Howl of the Carrion King – Chapter Forty-six

Chapter Forty-six
Eyes in the Sky

Bree had barely gotten Felliped settled in the dining room with a plate of food and a cup of ale when the alarm rang out. She had run straight out of the dining room and through the monastery to the source of the yelling.

It was Brotis.

Bree frowned and as a sudden intense feeling of bitterness swept through her. “What is it?” she asked, deciding she was more worried for their lives than her continued avoidance of the jealous woman.

“I do not know.” Brotis was agitated and clearly worried, but showed no sign of cowardice. “It was huge. I thought it a bird at first, but it is not like any I have seen before.”

“A bird?” Santon asked, coming up from behind them. “You called the alarm for a bird?”

Brotis shook her head and twisted her thick lips into a sneer. By now the others were starting to gather around them. Kelestair and Dashki arrived first. Then Almah herself with her guards in tow.

“It was no bird and I am no fool!” Brotis spat. “It flew from Kelmarane, circled overhead and then returned to Kelmarane.”

“Bitter brew.”

Brotis nodded at her. “It was a scout,” she said, letting her throaty, Kelesh accent take over. “And it found us.”

“We should have pressed on.” Santon shook his head. Behind him, Felliped hung his head in shame.

“No,” Bree said. “We did what was right.”

“And now they know we’re here!” Santon yelled at her.

“They will not strike at us immediately. They must gather their forces.” Kelesteir stated.

Dashki nodded. “Yes. They will attack late in the night, perhaps as early as tomorrow. It depends on their forces. They will not attack by day.”

“They were scattered. On guard, but running low on allies. They do not have enough of a force at present to launch an attack,” Kelestair said thoughtfully.

“So we will be a-a-alright?” Felliped asked tentatively.

Santon shook his head. “No. We have to move out come first light. We must bring the battle to them before they organize themselves to attack us here.”

Kelestair and Dashki nodded.

“Very well.” Almah stated in an obvious effort to regain control of her expedition. “You three will depart come dawn for the town.” She gestured at Kelesteir, Santon and Bree. “You must finish the task I have given you else we may all face the results of your failure. We keep a triple watch tonight. We will all take a shift but the three. Even the newcomers.”

Bree frowned. “Felliped’s not ready for night watch.” He was scared. Broken.

Almah’s brown eyes became filled with anger. “He will have to be,” she snapped. “And you will mind your place.”

Bree frowned. A hand fell on her shoulder from behind. It felt familiar. Reassuring. Bree tensed, but did not respond. Almah had to assert her control or the others might panic. Bree understood, but found it difficult to resist the urge to yank the elaborate veil from her perfumed hair and smack Almah in the face.

Almah paused, but when Bree did not respond she nodded at the others. “Return to your duties. Dashki, Brotis, Podarn, you stay on watch. Spread out. Keep sharp.”

Podarn bristled at the command. “I was ordered by those higher than you to stay at your side and protect you, Princess Roveshki. I will not neglect my duties.”

“You will take a turn on watch, Podarn, and keep an eye out for gnolls, so as best to protect me. The others will maintain their posts until you are relieved.”

Podarn’s eyes narrowed. He glared at Almah, but swallowed his pride and slowly nodded. Apparently his allegiance to the Pactmaster’s could be tempered in the right situations. Interesting.

“Return to your duties,” Almah repeated said firmly. The others drifted away. Almah gave one final look at Bree, and then turned and walked back into the monastery with Garavel and all but one of her guards following.

Podarn, Brotis and Dashki spread out, their eyes drawn to the horizon.

Kelestair eyed Bree then drifted away. Santon followed, though he seemed upset. Did he miss the harpy so? Or was there something else drawing him to Kelmarane? What else could cause him to be so reckless all of a sudden?

The hand on her shoulder rubbed her gently. Bitter brew. Bree groaned. She had forgotten all about it.

“I worried for you, Star Flower.”

Bree shrugged her way out from under Trevvis’ hand. “Trevvis! I – “

“Let me come with you tomorrow. Let me stay by your side.”

Bree shook her head. Come with her? She would be so distracted she would surely be skewered in the first battle! “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

“Please, Star Flower. Let me – “

“No.”

Trevvis frowned. His brown eyes were rimmed in red. He had been crying. Had it been over her? Again?

“Let me stay with you tonight, then,” he pleaded. “Please, Star Flower.”

Had he really been crying over her? Did he care for her that much? Did it matter?

No. Trevvis had lost her trust.

“Who was it, you once lusted for?” Bree blurted out. Oh, Cayden’s curse! Why had she asked that? It didn’t matter anymore.

Trevvis frowned. His jaw hardened. “I don’t know what you mean, Star Flower.”

Bree’s eyes narrowed. “Don’t lie to me, Trevvis! I’m not blind! Who was it?”

“I care for only you!”

Bree watched Trevvis carefully. He was passionate, but not telling the truth. Tears threatened to flow. She blinked rapidly, and shook her head. “No. You don’t.”

“I cared for Yesper, once. But that time is passed. She chose another.”

Bree nodded. At least it wasn’t Brotis. Still, Trevvis was lying. Though he wished it to be true, he was not over Yesper. Had she only ever been a distraction? A second choice? How had she not seen it sooner?

Trevvis looked up at Bree and stepped closer. “Please, Star Flower. That was in the past.”

“I don’t think it is.”

Trevvis opened his mouth to speak, but Bree just shook her head and walked away. Trevvis started after her, but paused, thinking better of it.

“Come back to me, Star Flower,” he rasped. “Please come back.”

But Bree walked away. She did not look back.

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