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Chapter 4 ~ Unlikely Allies

M a y a

I don’t know how long we’ve been travelling, hours maybe or days most probably.

I stopped feeling scared, my fear replaced by an all-consuming numbness.

Kian is dead, I know this now. As is Maya, she died along with the flames that engulfed her friend. The girl hanging from the ceiling of this cart, head hung low is a shell. An empty vessel.

The world is a slate grey, like colour of my eyes, murky and lifeless.

The pain doesn’t cut through the emptiness either, my wrists cut to ribbons are nothing, the black bruises across my feeble, starving body are nothing. My swollen face and blackened eyes are nothing.

They are carting me to my death, the slow kind where you wish for nothing but the darkness to finally swallow you, yet the girl I was is dead. I am dead, a carcass with a few rasped breaths left to take.

There is no hope for me, no one is coming to save me. Everyone else simply doesn’t care enough or is too afraid to help me.

My fate is sealed.

K i a n

My mind whirs at the speed of light, the remnants of my nightmare still haunting me from a safe distance. I try not to think about it as my eyes find hers, but all I see is Maya’s soft, caring gaze.

Rena is simply a ghost living out as a reminder of the memory of her. A cruel joke played on me, tearing me in half and confusing my emotions.

This is my penance, my punishment for what I’ve done. Nightmares clutch me until the dawn where I find myself in the company of a girl who reminds me all too much of the one I left behind, the one that clutches at me, reeking of guilt and reminding me of how much I’m disgusted at myself.


Rena’s eyes flicker as she watches me through the embers. Her eyes switch from a fixed gaze to saddened, her head falling forward as she drops her gaze and I realise I’ve spoken out loud.

“I’m not her, Kian,” she says quietly.

“I know,” I say after some time, my eyes lowering to watch my fingers brush over my knuckles.

My eyes slide to my satchel, the book revealing only a corner through the flap. I reach out and pull in onto my lap, my fingertips shakily brushing over the worn cover.

“We were meant to leave together, we were meant to be a team,” I murmur, angry tears clouding my vision.

I feel Rena’s eyes on me, but I can’t stop myself. The darkness around us is thick save for the embers between us and the many lanterns dotting the windows of the city folk homes below. It blankets me as I sit there, my eyes fixed to the book held tightly in my grasp.

I feel it spread through my veins as my anger rises within me igniting a part of me I had long forgotten existed.

“She was waiting for me and I-” I cut myself short, not able to carry on as the dark consumes me, my anger feeding it.

“Kian,” Rena begins, her voice holding a tone of warning, but I’m not paying attention.

“I deserted her, I ran like the coward I am,” I spit, my voice raised as I fling the book across the roof, watching it as it crashes to the floor.

Before I know it, I’m on my feet. Pacing the campsite as I fling necessities into my satchel and tugging on my tunic.

“Kian, what are you doing?” Rena demands, her voice tight.

“I have to go back, I have to find her,” I tell her, my voice strained, the darkness taking its hold on me.

“You can’t go back, it’s too risky, you’ll get yourself killed,” Rena reasons.

I swivel back to face her, my whole body trembling with energy and adrenaline.

She watches me, her eyes portray shock for only a slight moment before she’s on her feet.

“She’s back there alone and afraid, the demonata-” I yell, my fists clenched.

“The demonata don’t take prisoners, if she isn’t dead already she soon will be,” Rena says, her voice cautious as she tentatively makes her way to me.

“You’re wrong, I can make it back, I have to,” I argue, the rage almost unbearable, an intense energy throbbing around me, my eyes clouding into darkness.

In a split second Rena has her arms around me, her hands pulling my head down to meet hers, our foreheads touching. Her hands on each side of my face, her eyes bore into mine, flicking from one to the other as she mutters something, words I can’t understand.

A sense of calm sweeps over me, my anger subsiding into a sensation of numbness.

My cloudy eyes subside, clearing my vision. The thick sense of energy whirling around me dying away until all that’s left is me and Rena together in the darkness of the night.

Rena’s eyes drop to the floor and she lets out a rattled sigh before they drift back up to meet mine. I loosen my clenched fists so they hang loosely by my sides.

“You have to let her go,” she says in barely a whisper.

“You can’t go back Kian, there’s nothing left for you there, it would be suicide,” she continues.

“Maya’s gone,” she says finally, her eyes locked on mine.

I stiffen in her embrace for a moment before the weight of her words hits me full on. I feel my knees buckle as I crumple into her as the words leave her lips. Rena lowers us to the ground, her arms still around me. I move my head into the crease of her neck and shoulder and let the pain free, my arms snake around her back as I cling to her clothes.

And I mourn.

Mourn for the boy with dreams, mourn for the impure girl he befriended.

Mourn for the love I’d lost.

R e n a

So much for keeping my distance.

As soon as I heard him shouting out, I rushed to be by his side. When only minutes earlier I had mentally decided to avoid him. When I had finally managed to wake him from his nightmares, it was as if he wasn’t there. He was terrified, in a complete daze a world all his own.

And his outburst, the dark energy swirling around him as he let the rage consume him.

All I could do was pull him into my arms, and chant the runes I knew would calm him, that would settle whatever dark magic he had lain dormant in his veins. It was not unheard of for a mixling to have magical abilities, but even I knew it wasn’t common or safe to stick around to see it first hand. .

My heart stopped in my chest when I felt him suddenly stiffen in my arms and when he had broken in my arms, his head nuzzled into my neck, his warm tears soaking my skin. Though he never said a word after what I said.

I thought he’d pull away, yell and argue with me but instead the runes took hold and he fell apart letting me hold what was left of him together. This only brought that new, strange feeling bounding back, almost sending me off balance.

I felt so bad for him, the nightmare must have been a bad one because I had never imagined seeing him in this way. It was as if I was seeing him in a new light and what I saw worried me. He must have been feeling this way since we joined together as unlikely allies. The guilt of leaving his friend behind almost too much for him to bear.

The night had carried on around us, undisturbed by Kian’s outburst. After he’d quietened down I retrieved his book of old and attempted to persuade him to get some rest, but when I came to check on him his glassy eyes lit up in the darkness, staring at nothing. I woke up to find him exactly where I had left him last night, gazing out at nothing in particular.

As I look at him I notice he looks even more exhausted than before, his eyes are red and swollen, sunken in. the bags under them prominent and his skin pale.

He avoids my gaze every time I glance over at him and I’m not really sure why until I think about the events of last night. Comforting him has now caused some kind of awkward tension, the pain of losing his friend still fresh and raw.

I decide it best to leave him alone with his thoughts and make my way over to the far corner of our current rooftop.

I’m not there for long, when I hear rustling and bustling from behind me. I turn around ready to expect anything, but instead, find Kian packing up our things.

I don’t say anything as I scramble to my feet, the look on my face perplexed and slightly worried. If he tries to turn back, I know I’ll stop him though I can’t explain why.

“We’re leaving” he tells me bluntly.

I raise my eyebrows, a hint of frustration leaking into my body language as I take back the authority. “No we aren’t”.

“Yes, we are” he argues as he continues to pack up our things.

I walk up to where he is and cross my arms. “There’s no reason to leave just yet, we’re low on supplies as it is we need to-”

“Rena, we’re leaving!” he growls at me cutting me off. His shoulders are tight and his fists clenched up into balls, his green eyes lit up in warning.

I take a step back, unsure of how to react. I feel slightly irritated with the way he’s acting though I know the cause, but I’m surprised by the underlining fear as I realise I don’t want him to lose it again, I don’t have the strength to cast those particular runes any time soon.

I think Kian seems to senses my hesitance. His shoulders slump and he lets out a long sigh, rubbing a hand over his face before looking back at me, his bright eyes now dull and lost in shadow.

Finally, he looks at me, his eyes pleading. “Please, can we just go?”

I hold his gaze for a long while, before I reluctantly agree. We can always grab supplies at the next market over. Holding out my arm, I whistle for Barnie. He appears from behind the tent and lands gracefully on my forearm, twisting his head from left to right.

“Time to go” I tell him before I launch him into the air and he disappears into the clouds.

K i a n

My head is in a muddle over the events that occurred that night. I remember the outburst, the numbness right before the shattering pain.

I loved Maya, I realise that now, but it’s too late. Rena’s right the Demonata don’t take prisoners, they are ruthless killers and it’s been weeks, there isn’t any way she could have survived this long no matter how much I hope she has.

The memory of Rena holding me, comforting me feels alien in my mind, an oddity. She isn’t like that at all, it’s completely against her nature.

Since the day we met in the market she’s always maintained her distance, cold and edgy, never allowing me close for long. Something must have triggered it, something I did for her to suddenly be so gentle and almost tentative. That or she’s finally getting used to having me around though I doubt that to be true.

I realise now that obviously my first impression of Rena isn’t all what I thought it to be. There seems to be a lot more to her, sides of her I haven’t yet discovered, some of which I think I could grow to even like.

As these thoughts swarm my mind, the memory of me nuzzling into her neck surfaces and I remember inhaling the scent she carried, sweet with a hint of spice, so different to Maya yet equally intoxicating. I try to shake the thought but plants itself in my head. The thought itself makes me feel slightly uncomfortable, heat rising up the nape of my neck, burning with a strong sensation.

I glance over at her and she smiles. Though the gesture warms me, I quickly look away my mind still picturing Maya.

Rena’s smiling has become a more common occurrence since that night, something I still haven’t got used to. Her whole face changes, the stern faced girl replaced with a stranger in her shoes. Her tentativeness with me is new as well, ever since the start of the night terrors she’s been less aggressive and harsh, almost as though she doesn’t know how to approach me regarding anything bar our next move.

I on the other hand feel far from myself. I think she senses this, I hear her whispering over me occasionally as I’m about to fall into the pitt of slumber. Her presence though tentative is still strong in the moments before I slip back into the nightmares, before I expect to see Maya die over and over again as I do in the day, she’s there waiting when I wake up her eyes ever watchful.

I asked her once if she’d slept at all when I woke to find her silver eyes cast on me intently, though she never answered. Instead silently handing me a small loaf and some dried meat before disappearing down into the streets, Barnie watching overhead.

The memories of that dream still lingers in that place inbetween being awake and asleep, there to torment me if I ever slip into a deep daydream. I couldn’t get away from there fast enough, but there’s nowhere far enough to run from the demons in my mind. Maya’s ghost will haunt me until I fade to dust.

R e n a

This boy is really beginning to get under my skin, he’s become a major distraction and a liability. Yet we’ve been travelling together for over a fortnight and I can’t will myself to desert him. I’m exhausted from watching over him every night, casting protective runes over him before he falls asleep. My usually agile and stealthy self has become tainted by misjudgement due to lack of energy and broken sleep.

This odd sensation I feel when around him frustrates me, it’s a distraction I neither care for nor need, yet like him it sticks to me. Over the recent days I’ve wondered how long we have left in each other’s company. He plans on slipping through the city walls whereas I don’t know where I’m going, there had never been an end goal. Just keep moving and never look back.

But the more I think about it, the more I realise that I can’t run forever. One day I’ll stop running and they’ll find me and take me back and I can never go back. The more I think about it, the more I believe that Kian is on to something, maybe there could be a life for me outside Aldevian walls caging me like a trapped bird.

But to risk such a thing, if I got caught they would kill me for sure, the question about it. Though my life was spent locked inside these walls Aldevia has never been my home, but it’s the only place I know.

The dangers lurking out in the open, in the dry lands I’ve overheard whispers of, or the wide waters of the deep so far south I’d be dead before I reached them, could they all be townspeople chatter or something more, something true to hold on to.

The more I let it take over my thoughts the more I thirst for a freedom Aldevia can never give me. At least if I do choose to follow Kian, I’ll finally get a chance at real freedom and quite possibly a better future.

Still, I don’t know what I’ll be up against out there the risk is immense. At least here I know exactly who and what I’m dealing.

Out of the corner of my eye, I notice Kian watching me again. That strange look he keeps giving me lately plastered on his face again. But when I turn to meet his eyes, he quickly looks away, his eyes averting to the ground or to the sky as if searching for Barnie and I find this more and more peculiar each time he does it.

The tension between us has grown since that night the silence thick and almost unwelcome. I just wish I knew what he was thinking or if he feels as lost as I do.

K i a n

I steal a glance at Rena, but now she seems to be in a world of her own, her mind clearly on other matters.

Something tells me she senses the shift between us as much as I do. Our whole alliance hangs in an odd way, neither of us willing to address it in any sort of way.

One thing is certain things between us have definitely changed and I really don’t think that either of us knows how to handle it.

It’s strange to see Rena’s personality show, revealing the side of her I never really thought she was capable of having, before she reverts back to being cool and distant. It’s like I’m catching glimpses of something else that makes Rena, but it’s so hard to explain it. Just another air of mystery that surrounds my companion.

Though she isn’t the only one who’s changed. I can tell that she’s noticed a shift in my personality, I have too.

But while I’m confident she is relating it to that night, I know that only has part to do with it because I know it isn’t just that. There is much more depth to my change than just losing Maya.

Being completely lost in thought, I’m so wrapped up in my thoughts that I don’t see the odd shimmer in front of me and before even Rena can warn me I walk straight into it. In an instant, I’m thrown backwards into the air, landing heavily on my back a few metres away. Winded, I lie in the gravel, spluttering as I try to suck in air, wheezing for a while before I shakily get back up onto my feet.

I look over at Rena, she’s frozen on the spot, her eyes staring at me in unmasked shock, her body shimmering through the barrier. Slowly and shakily I walk over to where she is standing, stopping beside her as she turns her focus from me to the air in front of us.

As I look carefully, I see the air shimmer almost like a heat wave only buzzing with unfamiliar energy.

Slowly, I stretch my hand out and almost instantaneously a jolt of energy zaps through me, the incredible force of it flings my arm back.

I glance over at Rena who’s mirroring my worried look, her lips set in a thin line.

It seems as though we have a bit of a problem.

R e n a

It’s a glamour, I can tell straight away. Cast by who though I can’t be sure.

As soon as I realise this glamour, casting a giant barrier created by at least a small army of impure ones magic my stomach drops.

I turn to warn Kian, but it’s too late. He’s walking into it as I begin to open my mouth in warning, suffering full impact, the wave of energy hitting my and sending me sprawling backwards through the glamour. I’m shocked as I land on the other side of it, scrambling to my feet as I check myself over. I can only assume this to be because of the impure blood coursing through my veins.

I feel frozen to the spot as I watch Kian write around in the dirt, scrambling to catch his breath. I fight the urge to run to him, but something stops me, keeping me rooted, my eyes watchful and worried.

Kian walks up to where I’m stood and I watch as his hand connects with the barrier, instantly realising that he can’t get through. His mouth moves, his eyes on me wide and frantic, but I hear nothing but the slight breeze and the hum of magic coming from the wall between us. Guilt swarms me as I realise part of me feels only relief, the other alarm and creeping panic.

I could leave him, this the golden opportunity to turn away from his tanned face and green eyes and walk away from him forever, to leave him to his fate whatever that may be. It would be so easy to just turn and walk, his voice soundless behind the barrier couldn’t will me to stay, couldn’t beg for help. But could I leave him.

My stomach twists into further knots as I contemplate the thought, the temptation shocking me as I realise how easy it is for me to follow through with it, yet how hard it is now to look him in the eyes knowing he can read the thoughts through them easier than a seer.

But the thought that scares me the most is the one that lingers longest. Even if I wanted to help, could I?

K i a n

I try speaking, then shouting, but she can’t seem to hear me.

The invisible wall between us hums with unwavering magical power as I stand and watch the flurry of emotions fly across her face, prominent in her usually hard looking eyes. Alarm, doubt, confusion and finally guilt.

It’s when she bites down on her lip that I begin to panic. It’s then I realise my predicament. Of course she’s considering leaving me behind, she never wanted me around in the first place. The first chance she got she must have decided to desert me, leave me to whatever my fate would be, I wasn’t her problem after all.

But something had changed over the past few days, she had changed.

I try to convince myself that she’d never leave me like this, but the more I look into her eyes, the more I start to believe deep down that she just might.

I mentally beg and plead her not to leave me stranded here, my mouth moving in what she must see as a silent plea. She can’t just abandon me now.

She wouldn’t…would she?

R e n a

I think Kian has caught on with my hesitation, the desperateness in his eyes is plain to see. His mouth moves again with a quick barrage of words I don’t hear, but I sense his panic. He knows what I’m thinking, the consideration of leaving him surely printed plainly on my face.

I don’t let myself wait a moment long and take a couple of steps back, finally making my decision while Kian looks on, staring at me in disbelief and shakes his head slightly, shock and unmasked hurt pouring from his intense eyes.

I glance over at Barnie, who has perched himself on my shoulder in the commotion and nod. He hoots once and soars up into the sky.

Glancing back at Kian, I notice he’s fallen to his knees and a pang of guilt forms in my stomach. He stares at the ground still shaking his head, his white blonde hair swaying as he moves as I turn around and slowly remove my pack from my shoulders, leaving it slumped on the ground as I rub my hands together and focus my energy.

Taking a deep breath, I close my eyes and envision the runes I’m about to cast, remembering the teaching I had learnt many years ago, in an almost forgotten past.

My hands move of their own accord as I mutter their names and the words to follow, the air around me shimmering with controlled energy.

I continue to focus my power, my arm burning, the reversed runemark imprinted on my forearm glowing a rustic reddish colour. I breath evenly, knowing that as soon as my eyes open I’ll only have one shot at this. I can’t get distracted or I could kill him.

I swivel on my feet and step forward confidently, opening my eyes after the first few steps. I push my hands back through the barrier, the glamour rippling as I do before I see it shift, the shimmer reversing back in on me. I have seconds at best.

Without waiting a second longer I push forward and grab hold of Kian’s shoulders, tugging backwards with all my remaining strength. I just hope to the Gods that this actually works or else we’ll both end up killed.

K i a n

I can’t believe she actually left me.

My head hangs low refusing to let myself watch her go. It hurts more than I thought it would, the sensation of abandonment overwhelms me. Though the possibility was there I never actually imagined she would take the opportunity with both hands.

With each step further, she takes a little more of my hope. With no idea of where to go, and knowing that I can’t go back without getting killed my options are rather slim. I’ll have to find another way around, if there even is one. That alone would take days and with the Demonata still after me no doubt I could be dead in that long.

In the middle of my grief and darkened thoughts, I’m suddenly disturbed, when I feel someone grab each of my shoulders and pulls me roughly forwards. I’m instantly hauled through the barrier and onto the other side unharmed, though a little taken aback.

For a short while I simply lie on the ground, the shock still registered by my whole body. It isn’t long before I look up and see Rena, a grim smile playing on her lips, her silver eyes alight with pride. Barnie circles overhead when I look up, though my eyes are quickly drawn down to her forearm where her birth right is oddly glowing.

“For a second there I didn’t think that was going to work,” she says before she marching over to her pack and slings it back over her shoulders. I’m still too stunned to say anything.

“Well, you coming?” she calls over her shoulder, I hear the smile in her voice.

Without meaning to a large grin spreads over my face, the initial shock now gone and scramble to my feet, following closely behind her. I don’t know why I ever doubted her.

It’s late now, the hours of day long gone and the both of us and of course Barnie have settled down on a high rooftop, completely out in the open, the tent untouched due to the claustrophobic heat despite the thick storm clouds overhead.

But I can’t sleep and it isn’t the heat that is keeping me awake.

The day’s events are running on repeat in my head, unable to quiet or disperse them I sit up and rest my head in the palm of my hand, my eyes seeking out Rena in the dark.

“You know, I thought you were going to leave me back there” I say, breaking the silence.

I watch Rena as I silently wait for her to reply. She doesn’t turn to face me, instead, she lies flat on her back staring up at the dark sky with her hair sprawled out around her like an ensnaring halo of fire, beautiful but deadly.

“So did I” she says finally.

“ didn’t” I reply.

I see a small smile play on her lips before she turns to face me, her eyes bright in the darkness, her stare filled with such intensity, that I find I can’t look away.

“No you’re right. I didn’t” she says.

I let a soft silence fall between us, before I let myself say anything else to continue the conversation.“You used magic didn’t you?”

Rena nods in reply. “Annoying and clever, you catch on quick,” she adds

“How did you learn rune magic?” I ask.

“Someone taught me a long time ago” she says after a while.


“An old friend” she replies after some time.

“Do you still know this friend of yours?” I probe.

“Do you always ask this many questions?” she demands.

I shrug. “I guess I’m just curious.”

“Well your curiosity will get you killed one day,” she says as she turns over, flicking her hair over her shoulder.

“But-” I begin.

“Question time is over Kian,” she responds her voice laced with impatience.

I’m about to protest, sensing I’m about to open my mouth Rena cuts me off.

“Just go to sleep, we have an early rise tomorrow. The bridge is a couple miles west from here. Once we cross it, it’ll be pretty straight forward to get you through the gates,” she says before falling silent.

A sigh escapes my lips as I let myself fall back onto my blankets. I hadn’t even given any thought to the gate. Rena had stolen a couple maps a few days back to aid me in my mission to escape the Aldevian border.

It seems clear now more than ever how soon Rena and I will be parting ways, something I don’t exactly take comfort in. Where I’m going is completely unknown territory, no maps or guides to aids me and I’d never even dreamed of going out into it alone.

Let’s face it, with no survival skills or self-defence skills I could be dead in a week or possibly even less. The more I think about it, the more reserved I feel about it. I really don’t know what I’m going to do.

R e n a

I think Kian is returning to his former self. He’s started up again with his constant questioning only this time he just doesn’t give up or know when to quit. I’m even considering throwing him of the side of the building just to get him to shut up.

We’ve been making good progress so far today, only a few short miles from the bridge I’d seen on the map. At the rate we’re going, we’ll be at the gates in no time, not that either of us have a plan to get him through the gates, not that it’s my problem.

Though now the time is so near, I don’t really know what to think about this.

In the weeks I’ve spent with Kian, I’ve come to slightly enjoy his company and even though he can be extremely infuriating, I’ve become used to having him around. Even Barnie likes him.

A few hours later, I come to a halt at the edge of the building, a little way ahead of Kian. I wait until he’s come up by my side before I speak, my voice dropped low, suspicious of unwanted ears.

“We can’t use the rooftops anymore, we’ll have to use the streets for the rest of the way. The bridge we have to cross is just up there” I say pointing ahead, glancing back at him as he nods, his eyes staring over my head dark and serious.

Without wasting another moment, I tie up my hair and slide the sack I’m carrying off of my back. Pulling out my tattered shawl and my hooded cape, I hand the cape to Kian, telling him to put it on and hide his face well while I wrap the shawl around my head and shoulders, pulling it up over my nose and mouth, leaving only my eyes and the bridge of my nose to see.

I look over the edge of the building and pull the sack tighter to my back. Noticing a drainpipe stretching down the wall, I grin under my shawl, having found a reasonable way down. I hope it doesn’t distract too much attention.

Turning back to Kian, my eyes meet his. “Don’t follow until I say”.

He nods and I return the gesture before I sprint forward and jump. I slide down the drainpipe and realise too late that it isn’t long enough. Reacting almost instantly, I push myself away from the wall and fall the rest of the way down, landing on my feet in a low crouch.

I look up and see Kian peering down at me and motion for him to follow. He nods and before long copies my actions, landing a little way from me, for once not uttering a word as he moves to my side.

“Follow closely behind and don’t lose sight of me” I tell him.

He watches me for a moment, a serious look on his face. “Let’s go.”

I nod before we move forward, merging into the crowd.

K i a n

The streets are full of life, but I can’t distract myself by looking around. I have to follow Rena. It’s hard to keep track of her in this dense crowd, so I try follow closely behind.

It isn’t long before we reach the bridge, but I’m shocked and instantly afraid, my blood turning to ice in my veins when I see Raven’s everywhere.

I stop short and without thinking twice, pull Rena into a small gap between buildings.

“What do you think you’re doing?” she demands and Barnie swoops down, finding his usual spot in her shoulder.

Out of the right corner of my eyes I notice people glancing at us as they walk by, but none of them stop, all continuing on their way.

I pull my cape down, but Rena quickly pulls it back up. “Are you crazy, do you want to get noticed?”

“Ravens” I say, not needing to say anymore.

“Don’t you think I know that?” she snaps, her eyes rolling as soon as the words leave my lips.

“If you knew this then how exactly do you plan for us to pass through unnoticed?” I point out.

I watch her as she thinks for a moment or two. Then she snaps out of her thoughts and pulls rope out of her sack, then handing it to me. I take it, confused.

“What do you expect me to do with this?” I ask, when I realise she isn’t going to elaborate.

“Tie me up” she tells me, holding her wrists out to me, her face serious.

I look down at the rope dangling in my hands and then back at Rena.

“I’m not tying you up like some common slave!” I cry in dismay.

“Just do it” she orders, rolling her eyes at me a second time.

“What good would that do?” I argue.

“Do you want us to blend in or do you want us to get caught?” she asks.

I hesitate before begrudgingly agreeing, wrapping the rope around her small wrists, something I never noticed until now. I may not agree with the idea but she has a point.

“Make it look convincing” she adds as I’m tying the knot.

I call Barnie and he hops from Rena’s shoulder over to me, perching himself on my arm. Stopping what I’m doing for a moment, I push him off into the sky and he soars high above until he is out of our sight. I quickly dip back in with the crowd, pulling Rena along behind me.

‘Make it convincing’ I mock, muttering irritably under my lips.

I continue to grumble under my breath. This may be the only way to get across unseen but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Rena is right in her tactic. No one even bothers to look our way and we manage to cross without a single problem, no flock of ravens or soldiers after us, even though I expect it at any given moment.

Once we’re further away from the bridge and the crowd, we find an abandoned building, falling into severe disrepair and take refuge there for the night. No more rooftops from now on, the building too low to much chance of getting caught Rena had explained when I’d given her a confused look.

I’m relieved for the change, I was getting tired of being up so high, too much silence, not enough hum of the city.

It’s only when we are inside the building, that Rena allows me to untie her. I notice she has red burn marks around her wrists from the rope obviously being too tight, but I don’t say anything about it, knowing she won’t appreciate the remark.

We eat in silence. Barnie perched comfortably on a broken window while Rena and I sat across from each other in front of a warm fire, hidden away in a corner of the abandoned place, the room more open due to the decaying walls, half torn down.

“Tomorrow night we’ll leave for the gates” Rena says between mouthfuls, not looking up from her food.

I nod, not bothering to reply as I shovel bread and dried meat into my own mouth. For a short while there is silence while we eat hungrily, but then my curiosity gets the better of me and I decide to try my luck one last time.

“Rena?” I begin, my voice hopeful.

“What?” she asks, her eyes refusing to find mine.

“Well, seeing as we’re parting ways soon-” I begin.

“No” she states, interrupting me in mid-sentence.

“You didn’t even let me finish what I was saying” I complain, my eyes watching her, my brow furrowed.

“Because I know what you’re going to ask and the answer is no” she explains, her eyes lifting to mine. I can tell she’s not happy.

“What have you got to lose?” I ask.

“My privacy?” she retaliates.

“Rena-” I reason.

“You’re very annoying, you know that?” she says, attempting to change the subject.

“So I’ve been told,” I reply.

I let silence envelope us for a short period before I let out a heavy sigh. Her eyes lift to meet mine and I don’t break away, letting our eyes connect over the space as we sit here, darkness oncoming but neither of us breaking eye contact.

“Rena, you can trust me,” I say finally, filling the silence.

This time it’s her time to sigh, before making some sort of growling noise and lifting herself into a sitting position

“I don’t get what the big deal is but if it keeps you quiet for more than five minutes, why not, I’ll tell you”.

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