She looked him up and down, noting the tatters of his clothing. His main sword, the Rook, was gripped loosely. His face was tight and uncertain. There was also a dignified bear standing just behind him.
Barnabus looked from face to face, acknowledging each in turn. Ambrose was chilly, Sonny’s nostrils flared, and Latricia, loyal to her friends, glared suspiciously. He sighed in exasperation and began walking past them with the other bear in tow.
Marley swiftly grabbed his arm.
“We needs do this together,” she said, ignoring the reactions of her companions.
Both bears stared into each other’s violet eyes. They made no show of emotion, just maintained their gaze.
Finally, Marley looked him over again.
“Were you in too much of a hurry to change clothes?”
“A titch, yes.”
Marley looked stern, bowed her head, and placed the palm of her hand on his chest.
“You are still too reckless,” she hissed. There was no rancor in her tone, just a sad note.
Barnabus looked abashed, but only for a moment.
“I know, but Montrose,” nodding his head at his companion, “and a child would have been damaged.”
Marley sighed with a mix emotions evident.
“You won’t change,” she whispered.
“Forgive me.” His sorrowful tone made her look up.
“I’m trying,” she said.
Barnabus nodded, understanding what she meant.
“Are you finished hurting her?” The acidic comment from Ambrose caused the bear’s eyes to narrow and the soft tones had drained from his voice.
“Montrose, let’s go,” Barnabus said, walking away without sparing a look at the others. Marley closed her eyes and going rigid with anger. When she opened her eyes and glared at the other three, they took a step back from the flashing violet eyes. No one spoke, silently falling in step behind her when she stalked off after the other two.
Marley caught up with the other two, stepping into the lee of a gnarled spruce behind Barnabus. Montrose looked over and realized that the fur on both looked more real than that of the other bears. He filed that observation away for later. Moments later the othe three slipped up next to him. The two bears opposite were whispering, but he couldn’t hear their conversation. Baranabus swaps his sword to the opposite hand and reached back to hold Marley’s empty paw. She hesitantly took his and squeezed it gently.