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Page 5 "The gift"

He felt an urgent need to slip away from the area governed by Lark's despotic rules, so he thanked Lena for everything and accepted two solid cubes of sheep cheese and a small barrel of wine for the road. Just at the doorway the woman hugged him goodbye and wordlessly pressed a smooth cold object into his hand. When he opened his fist back in the courtyard, he could swear that he saw the bright blue gemstone glow for a moment.
- Holkon! - he thought almost shouting, his heart beating like crazy. He felt his legs soften.

His mind threw multiple questions at once. ' Where did she get it? They are not well off, yet she gave me a substantial amount. Was she trying to spite Lark and make good for my sheep? After all, the first thing he'd do is accuse me of stealing.' He looked around the yard like a thief feeling someone's eyes on his back.
-I'd be scared if I were you! - Lars, despite his fair stature, came out of nowhere, again.
-But what, what, what's the matter? I haven't done anything! - Hanor shuddered and clenched his fist tighter around the gift.

-'They keep an eye on folks like you, so you'd better hide' he nodded with two fingers to his eyes and pointed at him.
- Hodio! - Hanor didn't need to be asked twice and soon found himself in the woods behind the farmhouse, where he had already taken the steep forest path to Holmen. With trembling hands, he wrapped his pass to freedom in a piece of cloth and placed it in a small pouch strapped to his thigh. He pulled it up as high as he could and drew his trousers belt tighter than usual.
Like a deserter, he set off at a run along the path that meandered across the forest slope. He had to watch out for stones and rocks sticking out everywhere. Every now and then he turned nervously behind him to make sure Lark wasn't rushing after him to claim his property. Not wanting to risk a confrontation with the angry highlander, he veered off the trail and cut sharply downwards. After a while, he almost flew down reaching the countour of the cliff. He braced himself with his legs and looked out over the abyss. Sharp rocks below, trees and the first buildings beyond. He retreated slightly, grabbed a thicker branch with his elbow and lifted his head. Although he had just miraculously escaped a kiss of death, what he saw caught his full attention.




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