We resupplied the next morning, had breakfast and took off. I was back on my own horse, but it felt wrong, not having his warmth at my back. Despite that we were in a group, I felt strangely alone. Forcing my thoughts away from such treacherous feelings, I looked at the forest around me. Since we were so close to the North Nation, the forests were thickening and I saw more and more maple and evergreen trees. The North Nation is famous for its maple trees.

There was a light summer breeze which helped move the hot air around a little, I was just glad that we were in the shade of the trees and not in open fields or I would have baked in my black dress. I was sweating through my wig too, which honestly was not a pleasant feeling. I couldn't wait for us to make camp so I could jump into a river.

We stopped around noon as usual for lunch and to let the horses rest. I just couldn't take the disgusting feeling of the wig anymore.

"I'm going for a dip," I told Draven, standing up with a fresh dress from my bag.

"Be careful," he said.

I nodded and went off to find the nearest river. There were a ton of rivers and streams in the forest nations, all of them cool and freshwater, which was hugely convenient. I heard one after a few minutes of walking and ran to find it.

The river was a little bigger than I expected, well that wasn't entirely true, it was the lake that was the unexpected part. There was a huge lake in the middle of a clearing of trees. It was breathtaking. The sun, sky and trees reflected off the cool clear water and the surface was calm. It was just so peaceful, there

wasn't a sound to disturb it.

With a grin I slipped out of my dress and jumped in, still wearing the under dress and wig. I was too impatient to take off the white sleeveless cotton underdress and I needed to wash out the wig anyways. I loved how wonderful it felt, swimming through the crisp crystalline water. There was a bed of rocks on the bottom and no fish I could see. It was like a haven in the summer.

I swam underwater until my lungs were bursting for air, then resurfaced, fixed my wig and dove again. Once I was sure that the wig was clean, I took if off and let it dry in a sunny patch, untied my hair and dove again. If someone caught me like this, I was screwed, but in that moment, I didn't care. It felt so liberating, swimming in the lake like this.

I surfaced again and looked at the sky. It was so bright... and seemed so close, like if I reached up I'd brush a cloud.

"I didn't think you were this reckless," Draven's voice came from the shore.

I dove on instinct, then resurfaced quickly so I wouldn't piss him off too badly.

"Es what were you thinking?!" he held up the soaking purple wig. "If someone sees you like this-"

"No one lives around here!" I cried in exasperation. "I just wanted a break."

"Fine," he spun around. "I'll be right back."

I watched him go in confusion, then shrugged and dove again. The lake wasn't that deep, probably just over double my height, but it stretched out for a good half mile in every direction from the center. I swam down to the bottom again, looking at the stones. There were a few strange white smooth ones that caught my interest, they were beautiful.

I surfaced to take a breath then dove again to those stones. I really wanted to take one... a hand came out of nowhere, lifting one of the stones. In shock my head snapped up. Tyce waved at me. He was... underwater... in only his shorts. If it was possible to blush under cool water, I managed it.

I stared at him for a moment longer before kicking up to the surface. What the hell?! Looking at the shore I saw our horses tied to a low lying branch, grazing on the grass near the lake and a pile of clothes. Oh dear... that meant everyone was in the lake. Sure enough I saw Ryder racing Nix along the North shore. They were pretty evenly matched, and only wearing their shorts too. That was more than I ever expected to see from a client.

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