Something moved on the hillside above me. A myriad of horrible creatures from children’s tales paraded through my imagination beside a host of savage forest creatures—Yaerdie tree demons and soul-devouring night wifs beside packs of wolves and towering creadathers. Or worse… rebels.
I dropped the flask and fumbled for the dagger. The hilt sat awkward in my hands—my stolen lessons with Garenth had ended when we were twelve and they sent him south—but I remembered enough and held the blade out before me as I rose to study the hillside, determined not to be easy prey.
The moon revealed nothing but the lacy edges of pine. A murmur sang from the river as it tumbled down out of the hills, but the night remained otherwise quiet. Smells of leaf mulch and evergreen touched my nose, but no hint of wolf musk or the stink of a creadather.
I remembered the smell of the rebel boy who died beside me during the attack on Donen, the sharp scents of blood and sweat. The memories caused me to shiver, but I didn’t note any hints of either in the night air. I had no idea what tree demon or night wif smelled like, that never seemed to come into the stories.
A desperate laugh fluttered in me at the ridiculous thoughts, but I caught it before it could erupt. I imagined giving myself away, giggling within arrowshot of Ceya, and glanced back toward the city wall for any sign of a sentry or the guards soon to come in search of me.