*Chapter Five*

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A/N: You guys should listen to RainyMood while you read this. ATMOSPHERE.

It didn't take long for us to pass the city limits and become entrenched in countryside. While I was a natural leader and had Elsewhere's genetic predilection for such, Loki was a natural survivor and led us instinctively towards the more wooded areas, allowing us to travel under a canopy of camouflage. Despite the gravity of the situation, Adrian and Ana continued to snipe and bitch at each other as they brought up the rear, while I rode alongside Loki and tried to stay angry. Devil take the boy, he was good-looking.

                'So where are you going to sleep tonight?' I eventually demanded, sounding unaccountably pissed off as I'd been trying to think of something to say for hours.

                'I won't,' Loki replied quietly, paying no heed to my tone. He continued looking ahead, treating me like any other servant would. I found it irritated me more than when he'd been intentionally trying to raise my hackles back at the school. 'Somebody has to keep guard.'

                'You're not going to sleep until we get back to Elsewhere?' I demanded sceptically.

                'Kinsley's men are trained to survive sleep deprivation. I can last a few days until we reach the Threshold.'

                'Kinsley's men,' I muttered, hoping that would be enough for an explanation, some worthy excuse for why he had, in the space of a year, forgotten about his loyalty to me, his best friend, and turned his coat to Kinsley. Loki remained silent and I ruminated over how to ask without seeming desperate for my friend back. 'Don't you have anything to say for yourself?' I eventually blurted. 'What you did – treason – it's punishable by death. When I get the throne back for the Lydeard dynasty I could have your head, no matter how much you help me now.'

                Loki's gaze lowered for a moment before he looked back up and continued onwards, all but ignoring me.

                I pulled on my horse's reigns and we came to a stop, Dom stopping behind me and Adrian and Ana behind him.

                I glanced over my shoulder. 'Do me a favour,' I muttered, careful not to treat them like the royal subjects they weren't. If I started ordering my friends around I'd soon find myself alone. 'Go find a river and let the horses drink.'

                They glanced at me suspiciously for a few moments before Adrian tugged on his reigns and turned his horse. 'You need a wash anyway, Ana, you stink more than Earl Grey here.' They soon disappeared through the trees and I turned to see Loki staring at me dispassionately.

                'And what if they get lost, or into trouble, or Kinsley finds them?' he asked, patting his horse distractedly. 'What are you going to do then?'

                I stared at him. 'Who are you?' I demanded in disbelief. 'Do you even care? Why am I the only one trying to fix this?'

                'By threatening to kill me?' Loki asked, raising an eyebrow.

                I sighed and rolled my eyes, though I was embarrassed, and tried to cover it up by shoving everything he'd done back in his face. 'You helped a usurper kill my parents and imprison my siblings for no reason you're willing to tell me,' I snapped.

                Loki's eyes flashed and I knew I had him then. 'I had nothing to do with killing your parents; Kinsley assured me they wouldn't be harmed, nor any of your brothers and sisters. I agreed to something completely different to what's happening now, Nota, or I wouldn't be helping you. When Kinsley recruited me he had a simple goal: merging the monarchy with a government for a fairer treatment of the people. All this killing and violence was never something I planned on being involved with.'

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