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PostPosted: February 19th, 2009, 3:13 pm 
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Merrin pressed the heels of her hands, which were cold, to her hot eyes. It had been such a long way. From the very beginning, it had been long; through the loneliness of Vryngard to the perilous exhaustion of the last interminable months. And she gained nothing but a price on her head and Claims to be the Chosen of the Gods.

When she dropped her hands they were wet with tears of helpless fury.

The same place on the same bedroll by the same campfire was waiting. Merrin flung herself down to seethe. Just as the coals of the fire were beginning to be more numerous than the flames, she silently cursed the nightmares and rolled over to bury her face in her arms.

Sleep came fast. The dreams, undeterred, came too.

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PostPosted: February 19th, 2009, 9:54 pm 
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It seemed, much to his grief, that Kendath had scarcely put his head down when daylight came knocking on his eyelids again. And it seemed that he had scarcely rolled over, begging the daylight to go away for five more minutes, when distantly - or perhaps just below the bluff - he heard the creaking of wagon wheels.

A little voice in the back of his head told him that it was time to get up.

"I don't suppose you've changed your mind," Kendath said much later, when they'd rolled up the blankets and tossed dirt onto the fire. Between his hand and his teeth he managed to tie his bedroll onto his horse, which still dozed on its feet, its withers twitching as its rider adjusted the saddle straps. He returned to what remained of their camp holding a sandwich - by all other definitions, a sprig of jerky shoved between two pebbles of bread. One could afford to be creative under such circumstances.

Kendath took a bite of his pebble, swore he heard his teeth crack, and glanced at Merrin. "Likewise, I don't suppose you've grown some common sense overnight?"

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PostPosted: February 19th, 2009, 10:27 pm 
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Kendath's voice jerked her out of a fog, and Merrin raised her aching head from where she'd been leaning against the horse's warm flank. The ties on her saddlebags were undone. Somehow her blankets were gathered into an untidy roll. She didn't remember any of it. "Common sense?" she repeated. "If I had common sense I'd have stayed home."

Her fingers found a strip of jerky. Merrin pulled it out and looked at it, trying to summon a pang of hunger, trying to feel something besides the weight of her eyelids. She put it back. "I'm not eating breakfast," she proclaimed, before someone else could point it out, to the camp in general. Had her bedroll always been this heavy? "I'm not hungry."

The messy ensemble of blankets dissolved and slithered to the ground in the midst of her attempts to secure it. Tears, stupid tears, pricked her eyes, and Merrin bent to gather it again.

The new cloak would not fasten properly. The idiot horse stepped on her foot. Somehow Merrin made it into the saddle, only to realize she'd forgotten her pack by the fire.

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PostPosted: February 19th, 2009, 10:42 pm 
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Kendath was still beside the smoldering remains of their campfire. He was leaning against a tree. His arms were crossed over his chest, and he was decidedly not budging.

"You don't know where you're going," he pointed out, as soon as Merrin had retrieved her pack.

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PostPosted: February 19th, 2009, 10:53 pm 
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Merrin stared at him. "Aren't you coming with me?" she asked, suddenly afraid - he didn't look like he was moving - she had said they didn't have to - why had she thought he would?

"I do know where I'm going," she flung at him before he could reply, whirling so he couldn't see the imbecilic tears and wondering why they refused to go away. "Following the Seiren. It's not very hard."

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PostPosted: February 19th, 2009, 10:56 pm 
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"Amarinth sits right on top of the Seiren," Kendath said, flicking a glance at the city in its smoldering smoke. Even in full daylight it looked none too inviting. He returned his stare to the back of Merrin's head. "Circumventing the city will take days. It's stupidity."

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PostPosted: February 19th, 2009, 11:02 pm 
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"And they think I'm a - a criminal!" It hurt her head to speak so loudly. Merrin gesticulated wildly at the city. "I'm not going in there! Don't you remember? Ten thousand gold!"

By all the gods, why was it so hard to fasten her pack to the saddle? She yanked the last knot tight and turned around. He still hadn't moved. The tears were beginning to make it hard to see. "Why aren't you coming?"

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PostPosted: February 19th, 2009, 11:06 pm 
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"You said yourself that this Je'id had turned traitor!" Kendath shoved himself off the tree. He heard his own voice rising in anger. "You're not only being stupid - you're being suicidal! You'd send yourself right into the hands of your enemies?"

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PostPosted: February 20th, 2009, 12:59 am 
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"Everyone's my enemy!" cried Merrin. "There isn't anywhere safe! Not with the Renegades, not with the Meiltha, not in Amarinth, not even at home! You don't understand - I have to go there, it's the only place left!" She had to stop to draw breath, and the gulp approached a sob. "No one understands!"

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PostPosted: February 20th, 2009, 1:30 am 
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"No one understands because you're being bloody illogical!" Kendath shouted. He crossed over to seize Merrin's shoulder with his good hand, to give her a shake. "Forget the gods. Forget the damned luck that's gotten us this far. If you go to Vryngard, Merrin, you'll die. You. Will. Die." Another shake. "What part of that don't you understand?"

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PostPosted: February 20th, 2009, 3:27 am 
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Merrin pushed his hand away, tried to shove him backward but lacked the strength. Her angry tears were spilling over. "Where, then?" she demanded through them, curling her hands into fists. "Where? There's nowhere to go! We can never stay, never stay anywhere! Someone's always chasing us, someone's always hunting me! It's not fair!" Her voice broke. If the tears would only stop! "I don't know where to go!" she yelled. "I don't know what to do!"

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PostPosted: February 20th, 2009, 10:20 am 
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Between lying on the ground for the past several nights and just overall fatigue, Adeila's head was already aching rather persistently. The shouting was not helping. She tried at first to go about her morning routine without paying it any heed, but it was getting ridiculous.

"Alright, that's quite enough, both of you," she interjected a bit more sharply than she'd intended. She paused to rub wearily at her forehead, then softly cast a silencing spell around the camp. Not that they hadn't already made more than sufficient noise, but it made her feel better.

After a deep breath, she tried again. "Honestly, you're acting like children. Sit." She retrieved a portion of food and shoved it into Merrin's hands. "You will eat, dear. I'll not have you starving yourself on top of everything else."

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PostPosted: February 20th, 2009, 11:18 am 
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Merrin felt as though her legs had given way. She collapsed by the ashes of their fire and stared down at the dreary strips of jerky and lumps of dry, too-hard bread. Her vision was swimming. Tears were dripping onto the meager breakfast. Why couldn't she stop crying?

"The bedroll wouldn't tie on," she sobbed, trying first to blot her tears with her sleeve and then giving up the attempt. "I can't stop the n-nightmares. I can't stop. I'm s-so tired."

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PostPosted: February 20th, 2009, 2:01 pm 
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At Adeila's admonishment Kendath released Merrin and stalked to the edge of camp, where he stood overlooking the road through a veil of trees. He heard his own breath heaving from his chest and tried to calm himself. Failure.

As soon as Merrin spoke, he whipped around again. "Has she not lost her mind?" he said, his glare bouncing from Adeila to Merrin. Tears gleamed on Merrin's cheeks. He ignored it and barreled on, "There are thousands of places to go! Thousands! And yet you insist on waltzing off to the one place where your enemies will string you up and chop you into little pieces!"

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PostPosted: February 21st, 2009, 1:58 am 
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"Hush," Adeila said, waving dismissively. "You can argue later." She sat down and put an arm around Merrin's shoulders, simply letting her cry for a bit. The girl was exhausted - it didn't take a healer to perceive that. With the drain of the past few weeks, and the lack of opportunity to recover physically, and this most recent development, it was hardly unexpected. In fact, it was remarkable that she was doing this well.

Without warning, Svit clambered up onto Merrin's lap, chirping inquiringly. Adeila tried to shoo him away, to little avail. "You need more rest than you are getting, dear," she said softly. "I can help, if necessary. I probably still have something in my supplies that would help you drift off at night, or I have a handful of very effective spells that I have used with my patients. Whichever you would prefer is perfectly fine. I don't much care at this point how you go about it. You simply must get some sleep, somehow, or your condition will only continue to worsen."

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PostPosted: February 21st, 2009, 2:18 am 
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A small warm head nosed underneath her palm. Merrin raised her head from where it had been buried in Adeila's shoulder, trying to take a breath and only achieving a series of gasps. Svit trilled shrilly. It hurt her head. Everything hurt her head.

"...your condition will only continue to worsen."

Merrin gulped down the next threatening sob. "I'm s-sorry," she said. "I thought it would get b-better - I don't know how to make them stop - I don't know anything, I don't know what to do." She wiped her sleeve across her eyes. They still prickled with tears. "I'm so s-scared. Every night."

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