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Hitchhiker's Guide to Awkward Circumstances

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1 Hitchhiker's Guide to Awkward Circumstances on Thu Feb 16, 2017 9:41 pm

Despite Zenovia's reassurance, I'm still a bundle of excitement and anxiety once we reach the little gate town just on the other side of the wall that marks the end of the "free" territories - ironic considering they call this side of the wall the Free Marches. Everyone we pass gets the side-eyed glance of distrust and thinly veiled curiosity, and I spend most of my night peeking out the window, anxiously watching the people below.

Even when no one is there, I can see the shadows move, strange and unfamiliar shapes flitting under the street lamps and then disappearing when they leave the little circle of light. Now, I'd grown familiar with the things that go bump in the night back when I was in my own little town - and again when I was forced to move on to a bigger, more menacing city. But the shadows here are different. Strange. Like the people, everything has changed as Zenovia and I have crossed region after region. I suppose it only stands to reason that the things that live beside this place would change with them.

Still, it isn't until Zenovia returns in the small hours of the morning that I'm granted any reprieve from the constant glimpses of things I'd rather not see while sitting alone in a dark room, futilely chasing some kind of rest. As she comes in, moving quietly in an attempt to not disturb me, I glance back at her and stretch out in the window seat with a tired sigh and a soft smile. I'd known the moment she'd stepped foot in the hall, her presence making the shadow I'd been watching disappear.

Her proximity used to scare me. The way she could shut me down without lifting a finger... but now it's like a soothing balm applied to a raw nerve. I feel safe with her. Nothing can tear its way through when she's around. Not unless we both want it to.

Unfortunately, that also means that I'm painfully aware of when she leaves. Like tonight, I'd started out fast asleep, but the moment she'd left: I knew. The bump of something under the dresser had startled me awake, left me scrambling to the head of my bed and away from the noise, before I'd crawled over my nightstand and into the light of the window seat. It had taken me far too long to calm the frightened flutter of my heart after that.

But I'd never tell Zenovia any of this.

"Is it time to go already?" I ask, pretending to have just woken up as I stretch and yawn lazily.

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I'm not surprised to see Aodhagan stirring as I finish gathering the last of my things, though the fact he's curled into the window seat is a bit confusing. Still, I choose not to react to the peculiar change as I snap the clasps on my bag, picking it up to set near the door as I look back at him with a slight smile. 

"Not quite," I offer, coming around to sit on the foot of the bed. "I was down in the tavern talking to a few local guardians, and I might have spotted someone we can ask for a ride into the Capital. He got carted off to morning prayers, though, so it'll be a bit before I need to go back down to find him."

I look him over once I'm finished updating him, sighing a bit sadly as I tilt my head. "Did you get a bit of sleep?"

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"Yeah," I lie, any residual tiredness leaving me as the mention of getting a ride to the Capital. Frowning, I sit up straighter as I pull the blanket further up into my lap. "I thought we agreed we weren't driving? Now we're catching a ride? With another guardian??"

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"The capital is too far to walk, Aodh, and there just aren't as many options for travel." I frown half-heartedly. "Getting a ride will have us getting you situated into your circle within a week."

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"But-," I frown, squirming uncomfortably over my own fussiness. "I don't like cars... I get carsick."

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