Chapter 22: Siren Song

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I knew I shouldn't have drunk so much water at dinner that night. My bladder was about to burst.

Something heavy weighed down on me as I cracked my eyes open. From the corner of my eye, I spotted a hand close to my stomach. The hand was attached to an arm draped across my waist. Now that I was more or less awake, I noticed the pleasant warmth of a human body against my back and the soft tickling of breath moving the hair on my neck.

Slowly, I turned around, causing my nose to nearly bump against Rowan's. My gaze lingered on his relaxed face for a moment as I wondered how someone could look so regal and good-looking in their sleep.

A cramp in my lower belly reminded me of the reason why I had woken up in the first place. Careful not to ruin his beauty sleep, I removed Rowan's arm and stretched my stiff legs. I took a quick look at my shoes, but decided that I wouldn't be gone for long and shuffled out of the tent on my bare feet.

"Where are you going?" Rowan's muffled voice drifted out of the tent.

I should have known that it was impossible to sneak past a well-trained soldier like him. It surprised me that he didn't sleep with one eye open. "I need to pee. I'll be right back."

I waited, but he didn't answer. He had probably gone back to sleep already.

I turned around and stumbled to the nearest bushes to relieve myself of the tormenting pressure in my bladder. Just when I was about to return to the camp, my ears picked up a strange sound, brought along by the soft breeze. It was a female, singing voice, so beautiful it almost hurt to listen to it.

Oh no.

Slamming my palms across my ears, I scanned my surroundings, but the place seemed deserted except for some wood mouses and an owl staring at me with big, yellow eyes from a branch in a nearby tree. Without reducing the pressure of my fingers, I ran back to the tents. I had to warn the others, before something terrible happened.

The still smoldering campfire glowed softly in the nightly air and the moon, which was almost full, cast her white light onto the valley, illuminating the snowy peaks of the mountains. Movement toward my right caught my eye and I spun on my heel, the air around me already simmering with electric sparks to stun a possible aggressor. However, the tiny figure with the large, red beard had no intention of attacking me, but jogged in the direction of the mysterious singing instead.

"Larry!" I called after him, the rising panic clearly audible in my voice. "Larry, it's a Siren! Don't listen to her!"

As I had already expected, Larry didn't hear me and continued to follow the sound. Debating my options, I remained still for a moment, my feet rooted to the ground. I concluded that it wouldn't be wise to go on a hunt for a Siren on my own and sprinted toward the tent that I shared with Rowan. 

He started when I burst inside. "What's wrong?" he slurred while he rubbed the sleep from his eyes. His hands stopped moving as soon as he heard the singing that came through the half-open flaps of the tent. Grabbing his saddlebag, he rummaged through the contents until he found a box containing wax. After he had stuffed his ears with the wax, he handed the box to me so that I could do the same.

Ellie came crawling into our tent, her hands pressed against her ears. "Can I have some too?"

I quickly gave her the box. "The Siren is luring Larry into her den. I just saw him outside, following the singing. We have to find him."

"That idiot," Ellie cursed as she put wax into her ears. "That weak heart of his will get him killed someday." Her harsh words formed a stark contrast with the look of genuine worry on her face.

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