Buck sees a young man approaching the school around noon. He is more of a boy, maybe in his late teens. A woman is walking beside him.
"Claire!" Buck calls into the schoolhouse.
"Hello," his lips show a smile. "I am looking for Claire Lightkep. I am William Way." He glances at Buck's face hopefully.
"I am Buck Wolverton." William looks a question. "Glad to meet you. It was my daughter that was taken."
I am sorry." His head bows for a moment. "I hope we can help. This is Tamara, from the Southern California Libraries. I have been directed to investigate the kidnapping."
"You've got to get my Dash back."
"Yes," "Daniela Wolverton, but she likes to be called Dash."
"it was an ordinary school day." Claire takes over. "I was in the classroom with the littles." William gives her a look.
"We divide the grades by days." Claire explains. "Older students on Tuesdays and Thursdays, littles the other days." William nods.
"Men rode up." She waves toward the ridge toward the north. I didn't see them. I knew they were here when they came in the door."
"Five men." Claire explains. "They seemed similar. Maybe in thier thirties. They looked rugged." She leads them into the classroom. Buck sees William and Tamara glance around at the 15 small chairs laid out in rows. There is a table and backboard at the front. The flag of the United States of America is hanging to the side, with the one star cut out from Hawaii's succession.
"They all stayed in the back." she continues. "They all had swords." She looks at William's. "Shorter than yours." She walks over to the front and faces back out. Buck can tell she is seeing what happened that day in her mind.
"Two men grabbed two children." Claire points toward two sides of the door with one hand each. "Dash was there." She drops her left hand. "James was there." She switches hands.
"What did you do?" William looks at her.
"Nothing!" Buck knows she is upset. She looks over to the corner where her bow and quever are staged against the wall about one meter from her.
"Claire saved James!" He defends her. Tamara and William look over to him. "Tell them what happened next." Claire gives him a little smile.
"All the men ran out, with the two children." Claire takes a deep breath. "I grab my bow and follow." She moves toward the door, past Buck, William and Tamara. Out in the sun again, they watch Claire run off the porch.
"I saw the fire running off." "I only had a chance to get one arrow off."
"She brought down the man holding James." Buck finishes the story. "We have the horse, and James is OK. The man died without talking."
William looks at Tamara. "Yes, we hope that the horse may lead us after them." William looks at the others.
"Some horses are good at finding there way." Buck agrees.
"Good I will get started tomorrow." William tells them.
"I will go with you." Claire moves over to stand in his way. William looks at her and cocks his head.
"It could be dangerous." He warns her. "What about your classes?"
"Dash was my responsibility." She insists. "School is closed for a month."
"The school district is going to hire guards befor they open again." Buck explains. "I will go with you too."
William looks at him. Buck's shoulders straighten and he stands to his full two meter height. "I am trained with a staff and have fought bandits."
"Okay." William nods. "Be ready early in the morning. Understand that if you change you mind and want to return, you must make you way back alone." His face is stern.
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