29 – Bravado

I slunk through the shallows, hidden by silt and shifting currents until I was close enough to get a clear look at the person on the log. When I did, my lips curled into a smile. I rose out of the river, the water sluicing from my body as if it had given me form….

28 – The River

I sensed the Juni River hours before we finally crested a hill and saw it glittering in the valley beneath us. A part of my soul begged me to urge my horse to a gallop to reach the riverbanks more quickly. I resisted, and instead savored the scent of the water as we slowly drew…

27-Bruises

We rode until dusk, then made camp again rather than ride through the night. Everyone was completely paranoid about letting the Countess go anywhere alone. Druskin was shaken enough by the experience that he wouldn’t let her out of his sight, and even threw propriety to the dogs when he charged Luza with escorting her…

26 – So Human

The throbbing in my head subsided considerably after Quill’s ministrations, some water, and some breakfast. Matters were further improved when Quill handed me my harness of knives, and then we made camp to rest for a few hours. I was asleep almost before I lay down on my bedroll, the Countess snugly tucked between myself…

25-Cedar Trees and Bruises

I had known the tree was likely to act. That was the whole point of getting captured by these fools. But knowing it was coming and seeing it happen were two very different things. The roots of the tree crept forward—its movements smooth, and undulating like snakes, and it was terrifying. “These are Adelheid Wuhn’s…

24-face to face

Bulgar’s men had made camp under an outcropping of rock that was split by a gnarled cedar tree. The tree hunched over the splintered rock like an old man, reaching only tentatively toward the graying sky. They had made no fire, though it was clear they’d been resting a while. Some of the men were…

23-The Trees

For the space of a few heartbeats, we stared after Ilya Terr like owls blinking in the sun. Quill turned to me, “What was in that note?” “Nothing flattering to the elves,” I said. After a beat I added, “Drivel about purity of the moors and bringing strength to the Wuhn.” “You Angari,” muttered Mihalak,…

22-Out of the Bag

“That idiot,” I said. Lovesick loon, indeed. “Damn him,” Druskin cursed again. “They can’t have gotten far.” I tucked the note in my pocket and headed for Quill’s bedroll. Crouching, I shook his shoulder. “Quill. Wake up.” His hand snaked out and caught my wrist, pulling me down as he rolled and flipped me under…

21 – Into the Hills

Three days passed and the moors gave way to rocky hills scattered with trees. I stayed close to the Countess whenever we rode, and Galo stayed close to her whenever we rested. Once or twice we saw figures in the distance and moved to lower ground to avoid detection. If the elves thought it was…

20 – Traveling companions

“You are damn lucky I like you,” I jabbed Quill’s chest with my finger. “Is that why you work with me?” “When you still work with them?” I jerked my chin toward the fire where Rakov was sitting. “Indeed,” Quill was still smiling, I could hear it in his voice, but he shook his head….