The sun’s rise sees nine still sleeping near the burnt-out embers of last night’s fire.
Thæon was up before the dawn, the first soul in the valley to open his eyes and stare up at the star-scape sweeping the night; his mind an empty ocean with barely a fleeting thought to instruct him, or to weight his eyelids and drag them back down until the sky is golden-dawn and warming. But sleep hadn’t returned and not wanting to give his chance a mind to pick apart the dark dreams that had held him, suspended between fitful sleep and the screams of nightmares, leaving him exhausted and world-weary, Thæon forced himself up. Body heavy, mind heavier, he filled the small hours of before-dawn with useless chores; having enough time to sharpen his spearhead, to restack the logs on the fire twice over, to sit with oil and cloth to clean his swords and dagger and all the buckles on Bröder’s saddle, if only to keep his hands busy.
And still his mind is hooked like an anchor on last night’s events and the dreams born from them; not terrifying enough to be any worse than the nightmares of seeing Obí’s lifeless corpse beneath the foot of a knight; not clear enough that might let Thæon acknowledge the colour of fear that sets his lungs rattling and skin pinked by goosebumps.