Aylix made his way back to the camp, wordlessly, and sat a little way from the fire cradling a bottle of whiskey. Gregory approached not far behind him looking slightly sheepish as his did so - a bruise flowering on his cheek. He stood before the group and they looked up exxpectantly - their flow of conversation interrupted with the return of the two men.
"I'm sorry. For blaming you all." he stated, head bowed. "I... I am not sure what came over me. But I was wrong." his eyes closed tight, dispelling the tears that threatened to escape from them.
Crow stood walking silently over to his brother and embraced him. "It's fine brother and mostly understandable. I know how much she meant to you but... I think she played us all for fools. Strung us all along and..." he sighed, heavily. "From what she said to Grundown and Eliana it sounds like she caused this."
Gregory choked on a breath, before shaking his head. "All those years..."
"I know lad. I know. But whatever she's got planned we have to stop her... And if she's given herself over to the Great Beardless Liar..." Grundown left it hanging, but the insinuiation was clear.
"It's not easy for any of us Gregory. She meant a lot to all of us and we're all shocked by this..."
Gregory nodded. "I know. But... when we find her. I still need to ask her, I stil need to know why..."
The group fell silent, mulling it over before Addy spoke. "I don't think we're going to do any good tonight. We should sleep, everything may all look better in the morning."
Assents were muttered, and the group wound down - but sleep wasn't easy coming to any of them. Despite their day, despite their injuries and aches and pains sleep was fleeting and interrupted with bad dreams and depressing thoughts. All around them the camp wound down for the night - the silence punctured by babies crying, or animals calling out.
Gregory stared at the stars above his thoughts drifting between Leanna and the heavens, silent prayers to the Seven flashing through his mind...
Leanna lay in the bed she had been allocated, staring up at the ceiling - wondering why she suddenly had this heavy, dark feeling hanging over her. Everything was going to plan, everything was all in order... but in the last two hours it felt like something had gone wrong. A foul in the great game, pieces and players out of place almost as if the sides were unbalanced and she still wasn't entirely sure that she had Lahsaa's complete trust - and that was absolutely vital to what she was to do.
She sighed heavily as somewhere in the town a bell rang out, signifying one bell after midnight and left the bed, squeaking as her warm feet touched the cold stone floor. Creeping through the room she left and started down towards the large shared dining room they had been in earlier, making sure to wrap herself in a blanket as she left.
The room was deserted save for one figure, in a green shirt. Long auburn hair spilled across the table as he used his crossed arms on the table as a pillow. Walking quietly over, she touched him lightly on the arm. "Lahsaa?" she said with a whisper.
He jerked away suddenly, moving away from the touch with a flinch, crying out.
"Easy!" She impored, raising her hands defensively. "It's me! It's Leanna."
He groaned, rubbing his eyes and stretcihing out his limbs. "Leanna? What?... What time is it?"
She smiled, despite herself at the site of him with touselled hair that stuck up everywhere, having crept free of the leather he used to tie it back with. "One bell after midnight... I couldn't sleep."
He groaned and coughed, glancing at her as he brushed his hair back. "I really need to stop falling asleep while reading..." he moaned, reaching for a glass of water that was in front of him and drinking it to clear whatever was making him feel so hoarse.
"What are you reading?" she asked, curiously, craning her neck.
He looked slightly abashed as he showed her the cover to show the words 'The Dragon and the Vleyborian' in embossed gold leaf on the leather cover. Leanna raised her eyes and Lahsaa flushed further. "It's a love story about a dragon in human form on the run from Axir who meets a Vleyborian and they fall in a love and..." he coughed, clearly embaressed. "Yes. It's a bit of a guilty pleasure. But it's one of the books I managed to save from Mercia. There's a lot to be found in books and..." he shrugged. "It's probably the one thing I can ever stay interested in doing - reading. Father always says it's frivolous and I have my mind away too often in adventures but... It's more interesting than my life is ever going to be."
Leanna frowned. "I think all of our lives are a bit interesting at the moment, and will carry on being for the next few months, or weeks... or days..." her eyes - briefly hard - flicked up at his face, before back down at the book. "You need to stop letting your Father dictate your life. Be a little free every now and again."
She placed her hand on his knee and his eyes widened. He glanced around nervously, avoiding her gaze.
"Maybe you could... uh... maybe you could refer me to the mages guild? When you're a mage I mean? I might be able to... I mean, I could always try and learn..." he stammered and tripped over his words, his body tense.
Leanna smiled sympathetically as she leaned forward and kissed him lightly on the lips. "Maybe I could." her face lingered closer to his a few seconds longer than was necessary. "I should go back to bed really... I need to check in with the guild tomorrow... If there's anyone from the guild around..."
It was all Lahsaa could do to nod, his mouth dry and slightly agape as she stood. "I will see you in the morning Lahsaa." she called over her shoulder. "And thank you again for finding me today. I believe you may have saved my life."
Lahsaa nodded, eventually cleared his mind enough to call after her. "Not a problem! Sleep well!"
Leanna smirked when her back was safely to him again. The sap would follow him anywhere now. She was sure of it.