Slumber Page 30

“We need to be extra careful here,” Wolfe said quietly behind me, his voice pinched tight with tension. He dropped the reins, and I turned awkwardly to see what he was doing. He was shrugging out of his emerald military jacket. He threw it on the ground behind us.

“Won’t you be cold?” I asked, shivering a little myself.

He shrugged. “Doesn’t matter. From now on I don’t want anyone to know who we are until we’re returned to the Guard.”

Seeing wisdom in that, I nodded and let him move the stallion forward. I still hadn’t asked about the magic. For the first time I felt real and true anger toward Wolfe, not angry at him because of whom his father was, but hurt and angry at his own deception. No one knew that like Syracen, Wolfe was one of the Glava. An immensely powerful one if I was to go by the destruction he had caused to get us out of the gypsies’ grasp. I stiffened as I realised why I was angry.

“You alright?” Wolfe asked softly behind me and I nodded, trying to ignore the heat of him at my back and the way my body wanted to relax into his.

I was angry because somewhere along the way I had stupidly begun to trust this man. Stupid, stupid, stupid! How could I? Were the nightmares, the memories, that huge gaping hole in my heart, not enough to remind me not to trust a Stovia?!

I stewed in silence, feeding off Wolfe’s tension as well. He was probably waiting on tenterhooks for me to ask why he had hidden the fact he was a mage. Dear haven, what awful vengeance he must have been planning! And yet, that was so in contradiction to the man I had come to know.

Stop it! I yelled at myself. I didn’t know him, I didn’t know him at all, and it was that silly kind of… girlish thinking that was going to get me killed.

***

One minute we had been in the country and the next we were inside the walls of the town, of the rookery. The change in atmosphere was intense, slithering over me and clinging to my skin in sickly chills. There was a malevolence here, echoing in the way people hurried past us, not even glancing at us, their heads down as they determinedly rushed to get home or inside out of the dark, dank streets. The streets weren’t kept clean. Urine and waste mixed with the smoke and smells from the glassworks. Houses and shops were shabbily constructed, soulless and frightened looking buildings jammed together in crooked rows. There was little light here, street lamps sparsely spaced between streets.

I could feel Wolfe’s shock at the state of the place, his shock as great as my own. This was unbelievable.

“How could Markiz Solom Rada let this happen?” I whispered solemnly and turned to see Wolfe warily eyeing a boy who was staring at us too avidly.

“I don’t know,” he bit back, “We should have been told. We would have stopped this.”

“What will we do?”

“I have a few coins I kept hidden, the Iavii didn’t get them. We’ll find somewhere with lodging so we can eat, rest and send a message to the Guard in Ryl.”

“Will they still be there?”

“Yes. They’ll send some men out to search but they won’t move perchance we return to them. I’ll tell Lieutenant Chaeron to bring the men and meet us in Caera at Vojvodkyna Winter Rada’s home, as planned.”

I gave a brittle nod, thinking his plan sound, and wondering whether he’d go through with it or decide to take his vengeance whilst the Guard was gone. He could kill me, and thus Haydyn would die, and then he could blame it on the Iavii. I winced at the thought. Even to me it sounded a little melodramatic. I sighed, deciding to trust him. For now. “We need to get a move on. We’ve already lost too much time.”

“I know.”

Wolfe eventually had to stop and ask someone where the nearest inn was. We were pointed in the direction of a drinking tavern we were told had rooms above to rent. There were stables behind the tavern and we secured the horse, handing over coin to the stable boy who kept guard over the clientele’s horses.

Shivering now, the night growing later and later, we headed into the tavern. Eyes immediately swung to us, conversation growing hushed. I was surprised when Wolfe’s hand slid into mine, jolting at the fissures of pleasure that shot up my arm at the feel of his rough, warm fingers entwining with mine.

He gave a slight shake of his head, his blue eyes startling in the light of the barroom and warning me not to make a scene; to just go along with him. I responded with a subtle nod and he relaxed a little, leading me past the chairs and tables, ignoring the other patrons completely. Noise level rose again as we approached the bar, and the huge burly barkeeper came over to us, a wide grin appearing in amongst his massive ginger beard.

“Well good evening. What can I get you?” He was all friendly smiles. I relaxed a little at this warm welcome, such a jarring contrast to the streets outside.

Wolfe nodded congenially back at him. “Good evening. We would like a room if you have one available.”

The barkeeper’s eyes lit up, I gathered at the thought of earning the extra money from renting a room. He looked me over before turning back to Wolfe with a wink. “Aye, I’d be wanting a room too, if I were you.”

I flushed red, despite being used to overhearing such talk amongst the Guard and servants back at the palace.

Wolfe squeezed my hand and shrugged at the barkeep. “My wife and I are tired, we’ve been travelling a while,” he lied and I knew it was for my sake and my sense of propriety, a sense of propriety that seemed a little misplaced considering everything we’d gone through. “I’d like a room and some food sent up. Also, we had a little mishap on the road. You wouldn’t have some clean clothes we could buy from you?”

The barkeep’s grin grew wider. “Not a problem, lad.” He reached under the bar and brought up a key. “Room 2 is available.” He pointed to stairs hidden in the shadows of the back of the room. “Just up there. I’ll have my wife bring you a dinner plate and some clothes.”

“And some hot water,” I interjected, desperate for some kind of bathing.

“Of course. That’ll be three and twenty.”

I tried not to gape at the outrageous costs, knowing we were deliberately being ripped off because of how desperate we looked. I looked at Wolfe but the only sign he gave of being annoyed was the slight tension in his jaw.

“Two and twenty,” he haggled and I raised my eyebrows as the barkeep laughed.

“I don’t think so, lad. Three silver pieces.”

Prev Next