The sky was darkening quickly in the late afternoon sun, and he was stuck on a horse. Not only was he stuck on a horse. He was stuck on a horse with the company of only the prince’s other protector. Rickard was intelligent, and one of the ladies favorites, however he could be more addlebrained than a mouse sometimes Ryan thought as he kept an eye on the horizon. It was a matter of circumstances that had thrown the two of them into the position they were currently in.He brought his horse around and looked into the rapidly darkening eastern sky. The cry of an eagle broke the silence, and with a wry laugh he dismounted. The form of a large golden eagle made its way swiftly through the sky, coming to rest on Ryan’s outstretched arm.As he felt the power in the talons of the bird, he was glad yet again for the thick leather glove that protected him from being ripped into by a stray claw.
A blond head popped up from its reverie.
“Bring the cloak, it’s almost time!”
He nodded and quickly dismounted his own horse, searching quickly in the saddlebags for a long cloak that he brought to Ryan’s side.
The eagle cried stridently and jumped around on Ryan’s arm, flapping and almost hitting Ryan with his wings.
“Blimey. Something has really set him off today. I’ve not seen him this worked up since… well, since the first night this happened.”
He crouched down, placing the bird on the ground as the sun started to sink below the tree line.
Rickard draped the cloak over the still squalling bird and moved back behind Ryan.
The bird quieted somewhat, and the air crackled around it as the sun finally slid below the western horizon.
Suddenly the quiet was broken by an ear shattering scream from the bird, and the small form beneath the large cloak changed. Lightning seemed to strike from nowhere and Ryan closed his eyes against what always felt like the fabric of the universe being torn in two.
When he opened his eyes, a sight he’d gotten used to over the past three years lay before him. The eagle was replaced by a reddish golden haired man, shaking and breathing heavily, the cloak his only covering.
In the dying light of the day, gray-blue eyes met Ryan’s from his huddled position on the ground. He struggled to talk, and finally one simple sentence came from him – in a rough and panic-stricken voice.