Chapter 30 - On the road

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The chapter after this will be set at Cornelis's home village. The name is reveiled in this chapter, but still open for change. I am happy to post this tonight, because I definitely need to reflect a bit on the scenery of  the village for the next chapter. Might take me a bit longer to update, because I want it to have character.

@LuluTyler mentioned she wanted a dive into Cornelis's head, and I am happy to provide....


Cornelis

"Uhm, what's up with her?" Ryann asked after about half a day's ride, voicing Cornelis's thoughts so that he could no longer ignore them.

Half a day, and Phyllis hadn't spoken more than a monosyllable to any of them. Her black hair up in a tight high ponytail that matched her horse's, she had dismissed every suggestion for pausing their journey. Apart from a 'yes' to a chunk of bread and a swig of water around noon, eaten on the go, she was all tight-lipped 'no's'.

He shrugged, dismissing the question for the time being, mostly because he didn't have a clue.

They had picked up the deserter at the waterfall near the edge of the forest, but after only a handful of quiet words, Phyllis had started ignoring Anagallus as well, to the point where the nervous soldier seemed more comfortable riding alongside Cornelis than her.

Not that he looked much like a soldier in his travelling gear. In fact, Cornelis felt sure most people in their village wouldn't have much trouble with Anagallus, since he resembled a kicked puppy more than a threat. He was distracting though. His hair was a shade lighter and less curly, but apart from that he could practically serve as a stand-in for his Optio.

Only he was less. Less present, less vibrant, less challenging. Less smiles, less brisk, less annoying.

No wonder the spider ignored him.

He let her do her little sulk act for a few more hours, but when she tried to ignore the horses grew tired when the light began to fade he grabbed her reins. Goliath neighed, and Phyllis hissed. Cornelis ignored both sounds.

"We are setting up camp."

Their eyes locked, and his jaw clenched as he felt the surge of fury wash over him. She failed to steer him anywhere though, which made it easy to lead Goliath towards the nearby stream where the others were already watering their horses. Cornelis had no trouble to admit Goliath was in a form that beat even Storm's, even when taken into account that the red mare had to carry a considerably lighter load. Somehow Phyllis managed to juggle studying, frequenting soldiers and keeping her horse in this top-notch condition. Busy bee.

Who needed to buzz off. Even if they could cut a day off their travel time, the added risk of them facing bandits in anything less than good form simply wasn't worth the gain. He was almost relieved when she jumped down and relieved Goliath of her halter.

Brenna and Fionnan were setting up a makeshift tent between the trees, which was probably not necessary since the evening gleamed in rose-rimmed clouds, but they liked it cosy, those two.

Anagallus occupied himself by making a fire, which would keep any wolves at bay, and Ryann had fled the scene, no doubt looking for something to roast on it.

Nothing left for him to do but attend to the sulky teenager in their midst. Phyllis had plopped down alongside her grazing mare, legs folded, staring into the rippling water of the modest creek. They were a little too close to camp for comfort. His gut told him that if he got her to talk, he probably would prefer her not to be overheard. So, after a haughty 'fuck off' that made him raise an eyebrow, he guided her a little deeper into the darkening woods before he asked her what in Taranis's name was wrong with her.

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