. You have nothing I haven't seen before. I've borne 7 children, four of which were healthy young boys. Now up and at 'em." Leaving no room for protest she hauled him out of the bed and over to his clothes. He fought leaving the…safety…of the covers but she was stronger than she looked. 'Much stronger.' Grey thought sourly as he hurriedly put his clothes on under the watchful eye of whom he now secretly called the 'Heartless Healer'. She could have at least turned around!

Ignoring his distinct embarrassment the matronly healer bustled about, straightening the bedcovers and generally tidying the room. Once Grey was finished dressing she placed a hand on his shoulder and led him out of the room and down a flight of stairs to the kitchen. She chatted amiably with the cooks while he ate and, making sure he had eaten enough to fill even the hungriest of growing boys, she left him to find his master on his own.

He decided that the garden would be a good place to start since his Master didn't care for being inside, especially in nice weather such as they were having. Often on their journey his Master had dismissed housing accommodations in favor of sleeping under the stars, much to Grey's dismay.

Grey looked in the open garden but found only members of the court. So he turned to the labyrinth that was made for confusing enemies during the ancient wars, but now was a place of quiet contemplation to many a visitor. Grey tried to do a thermal scan; using a minimal amount of Talent (hopefully unnoticed by the Heartless Healer, as he didn't want her charging after him about resting) he searched for body heat. In the center of the labyrinth he saw the outline of 2 people and he sighed. He wasn't great at puzzles and he was sure this was another way his master had decided to test him. Labyrinths were like large puzzles; figure out the pattern to get to the end. Simple, right? He sighed again.

'Oh well, I'd better get this over with' Grey thought, and he entered the labyrinth. He began by turning right and alternating with left every third turn. Soon he was deep into the maze.

He walked through the twisting pathways until he came to what he assumed was the center. It was a medium sized park with a fountain, benches and trees that towered over the massive labyrinth walls. He walked to a bench and sat down exhausted. If his master was here he'd yet to see any trace of him. It was then that he heard a high pitched laugh that reminded him of Marian's high soprano voice.

He instinctively made a blade of Talent and spun fast in a circle to find his adversary, slicing one of the smaller trees in half. The tree pitched over next to him and before he could do more than release his Talent something small and furry launched itself at him, chittering furiously. He screamed and flailed, trying to get the angry squirrel off of him. And that was how Wolfsong and Hawkeye found him, struggling to grab the pesky rodent as it clawed its way around his body as if it was climbing a tree. Only trees did not contort their shapes trying to reach the squirrel.


Hey everyone, guess what. I'm alive!!!

I know you've all been thinking that i crawled off and died somewhere, but no such luck. :)

anyway here's my latest chapter, sorry it's short. that just seemed the perfect place to end it so...

Please review, cause you know us authors feed off of reviews and you wouldn't want me to starve would you?

EF