Chapter 55

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AN - This was one of the easiest chapters I have written in a long time, I hope it is good for you all! Az x

Chapter 55

By mutual silent agreement, it was decided they would travel for as long as possible, to put as much distance between them and any pursuers they may have, before they would settle somewhere for the night. And for the tale they all needed to hear, before Artair possible tried to gain the information from Alfred that he needed. But the man was being as stubborn as a mule, refusing to say anything to anyone, even going as far as to turn his nose up at the dried goods they offered him from their rations. Artair had no particular care if the male wished to starve himself, but each time he declined food Rohesia would get a little more distressed at the predicament.

It was well past night fall when they finally managed to find somewhere suitable to stop. A small cave, set back only a little that would provide both shelter from the woods and create a good spot for a fire away from prying eyes. Rohesia was ready to drop as soon as her feet touched solid ground once more, but Artair managed to keep jostling her just enough to keep her moving. Handing his reins to Father Thomas, he retrieved his spare plaid and lay it out for her, giving enough distance from the fire to be safe, but close enough to feel its effects.

Without a murmur she lay upon the thick plaid, and reached for his hand, squeezing it tightly. He leant closer, knowing she wished to say something, in the dim light she would not be able to see his reply, and so he would have to do his best to answer her. "You will tell me all that is discussed, will you not?" Her whisper was so soft he almost missed it, but it also held such an aching need that he lifted her hand to his face. Spreading her fingers and palm over his cheek and nodded once very deliberately. Her "Thank you" was lost on her exhale as she drifted to sleep between one heart beat and the next. She had been too long without sleep that her body was literally forcing her to do so. He was glad on one part, because at least this way he could censure what she needed to know, leaving out anything that was irrelevant that may hurt her if she heard it.

With a heavy sigh he sat back on his heels, watching the shadowy figure of his wife, the gentle rise and fall of her chest with the almost silent puffs of air as she exhaled. How had he managed to find her, when everything around him fell apart? Echoing steps approaching had him stiffening in preparation for an attack, but when a well-worn blanket was passed over his shoulder, he looked back to a rather sheepish Percival. "I know you probably have this covered already, but I just thought I could help."

Taking the olive branch that was offered with his thanks, Percival departed to the budding fire as Artair covered Rohesia with the soft material. Ensuring her comfort, or at least as much as he could giving the circumstances. When finished, he dusted himself off and made his way to the fire, knowing this was going to be a long night, so they might as well get started.

Father Thomas handed out the fresh water skins they had managed to fill in a stream just before sundown. Some dried meat, too tough to eat properly, but good enough to chew on was passed around, only turned down by a sullen Alfred who sat on the far side of the fire. A watch would be in place to make sure he did not escape during the night, but really it was to make sure he did not escape with one of the horses, he did not care if the man decided to run off into the barren landscape with only his two legs to carry him. It was his own funeral he was creating and he for one would not be attending it.

With them all settled in place, Artair chewed thoughtfully on the toughed, salty meat, his elbow propped on his raised knee, as his kilt rode down his leg to bunch together at his groin. Not that he noticed this particularly, focused as he was on Percival. "Rohesia spoke of your death as if she was there to witness it. How then are you here before us now?"

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