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~ Previous Chapter ~
This chapter’s called Unexpected, so you know what to expect ;D
The voice was a whisper in her ear, the faintest breeze against her skin. She snuggled deeper into her blanket. It was cold on the lumpy floor of the hayloft, but that was no reason to imagine things. Tucking her hands under her arms and hoping the chill didn’t portend more snow tomorrow, she willed herself to sleep.
She hunched a shoulder up against her ear and vowed to do nothing more than that. She was imagining things; there was nothing there. It certainly wasn’t calling her name.
See, not interested in her at all. She frowned, wondering why she would
Her eyes popped open. This was getting stupid.
She sat up and peered around the dark loft. “Enough,” she whispered, hoping the prankster would stop. Student Kerryl was fond of jokes, but he wasn’t a close friend of her or Jaymes, so she couldn’t see why he’d be targeting them.
“What?” she snapped. “What do you want?”
“Corin?” It was Derrain, only half-awake. “Wassamatta?”
Feeling guilty, she lowered her voice. “Nothing. I’m dreaming. Go back to sleep.” He didn’t answer so she assumed he had. It was good advice. Taking it herself, she lay back down.
“For the love of lightning,” she grumbled, pulling her blanket over her ears. “Go away. Find something better to do. Like sleep.”
There was peace. Beautiful quiet and calm. Her body relaxed, soaking in the warmth of her blanket and forgetting all about the hard floor and cold air. Sleep beckoned.
Her knees jerked up to her chest, her body forming a tight, angry ball. She wasn’t going to play. With her hands pressed over her ears, all she could hear was the rush of her pulse. It was soothing, if loud.
Jaymes. Corin. Jaymes.
She barely managed to stifle a frustrated scream, emitting a gargled croak as she pulled her hands down and sat up again. “Stop it,” she hissed.
Teeth bared, she glared into the darkness to her left. “You hear it too?”
“Yes,” Jaymes whispered. “Where’s it coming from?”
“I don’t care, but I wish it would stop. People are trying to sleep.”
“Good advice, take some yourself,” someone grumbled.
Too annoyed to apologise, Corin folded her arms in mute frustration.
“What is it?” he asked. “What do you want?”
“In these temperatures?” Corin muttered, tugging her blanket closer. “You must be joking.”
A rustle in the darkness told her Jaymes was moving. “Are you crazy?”
“I’m curious,” he replied, material whispering as he pulled on his clothes. “Aren’t you?”
“Then stay here if you want, but I’m going to find out what’s going on.”
“Good,” another voice growled. “Maybe then the rest of us can sleep.”
Boards creaked as Jaymes crept between bodies and vanished down the hatch. There was a rush of people rolling over, grumbling and settling back to sleep. Then silence. All she could hear was breathing. She held her own, waiting.
Nothing. Except a burning need to breathe in again. She did so in a rush of relief.
And wanted to scream.
Come. Corin. Come.
“All right, I get it,” she muttered, and dug around her blankets for clothes and boots.
“I am,” she snarled, yanking on her second boot and smoothing her blankets to keep in what little heat was left. If she was lucky she’d be back before it went cold. Sadly, she wasn’t feeling particularly lucky.
“Coming,” she grumbled, picking her way through the bodies, then down into the gloom of the eyries. Passing between dozing miryhls, she headed for the open door.
Shivering, she stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Jaymes and stared out at the darkness. In the depths of the night the Stormwash was a dim glow, lit by flickers of lightning.
Come. Corin. Jaymes.
“Is that what’s calling us?” she asked.
Jaymes gazed at the distant storm, eyes flashing bright blue in the lightning. “I think so.”
Come, Jaymes. Come, Corin.
“And stupid,” she continued. “As if I’m going anywhere near that thing, let alone in the middle of a freezing winter night.”
“No,” she said firmly. “I’ve never had a death wish and I’m not developing one now. Good night, creepy whisperer. Go annoy someone else. Come on, Jaymes.”
“Good night,” she growled, and stomped back inside.
Realising she was alone, Corin grabbed her friend’s arm and dragged him along.
The whisper was coaxing now, but she resisted. “No. It’s dark, I’m cold. Go away.”
It sounded distant now – and a little reproachful.
He stopped – “They’re calling us.” – and tripped as Corin yanked him on.
“We must go.” He pulled against her, wanting to turn.
She stopped and thumped him. “Wake up, fool.”
He blinked, rubbed his arm and frowned. “What was that for?”
“You’re being stupid. I’m not going anywhere tonight and neither are you.”
“Go away!” she half-screamed. “I refuse to go anywhere right now.”
The whisper was firm, and Corin was too tired to fight. “If it makes you happy.”
Soon. Corin. Jaymes.
This time the silence was complete. Corin was confident it would stay that way. For tonight, at least.
“Everything all right, Corin?”
She jumped as a figure stepped out of the shadows. “Dhori,” she sighed with relief. “Don’t worry, we’re fine. It’s all fine.”
He shot her a dubious look in the light of the door lantern, but she was in no mood for questions. She waved and ducked past him into the eyries, dragging Jaymes behind her.
Soon. Corin. Jaymes. Come soon.
“Some people always have to have the last word,” she grumbled, climbing the ladder.
She gave up and crawled back into her blankets. Maybe if she ignored it, it would go away.
~ Next Chapter ~
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