Thirty-seven (original)

Jadri was asleep on the bed. None of us said anything. As the first morning light crept in we listened to the birds' dawn chorus and watched the candles burn down.

Merran was sitting on the floor, his back against the bed. Jarvik was still in his chair, apparently lost in thought. Moire was sitting next to me on the couch. When she moved closer to me I put my arm around her. She rested her head on my shoulder and I kissed her hair.

"We ought to get some sleep," Merran said.

"Yeah." Neither of us moved.

Jarvik chuckled. "He's right, you know."

Merran turned to me. "I've brought your backpack," he told me. "I had it in my saddlebags when we left Stillwater."


I wanted to ask him what the ambush had looked like to him, and what had happened to him while I was in the cave with Azeara. I'm not sure why I didn't. Instead I said, "I'm sorry about what happened." I wondered whether he even knew about the death of Beron's brother.

"Don't blame yourself," he said.

Moire snuggled up against me and I wrapped my arms around her, burying my nose in her hair. When I thought about it I realised that I did feel guilty.

I looked up. "The three of us need to get out of here," I told Jarvik, indicating Jadri and Merran.

"You're right." Jarvik rubbed his face. "But it will have to wait until we've all had some sleep."

He got up and woke up Moire. "Come on, we'll let these guys get some rest," he told her as he guided her out of the room. "And may the gods have mercy on us all," he added as he closed the door behind him.

Merran yawned and got up to check on Jadri. Then he removed out a mattress, a pillow and a blanket from the closet and got ready to sleep on the floor. I took off my boots and stretched out on the couch.

I lay on my back, my hands folded behind my head, and watched the last of the candles flicker and go out. I was reminded of Lora and the cave, and how the unburned wood had made me realise that everything I experienced there had been an illusion. At least what was happening now was real. Either that, or the illusions were getting better.

Jadri stirred and began to snore. In many ways the story he had told us tonight had raised more questions than it had answered. He had help getting away from the palace - someone had left an Army uniform, food and some money for him in a secluded spot in the palace gardens, but he didn't know who. Paulos had told him to look for Merran at Jarvik's prison, but it was unclear how he'd known Merran would be there.

As his story went on the young man had become more and more incoherent, until it was clear to all of us that we wouldn't be getting any more useful information from him. Eventually Moire had given him something to help him sleep. We did need to get out of there, I thought. People would be looking for Jadri, and at least one person at the palace knew where he was. Jadri's story made me realise that Merron had held a fairly prominent position at the law-men's headquarters, and the King's men might be looking for him as well.

I closed my eyes and rolled onto my side. Something hard inserted itself between my hipbone and the couch, and I rolled back and reached into my pocket. What I found was the stone that the old woman had given me. As I watched it glow blood-red in the early morning light I became cold with fear - what was this jewel, and how was it possible that I still had it after my vision or whatever it was had ended? With these questions on my mind I fell asleep, the stone still in my hand.


I broke one of my own rules by revising an episode that I had already posted to the website.
Revised version

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