Chapter Five: Hunt

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Chapter Five:

Hunt

We rode at a breakneck speed across the Permafrost with a silver, glowing line across the ground as our trail. Beyond it, more lines connected and splayed across the tundra, but the silver line was the one that mattered. The Stag.

Each being had their own power and the Stag was no different. Now that I'd absorbed the power of the young lordling the traces of power all around me were clearer than ever. It floated in the air like mist and gathered around every creature great and small like clouds in every color imaginable. It made the chilly silence of the Permafrost explode into life in ways that never was possible before.

Racing through the cold, crisp air under the pale yellow sun was invigorating after being inside the palace so long. Though the trees surrounding me were skeleton and frost covered the dead grass and crumpled leaves there was life everywhere and the horses' pounding hooves could've been the beating of an ancient heart.

Joy flew through me through my connection with Panic; the young stallion was relishing his race through the forest. To run, to be wild, to be free, was all he wanted.

But we weren't free yet. Not really.

The horse heard my doubt but shook off the thought. Thundering across the tundra, for him, was enough. Of course, having an animal as an escape accomplice wasn't the most ideal situation. I pushed down the doubt. I didn't need any more to fill my heart, I'd already gorged on it. If I thought about it too hard, I would think of the courtroom and the young lordling and the power buzzing at my fingertips. I couldn't have that. Escaping these creatures meant I couldn't let my guard down, couldn't doubt anything for a moment.

When we stopped for the day we were still deep in the Permafrost; the icy air turning the water in our breath to frost before our eyes. The coldness filled me up as I breathed in and it burned deep in my chest like a flickering fire.

I climbed down from Panic. He looked around, pawing at the icy ground for something to graze and settled for the patches of dry, rough weeds that dotted the earth. I dropped the rope, somehow knowing that he wouldn't leave me if I did. I noticed from the corner of my eye that Soren had done the same with Terror, as did Rekke and Helka with their horses. I cast a suspicious glance at Elvira's menacing snow cat, thankful to see that at least it was tied against a tree. It was a predator after all. It may not eat Elvira or us through their bond but there was nothing that would keep it from eating the horses.

A glove hand came uninvited on my shoulder and I turned to knock it off, all of the ease I gained during the ride draining out of me. "Did you have a nice ride?" Soren asked.

"I don't think you care to hear my genuine answer."

He raised an eyebrow. "So you didn't like it?"

I chewed my lip. "I was liking it a lot more when you weren't talking to me."

A growl rumbled in Soren's throat as he frowned but before he could say something, Elvira spoke up. "This sound like a good place to camp for the night?"
Soren waved his hand indifferently. "It'll do." He realigned his body to address her, but his eyes were still burning into my forehead. I made it a point to turn my back to him. "We should also take turns keeping watch."

"You don't trust us?" Helka purred.

"No," Soren said flatly.

Rather than be offended, Elvira laughed. The hair rose on the back of my neck; her laugh sounded like perfect, tinkling bells but there was an air of falseness to it even a child could pick up. She flicked her finger at me. "You, slave girl, go hunt. You go with her, Rekke."

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