There was a stillness in the morning that he loved, a sacredness that he always felt bound not to break by speaking too loud. Birds called to one another through thin mists lingering from the night that the sun had not yet dispelled, and he let his horse walk at its own pace along the winding path. Breath misted before him–the leaves were deep into their changing season but not yet fallen, the brilliant golds and crimsons filtering pale sunlight so completely it did not yet touch the ground beneath the trees. At this time of day, this time of year, he could readily believe he felt the edges of the Veil receding back from the burgeoning day, and a chill reached him through the woolen cloak he wore.
He did not like to dwell on such things.
The horse beneath him snorted softly and flicked its ears, but did not stop. Uthyr watched along the edges of the road as they went, a sudden rustling of dead underbrush and a flash of red revealing the escape of a fox from the sound of heavy hooves of the horse. This morning was not for hunting, though, and Uthyr never did much care for hunting fox or wolf or bear. He leaned forward and ran his hand along his horse’s neck a few times, though he knew it was not startled by the fox. The warm earthy smell of horse and leather seemed to directly oppose the ethereal chill of the morning through which they rode.
It was fitting, he supposed, for such a morning to herald his going, if what secrets Nimue had whispered to him were to be believed. The princess from Cóiced Ulad had been staying in Emrys’ household since he and Nimue brought her inland from the coast, but now he was sent by his father to invite her back to their hold to stay the winter. He still was unclear why she hadn’t gone back before autumn set in and the storms made sailing too unpredictable, but whatever the reason, it was too late now. The earliest she could go back to her land would be spring, and they had to ensure her stay in Prydein would be comfortable and enjoyable. Though they had never planned on it, an alliance with the king of the Ulaid would be greatly beneficial to his father and Emrys both, he could not deny that, no matter how little he truly wanted to be a part of it.
Perhaps it wouldn’t be too bad, he thought optimistically. Nimue would be there to act as a buffer and perhaps would keep the foreign princess occupied enough that Uthyr wouldn’t have to worry about entertaining her too much.