Scent of Magic Page 91

Pain creased her expression. “Arkin. father...killed him.”

Hell. Kerrick knew he couldn’t take her back to the tribe. He considered his only option—help her escape. Double hell.

Bandaging her wound with strips he cut from her pants, he tied the ends tight. He brought her water and a handful of those fuzzy plant’s orange berries to eat. Danny had pointed them out earlier and said they helped with blood loss. Kerrick added wood to the fire, made her comfortable and promised to return.

He staggered from the forest an hour before dawn. No need to act exhausted. Canute, Olave and Noak didn’t visibly react when he informed them that he’d searched the forest and found no signs of Rakel.

“They must be hiding in the city,” Kerrick said. “Or have gone north. Maybe back to Vilde Lander.”

“We wasted time with your dog, Noak,” Olave said.

“Send warriors door to door,” Canute ordered his son. “Olave, take Oya—she’s the fastest horse—and go north.”

If he had any energy, he would have been surprised by Canute’s trust. Instead he trudged to the library and woke Danny. The boy squinted at him, his hair sleep tousled.

“Wake me in four hours,” Kerrick said.

“Why? What happened?”

“It’s better if you don’t know.” Kerrick collapsed in his bed, hoping his scheme wouldn’t get Danny killed.


Tohon stood and held his hand out to me. “Time for bed, my dear.”

His words sliced through my grief over Belen and worry for Ryne. I stared at him without moving.

He twitched his fingers in annoyance. I glanced at the guards stationed by the door.

“Go ahead,” he said in a tight, dangerous voice. “Give me a reason to heed Cellina’s advice.”

She had told Tohon flat-out to kill me. I considered my options. Sleep with Tohon or be killed.

“Can I sleep on the couch?” I asked.

“No.” And when I didn’t move, he said, “You really try my patience. What do you think is going to happen?”


“I already told you I won’t force myself on you.”

I couldn’t trust him and his ridiculous plan to woo me, but I didn’t have much choice. So I took his hand, and we entered Estrid’s bedroom. The huge canopy bed occupied almost the entire area. The two night tables next to it seemed tiny in comparison. There was a small washroom in the back. I ducked inside and changed into my uniform. Even though I was on the fourth floor and surrounded by guards, an opportunity to escape might present itself. A girl could hope.

Tohon snorted in amusement when I rejoined him. He lounged on the right side of the bed under the covers. I slid in on the left side, staying as far away from him as possible.

“Good night, my dear.” Tohon leaned over, gave me a chaste kiss on my cheek, then extinguished the lantern.

I stared at the darkness, reeling from the events of the day. Tohon’s breathing slowed as he fell asleep. My emotions seesawed from grief over Poppa Bear to pure rage at Tohon for turning him into one of his dead. Tears gushed, and I muffled my sobs with the pillow.

In order to pull myself together, I concentrated on how I could send a message to Ryne about the ufa pack. I could enlist one of my caregivers to alert him, but Cellina planned to leave in the morning. By then it would be too late. Too bad no other solutions came to mind. Eventually, I drifted off.

And for the first time in months, Tohon didn’t invade my dreams.

* * *

Cellina barged into the bedroom around dawn. Tohon roused next to me, scowling at her. He had been a perfect gentleman all night.

Before Tohon could say a word, Cellina blurted, “They’re gone.”

“The pack?” he asked.

“No. Estrid’s soldiers. They’re not in their tents.”

“Did you search the town?”

“Of course.”

Tohon sat up. “Well, they couldn’t have gotten far. The encirclement is still in place.”

“Maybe they heard how you planned to ensure their cooperation.”

“Doubtful. Only you and Sepp know.”

Cellina glanced at me. The force of her hatred slammed into me.

“Avry doesn’t know. Estrid’s troops are probably hiding within the encirclement. Go find Ulany,” he ordered.

“Ulany hasn’t checked in,” Cellina said.

She was the earth magician who had buried the dead to trick us. I almost cheered but kept my emotions in control. For an area that was supposed to be secure, there were quite a number of missing persons. I hoped Ryne and his men were among them.

“Send a squad out to find her,” he snapped, getting out of bed. He wore a pair of black silk pajama bottoms and nothing else. Tohon caught me staring at his muscular chest and leered. “Like what you see, my dear?”

I didn’t answer, but Cellina made a sound that could have been a growl.

“Cellina, go. I’ll be out shortly.”

She shot me another lethal look before leaving.

“Don’t mind her, my dear. She’s jealous.” He seemed unconcerned.

While I was glad Estrid’s troops were missing, I worried over Cellina’s comment about Tohon’s plans for them. It wasn’t a surprise as I’d already theorized a few nasty outcomes to Saul. And the one that made the most sense caused me to shudder.

“You’re going to kill all of Estrid’s troops,” I said. “And turn them into your dead.”

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