Updated: May 24, 2020
Flegel didn’t let up. Even as her consciousness blurred and she struggled to keep one hand on her wound and the other on the reigns, the brat kept up pace without her direction. She lost sense of time. The fog returned, heavier than ever, dousing the daylight. She could not tell if they were on the right road or if they were even going in the right direction. Clarity came in fits. For brief moments, she was able to sit upright, could smell the damp, chalky air, and feel the warm wet of her blood. And then she would begin to think about Atal and what he had told her, about his father, about his homeland. She would curse herself. Hate her weakness. Metallic grief would fill up her mouth and more than once, she came close to tears. But she couldn’t place the grief exactly, it seemed to come from many directions, icy streams and muddy creeks that joined together to form a river too swift and full of rapids for her to swim through. When the blood loss caused her thoughts to jumble and distort, she welcomed the escape. Unconscious felt firmer, the small branch of a fallen tree collapsed into the water—something she could cling to. Late in the night, lights flickered into view, like distant ghosts. Flegel climbed up a steep, winding path to a looming wall she had seen before. Orisand. Nevan pushed through a faceless crowd as soldiers eased her off Flegel’s back. He would tend to her and he alone, he told them gruffly, and if anyone had anything to say about it they could talk to the Masc Caoin about it, when he was recovered. The next morning, Caoinlin was alert enough to take in her surroundings. A small room with wooden walls, a dark fireplace, a single, narrow window. The light coming through the sooty glass was pale and dim, it trickled across the foot of her bed, barely reaching Nevan, seated in a low chair by the hearth. “They wanted to keep you at the fort,” Nevan grumbled. “But I told them the inn was fine. They’ll want to question you.” Caoinlin grimaced at the sour scum coating her tongue. “They want to question me?” she rasped. “Carrigan is the one they should be questioning.” Nevan grunted. “Is it your aim to find out how much blood one body can lose in a lifetime?” “He told them which road the transport would take.” She didn’t try to sit up, speaking instead up to the dark ceiling. “He’s responsible for the deaths. For Moppel and the others. For giving the Ulic the opportunity.” “There’s only so much one blind man can do,” Nevan said, ignoring her rant. “I’m no sorcerer.” “He should be strung up.” “People think it strange that you survived,” Nevan told her. “That the Ulic took you alive. Some say you were working with them. That you had a private meeting with them, only a day before.” “Carrigan,” she snarled through her teeth. “I should kill him myself.” “The Captain doesn’t believe it,” Nevan said. “Fortunate for you.” “Of course he doesn’t believe it,” she said. “I wasn’t the one who told Moppel which road the transport would take. I wasn’t the one who let those fuddled fools drag the prisoners out of the wagon, giving them the opportunity to escape in the first place . . . how many survived?” Nevan fell silent. It was all the answer she needed. The grinding of her teeth were all she could hear. She closed her eyes and hardly noticed the pain pounding in her shoulder.