The Next Night
If it were possible, Carissa was even more tired this night than she had been the last. And Elon’s ominous warning had made her freeze every time a breeze raked through the forest, making leaves crinkle and branches clatter.
She had tried to take some of the supplies from the previous camp, but found she was too weak to carry anything for long. How was she to survive two more days without healing? The thought of hours and hours more of pain and exhaustion was almost enough to make her crumple where she stood.
But she reminded herself that Elon knew her limits. She had to trust him in this.
She finally staggered into the circle, within which was a smoldering fire pit and bedroll. Where had he found so many bedrolls?
It took her a few minutes to revive the fire before eating a dinner of grisly meat and berries. She slipped off her boots and wriggled her aching toes. Her feet were bright red, as if it has all turned into one large blister. Two more days. Could she truly make it?
She tried to slip into the bedroll, but Elon’s warning kept buzzing through her mind. She mustn’t leave the circle, especially tonight. But why tonight? What would happen?
The best way to listen to Elon would be simply to fall asleep and remain where she was. Yet an hour passed, and though her eyes burned with exhaustion, her heart wouldn’t cease its panicked flutter.
Something snapped, and Carissa startled, her eyes flying wide open. She must have fallen asleep. She pulled the blanket to her chin. Could it be a yare wolf or Reaper? And would it have killed Elon to be slightly less vague about the threat?
But he was concerned about her leaving the circle. What—or who—could tempt her to leave the campsite? Would she be tempted to go to them? Or run from them?
Footsteps. The soft hush of breathing.
Carissa’s heart thudded louder, drowning out all other sound. She closed her eyes. If she just ignored it, just remained where she was until morning, she would be safe.
“I know you’re awake.”
She opened her eyes. There was no moonlight, but even in the darkness she recognized him. Dark eyes, scarred jaw, slightly receding hairline. “You.” She sat up. “Am I wrong in supposing you betrayed the caravan?”
The Next Night