Chapter 11 - Be Creative

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Emily walked me to my room after the dinner. She was all grandmotherly smiles and niceness again as she unlocked my door.

"The ladies and I washed your clothes. They're drying by the fire inside." She swung the door open, so I could walk in. "Sleep well." The door closed with a soft snitch.

Alone. I breathed in once with a hand on my belly. A calm settled over me, but it was anything but peaceful. No, this time, alone with my thoughts, was only a lull. Emily's footsteps faded down the hallway, and I flipped the lock on the door.

The room was the same as before, but the tub was now gone. A small table in the tub's place held bowls of dried fruit and nuts, a plate with a loaf of freshly baked bread, and a small wheel of cheese with the wax still on. Townspeople always lavished luxuries like these on Offerings. I grabbed a raisin and popped it into my mouth. My cheeks puckered at the sourness. I wouldn't eat more tonight, but it would do for my morning getaway. For now, I'd leave them there. The last thing I needed was to be disturbed by someone and have them wonder at why all the food was gone, raising questions. I'd just eaten a feast afterall.

Someone had draped my now clean clothes over the hearth. Like the oils they had used on my skin, the clothes held a faint smell of lavender and vanilla. I fingered the fabric of my pants. Still damp. I took a moment to flip them all; they'd be dry before dawn.

My gear still sat where Emily had left it though my bag didn't look right. I always packed to have the bulk of my things nice and tight, making sure all space was used. Now the bottom and sides looked loose and baggy. I cocked my head to the side before I snatched it off the floor and plunked it in the chair by the fireplace. As I yanked at the strings, a foreboding settled in my chest. My fingers trembled, and I fumbled with the lacings before I could flip the top back. Clothes laid on the top, not where I had put them. Someone had gone through my things.

My thoughts raced back to the rush I had been in when Tobin and I fled the road earlier that day. A momentary panic seized my heart when I thought of my mother's letter. A quick look into my satchel assured me it was still there. That letter in the wrong hands could spell something awful for my mother.

My legs crumpled beneath me, my behind hitting the age-smoothed wood. I stared into the hypnotic flames, my thoughts a jumbled mess. Who went through my things and why? What would they be looking for? Nothing about this town seemed right. Part of me wanted to pack right then and leave, but the risk of being caught was too high. The morning was optimal, at least that is what I had convinced myself of earlier. If anyone suspected I would leave, they would likely think I would try soon.

No, I would leave when planned. So, I spent the next half hour repacking my bag, cataloging everything. Everything was accounted for. Whoever went through my things had done nothing to hide they had been there, or they had thought I wouldn't notice.

A fear grabbed me while I packed. My bow! I grabbed it off the floor, and ran my hands over the smooth limbs and leather grip and gave it a good bend. Nothing. A visual check of the string proved no one had sabotaged it. Relief flooded me. Whoever had been in here had wanted to find something rather than break things.

I piled my things in the corner near the table with food. I left my cloak out. Nights were cooler, and I could use it to help cover my red backpack. Though it was filthy now, the red was still bright, a potential problem if I traveling during the day. I considered it, but there was nothing I could do about the color. The silvery and shimmery strip on the back, however, was an issue. I knew from the times with my Dad that it reflected light. It needed to go.

If only I had something to tear it off. My knife could do it, but that could also destroy. Maybe there was something better in the room. A small writing desk held my answer. A small knife, likely to open letters lay next to a sewing kit. I grabbed both.

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