With a smirk of satisfaction he stepped around the boulder from the wide trail onto the narrow ledge and sat down to wait. He had decided the best course was to simply take her up the trail to where the guards would be waiting. He told her to wait five minutes before following him back down and thought the guards would understand what was going on. He passed the area where they had taken him without incident and felt things were going all right. He was totally unprepared for the blood curdling scream and sounds of struggle he heard coming from the other side of the boulder. He should have given her some kind of warning he realized. It was too late now.
Racing back around the boulder he saw Melanie standing with her back to the cliff face, a bloody knife in her hand and a crazed look on her face. She saw Tobal and flung herself into his arms sobbing hysterically and trembling violently.
"They attacked me", she kept sobbing. "I didn't mean to hurt anyone."
One of the guards lay sprawled on the trail bleeding fiercly from a gash in his shoulder. Tobal recognized him as a Journeyman named Dirk. The dark haired girl was applying first aid to her fallen companion and ignoring Melanie as if she didn't exist. The third guard was presumably running for assistance back to the camp.
Tobal held her shaking body keeping her steady until she cried herself out. He didn't know what to do. Other guards would be coming soon and he was going to be in big trouble. He couldn't think of anything to say and quietly led Melanie back down the trail. They heard the sound of running feet and moved quickly into the shadows as a group of six guards raced up the trail toward their fallen comrade.
Getting back on the trail they entered the camp and Tobal tried finding someone with a red robe that could straighten this whole mess out. He found Ellen, the High Priestess, by the circle and turned Melanie over to her. Melanie clung first to him as he tried to leave and then to Ellen for reassurance and safety after Ellen convinced her that every thing was going to be alright.
Tobal explained the situation to Ellen and Melanie was aghast and horrified to find out she had attacked and wounded someone that was only trying to initiate her into circle. She was furious at Tobal for setting the thing up and Ellen had to forcibly restrain her from attacking Tobal in her fury. Ellen took it in stride and chuckled a bit.
"You certainly have what it takes to belong to our clan", she said. "Things will be alright. Don't worry about it."
When the guards came to get her Ellen suggested not to fight but go along with them peacefully for her initiation and entry into the clan. Tobal saw with amusement that Rafe was one of them and the dark haired girl another. There were six guards coming over to where Ellen, Tobal and Melanie were talking. Although some of the guards looked angry, Rafe was smiling. Tobal gave him a bear hug and couldn't help but notice that Rafe flinched as if he were injured or hurt. But Rafe gave no sign anything was wrong and the guards took a peaceful and submissive Melanie to get ready for her initiation.
As they left Ellen turned to him with a grim look on her face and said, "I think you've got a little explaining to do to Zee and Kevin. They were looking all over for you after circle last month. I'll be wanting to talk with you a bit later myself, ok?"
"Oh, damn!" he said. "I forgot all about them! When do you want to talk with me?"
"Sometime after circle."