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The vet would have gotten word to him if “Kevi” had died or escaped, but aside from that he had no idea of how the R’il’noid was doing. Besides, Coralie was still there. Let Doc make the decision on whether to destroy Star. Normally, horses no longer able to earn their keep and of no sale value went to feed the dogs, but for Jadel, with his wife dead and his children scattered, Star was family.

Mik had to hold Coin to a slow walk with the injured Jadel riding double behind him, and Star, lame as he was, managed to keep up. Loco whined and dug at the bottom of her pannier, and Mik reached down to scratch the dog’s ears, wondering absently why she was so restless today. Frustration at the fact that he’d used her so little? But she’d tired so fast when he did try to send her after a stray that he’d mostly kept her in her pannier.

Doc’s old bay leopard was not in the paddock, and Mik looked at the door, worried. “Doc?” he shouted.

A stranger came to the door, walking carefully, with a half-finished hackamore draped over one arm. “He’s stitching up a silkie bull named Sam,” he called cheerfully. “Should be back in an hour or so. I gather Sam’s rather prone to this sort of thing. Can I help? I’m Kevi—been helping Doc out.” His eyes shifted to Jad, and his lazy demeanor vanished. “Be right back,” he called over his shoulder. When he reappeared, the hackamore was gone and he was carrying a tube of something, flipping off the cap as he came.

Kevi? The R’il’noid Mik had held in front of him on Coin had been little more than skin stretched over bone. This man was gaunt, but nothing like Mik remembered. He wasn’t actually lame either, Mik thought, just careful of both slippered feet. Amazing, considering what those feet had been like a month earlier, and now that he looked, neither hand seemed quite right either. But what did he mean, that he was helping Doc? Where was Coralie? “What’s in the tube?” he asked.

“Pain killer and anti-shock medication,” Kevi said as he held the tube up to Jadel. “Squeeze the whole tube between gums and lips. Don’t try to swallow it; you’re too shocky for that. Mikal, can you help him down? That dislocation needs to be reduced before the swelling gets any worse, and I can do that, with a little help.”

If Doc was at Aldeman’s, which was the logical place if he were treating Sam, it’d take Mik three hours to get Jad there. Letting the injured man rest here made sense, though he wished he’d reacted fast enough to stop Kevi’s medication. He had no idea what might really be in that tube. “Where’s Coralie?” he asked as he helped Jad down.

“Over in the storage caves,” Kevi replied. “Doc won’t let me walk that far yet. Uh—you do realize this dog’s in labor, don’t you?”