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Chapter 35

I got inquisitive looks as I walked back through the warehouse, but I didn’t have the strength to pull myself up onto the wall outside today; with my injured shoulder, I didn’t feel like I could do many of the things I normally did, which was quite annoying.

I also didn’t know exactly what to do since I wasn’t planning on going back up to the castle. I wasn’t too keen on going anywhere near there anytime soon.

I walked up to the task board and glanced them over. I was particularly looking for one an injured person could do because I certainly wasn’t planning on staying here all day.

Most of them were things that I definitely didn’t feel like doing. For example: going to the listed address and doing laundry?

I really didn’t want that one.

However, I was slightly intrigued that they had somewhere to go to do laundry. I’d never looked at the task board before and some of them were remarkably interesting.

A few people stepped up and ripped papers off without even looking at them, probably just hoping for something to occupy them.

I could definitely relate.

I kept skimming the notes, looking for something that sparked my interest more than a dull ‘meh.’ A few looked almost interesting, but I did find one that was a little… interesting.

Gather wood from the North Forest.

First of all, why specifically the North Forest? Second of all, do we burn wood for something? It certainly can’t be heat because this place is barely warmer than outside. Even that little bit might be because the wind that constantly blows off the water doesn’t reach us while we’re inside.

I reached for it and pulled it off, still puzzling over it.

“Collecting wood, huh?” Someone said near me.

I looked up at the person, not recognizing them. I narrowed my eyes slightly and replied warily. “Yeah.”

The guy raised his eyebrows and held his hands up. “Hey, I’m not judging. We’ve all got our reasons for wanting something to do. Just… do you know where the North Forest is?”

I sighed, having to give him a point. “Nope.”

He smiled, “I can get one of the boys to take you.”

I narrowed my eyes more. “I don’t need you to send a boy with me,” I told him, taking his offer as a personal insult.

His eyes widened. “I didn’t mean you couldn’t do it, I just meant…” He paused for a moment. “Well, I’m better at talking the boys into stuff then I am the girls.”

“Oh,” My eyes widened slightly. “Okay.”

He smiled faintly and nodded once. He turned to go find one of the boys, but paused, glancing back. “You know, I can see why Lynon chose you.”

It took me a moment to realize that Lynon was the guy who had brought me in here. It didn’t even occur to me to ask what the man saw that Lynon had until he was already gone.

Something was wrong in my head because I never let a person get away until I was done with them.

Then again, it might be because I was conversing with civilized people rather than the barbaric gang members I was used to.

My heart panged and I fought a wince.

I had to stop thinking about that.

“Hey,” Another voice said.

I turned, eyeing the new boy warily. “Hello,” I said.

The boy before me couldn’t have been over twelve. If I had to change a guess, I’d put him closer to ten. For a moment, I was concerned that the guy from earlier was sending a little boy with me.

Didn’t he know that I was dangerous?

“Kai said you needed someone to show you where the North Forest is,” The boy said, oblivious to my internal turmoil.

“I do,” I said carefully, wondering how long I’d been staring into space for someone to already be here ready to help me. “Look, kid, are you sure it’s okay for you to—”

The guy from earlier walked up behind the boy, clapping a hand on his shoulder. “Hey,” He said, leaning down towards the boy. “Didn’t I tell that you should wait until I get here to try to explain?”

The boy looked affronted. “I’m a big kid,” He said, “I can talk to grownups on my own.”

I raised my eyebrow at how he called me a ‘grown up.’ I turned back to the guy, Kai. “Is he allowed to bring me to the forest?” I asked seriously.

“Kase can bring you just about anywhere so long as he promises to let you do any important talking or fighting,” Kai said, just as serious if not more.

I looked back down at the kid, feeling oddly mushy inside.

No, I’m not talking about my guts.

“If I bring you, you’ll listen to me?” I asked him.

“First of all, I’d be leading you geographically,” Kase pointed out, “But yes, if someone confronted us, I’d listen because big bro over here,” He threw an elbow towards Kai and managed to hit him, “Told me to.”

Kai didn’t wince, so it must not have been as powerful as it seemed. Either that, or the guy was oddly used to it. I couldn’t tell whether that was admirable or awful.

I probably wasn’t the best person to choose between the two.

“Oh, Kai’s my big brother,” Kase added.

I raised an eyebrow at Kai. “So, when you said you had leverage…?”

Kai looked amused, “I meant I had a brother in that group. Technically, I could’ve asked Kase to ask one of the other kids to help me with something. That’s leverage, too, of sorts.”

Kase shot Kai a glance. “That was, if you could give me a good reason to do it.”

I glanced between them, before deciding to ask Kase my question. “Why did you listen to him this time?”

Kai looked away uncomfortably, but Kase didn’t seem to be bothered by the question.

“Everyone here is interested in you,” He said easily. “Some of them think you’re dangerous, others think you’re useful, others think you’re interesting, and then there’s the people who think you’re attractive.”

“Kasen,” Kai said, turning suspiciously pink.

I rolled my eyes. “I can tell you this: Yes, I’m dangerous. I’m useful only if I have ulterior motives. I’m probably interesting if you want details about a horrible past, and…” I faltered. “Yeah, the attractive one might be a stretch.”

Kai didn’t seem to agree judging by the disapproving look on his face. “You are,” He said, managing not to blush further. I couldn’t tell whether he liked me or whether he was unused to giving compliments.

I found myself wishing it was the latter simply because I wasn’t sure I wanted him to think I was attractive. That’s when things got complicated.

“Okay, then,” I said, not convinced. I turned to Kase, “You ready to lead me to the forest?” I asked.

Kase grinned. “Of course, I am. If I lead you, I get to leave for a little bit.”

I raised an eyebrow at Kai. “And since it was big brother’s idea…?”

“I’ll answer that one when he can’t hear,” Kase replied seriously.

“You have to come back as soon as she’s done with you,” Kai told him.

Kase groaned. “Seriously? I was working so hard not to tell her?”

“Oh, yes, you were bursting at the seams,” I smirked.

“Hey!” Kase turned back to me. “You aren’t allowed to call me out!”

I smirked at his brother, “Is this an official rule?”

Kai grinned, “Nope.”

I looked back at Kase. “Well, then. I suppose I can call you out.” I tilted my head, noting how he was barely shorter than me. “Although, if we go now, I can tell you some secrets about not getting called out.”

Kase’s eyes brightened. “Really?”

I grinned at him, glancing at Kai, who was smiling but was studying my face in confusion. I looked back at Kase. “If you can get me there in one piece, I’ll try to teach you stuff the whole way.”

Kase’s whole face lit up and his eyes sparkled. “Okay.” He bounced on his toes. “Let me just get my stuff and we can go.” He dashed back to where he had come from to get said stuff.

“You didn’t have to do that,” Kai said.

I looked up at him. “I wanted to,” I said, then paused. “Want to,” I corrected.

Kai grinned. “You are an interesting person, aren’t you?”

I smirked at him, buttoning up my cloak and trying to ignore how stiff parts of it was getting from the mist off the water. There must be a bit of salt in the water. “I never said I wasn’t,” I said, letting my hands fall back to my sides. “I just said that my version of interesting was a very dark past.” I gave him a short nod. “If you see Kase, tell him I’ll be outside.” I began to walk off, then paused, thinking of something. “Oh, and Kai, nothing is going to happen to Kase. If something does, you have my permission to hurt me.”

One side of Kai’s mouth lifted up in a grin, “I think with that kind of promise, I believe you when you say nothing is going to happen. It’s pretty uneventful out there anyway.” He grinned fully, “Also, I don’t think I’d be able to land a hit against you.”

I couldn’t figure out why he would say that, so I just forced a smile and ducked out.

Sometimes, I couldn’t be bothered to try.

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