Shaken But Alive
I have escaped by the skin of my teeth.
For a long time Sambeth was too shocked to speak.
“You escaped the Fallen One again,” Sem wrapped his arms tightly around her, “are you okay?”
“I think so.”
She relived the moment when Proximus’s gaze drilled into her own, seeking and plumbing the depths of her soul. Was it her imagination, or did the cold angelic eyes search her face? Did he seek to find some resemblance to his own?
Her fingers were nerveless and her grip on Pip’s fur had loosened when the Fallen One tore her away. Guilt ripped through her. She hadn’t resisted him and Sem had made a foolish and dangerous leap to save her.
“I’m so sorry, Sem. I’m so, so sorry. I should have–“
“Stop,” he touched her lips briefly and his hand, warm with heat of human blood, blocked out the chill of the wind, “you couldn’t have done anything different, Sambeth.”
She nodded wordlessly and after a moment he loosened his grip but kept his arms firmly around her.
Pip was flying fast, the location of the fortress would be reached in moments. Her eyes searched the terrain.
“We get back into Tetrahin,” she called over her shoulder, “I’ve got to tell Rija. We must warn all of them.”
Sem was quiet, his brow knotted in a fierce frown. She was right but the enemy were too close. Sem placed a hand on her shoulder. It was heavy. Sambeth turned looking at him wide-eyed.
“We can’t,” he said simply. He saw the irises widen in the depth of those eyes as she searched his face.
“There’s no way we can get to Tetrahin safely now, Sambeth.”
He was deep in thought, his face stricken and Sambeth panicked.
“What do you mean?” she demanded, her voice high with alarm, “We’ve got to get to them before Altor gets there.”
“We can’t–” he began but she flung up a hand, silencing him with a gesture.
“We have to,” she insisted, a sob in her voice, “we can go by the secret entrance where you first brought Rija and me.”
She had twisted right around, loosening her grip on Pip and clutching Sem’s sleeve. As Pip undulated and slipped through the air, only Sem’s grasp held her fast. He felt her panic and rising hysteria.
“Sambeth, we can’t get in that way. The conflict is happening right at that very spot. The other entrances are too far away.”
The light faded from her eyes. There was a look of disappointment in her gaze that bit deep.
“I promised Rija we’d stick together. I can’t let Altor find her or the others. He will kill them all.”
He looked her square in the eye.
“Don’t think I’ve abandoned them. I would never do that,” he said flatly, “you don’t know everything, Sambeth. We have contingency plans for a time such as this and I know them well.”
The sting in his voice caused colour to surge into her face.
He ignored it and continued relentlessly.
“My father has Jaffith and Ajalon there. Those two will do everything in their power to help him get everyone out. They are most likely escaping down our most secret tunnel out of there.”
Sambeth shrank at the hard cutting edge in his voice and the angry glitter in his eyes. She turned to face back the other way, her heart hammering.
“But how will they know he’s coming?”
Sem sighed heavily, “I’m sure that after your warning they would be on alert. ”
Sambeth’s insides felt shrunken and heavy. Bereft. Gone was the amity they’d enjoyed before. She tightened her lips. That’s what you get for insulting someone’s loyalty to their family and their courage.
She leaned forward.
“Keep flying, Pip!”
She felt the answering ripple that ran through his body. ‘Oh Rija,’ she thought desperately, I hope Altor doesn’t get you.’
Again Sem’s hand lifted to her shoulder. Half nervously she turned to meet his eyes. They were a shade rueful as he looked down at her.
“She will be alright, Sambeth,” his tone was serious, “we had an emergency plan in place if something like this should happen and you did warn them. I didn’t tell you before but I spoke to my father before following you out of Tetrahin. He was much struck by your dreams. I’m sure he acted upon them.”
“What do we do now?”
“We have to go north to Aresisia. We have contacts in there. We must make every effort to meet my father and the people, either there or along the way.”
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