Chapter Fourteen (part III)

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I don't know if I slept at all that night. I stewed, I boiled, I burned... And when the sun rose, I was glad for it, simply because I could put that awful day behind me.

I was among the first to rise. I slid out of the net and crept away a bit -- though just a bit. Two of the Ravens watched me keenly, reaching for their bows and making their unnerving clicks before I could get any real privacy. I glared at them, and then I turned my back on them, hoisted my skirts, and emptied my bladder. One of them was still squinting at me when my business was finished.

Edgar was stirring by then. He rubbed his face and dragged his hands through his hair, and then he just sat there, blinking round at the world, as if trying to understand it. At length, his eyes drifted up to me. He said, "Good morning," huffing a quiet laugh -- I reckoned it didn't seem like a very good morning to him.

He hauled himself to his feet, grunting and grimacing, his every movement stiff and slow. "Have you eaten yet?" he asked, reaching for his waterskin. "Rothgar caught a hare last night. There's some meat left for you."

I could not bring myself to answer him. I had no words, only anger -- seething, roiling, blistering...

Edgar frowned, his eyes confused and wounded. "Are you not speaking to me...?"

I lifted my chin and looked away.

He hung there a moment, then he huffed and muttered, "Very well, then," and stalked off.

Before long, his things were packed and he said his farewells to the Ravens. He slung his pack over his shoulder, and beckoned to me stiffly. "Come. It's this way."

I did not follow him. I simply couldn't. My feet would not move.

Edgar stopped again with a huff, sharp and exasperated. "Would you rather stay here with him...?"

I followed his eyes to Rothgar, who leered at me, baring his teeth and sticking out his tongue in a most fearsome way. I stomped after Edgar, glaring at him all the while.

The first miles passed in a simmering silence, forbidding and untouchable, but as the march wore on, my anger cooled, and eventually I grew numb. The woods of the Ravenswald were much the same as the woods of the Old Wolfmarch -- trackless, damp, quiet, and dull, and dull, and dull... The sameness of it all, step after step, lulled even my angriest thoughts to sleep.

Edgar plainly knew these woods well. He picked his way through as easily as if we walked the streets of Riverton, leading us nearer and nearer to the trickle of a creek. At length, a path appeared -- little used, but a path, all the same.

We stopped there, just long enough for Edgar to fill his waterskin. He offered it to me, his eyebrows wrinkling, high and hopeful, like a timid dog, but I could not take it. My mouth was dry, but I simply could not bring myself to care.

Edgar studied me a moment, then he sighed, and we walked on -- slowly, at first. Edgar drank often and eagerly. At length, he capped the waterskin and wiped his mouth.

"Nothing to eat, nothing to drink..." he said. "You are hardier than I am. Or stubborner."

I scoffed.

"So you will listen, at least."

Edgar glanced over his shoulder, one eyebrow raised. I set my jaw and glared down at the creek.

"I suppose it's just as well. There is still much I haven't told you." He pointed to the ground. "Look out for this hole here."

I stepped round the hole, though I was tempted to step in it, just to spite him.

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