25: Archery

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I still found it difficult to get up early in the morning despite my familiarity with the routine. I was in a particularly good mood that morning, because the night before I'd found potted plants and flowers added to the decor of my bedroom. I knew Keiran must have asked someone to add the plants and flowers to my room. The gesture let me know that he thought of me while he was away.

When I got to the dining hall, I found Martin having breakfast alone.

"I guess you're well enough to start joining me for breakfast, hmm?" I asked.

"I always thought I was fine, but now Stanjah thinks so, too," Martin said, scooping another spoonful of whatever was in his bowl into his already full mouth.

"Keiran's supposed to be back today. Have you seen him around?" I sat down next to Martin and the maids came with my tray immediately. As usual, they left promptly.

"Haven't seen your boyfriend," Martin teased. I'd told Martin all about the conversation Keiran and I had in the garden and I emphasized that we weren't an item, but Martin still liked to pull my leg. "You've gotta wake up earlier if you wanna catch him during breakfast."

"I woke up an hour earlier than usual so that I could see him. I'm sure I'll catch him later." I flipped my veil behind my head and stuck my spoon in the porridge eagerly. "Are you allowed to do stuff now other than sleep?"

Martin peered up at me. "I wanted to learn how to use an axe from Jarek, but Stanjah says that I shouldn't be doing things that are physically demanding just yet, so I'll be in the study room with my tablet instead of sleeping the day away. What's your schedule like?"

"I've got archery practice with Ilta. She's finally back from Incus." I gouged a spoonful of the brown, mushy contents in my bowl and shoved it in my mouth. I was surprised by how delicious it was.

"Good stuff, hey? Katie would love it," Martin said.

"She would. We'll make sure she tries some of this."

"Yeah." He cleared his throat and wiped the corner of his mouth with his thumb. "So what time are you gonna meet up with Ilta?"

"At nine."

"Nine? You've got five minutes left then, babe." He pointed to the wooden clock that hung on the wall.

"Wonderful." I shoveled a few more large mouthfuls before I flipped down my veil and got out of my chair. "See you at lunch, okay? I'll see what information I can squeeze out of Ilta about Katie."

When I got to the practice range, I found Ilta and Keiran engaged deep in conversation. Keiran was completely focused on what Ilta was saying, nodding slowly. I stepped back so that they wouldn't see me, but I was too late.

"I didn't mean to interrupt," I said.

"It's quite alright, Liene. We were just talking about the leads Ilta found on Katie's location," Keiran said. "Stanjah has gone to find Martin so that we can discuss this. We're meeting in the study room."

***

Stanjah, Tor-Kenner and Martin were already in the study room waiting for us when we arrived. Tor-Kenner was pouring himself a cup of tea and Stanjah sat primly with her hands folded on her lap. Martin was the odd one out, pacing back and forth.

Martin clapped his hands together impatiently to gather our attention. "Okay, we're all here now. Let's get to it."

"Certainly." Ilta cleared her throat before she continued. "As you all know, I was in Incus, and utilizing a device to determine where the Ora sent the Ras and the girl."

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