(Thread resumes from Morning Outside Marshend: Catriona)
Galt, waiting patiently on the fringes of the marshes, gave a sudden start as Keir's dark head nudged her way between the thick reed. Catriona herself followed, half a step behind.
"I never heard you," said Galt, almost accusingly. "How do you do that?"
"Practice." Catriona gave Galt a mysterious half-smile and did not elaborate further.
A more somber look settled on her face. "I have news that Steward Thorne will want to hear. Let's head back toward the encampment, still remaining alert for any other trouble."
Thoughtfully she added, "Though once we near the Septa's lands, I'll want to see if that blasted hedge knight and his minion are still there before I draw close myself. I have little wish to encounter yet more strangers, nor to have them hear the news I carry."
After a snap of Catriona's fingers, Keir leaped forward, her silent footfalls leading the way back from the marshes through the grasses towards the Septa's domain. Catriona trailed a short distance behind, pausing only a moment to ensure that Galt was following suit.
Galt was following - and they made their way back towards the Septa's cottage - or at least its borders - without apparent difficulty.
Once they reached the borders of the Septa's lands, Catriona gave Keir a signal. The black direwolf disappeared into the grasses. When Galt drew close enough, Catriona murmured, "Keir's still guarding us, just keeping out of sight. Let's head closer and see if we can locate Derron." After a pause, she added, "I'd prefer to avoid drawing attention to us if I can, but I don't want to alarm any of the Clearwater sentries by our approach."
From this angle, the barn was closer than the cottage. Beyond, she could see a group of people - mainly men - seated around the fire and seemingly engaged in breaking their fasts, something she had not had time to do herself. Closer to her was Mariam, speaking with Derron, who appeared to be carrying water for her from the stream, which was closest of all.
"Shall I stay with you?" asked Galt in a low voice. "Or shall I go back to the Steward?"
"My thanks, Galt," Catriona replied, "but you may return to your duties with the Steward. Perhaps you could help with that water he is fetching, so that I might speak with him?"
Judging the distance to Derron and Mariam, she called out in a low tone calculated to carry just far enough to reach Mariam and Derron, but not further. "Steward Thorne. A word, please. Galt will help with the water." She remained on the far side of the stream for the time being.
Mariam turned ... and she smiled.
"You are safe!" she said with relief, but keeping her voice low.
(Continued in The Return: Catriona, Derron)