Slumber Page 21

“Lady Rogan.” Wolfe urged his horse towards me from the front of our cavalcade. He nodded a dismissal at the Lieutenant who left my side to mount his own horse, Snowstorm, whom he sidled away from us, giving us some privacy. I frowned against the morning sun, wishing suddenly I was more inclined to wearing bonnets, but they annoyed me. I liked to be aware of my surroundings, and bonnets cut off too much of my peripheral vision.

“Captain Stovia,” I mumbled, hoping I wasn’t in for some kind of lecture. This could end in a screaming match. A weary one, but I’d give it my best effort.

His blue eyes were pale as the sun shone off them, pale and concerned as they checked me over, as if searching for injury. “Are you alright, Lady Rogan? After last evening, I mean?” He twisted his mouth in consternation as we both remembered Krill’s appalling behaviour.

I nodded sardonically, suppressing a yawn. “Yes, Captain, I am fine. Grof Krill explained his unseemly behaviour last night and apologised.”

Wolfe stiffened at the news, his eyes narrowing. “Oh he did, did he? And what exactly did he tell you?”

I shrugged. “He was trying to ingratiate himself to me. He wanted to use my magic to find someone.”

“That piece of…” Wolfe spat, turning around in the saddle to glare bloody murder at Krill’s mansion. For a moment he looked ready to dismount and head inside. I rolled my eyes, yawning whilst he was turned away. The man really took his duties too seriously.

“Never mind,” I assured him and he snapped back to face me, anger still etching his features. “I assure you I knew from the start that he was up to something, Captain. I’m not the sort of woman men make fools of themselves over.”

I grew uncomfortable as Wolfe stared at me, seeming to digest what I had said. And then he snorted and gathered his reins. “And yet so many of them do.”

Too tired to question that cryptic comment as he rode off to take the lead, I merely acknowledged Lieutenant Chaeron with a tremulous smile and we took off riding side by side, the Guard at our backs.

I barely remember leaving Peza, my mental state had practically shut down and my body was slowly following it. Everything was a blur as I fought to keep my eyes open, my body tense so it didn’t fall asleep. But as the city disappeared behind us and the land grew quieter, passing many farms off the beaten track, my body grew happy for the peace, and thus began to give in to its need for respite. I began to feel a little nauseated with the exhaustion and fought to keep my head up. We couldn’t waste any more time after stopping off at Peza. Every time my eyes slid shut for brief moments, Haydyn’s smiling, beautiful, serene face danced across the blackness of my lids, and sparks of aching pain shot out of my heart and across my chest. I snapped my eyes open and gripped the reins harder, determined to go as fast as Wolfe was leading.

My body was in total disagreement. Perhaps three, maybe four hours into our journey all I was aware of was the heat of the sun burning through my dress, the distant sounds of the clip clopping of horses hooves, murmured chatter that resembled insects buzzing around my head. The sounds didn’t make sense.

And then I was lying outside in the grass by the cliffs in Sabithia. It was a hot summer day and my mind lazily began to drift into slumber.

“Miss Rogan,” I heard a voice call in the distance. My eyes popped open at the happy sound and I stood up leisurely. I gazed behind me to see Haydyn approach, and was shocked to see her all alone. She was barefoot like me, her toes dipping deliciously into the cool grass at our feet.

“Your Highness.” I teased back. “I missed you,” I said as she took my hand.

“I missed you too.”

We grinned at one another and then turned to stare out at the calm sea from the cliff edge.

“That water looks wonderful,” I whispered.

Haydyn squeezed my hand excitedly. “You know today it looks calm enough to swim in.”

I shook my head. “We’re too high up.”

She chuckled. “Be adventurous, Rogan.”

Frowning I took a step closer to the edge, the drop at least fifty feet, probably more. “It’ll kill us.”

“Not today.” Haydyn shook her head. “Trust me.”

Heart pounding at the thought, I gripped her hand tighter. “Together? On three?”

She laughed, exhilarated. “One. Two. Three!”

“Miss Rogan!”

And then I was falling.

Blissfully falling.

***

I didn’t want to peel my eyelids open. Everything ached; that sore, yucky - even my muscles were tired - kind of achy exhaustion. I felt strange and disorientated. Where was I? I slowly opened my eyes and found myself staring up at an unfamiliar ceiling. It was dark, night time. Only a few candles around the room lit it enough for my heart to start pounding at its strangeness. Where the hell was I?

“Ah, Miss Rogan, you’re awake.”

Calming instantly at Lieutenant Chaeron’s voice, I turned my head on the soft pillow and found him sitting in a chair by my bedside. His brow creased with worry as he leaned over me, offering me a glass of water. He helped me sip it and then settled back in the chair.

“What happened?” I asked hoarsely. “Where are we?”

He made a clucking sound with his tongue, a little disapproval marring his usually friendly expression. “You should have told us how exhausted you were. You could have been killed.”

Alright, now I was very confused. All I could remember was talking to Wolfe earlier outside Grof Krill’s mansion. “What happened?”

“You fell asleep on your horse.” He sighed like a wearied parent. “If I had jumped off my horse one second later you would have landed on the ground, possibly have been trampled.”

I swore softly at the thought, chastising myself for my stupid pride and hell bent determination to get to Alvernia in record time. “You caught me?”

He nodded and patted the hand I reached out to him. “We’ve stopped at a nearby farm. We’ve all been resting. We’re going to stay here through the night. Captain is not at all pleased with me or you.”

I groaned. “I’ve slowed us down.”

Chaeron patted my hand again. “That’s not why he’s angry. He wishes you had told him you’d had no sleep. He takes your safety very seriously. We all do.”

I nodded vaguely, annoyed somewhere inside, but too tired to find it. Feeling my lids start to flutter again, I mumbled, “He needs to find himself a hobby.”

Prev Next