First of all, I apologize for the lapse in posts. I was on vacation and honestly thought I had scheduled posts to get me through until I came home. Guess not! But no worries, I am returned and will keep posting!
I thought I might freeze to death that night. I had only my coat, my boots, and my clothes. No blanket did Soliri grant me. No comfort against the night. Whether or not he froze as I did, I could not have said. But as I lay huddled and shivering, he slept. He woke before morning came, and brusquely lifted me to my feet. There was no care in his movements or his eyes. He mounted his horse, me in his arms again, and we were off.
Clouds still hung heavy above us, the threat of more snow fully known to all three of us. The horse did not like the thought of more cold stuff piling around it, and I soothed as best I could. In return, the horse granted me her name – Flier. She broke a trail through the snow at the behest of Soliri, and we were cold together.
There was nothing for miles but snow and sky. I saw no other travelers, no cities, not even a lone cottage bolstered with a cookfire against the deep winter. I was utterly alone with Soliri. Flier, feeling my distress, refused to live up to her name. She was sluggish, obstinate, and uncooperative. Such a sweet girl, that horse. She was the one who told me that we traversed the Ghost Plain – the resting ground of spirits who could not continue their journey, but were banned by magic from completing their earthly tasks.
This knowledge sat heavy in my heart. I never understood the cruelty of humans against animals – and could less understand the cruelty of humans against humans. I could not even speak with the ghosts, though occasionally I felt their presence. The magic that bound them to our realm also blocked them from my companionship.
For days we plodded through the Ghost Plain. I knew by the sun as it broke the clouds that we were headed south. Not back to Auntie’s cottage, though. Even when we emerged from the Ghost Plains and I could once again hear the sleeping whispers of the earth and animals, I did not recognize the hills. I had known that already, of course. Auntie had never spoken of the Ghost Plains.
From a hilltop we spotted an inn. Flier filled my head with happy chattering about hay and warmth. Soliri had to reign her in before she charged headlong down the hill and to the road. She whined to me and I told her to be patient. Soliri frightened me with his temper. He did not dismount as he spoke to me. I felt for Flier, for as her patience waned and she tugged at the reigns again, Soliri was more forceful in making her heed him. As for what he said to me – he said that we were going to the town, and that while we were there I was to pretend to be his daughter. He ordered that I would not try to run away from him, nor try to tell anyone that he had taken me from my guardians without my will.
I asked him why I should listen, and instead of responding with threat he said that not all people were fond of Whispers. He said that we were in a country (which I did not know what that was) where Whispers could be killed for heresy against their god. I asked him, again, why. This time why they would think I was a Whisper. He said a startling thing to me: that he would have known I was a Whisper even without my guard, because golden fire burned in my eyes. But my eyes were blue. So I’d seen many times. After my own silence, I finally asked him why we should go into a country where they’d kill me. He said that in a city on the coast, there was a special place for me, where he would become very rich. Then he reminded me of his orders, and I agreed to heed him.