As the shadows grow darker, it becomes difficult to see and, only because of the quiet glow from the moon, can I see the outlines of my captors. I can hear their whispers and the tapping of their fingers on the map. How they can see still, I have no idea.
There is nothing I can do but try and listen to what they are saying. I decide that I should lay down and pretend to sleep. Perhaps, if they will feel more comfortable, they will speak in a manner that I can hear.
I lay down and close my eyes and am like this for quite some time before I am able to start picking out words. None of them seem important. Things like trees, water, fast. It seems they simply can’t decide on a way to go.
I hear the cracking of twigs headed my way and I stop breathing. Is one of them headed to me? The crunching gets louder and I remember, if I was sleeping, I would be breathing. I force myself to slowly let out my breath and to slowly take in another. The crunching stops at my feet and I hope I’m putting on a good act.
“She’s asleep Alcander.” Flat face says and I listen as he crunches his way back over to his partner. “I wish we could grab something to eat. I’m starving.” It’s still in a whisper, but at least I can make it out now. I smile, eyes still closed, at my success.
“Maybe we’ll get lucky on the way Egerian, but we don’t have time to stop. We don’t want anyone stealing our prize. Besides, I want to get back where it’s warm. I’m tired of this weather.”
“You mean the witch?” Egerian scoffs. “Her magic is weak.”
“Yes, her magic is weak. But she’s clever. We can’t let our guard down.” Alcanders calm words remind him.
“Want me to put up a ward?”
“No Egerian.” Alcander snorts. “I’ll do it. You can’t ward anything. The only thing you’re good for is your size.”
I hear the flat faced one scoff at his accusation, but doesn’t disagree.
I wonder what kind of weather they must be used to. To me it is a perfect night, but I remember their heavy cloaks. I listen as Alcander stands and begins to walk a wide circle around our camp.
I’ve only read about wards once or twice, but there was nothing specific about them. I’ve come to understand them to be like a charm, something that would protect what it was cast on. Something used by good people.
They mentioned someone trying to steal their prize. They can’t possibly mean me could they? Why would a witch be against the king’s collectors? Perhaps my father already onto them?
I smile, imagining that my father is closing in on them. That he’ll be saving me any minute as I continue to listen hopefully. But soon, everything is quiet again. The ropes still bite into my skin, I try and move slightly to ease my discomfort. It doesn’t help much but, between the quiet and my body no longer being jolted from the horse, I unwillingly drift off to sleep.
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