Chapter 3

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I am sound asleep and dreaming of tearing across the desert when I am jerked to alertness by a heavy rucksack being tossed onto my legs. An instant later I am crouched in an attack position, my back to the window and my dagger clutched in my hand.

Frye stares at me, eyes stretched wide. "Cripes, Kay. You sleep with that thing?"

"Sorry." I relax, folding my wrist and tucking the dagger away. "I have a thing about being woken unexpectedly."

"Noted. I'll make sure I'm more subtle in the future." My brother's easy smile creases his face. His time below Babel has aged him, creating permanent shadows beneath his eyes and making him appear older than his mid-twenties.

"Well, I'm up now." I rub the last of the sleep from my eyes and look towards the sack that so rudely awoke me. "What is that?"

"A bag."

"Thanks, genius. Why is there a bag on my bed?"

"I suppose because I just finished packing and I wanted to show off." Frye sinks down onto the bed beside me, pulling the rucksack onto his lap and shaking it pointedly.

I frown. "Packing? Where are you going?"

"Wherever you are." Frye waggles his eyebrows. "I'm itching for a bit of adventure."

The last of my tiredness evaporates immediately. "No."

"No, what?"

"No, you aren't coming to the Wastelands with me."

"Oh, I'm sorry. At some point in the last five years did you become a supreme goddess in charge of who goes where and when?" He asks.

"I'm serious, Frye. It's too dangerous." I grind my teeth in an effort to remain calm.

"Oy, you think I can't handle danger? Darling, I live for danger." Frye gestures dramatically.

I fail to find any humour in his teasing. "You're not coming."

"Oh, relax." He sighs, pushing his unkempt hair from his forehead and leaning back on his elbows. "I'm not going to cramp your style. I'm just going to tag along for a couple days, do a spot of camping and head on home. Does that suit you?"

My shoulders sag with relief. "Just a couple nights?"

"I'm afraid my fighting days are behind me." He kicks me playfully, coaxing a small smile from my lips. "There's only enough room in this family for one warrior."

"Come off it." I roll my eyes. "I'm no warrior."

"That's not what I've heard."

"Forget what you've heard." I slide out of bed, avoiding my brother's gaze and braiding my hair loosely. "This city's full of ridiculous rumours."

"And you're the star of most of them." Frye remarks. "The one thing I didn't expect about coming back home was finding my kid sister running the place."

"Meg's the one in charge of the City." I take my time in searching for a clean tunic, motioning for him to turn around while I change.

"Right there's a prime example." Frye's voice is slightly muffled as he faces the wall. "You call the Queen by her first name. She's your best mate, isn't she?"

"You know she is." I pull a sleeveless tunic over my head.

"That's truly something. How'd you meet her?"

"Long story." I say vaguely. "You want to find some breakfast?"

Frye spins back around. "Why do you always do that?"

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