9 - Flight of the Blade

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Bleary-eyed, I dragged through the grass behind Andrin. I would never get used to waking up exhausted. As an Animaré, sleep was always refreshing. I batted a particularly tall stalk aside and bit my lip, scowling. The hardy plant cut me.

"Doing okay back there Sedris?" Andrin glanced over his shoulder.

"Remember what happened last time you lagged behind," Koren added from the front.

I scowled. It's not like the dogs catching up to us was my fault.

Andrin gave me a few more looks and I shrugged. It was hard to move on from Koren's lack of faith in me, to pretend I hadn't heard it.

They didn't mean any harm. He was just being honest.

I sighed and squinted up at the sky. The sun was peeking through the clouds again. The two had fought all morning, one to cast the world in the shadow, the other in light. It seemed the brighter of the two was going to win out as the puffy clouds grew patchier. At least it helped raise my spirits.

With a jolt, I stopped short of walking straight off a six-foot boulder. My mind was so unfocused I could barely look where I was going.

"Sedris let's go, we're not out of this yet."

Biting back an angry retort, I carefully stepped around the side of the rock. These boulders were more like scales of stone that started dotting the landscape as it became less of a flat expanse. This was good for two reasons. First, it meant we were nearing the foothills of lower Corvelen, where we would finally find some civilization. Hot meals, warm beds, and hopefully a crowd to hide us from the Ska'al and Corvel Guard alike. Second, since the rocks weren't difficult to weave between and provided some much-needed cover, we would be hard to spot from any distance, even if someone was looking out for us.

Which they were.

"You know, if you stop and just enjoy the day, you can almost forget about the bloodthirsty dogs probably hunting us as we speak, right?" Andrin tried to break the silence, but I wasn't helping him out.

At least Koren was more responsive. "We won't have to pretend soon. I doubt the Corvel will love those feral things running freely around the settled countryside. Reflects poorly on the crown to let dogs rip apart the farmers."

"Grim way to look at it, but fair enough." Andrin latched onto the conversation. "I'm just ready to..."

"... ready to?" I smirked as he lost his train of thought.

Andrin cocked his head to one side. "...to... Koren what is that?"

Now Koren stopped short too.

"What is it guys?"

Koren shushed me.

My blood went cold.

A long, low note, barely perceptible, drifted lazily on the wind and settled on the rocks. I only caught it for a second, but that was enough. Andrin had gone pale too. It was a Corvel battle horn.

"Drop!" Koren hissed, pulling me down beside him. I fell like a sack of rocks, my heart pounding. We could only cheat death so many times.

Solace Curse: Part IWhere stories live. Discover now