Chapter 11 - Be Creative

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The knife was small, small enough to fit in my boot, but sharp. Maybe I was paranoid. The thought of harming another person curdled my stomach, but I couldn't deny the fear I felt since I witnessed Eluena's kidnapping. Being smart didn't mean I had to hurt another person, but I would have the ability to defend myself.

The knife fit in my boot. It was perfect for hiding and accessibility. Time for my backpack. I attacked the reflective strip, ripping at the threads until the whole thing came off, leaving a bright red strip, free of dirt, down the center of the bag. It reminded me of a bad sunburn but in reverse.

Done with my job, I tossed the strip into the fire. My mistake was clear, but it was too late as my room filled with an acrid stench that scratched at the back of my throat. The strip in the fireplace warped and bubbled, shrinking in on itself. I jumped up and grabbed the sash of the window near my bed for. It opened with little force or noise, letting in a gust of fresh air.

I gulped in the cooling air, thankful the night held a breeze that blew toward my window. The stench wouldn't last much longer. Satisfied that my efforts would pay off for the night, I readied myself for sleep and changed into my night clothes.

 Satisfied that my efforts would pay off for the night, I readied myself for sleep and changed into my night clothes

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Hours later, a noise outside the window woke me. Groaning, I threw my legs over the edge of the bed. If a storm was on its way, then I needed to shut the window. This could hamper my plans. Clouds lit up erratically but no bolts of light. Dry lightning. That always preceded a storm. Voices, indistinct, drew my attention from the sky.

Elder Howard stood outside on the road, speaking to the weasel-faced man. I dropped to the floor, so my head was beneath the windowsill, fearing to be seen. The cool breeze blew the hair at the top of my head, and I shivered, no longer in the cocoon of the bed.

The storm neared, and the moisture in the air was unmistakable but no rumblings, yet. Would I be able to leave in the morning? Leaving before the storm would mean the storm could wipe away any evidence someone could track, but I'd have to find somewhere to hide while the storm passed. That could be twenty minutes or several hours.

Dammit.

I nibbled at my nails, thinking as the breeze carried the Elder's voice to my room.

"I'm not interested in your excuses anymore, Gene." His fury was clear. I didn't need to see it to know.

"There's only ever supposed to be one at a time. It's part of why the rules are the way they are. She obviously ignored the rules." A new voice. It must belong to weasel-face, and it sounded as weasely as expected, all nasal and scratching.

"She's a problem, all right. But she's done nothing outright that we can arrest her for. The women said she was meek and her room turned up nothing, right?"

My ears perked. That explained my bag, but the thought of weasel-man, Gene, in my room gave me the creeps.

"Yes, sir. Nothing but that bow. Can't we arrest her for that? Isn't there a rule about Offerings and weapons?"

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