these people had a rough sense of passage of time. When the sentinel thought that he’d stood watch long enough, he would descend from the platform and wake up the man delegated to succeed him. The beasts were passed through, the gate lifted and carried back, and the cords retied. The three mounted and rode off slowly in the half-light, heading down the hill. The moosoids grunted now and then, unhappy at being mounted at this ungodly hour. When the three were about a hundred yards from where they knew the first sentinel was placed, they halted. Anana got off and slipped through the brush until she saw the pale figure sitting with its back against the bole of a tree. Snores buzz-sawed from it.
It was an easy matter to walk up to the man and bring down the flat of her axe on top of his head. He fell over, his snores continuing. She ran back and told the two it was safe to continue. Urthona wanted to slit the man’s throat, but Anana said it wasn’t necessary. The guard would be unconscious for a long while.
The second sentinel was walking back and forth to keep himself awake. He strode down the hill for fifty paces or so, wheeled, and climbed back up the twenty-degree slope. He was muttering a song, something about the heroic deeds of Sheerkun.
In this comparative stillness, it would be difficult to make a detour around him without his hearing them. He had to be gotten out of the way.
Anana waited until he had turned at the end of his round, ran out behind him, and knocked him out with the flat of her axe. She went back and told the others the way was clear for a while.
When they could see the paleness of the white sand shore and the darkness of the sea beyond, they stopped. The last of the sentinels was in a giant tree near the beach. Anana said, “There’s no use trying to get to him. But he can yell as loudly as he wishes. There’s nobody to relay his message to the village.”
They rode out boldly onto the sand. The expected outcry did not come. Either the sentinel was dozing or he did not recognize them and believed some of his tribesmen were there for a legitimate reason. Or perhaps he did recognize them but dared not question the agents of the Lord.
When they were out of his sight, the three stopped. After filling the waterbags, they resumed their flight, if a leisurely pace could be called a flight. They plodded on steadily, silent, each occupied with his or her own thoughts.
There didn’t seem to be any danger from Trenn’s tribe. By the time one of the stunned men woke up and gave the alarm, the escapees would have too much of a headstart to be caught. The only immediate peril, Anana thought, was from Urthona and McKay. Her uncle could try to kill her now to get the Horn in his own hands. But until they found the palace, she was a strong asset. To survive, Urthona needed her.
“Dawn” came with the first paling of the bands in the sky. As the light increased, they continued. They stopped only to excrete or to drink from the sea and to allow their beasts to quench their thirst. At dusk they went into the woods. Finding a hollow surrounded by trees, they slept in it most of the night through. They were wakened several times by the howling of dogs and roars of big cats. However, no predators came near. At “dawn” they resumed their journey. At “noon,” they came to the place which would lead them up to the pass.
Here Anana reined in her moosoid. She made sure that she wasn’t close to them before she spoke. Her left hand was close to the hilt of her sheathed knife-she was ambidextrous-and if she had to, she could drop the reins and snatch out her axe. The men carried flint-tipped spears and had available some heavy war-boomerangs.
“I’m going up to the pass and look over the valley from there,” she said. “For Kickaha, of course.”