We leave it behind. Normur and its problems are now no longer ours. Folk there must make their own choices. After stocking up on trail food in the near deserted city, Damin and I take to the eastern road.
It is many days to Grenmassin.
“Alyssa promised to catch up to Attis,” Damin says as the city grows ever smaller behind us.
Soon the rain will hide all signs of civilisation anyway. Never have I been wet this long; even my cloak is drenched. I concentrate on putting one mud encrusted boot before the other.
By nightfall the mud plain surrenders to the first trees of the hinterland. We do not talk as we attempt to reach them, for trees mean cover from the rain and also prying eyes. As we close in, the wind starts to whistle. Never have I been this cold.
We sleep fitfully, huddled under a tree with spreading branches, and we go onward with the first light of day. Movement means warmth … and purpose. Chewing on an apple each, we take to the road without words.
Around midday a horse nickers amid the trees left of the path. We come to a halt. A horse usually means people. Dangerous as it is to confront strangers, anyone on this road should be pointed south towards the fort. A horse alone, however, means swifter transport.
Damin flicks hand signals we learned as kids. I nod and swiftly fall back to hunker behind a broad trunk. He divests himself of his pack and runs stealthily towards the sound.
A mighty thrashing in the undergrowth sees me abandon my post moments later. I run, my heart in my throat.
Grinning, Damin exits the treeline … seated on a horse. “He’s a bit wild!” he shouts. “But he is alone!”
I clap my hands in delight.