unted off four coins and then handed them to Roxy.

”Would you please keep these safe for me? ”

Roxy shook her head, raising her hands in surrender. ”But . . . ”

Celene didn listen. She left the tent without looking back. As she hurried down the street, she heard voices behind her and ducked into the shadows beside the nearest building. Two men approached on horseback, talking amongst themselves as they made their way through the streets. She caught snatches of their conversation.

Watch your back, Trahan, one said.

You stay alive. Don die like the fool you are.

They talked long enough for Celene to figure out who they were. When they reached the edge of the market, they spurred their horses towards the road to Telchin. It did not occur to her until after they were gone that she should have followed them. If Roxy had fallen prey to a stray arrow, it could only mean one thing: one of the assassins from the compound in Lrial had come to kill her.

It was late evening before Celene made it back to the inn. She slipped into the room by the window and found Roxy fast asleep in bed. The bard had curled around one of the stuffed pillows and was asleep in an instant. Celene settled herself next to her on the mattress and watched her sleep.

She stayed awake for hours, staring into the dark, trying not to think too hard about what might be happening just beyond the walls. Eventually, her body gave in and she fell into a deep sleep, exhausted from the stress of the day.

In her dreams she saw the caravan leaving Lrial, crossing over the river and into the woods. She could see them clearly—her father sitting on the edge of the wagon, smiling at the bards as they sang along with the music. They passed by a small town, people staring as they carried the chests of precious cargo. Then she noticed something strange: no one was following them. There was nobody in the streets except for the townsfolk. Even the guards had given up.

Celene smiled and waved at them all, feeling like she was playing some grand role. Then the dream shifted. She was lying on a bed made of straw. The room smelled foul, but Celene was comfortable. A young girl ran in and out of the room, offering drinks and food and clothes. None of it was very nice, but she didn care. She fell asleep again and woke once more when someone shook her shoulder.

”Stop! ” The words were sharp, clear in her mind. ”Do you want to wake Roxy? ”

A deep voice came from the shadows and Celene recognized it at once. This was her vision, the story she had told her sisters in the waking world. It could not end like this. She pulled herself away from the edge of the bed, afraid to move. The room seemed so strange in the night, too bright from the moonlight and the fire. She tried to look past the headboard, but everything was blurry.

”I know you are there, ” the voice said, and Celene realised with shock that she was no longer speaking in the waking world. He was on the other side of the wall. She stared into the darkness for several moments, trying to come to terms with the fact that he knew her name, and how he would have known. She stood still until she heard him turn on his heel and leave the room.

”I am here, ” she said.

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